Internet, health, culture... Jordanian start-ups radiate the Arab world

The so-called “maktoob effect” today reflects the undeniable impact of Jordanian startups in the Levant.

In the early 2000s, Maktoob's success led to the creation of new de-materialized services, led by CashU, a regional electronic payments platform acquired by Yahoo in 2009, and Souq, an e-commerce site headquartered in Dubai before being acquired by Amazon in 2017. Now it's the turn of the healthcare and cultural sectors to take their first steps into the realm of start-ups, with the biggest tele-consultation platform in the Middle East : Altibbi, and Abjjad: the must-have e-reader.

Altibbi — the doctolib of the Middle East

At a time when 400 million people in the region have no direct access to medical services, Altibbi is working to make medical advice available in Arabic via the Internet. Following a model already adopted by Western sites such as Doctolib, Livi or Hellocare, Altibbi offers intuitive, efficient ergonomics based on a chat and tele-consultation system, enabling patients to maintain a direct connection with their doctor.

Winner of the World Summit Award for the best digital content in the "health and well-being" category, the Jordanian tele-consultation site has an annual growth rate of 1% and a total of over 40 million visits. Altibbi is now based in the Emirates and is beginning to connect with other neighboring countries. The start-up recently signed a partnership with the Prince Sultan University in Riyadh, with whom it is preparing to collaborate in the fields of artificial intelligence and health safety.

Abjjad — restoring a taste for reading on a regional scale

For a healthy mind in a healthy body, Abjjad completes the mission of the medical advice start-up. This electronic e-book service will ensure intellectual health by circulating Arabic and foreign literature throughout the Mediterranean basin. Founded in 2012 by Eman Hylooz, the e-platform currently offers unlimited access to over 600 Arabic-language works for a monthly subscription fee of $6. Its online library also hosts a multitude of works by international authors that will appeal to a wide range of profiles. These include the great classics, from Saint-Exupéry to Spinoza, as well as notable geopolitical essays such as Martin Indykn's Master of the Game — Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy, and even science fiction, as evidenced by the Isaac Asimov collection, freely available on the application.

1.5 million readers later, the Hashemite start-up plans to attract 180 million new readers. To achieve its goal, Abjjad can count on the support of two major investors. The Jordan Entrepreneurship Fund and ISSF, an investment fund dedicated to start-ups and SMEs. These two benefactors have contributed $1 million and $200,000 respectively. Culture is priceless, but it does come at a cost, which investors are willing to pay. As their initials suggest, Altibbi and Abjjad are leaders in their field. The success of these two start-ups augurs well for a promising renewal of the healthcare and education sectors in the MENA region. What other areas will the talented Jordanians tackle in their future business ventures?

Sources: as-an-internet-hub/2012/10/18/061a4e9e-0f3c-11e2-bd1a-b868e65d57eb_story.html? utm_term=.d4370ce8d8a0