JULY 2015


Nabil Itani

Lebanon has been recently called the "Silicon Valley of the Middle East" by the CNN and the "Middle East's Tech Hub" by Tech Crunch; and this comes as no surprise as the ICT sector in Lebanon is one of the most promising sectors in the region, with a highly skilled and competitive labor force and a stellar educational system coupled with an improving infrastructure and a supportive ecosystem.  

At IDAL, we are entrusted, as per Investment Law No.360, to identify investment opportunities in sectors with the propensity and potential to grow. Given the importance of the ICT sector to the economy and given its potential, a detailed analysis was conducted to assess the competitive advantages of the sub-sectors which Lebanon could have a higher potential to thrive in.

On the export promotion front, IDAL is working hard in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and syndicates to increase access to markets through Maritime transportation of Lebanese products.

We welcome your news and suggestions at invest@idal.com.lb

Best Wishes,


Nabil Itani

Chairman-General Manager


ICT The Lebanese Information Technology sector1 is a fast growing sector with an estimated market size of USD 381 million in 2014 and projected to reach USD 530 million by 2017. The market has been growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.9% over the period 2009 - 2014  and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.24% from 2015 to 2018. In 2013, The ICT sector contributed to 3% of Lebanon's GDP  and its impact on GDP, whether direct or indirect, is forecasted to be greater than USD 6 Billion by 2017 .

There are around 200 companies engaged in the pure creation and development of software products, services and applications.They are mostly small and medium size businesses who operate around three major activities that are currently growing on the international arena:


*Software products companies, which account for around 48 % of the total number of ICT companies

Web solutions companies, which account for 38% of ICT companies

* Mobile services and applications companies, accounting for around 13 % of total ICT companies in Lebanon


Lebanon possesses a number of competitive advantages that can make it one of the most promising ICT sectors in the region, including a strong human capital base, a competitive labor force, access to growing regional markets, an enabling infrastructure, and a supportive ecosystem.  Indeed, Lebanon is emerging as a leading exporter of software products and services in the region.  Exports of ICT related activities account for around 56.8% of total service exports; the highest share among regional countries. More than 60% of firms engaged in ICT activities are export oriented, with the Gulf region as the primary export destination for Lebanese products.


Read the full report here.


1 According to Business Monitor International (BMI), the IT sector includes: software development, hardware & IT services.

The statistics and analysis presented above are generated from a database of IT companies compiled by IDAL from various sources including: Lebanon's Chambers of Commerce, Association of the Lebanese Software Industrialists (ALSI), Professional Computer Association (PCA), Berytech, ZAWYA and other online databases. The database includes the information of 205 companies engaged in software, web and mobile app development. This is a preliminary analysis used only to assess general market trends. The companies' database is not exhaustive and the numbers generated are estimates but provide a good overview of the sector size and potential.





At IDAL, we are keen on providing Lebanese companies in the ICT sector with all the support needed for them to expand, as part of our export promotion mandate. Subsequently, we have provided them with:

- access to global bids to encourage them to take on new business projects

- access to our business linkage program which aims at fostering the growth of Lebanese ICT companies through supporting them in identifying new markets and establishing links with foreign companies looking for partners to outsource the development of all or part of their services

As part of its mandate to help Lebanese ICT companies expand, IDAL was contacted by the investment promotion agency Invest in Lyon to encourage Lebanese startups to take part in a new accelerator program called the Big Booster, along with the city of Boston-Massachusetts.


The only project of its kind in Europe, the Big Booster, in connection with MassChallenge, is an international non-profit acceleration program designed to help bolster and provide ongoing support to early-stage startups with innovative or breakthrough technology.

The Big Booster is a competition proposed to startups from Europe, the Middle east and Africa in the sciences, innovative tech and sustainable development. It is an intensive 10-month program that starts with a Boot Camp in Lyon for the 100 selected startups, followed by a Boot Camp in Boston for the 20 best ones.




