6 Hot Fintech Startups in Dubai and Abu Dhabi 2021

6 Hot Fintech Startups in Dubai and Abu Dhabi 2021

Financial districts of both emirates – the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) – have been heavily active in promoting fintech within the country, and setting the stage for more fintech startups to emerge.

This includes a number of sandboxes both the ADGM and DIFC. In Abu Dhabi, venture capital players can look to fresh changes to ease the flow of VC dollars into the emirate, while the 2021 edition of its global fintech startup roadshow Fintech Abu Dhabi is currently underway.

Meanwhile, the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority announced that it would be offering crypto trading at its free zone, while the DIFC has managed to attract over 3000 companies to the district.

Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are clearly propping the country up to become a fintech powerhouse in the Middle East, alongside national contenders Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt. With this backdrop, here are seven of the most exciting fintech startups in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to make breakthroughs this year.

1. Sarwa (Dubai)


Founding date: 2017
Founders: Mark Chahwan, Jad Sayegh, Nadine Mezher
Industry: Wealth advisory and investing

Why it’s trending:

Sarwa is a wealth advisory platform offering both conventional and halal portfolios. It kicked the year off by securing a fintech experimental permit from Saudi Arabia’s Capital Markets Authority. Sarwa has also had a number of other wins this year – it recently raised US$15 million in a Series B, and also launched a Bitcoin portfolio and zero-commission trade service this year.

2. tabby (Dubai)


Founding date: 2019
Founders: Daniil Barkalov, Hosam Arab
Industry: BNPL

Why it’s trending:

It’s turning out to be quite the year for BNPL in the Middle East, and for tabby as well. The startup raised US$50 million in equity funding this year, on top of another US$50 million in debt, picking up a valuation of US$300 million. It also launched a cash back rewards feature this year. tabby’s list of retail partners has some big names, including Adidas, IKEA, and SHEIN, as well as regional giants Chalhoub Group, Al Futtaim Group, and Landmark Group.

3. NymCard (Abu Dhabi)


Founding date: 2018
Founders: Omar Onsi
Industry: Banking-as-a-service

Why it’s trending:

NymCard has been winning with both funding and partnerships this year. The card processing and issuance startup raised US$7.6 million in a Series A round this February. It also recently bagged partnerships with Arab Financial Services and Norwegian payments company Zwipe, and was made part of Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Programme.

4. YAP (Dubai)

Founding date: 2020
Founders: Marwan Hachem
Industry: Digital banking

Why it’s trending:

YAP launched in the UAE this year as its first independent digital banking platform. The startup does not have its own banking license, and offers digital banking services in partnership with RAKBANK. The startup is looking to expand into Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Ghana. It also recently partnered with Emirates Development Bank over an SME-focused EDB Business Banking app.

5. Tarabut Gateway (Dubai)

tarabut gateway

Founding date: 2017
Founders: Abdulla Almoayed
Industry: Open banking

Why it’s trending:

Open banking is one of the latest fintech trends to take over the Middle East. Tarabut Gateway is riding this wave, securing US$13 million in one of the largest Middle East seed rounds to have taken place. The Bahraini open banking startup recently relocated its headquarters to Dubai from Bahrain, a spokesperson from the company confirmed to Fintech News.

6. hala (Abu Dhabi)

Founding date: 2018
Founders: Walid and Karim Dib, Harsh Ajmera
Industry: Insurtech

Why it’s trending:

Starting with motor insurance, hala now also provides renters’ and homeowners’ insurance. The company was started as a blockchain reconciliation platform, and then pivoted to B2C insurance last year. It recently raised US$5 million, with participation from Mubadala and 500 Global (previously 500 Startups).

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