Qatar Plans to Invest Over $100m in Startups Within the Next Year

At the recent Web Summit, Qatar made an exciting announcement: the introduction of its startup investment program, which is being implemented by its development bank. This program has an ambitious goal of attracting tech companies in their early or growth stages who are interested in establishing or expanding their operations within Qatar.

According to TechCrunch, this initiative, known as the “Startup Qatar Investment Program,” boasts a substantial $100 million fund managed by the Qatar Development Bank (QDB).

QDB has announced that they are launching a program that aims to support startups at different stages of growth. They will offer funding of up to $500,000 for early-stage startups looking to establish themselves in Qatar and up to $5 million for growth-stage companies that want to expand their operations in the Middle East. 

What does this program entail, and how will it be implemented? 

The program not only offers financial support but also grants startups access to markets and expertise. This creates an exceptional opportunity for startups in sectors such as fintech, cleantech, agritech, B2B SaaS, health tech, marketplaces, proptech, AI & ML, and robotics. 

According to QDB CEO Mr Abdulrahman bin Hesham Al Sowaidi, QDB is increasing its efforts to establish Qatar as a significant hub for startups, particularly in the tech sector, due to its strategic importance. 

Al Sowaidi stated that the goal of these endeavours is to attract and maintain skilled professionals in different sectors, bolster the entrepreneurial ecosystem, promote innovation, and drive the adoption of technology in various fields. 

Qatar’s startup program follows a similar approach to venture firms such as U.S.-based Alpha Wave Global, which oversees a $300 million early-stage fund (Alpha Wave Incubation) backed by ADQ, one of Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth funds. 

Similar venture funds across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) require, in exchange for funding and other business benefits, that startups from outside the region set up a “second” headquarters or office in their regions (which act as bases for expanding operations across MENA and the GCC).

Many venture ecosystems have specific requirements that are imposed by limited partners, particularly sovereign wealth funds from the Gulf region, on venture capital firms. Recently, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund announced a remarkable initiative: a $1 billion venture capital fund of funds that focuses on supporting international and regional venture capital funds.


The launch of Qatar’s fund of funds and startup program is a decisive move towards developing its tech ecosystem to compete with its neighbouring countries, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The need for this step becomes even more evident when looking at the data provided by emerging market data tracker Magnitt.

It reveals that Qatar only accounted for 6% of deals in the MENA region last year, with a meagre 43 million Qatari riyals ($11 million) invested in its startups. In contrast, Saudi Arabia leads the region with 52% of deals, while the UAE dominates in terms of deal volume.

However, this increase in competition actually benefits the entire region. In a year when the MENA region experienced a 23% decline in venture capital activity compared to the global average of 42%, Qatar’s heightened engagement in venture capital, led by its sovereign wealth fund and development bank, brings a promising outlook for the broader region.

It is worth noting that 55% of investors who backed startups in the region last year were local, further highlighting the potential impact of Qatar’s involvement.

Source: Tech Crunch and Magnitt.

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Oladipo Lawson

Oladipo is an economics graduate with multifaceted interests. He's a seasoned tech writer and gamer and a passionate Arsenal F.C. fan. Beyond these, Dipo is a culinary adventurer, trend-setting stylist, data science hobbyist, and an energised traveller, embodying intellectual versatility and mastery of many fields.

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