How to start a business in the Middle East – Low cost

Researched by the Northwestern University in Qatar
Researched by the Northwestern University in Qatar

Although things are starting to look a bit brighter, the world crisis experienced in the first decade of this century. Left a large amount of business startups out of business. Entrepreneurs have to reorganize the way they start a business. At present the best way to start is by a reduction of costs. Businesses cannot be perceived as before – an office, employees and all that comes with it…Now you can open an online shop, have a virtual office in Dubai, sell your product worldwide and instead of payrolled employees – freelancers.

Introduce yourself to the Social Media

The Middle East is a region where this social phenomena, is starting to become an important tool businesswise. It’s not comparable to western countries, but it is growing steadily, even more so after the Arab Spring Uprising, but the real breakthrough came earlier. Maktoob, a Jordanian internet portal, was bought by Yahoo for $175 million in 2009. Such a deal drew the attention of businessmen in the Middle East and now global companies like Fly Emirates are bidding strongly. There are many ways of building a company that could be of interest for important firms that would bid for your services or buy your business. What is of importance, is what always has been and always will be – the product.

Some ideas to start up a business through the internet world:

  • Online shop – can you have a product to sell, by means of abilities (writing, painting, drawing, cooking) or can you access a cheap and constant supply of a product (textile, alimentary, tools). Once the product has been tested and has proven to claim viable  guarantees. Seriously consider opening an online shop.


  • No physical space for the consumer needed
  • Worldwide exposure
  • Open for service 24/7 – emails, application and order forms
  • Blog – it is not as difficult as it may seem. A high percentage of entrepreneurs don’t have the time to update a blog assiduously. But they can take a day or two to create with inexpensive or even free software a very good blog or website. Once it’s running, contributors, freelancers and the entrepreneur herself/himself can keep a site/blog fresh, updated in a wide variety of subjects and perspectives, that will be spread through the social media.

Tip: Add useful info by means of clips, articles or posts (infographics are highly regarded at present). Giving the user a wide and grounded source of information to which she/he can refer to in future occasions.

  • Freelancers – this way of working is of great value to companies and individuals. Contacting possible employees or employers worldwide is very easy, not free, but at a reasonable cost. There are many platforms or websites that are a meeting point for job offers and job searches (Freelancer, Elance, LinkedIn).

Why? The firsts (freelancers) are multiplying due to the worldwide exposure and the seconds (companies) are also accepting the change. Because freelancers, get paid for the work done and with the possibility of working from their homes – fixed costs for the company are cut down to the core.

Fixed costs – down to the core

As mentioned above fixed costs can be reduced by having the payroll cut down to minimums and aid the company in certain moments with freelancers. But sometimes the business can’t afford to lose certain payrolls and are forced to coexist with this possible burden. There are other ways of fixing these issues and at the sametime have the possibility of physically connecting your business in the world-market.

Reorganizing the structure of the entrepreneur doesn’t mean less of everything. As with the evolution of marketing from radio or tv into social media, offices have also gone through an evolution. From having a base (office or shop), startup businesses have gone through – hotels, coffee shops, airport lounges or dinner meetings to do business. At present modern co-spaces (serviced offices, business centres, coworking spaces) are the next option that has become an important and viable tool for all businesses.

Commonly known as, business centres, they have become the freelancers of the trade. Modern business centers are adapted to the needs of every individual and there are a wide variety of services offered. Most of these business centres are well established worldwide and can have an office network that can supply you with a virtual office in Madrid, a day office in Riyadh and a business address in Hanoi.

Most of this information is worthless if you don’t have a clear idea of what sort of business you want to venture into. What are you going to sell. This is not what I want to aid you with. Here you have been introduced to a variety of options at your disposal, in some cases for free, that can have a great impact in your business. When one has the possibility of letting the whole world know what you are on about – as a business or individual. You should at least consider it.

One example: Twitter now has over 300 million people tweeting a month or over 10 million tweets per day. According to the Arab Social Media Report of last March 2013.

With such a low economical cost. It is worth spending the hours necessary to get the basic picture of what needs to be done. After this first stepping stone and with such a huge amount of users connected to the net worldwide (Graph’s A & B). If you believe in the project the startup stage of the business doesn’t have to become a nagging headache every single day. It will lower to just every other day!