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To many, the Middle East seems an unlikely locale for flourishing entrepreneurialism. But it is increasingly producing startups and engineers who are creating companies that will change lives in the MENA region – and the world.

Instabeat

www.instabeat.me
This innovative piece of hardware straps onto a swimmer’s€™s goggles to track heart rate, calories burned and number of laps, storing this data for in-depth analytics which can be accessed on a computer via USB post-workout. It offers swimmers information runners have had access to for years through FitBit and Runkeeper, and in doing so, is putting Lebanon on the startup map. Founded in 2011 by Hind Hobeika, who swum competitively before turning her hand to engineering, Instabeat’s prototype is available for preorder through its website.

Recyclobekia

www.recyclobekia.com
This green startup collects discarded electrical parts from Egyptian businesses, reselling them to local and international buyers. With just $1,000 in initially funding, a team of 20 university students built their company from its suburban roots to an office in Cairo. RecycloBekia got its start through Injaz Egypt, a program which works to provide student entrepreneurs with mentors across the country.

Instabug

www.instabug.com
It can be difficult to get feedback on an app, so this startup’s bug reporting provides coders with information in less than a minute – all the developer has to do is shake her phone.

Solarist

www.solarist.co
This company aims to solve the arid Middle East’s water problem by purifying salt water through solar power. To do so, has created SolDesm a solar-powered cheap, portable water desalination machine. Founded by its Dina Mosallem, Solarist was incubated during Cairo-based Flat6Labs’ Spring 2013 cycle.

Wally

www.wallyapp.me
This Mint-esque personal finance app, launched officially in 2013, has already gained 100,000 users. It lets users plan and annotate spending, as well as scan receipts.

Nafham

www.nafham.com
Egypt’s answer to Khan Academy, this online video learning database was founded by Ahmed Alfi, Muhammad Habib and Mostafa Farahat to solve the burden of after-school tutoring, which costs Egyptian families $2 billion annually. The site hosts over 8,000 free videos, each 5-20 minutes in length, which complement the Egyptian curriculum.

Goodgate

www.goodgate.org
Muslims are required to donate to charity as part of Zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam. Goodgate helps people do so by connecting donors to causes, bringing transparency to philanthropy in the MENA region.

jamalon

www.jamalon.com
Since its 2010 launch, this online book shop now offers 9 million Arab and English titles for sale. While Amazon can take between two weeks to a month to ship orders in the Middle East, Jamalon can ship anywhere in the region in just three days through a network of local warehouses as well as its Jordan base. Jamalon has received $400,000 in funding to date.

Ekshef

www.ekshef.com

Egypt sees over 500,000 Google searches for doctors in the country every month. Ekshef hopes to solve that pain point by providing patients with a guide and ratings on physicians. It also allows users to book appointments online.

Souktel

www.souktel.org/ 
Founded in 2006, Palestine-based SoukTel is a mobile-based service that uses texting to connect people with jobs through its JobMatch function, and put aid agencies in touch with those in need via its AidLink program.

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