During a 2010 regional conference of tech startups, entrepreneur and investor Schroeder (SHS '82) was surprised to find in Dubai a tech-centric, globally focused group of entrepreneurs, both male and female. Here, he paints a remarkable picture of the entrepreneurial shift going on in Dubai, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and other regions, discussing companies such as PayPal Middle East, Maktoob, and Souq.com, as well as the growing emphasis on creativity in Egypt, ecosystem building in Saudi Arabia, and Google’s efforts across the region.
Schroeder asks, “[What] happens when the vast majority of talented people don’t want to move—when they not only want to stay home, but are driven by almost patriotic passion to make change where they come from?” This new generation has never lived in a world without Internet technology, and it wants to escape the tyranny of wasta—favoritism based on personal and family connections. However, new media entrepreneurship in the Middle East faces particular challenges: business networks are still being developed; credit card usage is low; and two-thirds of shipping transactions are COD, making development of an online retail marketplace difficult. Still, for opportunities in “mobile technology, solar energy and social networks,” Western businesses will soon be looking far beyond Silicon Valley, and recruiters and investors would do well to consult this illuminating book. Agent: Alia Hanna Habib, McCormick & Williams.