Analysis
The Sharing Economy is Gaining Momentum in the Arab World
On 17 October 2013 by Ahmad Sufian Bayram

The sharing economy movement is taking a new stride in the Arab World, and many platforms have taken the initiative of implementing the methods of collaborative economy. We dig deep and scrutinize the factors and the potential which could see this industry grow bigger in the region at a quick rate. Here we offer some successful stories.

The sharing economy in the Arab World has been witnessing an ongoing shift in the trend that has envisaged owning rather than accessing. This shift has turned things around, where now the value of the product in the Arab World day after another has become one of usage- not in its outright ownership anymore; as was the case with mainstream consumer models. Used products are more fashionable, thanks to the popularity of online platforms for buying and selling used goods.

People are also adopting what could be called collaborative lifestyles, and depend on each other in circulating and spreading all what occupy their daily interests and concerns like we have seen in the turbulent upheavals of the Arab Spring where the power of social media and its effect on society have accelerated the rate at which relationships develop and information is shared.

The sharing economy movement in the Arab World has seen a positive eruption in the recent few years, especially in the last one. We’re beginning to share more and more in the Arab world —; boats (fishfishme); skills (Taskty); carpooling (Kartag); swapping goods (Swaphood ) or selling used goods (krakeebegypt, dubizzle.com, Avito.ma In Morocco, a classified ads website has become the second most-visited website in the country. and Takemine the first online marketplace for peer-to-peer goods sharing in Dubai that will open (launch) soon.

Crowdsourcing

Several platforms have emerged with the function of allowing people to spread their wisdom and express their voices, and thus contributing in improving the transparency and access of the real time information on every aspect of their daily activities like:

This links contains 10 examples Crowdmaps bringing transparency to the Arab World.

  • Yomken; crowdsourcing approach where entrepreneurs or those with solutions can submit a product that will then solve the challenge.
  • Ma2too3a, Wasalny: Crowdsourced traffic and (social safety) updates.
  • TourTwist, goejaza.com : Crowdsourced tourism platform.

Even the the Lebanese Army launched crime fighting phone application allowing people to report suspicious vehicles, abductions or other security emergencies.


Couchsurfing

There are few couchsurfing platforms in the Arab world – like Arabrooms.com, Gweet and Shokako online; a turkish website which offers it’s services in Arabic.

This shortage in couchsurfing can be attributed to many factors. People in the Arab World rarely share their apartments for the social privilege of meeting new people or for environmental concerns. People usually do not want to offer their apartments for rent when they still live in them, while the main reason is purely saving costs or to making profit…

Crowdfunding

The crowdfunding Arab based platforms have recently experienced an impressive growth in the Arab World. We have around 7 crowdfunding startups which have recently emerged with the aim to develop the Arab World financial landscape. Here are some of the current ones: Aflamnah; a UAE-based platform that helps filmmakers from the Arab world, Eureeca; crowd-investing (equity crowdfunding) platform, Yomken; a non-profit crowdfunding Arab platform based in Egypt, Shekra and Zoomaal; an international reward-based crowdfunding platform, follows an all-or-nothing funding model and offers different payment models.

Hackerspaces and Coworking spaces

The need to channel the entrepreneurial initiatives in a fitting atmosphere has triggered the creation of more that 30 popular coworking spaces and 15 Hackerspaces in the Arab World.

These spaces have taken the lead in adapting these initiative and offering entrepreneurs, freelancers, and startups a suitable environment that allows creating and delivering projects.

The majority of these communities have not reached out to the public to turn sharing into a movement around the Arab cities yet. But that’s not because the Arab people don’t want to share. Although regulations in the sharing economy field might vary across countries, we are still strong enough in the bartering system which is deeply rooted in our culture, and today’s economic challenges have fostered the resurgence of this mindset.

Other factors affect this movement such as lack of knowledge about the collaborative economy, as well as the peer-to-peer alternatives, the difficulties that startups face with no government support for them or the sharing economy in general. And what makes the Arab market more complicated is that Arab cultures are intertwined. The religion is central to society and business, governing most facets of the marketplace. Arabs like and respect Western brands—but only as long as those brands don’t conflict with their values.


Features picture: screenshot from the sharing initiatives map created by the OuiShare Arab Countries group.

Ahmad Sufian Bayram OuiShare Core Team Member & Arab Countries Connector, blogger and consultant on collaborative economy with a focus on economy and ecosystem, and writes in many international magazines to promote the movement in his area. Profile →

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