Whether in Beirut, Cairo, Dubai, Riyadh or even Gaza City, small technology firms are multiplying, creating a sort of “start-up spring”. …
Although the Arab world is behind other regions in internet use (see chart), it is catching up fast, along with smartphone penetration and e-commerce. What is more, cultural and linguistic barriers provide some protection against foreign internet giants.

There is plenty of money sloshing about, but investors prefer safe, tangible bets such as property and factories over putting their cash into high-risk start-ups. “Venture capital is an animal people here can’t quite understand,” explains an American executive who is raising a fund in Dubai. “Investors often ask: ‘What do you mean, you can lose all the money?’”

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