Bahrain boosts startup ranking

MANAMA: Bahrain has moved up two spots to rank 64th in the 2022 Global Startup Ecosystem Index by StartupBlink, strengthening its position among the 100 top destinations for startups around the world.

The kingdom also improved its position in the Middle East by taking sixth place regionally, pushing past Jordan.

The research firm’s index calculates a score for each country based on tens of thousands of data points gathered from more than 50,000 members working as venture capitalists, founders and employees of small firms.

The US maintains its status as the highest ranked country, with a total score gap almost four times that of the second ranked country, the UK.

Manama has seen a jump of eight spots to 329th globally in the index which also features a ranking of the top 1,000 cities globally having the best startup ecosystem.

This improvement also positioned Manama as the 10th highest ranked city in the Middle East, surpassing Jeddah.

The highest ranked city in the world is San Francisco, which remains the most prominent global ecosystem by a massive margin.

In total, the US has 257 cities in the top 1,000 rankings, with no other country coming close.


Bahrain has developed ecosystems to help incubate startups and offer business support at early stages


Commending Bahrain’s capital for “consistent positive growth”, the report notes that Manama has improved its ranking each year since the first global startup ecosystem index was issued by StartupBlink in 2017.

Bahrain’s favourable legal framework and various support systems for startups and entrepreneurs have enabled it to join the rising innovation wave in the Gulf region, the report adds.

Compared to other countries in the region, the kingdom has lower taxes and lower operational costs for startups, for instance, the cost of living in Bahrain is 52 per cent cheaper than London.

Bahrain also created initiatives like StartUp Bahrain, Tamkeen, and Bahrain FinTech Bay, which demonstrate the public sector’s active involvement in the startup scene.

The report highlights Bahrain’s diverse and multicultural society, with more than half of the population consisting of expats and English being widely spoken as attributes that have made the country unique and attractive to entrepreneurship.

The country has managed to design ecosystems to help incubate startups and offer business support at early stages, even though much of the Bahrain economy is still based on the oil and gas industry, it notes.

“Technology-based start-ups have become drivers of economic change in Bahrain. They are reshaping economic diversification and shifting the national entrepreneurship narrative towards ideas that address concrete market needs and offer growth opportunities far beyond Bahrain,” says Dr Jarmo Kotilaine, chief strategy and data analytics officer at Tamkeen.

Also featured in the report is a case study on Manama, which lists hardware and Internet of Things, marketing and sales, and social and leisure industries as promising sectors.

Among reasons to relocate to Bahrain, it lists the country’s top rank in terms of skilled labour in Mena based on the UN Human Development Index and streamlined business regulations with zero corporate taxes.

It also identifies the kingdom as one of the first in the Mena to accept blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Due to affordability and ease of access, Bahrain is a great entry point for startups looking to enter other GCC countries, the report says.

Notable startups and ecosystem champions in Bahrain are Calo, a D2C (direct-to-consumer) foodtech startup that serves personalised meal subscriptions;, an online multivendor marketplace and GetBaqala, which is harnessing the power of social networks and influencers to reinvent the supply chain and scale the power of SME retail.

Commenting on the findings, Eli David, chief executive of StartupBlink, said 2022 being the year of global startup ecosystem uncertainty was not necessarily a bad thing, as it historically brings new opportunities and potential exponential growth in sectors and technologies.

“Inflation, tech sector wage increases, company devaluations, and increasing interest rates will all challenge short-term economic growth and make it harder to raise capital. Choose your startup ecosystem wisely as it greatly affects your chances of success,” he added.




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