The Top 5 Startup Competitions in MENA Region


In the previous posts, we listed the top global startup competitions, top startup competitions in Europe, and top startup competitions in Asia. In this article, we will focus on top startup competitions in Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

MIT Arab Startup Competition

MIT Arab Startup competition is the most well-known competition in MENA region. It has three different tracks (startup track, idea track, and social track). To apply to the startup track, you need to have at least team of two members, registered company, a prototype, and preferably traction. For idea track, you need to have a team of two members and an innovative idea. Finally, to apply to the social track, you need to have at least  a team of two members, a registered company, and a product that addresses a social problem. All applicants / startups must be located in one of MENA countries.

The best 20 applicants of each track will be able to participate in the MIT event. The winners of the startup track will get a cash prize of $50,000 (1st place), $15,000 (2nd place), and $10,000 (3rd place). The winners of the social track will get a cash prize of $15,000 (1st place), $10,000 (2nd place), and $5,000 (3rd place). Finally,  the winners of the idea track will get a cash prize of $15,000 (1st place), $10,000 (2nd place), and $5,000 (3rd place). In addition to the awards, the MIT organizers will pay the accommodation fees for all the participating teams. In addition, all teams will have an opportunity to network with investors, get media exposure, and get top tier training. To read more about it, please check their website.

Harvard Arab Weekend Startup Pitch

Organized by the Harvard Business School Middle East & North Africa club and the Harvard Arab Alumni Association, the startup pitch competition is an integral part of the Harvard Arab Weekend. The Harvard Arab Weekend Startup Pitch competition is now one of the most prominent MENA startup pitch competition in the US. Winners will be able to compete on monetary prizes of up to $25,000, attend a series of workshops, and participate in the Harvard Arab Weekend networking events. For more information, please visit their website.

Arabnet Startup Championship

If your startup is less than 2 years old, have less that 30 employees, and have less than $2M investment, then you can apply this championship. Unlike the MIT and Harvard, your startup must win in one of the local startup battles to participate in the event. The final winner will receive $20,000 grant, acceleration scholarship in silicon valley, and other in-kind prizes. All participants will get a free booth, pitch training, and an access to the networking events. For more information, please visit their website.

GITEX Supernova Challenge

GITEX Technology Week is a game-changing, must-attend event located in Dubai, UAE – the world’s fastest growing technology hub. This competition has many tracks and categories. Although it’s not necessary to be a MENA startup to participate, it has dedicated track for best Arab startups. The best global startup will get a cash prize of $100,000. In addition, the winner of all other tracks will get a cash prize of $10,000. For more details, please visit their website.

Startup Grind MENA

It’s an interactive pitch competition taking place at Startup MENA Event. If you can convince the judges and impress the crowd in a 2 minutes pitch, you will have the chance to win a trip to the USA, incubation space, and mentorship. Moreover, winners will receive up to $10,000 prizes and possible investment from Silicon Valley investors. To participate in this competition, please fill their application form.

Have I missed any competition? Feel free to post a comment below!