The Most Extensive Pre-Covid19 Checkpoint

UAE Startup Access To Capital 2010-2020

How the UAE Venture Space Reached A Critical Point Right Before Covid-19

And Why It Is Becoming Harder For UAE Startups To Get Funded

Figure 1 – Total raised in MENA startup rounds 2015-2019

Startup rounds: seed, series A, series B, pre-A, and bridge rounds only

The MENA Early Stage Data Handbook 2023 by Clearworld - cover

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The MENA Early Stage Data Handbook 2023

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The Dataset

We use an enriched database.

Main sources: Crunchbase, PitchBook, and fieldwork

Cross-validated with media outlets: Magnitt, Menabytes, and Wamda

as well as company websites and founders data (LinkedIn).


UAE ventures founded 2008-2019

859 startups (+6.3% in 2019)

76% active (as of 2020)

52 exited (+36% in 2019)

1,077 traditional SMEs

68 exited SMEs


Non-UAE startups founded 2008-2019

613 non-MENA startups

1069 MENA startups (+5.5% in 2019)

77% active (as of 2020)

35 exited (+3% in 2019)


Investment firms active in startup rounds 2010-2019

150 funded UAE startups

216 funded non-UAE startups

54 active firms in UAE in 2019

71 UAE investment firms

18 active firms in UAE in 2019


Startup rounds with investment firms active in MENA 2010-2019

Seed to series B rounds only

225 with UAE startups

755 with non-UAE startups

353 with non-UAE MENA startups

In This Series:

Quantify the current situation of UAE startup access to capital, to understand its growth trends.

This report covers:

  1. Rounds, capital, rounds median, and number of funded UAE startups in 2019 and 2015-2019
  2. Number of funded UAE startups records negative growth for the first time since 2014
  3. Deceleration in UAE startups access to capital and comparison with MENA startups
  4. UAE has the lowest percentage of funded startups vs elsewhere in MENA

27 insights data, 11 had not been reported before.

What is the effect access to capital may have on startup’s fate and contribution to the economy. This report analyzes statistical correlations to answer the question “So what?” or why we should care about improving the situation of UAE startup access to capital.

This report covers:

  1. Does access to capital affect the number of jobs created by UAE startups
  2. Does lack of access to capital affect startup’s chances of going out of business in UAE
  3. Does prior access to capital affect startup’s chances of raising new funding in UAE
  4. Does access to capital affect startup’s chances of exiting in UAE

15 insights data, 15 had not been reported before.

Analyze the investor side of the UAE venture space to understand if it follows unorthodox trends, or underwent a major shift the result of which is a slowdown in startup access to capital.

This report covers:

  1. Active local and foreign investment firms: growth in count and capital contribution to UAE startups 2015-2019
  2. Number of active investment firms in UAE startups: newly active, returning, and churned firms YoY and 5-yr trends since 2010
  3. Are investment firms who were active in UAE losing interest working with startups
  4. Do UAE investment firms invest in earlier stages such as seed outside MENA
  5. Do UAE investment firms contribute to more capital to non-MENA startups compared to UAE startups

61 insights data, 46 had not been reported before.

Analyze the startup side to understand if there are reasons that make UAE investors favor non-UAE startups, establishing a possible reason for the slowdown in UAE startup access to capital.

This report covers:

  1. Number of UAE startups: newly founded, active, inactive, and exited, annual and 5-yr trends since 2010
  2. Number of new UAE startups records negative growth for the first time in 10 years
  3. How many unfunded UAE startups are within funding age, and how many are in the least-likely-to-be-funded zone by 2020
  4. How many years do UAE startups spend to reach seed, series A, series B and exit
  5. UAE startups valuation range by 2020 compared to MENA and non-MENA
  6. UAE startups investment multiples range by 2020 on seed notes and series A, compared to MENA and non-MENA
  7. UAE startups investment IRR range by 2020
  8. Portfolio performance for UAE investment firms by 2020 vs UAE startups return

41 insights data, 36 had not been reported before.

Easy-to-consume action plans to activate the knowledge and learnings from this report series for the benefit of each decisionmaker in their specific business environment: government, investors, startup founders, accelerators and service providers, and researchers and universities.

5 action plans.

No Claims Without Scientific Rigor

  • No gut feeling, no sentiment surveys, no survival bias. Every point made in this report is based on analysis of a dataset treated as population sample.
  • Findings are discovered through hypothesis testing and models with their accuracy and explanatory power reported sufficiently in terms of risk.
  • Error estimation, bias correction, margin of error, and less reliance on one-point estimators are used for every single input data.

No Improper Treatment of Data

  • No dump-it-in-a-graph, and no restating of graph visuals in writing and passing that for insights.
  • No hide-the-negative and no semantic play to weaken salient trends or magnify weaker trends.
  • No procedural mistakes such as assuming normalcy where not appropriate, or exploiting MNAR data.
  • Usable insights driven by real-world needs. The series is guided by domain knowledge and questions prompted by real-world situations from the venture space workplace, from government-side, investor-side, startup-side, consultant-side, and research-side.

