4 Middle Eastern countries that are establishing a culture of entrepreneurship to transform into knowledge-based economies

The so-called knowledge revolution is based mainly on the rapid growth in scientific and technological innovation for the production of goods and services in an economic system.
The structural and institutional transition from resource-based economies such as oil and gas to knowledge-based economies has become the common denominator between countries in the Middle East and North Africa . In this region of the world, it is expected that by 2050 there will be 300 million young people entering the labor market. Most of the jobs that they will demand do not yet exist and will mostly be in the private sector. Governments are aware of their high dependence on hydrocarbons and several have begun strategic economic transformation plans now that they can invest in developing various sectors.
The reality is that transforming an economy is a difficult and long-term job, so there are several cases that have not achieved it and others that are doing better than others. The region also has a privileged geographic location with access to large markets and the population, in addition to being young, is highly educated. That is why we can learn from the cases of these four Middle Eastern countries that have had economic development plans in place for several years and have found in the creation of an entrepreneurial culture a path for transformation.
1. Israel
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This Middle Eastern country with access to the Mediterranean Sea takes the famous nickname of Start-Up Nation. In 2009, Dan Senor and Saul Singer published a book of the same name explaining "the history of Israel’s economic miracle" in which they precisely talk about how culture has helped since then to be the country with the most technology-based companies per capita around the world. It is a country that has gone through several wars and does not have enough natural resources, but they have found a way to develop and transfer the knowledge in technology that is normally bought by other foreign companies in the Western world.
According to the2020 Startup Genome ecosystem rankings, Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, ranks sixth globally. The culture in this country is one of collaboration between entrepreneurs and investors with a shared sense of responsibility to move the country towards a technological leader. Something that has been developing from the military antecedents and the high migration that exists. According to The Economist , the Israeli entrepreneurship ecosystem is characterized by a “can do” attitude and high resilience to failure.
2. Qatar
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Recently attracting the attention of the world for the FIFA soccer world cup and for the lifting of the trade blockade that it had since 2017 with its neighboring countries, today it is an example of transformation and vision for the future. Since 2008, the State of Qatar established an economic development plan called the Qatar National Vision 2030. Its vision is also to diversify the economy to reduce dependence on hydrocarbons that currently represent 90% of the country’s income. In this plan, entrepreneurs are recognized as key in the transformation process and a special emphasis is placed on supporting the development of innovation, research and development skills.
In my experience, the case of Qatar is unique because of the special emphasis on supporting from education and through public and private institutions the development of small and medium-sized companies with which I have had the opportunity to collaborate. As can clearly be seen on a visit to Education City or to Qatar University . In Qatar, an atmosphere of collaboration and openness is perceived to create support networks to move the country towards that national vision, driven by the search for self-sustainability that resulted from the trade blockade, but which now, starting in 2021, opens new opportunities to explore international markets with neighboring countries.
3. Saudi Arabia
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Like Qatar, Saudi Arabia has a vision for 2030 that considers developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem to increase the contribution of small and medium-sized companies to the gross domestic product. This plan considers human capital as strategic for the growth of the ecosystem and the government has decided to inject resources into the creation of a venture capital fund, government support programs, financing for companies and exports, among other things. The “Saudi Vision 2030” has proven to be a long-term strategic development plan that has attracted entrepreneurs and investors to this region of the world. A favorable business environment is perceived for those who want to undertake and it is one of the largest markets in the Arab world.
Related: Israel’s Secrets to Becoming the Other Silicon Valley 4. United Arab Emirates
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The United Arab Emirates is best known for its cities Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The government has played an important role as an institutional entrepreneur supporting the development of the ecosystem by investing in infrastructure projects, commercial opening, development of the entrepreneurial culture and diversification of the country’s income. In the region it is one of the countries where it is "easier" to create a company as a foreigner. In just 30 years you can see the great development that its cities and the economy in general have had.

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