The competition is open to  innovative seed or early stage start-ups in the following fields:

-   Bio & Health: Life Sciences and Health, Biotech, Medtech, e-health

-   Innovative Tech: Digital, Big data, Connected Objects, Smart City, Cloud & Mobile apps,


-   Global Impact: Cleantech, General & Social Impact


Participating in this competition will give you the opportunity to:

1. Accelerate your project or concept development

2. Improve your business model and market access at international level

3. Develop networking with international partners

4. Improve your visibility


Online applications will start on July 1st and close on September 15th, 2015. In October, the top 100 selected startups will be announced and will participate in the Lyon Boot Camp, which will take place from October 27-29, 2015. The top 20 startup  will participate in a second Boot Camp in Boston in February 2016.

IDAL has sent an email to the ICT ecosystem in Lebanon to encourage their members to participate. You can also apply through the following www.bigbooster.org

IMPORTANT: Mention IDAL in the "Referred by" section so that we can ensure a follow up of your application.


Given the importance of the sector IDAL has developed a white paper on ICT in Lebanon that included all investment opportunities from media streaming to call centers:




  • Consumer Internet: more specifically in Web and Mobile Portals, Content Websites and Applications, News, Internet Publishing, Social Networks and Applications, and Search. There is an especially high demand for Arabic content creation along those key markets.
  • Ad Tech : particularly for Mobile, Search, and Video
  • Enterprise Softwarethe market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10% from 2012 to 2015 in the MENA region.  Opportunities areespecially present in Customer Relationship Management, Government, and Advertising
  • Media Streaming: Online music and video revenues in MENA were estimated to grow at a CAGR of 60% from 2011 to 2014, providing opportunities for developers in Lebanon
  • Gaming: There are increased opportunities for gaming on tables and smartphones with more than 80% of the 1.2 billion gamers worldwide playing on tablets and smartphones.
  • Value-Added Services (VAS): The increase in the number of mobile users and sale of smart devices, have created opportunities for VAS. Lebanon will have one of the highest growth rates of VAS revenues in the MENA region, which is expected to more than double by 2018.
  • E-Government: With the implementation of the e-Government initiative, dawlati, Mobile devices will increasingly be used as key facilitator for online interactions.
  • Telemarketing and Call Centers: Lebanon possesses a number of competitive advantages to serve this sector, including an internationally renowned educational system, cost-competitive and highly-skilled workforce, and an established track record



Read the full study here.



Jihad Kawas, Lebanon's youngest CEO managed to become one of the 20 selected from a pool of 2,800 applicants from around the world to become Thiel Fellows, winning a  $100,000 cash prize for his startup "Saily". 



Ziad Sankari, founder of startup CardioDiagnostics, met President Obama and was selected to be a guest speaker at the White House as a representative of innovative solutions to some of the world's toughest challenges.




The cabinet has approved the mechanism to support agricultural and industrial exports through maritime transportation. Preceding this decision was a series of meetings between Chairman Nabil Itani and the Minister of Agriculture, the Association of Lebanese Industrialists, the association of vegetables and fruits exporters, and auditors.

The main objective of the mechanism is to ensure that Lebanese produces continue to access traditional markets, especially to Jordan and the Gulf states. The mechanism is important in ensuring that the standard that the Lebanese products has in those markets is maintained by safeguarding the credibility of Lebanese producers and manufacturers to their trading partners in these market as well as to maintain the supply and demand balance within the Lebanese market itself. More information on this subject will be covered in next month's issue.




Chairman of IDAL, Mr.Nabil Itani met with the Ambassador of Lebanon to Mexico Mr. Hisham Hamdan; whereby they discussed ways to enhance economic relations between both countries through the emphasis on the Lebanese diaspora





Chairman of IDAL, Mr.Nabil Itani and board member Mourched El Hajj Chahine have met with a delegation from Sudan headed by the Ambassador Hag Magid Mohammad Al Suwar, Secretary General of the Secretariat of Sudanese Working Abroad. The aim of the meeting was to exchange know-how on diaspora engagement and the programs in place to attract investments.




The Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL) is the national investment promotion agency of Lebanon. Established in 1994, IDAL aims to promote Lebanon as key investment destination and attracting, facilitating and retaining investments in LebanonIDAL reports to the President of the Council of Ministers which exercises a tutorial authority over it.