Interactive Graphs

  • All graphs are interactive, including the cover graph at the top of this page.
  • Click any point of interest to see detailed values. Click on the graph then anywhere outside the graph to close all tooltips.
  • Click on legend items (below the graph) to toggle on/off that item. Use it to add or remove categories and compare specific items.
  • Play with this feature strategically to build screenshots you like to copy. Don’t forget to cite the report as the source.

Figure 1.4 – Annual growth trends in number of funded UAE startups 2010-2019

with newly-funded startups highlighted

Technical Notes For the Data-Minded

  • At the end of every segment you will find informative “Technical notes” on every observation and insight mentioned in the segment, along with summary of methodology, tests and statistical treatments used.
  • We prepared those for researchers, analysts, statisticians, and data scientists who would like to perform a quick verification of the data, methodology used, and the results.
  • Click on the “Source” tab for citation of this report and a list of statistics articles and references for those interested in exploring the methods at depth. We prepared these tabs for researchers and academics.
  • Feel free to reach out if you need to discuss more details.
Technical notes (4 notes, 7-10)

<sup>Note 7:</sup> Relative annual change in number of UAE startups who raised a startup round in 2019 vs 2018 is negative. N<sub>pooled</sub>=84, δ=-.13, 95% CI [-.24, -.02] (statistically significant).

<sup>Note 8:</sup> Difference of relative annual change in number of UAE startups who raised a startup round in 2018-2019 vs 2012-2013, …, 2017 vs 2018, is negative in each case except vs 2013-2014. Difference of relative annual change in 2018-2019 vs 2012-2013, …, vs 2017-2018, respectively, 95% CI = ([-1.13, -0.69], [.14, .59], [-1.47, -1.04], [-.96, -.60], [-.52, -.18]) (statistically significant in each case). Relative annual change in 2012-2013, …, 2017-2018, respectively: N<sub>pooled</sub>=(25, 24, 25, 45, 62, 79), 95% CI ([.60, .99], [-.72, -.33], [0.96, 1.34], [.51, .80], [.09, .34], [.21, .44]).

<sup>Note 9:</sup> Relative annual change in number of UAE startups who raised their first round in 2019 vs 2018 is negative. N<sub>pooled</sub>=46, δ=-.296, 95% CI [-.45, -.16] (statistically significant).

<sup>Note 10:</sup> Relative annual change in number of UAE startups who raised a startup round in 2019 vs 2018, and had raised in at least 1 round in a previous year, is not statistically significant. N<sub>pooled</sub>=39, 95% CI [-.11, .21].

Statistical significance and effect size are studied via analysis of confidence interval.

CI is Wilson score interval.

Unless explicitly mentioned, alpha = .05.

† Data for years 2010 and 2011 is not sufficient to test change in UAE startups who raised a round with statistical reliability. Observations O is deemed sufficient iff. each comparison group size n ≥ 5.


Rabbie, Eden. (2020). UAE startup access to capital by 2020. Startup Report MENA [Online]. (Based on analysis of 1011 equity-only seed, series A, bridge and series B startup rounds, 443 investors, 4730 ventures in MENA 2008-2019; enriched database: Crunchbase, PitchBook and fieldwork. Data last accessed 30 April 2020).

Newcombe, R. G. (1998). Interval estimation for the difference between independent proportions: comparison of eleven methods. Statistics in medicine, 17: 873-890. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1097-0258(19980430)17:8<873::AID-SIM779>3.0.CO;2-I

Newcombe, R. G. (2001). Estimating the difference between differences: measurement of additive scale interaction for proportions. Statistics in medicine, 20: 2885-2893. doi:10.1002/sim.925

Wallis, S. (2013). Binomial Confidence Intervals and Contingency Tests: Mathematical Fundamentals and the Evaluation of Alternative Methods. Journal of Quantitative Linguistics, 20:3, 178-208. doi:10.1080/09296174.2013.799918

About the Editor

Eden Rabbie
Eden Rabbie on LinkedIn

Eden Rabbie

Data Analytics and Commercialization in MENA

– 12 years of experience working with governments developing their SME sectors.

– Data science background, CIM, Six Sigma. Japanese-trained.

– Featured author on Medium.

Worked 8 years with the Japanese government to help MENA governments develop their SME sectors, followed by 3 years with UAE government to grow its venture space.

Copyright © and Eden Rabbie 2020-2023. Startup Report MENA is operated by Clearworld, PO Box 415816 Dubai, UAE.

You may use any part of this report for any purpose on condition that you link to it and cite it properly.

Rabbie, Eden. (2020). UAE Startup Access To Capital 2010-2020. Startup Report MENA [Online].

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