Start-ups can fill the jobs gap as the Middle East's young population soars
Nearly 20 million jobs will be needed in the Middle East thanks to a surge in the region’s young population. It’s thought that tech start-ups will be able to fill this gap.
More than 50 per cent of the population in countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia are aged under 25, according to Careem’s vice president of marketing and analytics Yousef Tuquan.
He said: “In the Middle East, in some countries, more than 50 per cent of the population is under the age of 25. In Saudi Arabia, more than 55 per cent is under 25. In Egypt, it’s 59 per cent. These people all need jobs. And companies are going to create all these desperately needed jobs in the future.
“Thirty years ago you wanted a nice public sector job, Today, there are more than 460 companies out there ready to help and support entrepreneurs. And in the last five years, there has been an absolute explosion in the region.
“Most retailers today in the Middle East are flatlining, even if they won’t admit it. Very few are seeing significant growth. But these people are growing 90 per cent a year. Souq.com employs over 3,000 people across the Middle East. And what’s incredible is that 70 per cent of purchases made in Saudi Arabia are done by mobile phone. They are a real success story and a real bellwether for the industry overall.”
He added: “Today in the Middle East, there’s over $500m of foreign investments available for tech start-ups and it’s absolutely fascinating and it’s spun all these tech companies who have come out of Maktoob.”
Maktoob was originally founded as an internet services company in Amman, Jordan, in 1998 and was bought by United States’ internet giant Yahoo! for $164m in 2009. However, Yahoo! announced plans last year to close down the operation in Dubai and pull out of the Middle East completely by April.
Tuquan continued: “What we saw five or six years ago across the Arab world was incredible change in what was called the Arab Spring. Five years later, people are calling this the Arab Winter. Very little of the optimism five years ago has given away to what we hoped for. You watch the TV and it’s clear to see it’s never been worse; we are beset by sectarianism, by politics, by violence, by a refugee crisis - the likes of which we have never seen before.
“But despite this, the internet seems to transcend all of that.”
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GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”