Connecting Entrepreneurs from Saudi Arabia and Germany

A Start-Up Competition Selecting Most Promising Business Ideas

The German-Saudi Liaison Office for Economic Affairs (GESALO) and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) are organising a start-up competition for Saudi entrepreneurs. The winners travel to Berlin in mid-April to connect with their German counterparts.


Despite the global decrease in the price of oil, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia remains the largest economy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). However, financial surpluses have declined and economic output stagnated. Therefore, the government continues to pursue economic reform and diversification under the umbrella of Vision 2030. Amongst others, the Vision focuses on entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to take a lead in economic development, job creation, and productivity growth.

Some notable unicorns – start-ups worth more than 1 billion US$ – such as Paytabs or Dokkan Afkar have already successfully matured on the Saudi market, in part due to the government’s assistance programmes for start-ups. Yet, SMEs still only contribute towards 20% of overall GDP in Saudi Arabia, a rate considered low compared to other economies like Germany’s, where SMEs create 50 to 60% of economic output. Studies have found that constraints hampering entrepreneurship are foremost issues of bureaucracy as well as challenges to acquire talent and capital. In order to provide entrepreneurs with strategies to tackle those challenges GESALO and the KAS Regional Programme Gulf States aim to foster knowledge exchange between entrepreneurs from Germany and Saudi Arabia.

In that vein, the “1st German-Saudi Start-Up Competition” is poised to take place on 22 March 2018 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. During the event, the two most promising Saudi start-ups in the areas social entrepreneurship and technology will be selected to travel to the "MENA Business Forum" on 12 April in Berlin, Germany, and present their business ideas in front of a high-level audience of German business leaders and politicians. Furthermore, the entrepreneurs will be exposed to the start-up eco-system in Berlin allowing them to connect with their German peers and exchange best practices. This knowledge transfer shall contribute towards overcoming some of the challenges entrepreneurs face in Saudi Arabia today.

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Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


Philipp Dienstbier

Philipp Dienstbier bild

Transatlantic relations +49 30 26996-3372 +49 30 26996-53372

Dr. Manuel Schubert