Enduring war and power shortages, you’ll be amazed at how Gaza’s startup scene goes on.

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Omar Badawi and Sameer Al NuNu, 22, creators of Walk and Charge.
Photo: Lauren Bohn/GlobalPost

Gaza’s orange-sky mornings are Omar Badawi’s favorite time. Virtually every morning, he sips tea on his balcony in Beach Camp, among Gaza’s most crowded refugees camps, and watches the sun rise in the strip’s 25-mile Mediterranean coastline.

“You must leverage the light in Gaza,” he tells, displaying a graphic album on his cell phone, brimming with sunrises and sunsets. “Along with to acquire everything done then, because by night, you may won’t have electricity.”

According to UNICEF, Gaza is currently offered only 208 megawatts of electricity for 1.8 million people. The territory gets its power mostly through purchases from Israel (120 MW) and Egypt (28 MW), and much compared to a third from production by Gaza’s only power plant. Even so the supply meets only 46 percent of the estimated demand. Rolling power outages currently last as much as 12 hours each day. In the summer, most Gazans have electricity only for 6 hours per day.

“I’ve been considering it for therefore long,” says Badawi. “How can we take full advantage of technology and generate power in Gaza?”

When he met 22-year-old Sameer Al NuNu, another engineering student at Al Quds Open University, they vowed to think it.

With the help of two female developers Ghaida Hussain and Saeda Nassar, they put together “Walk and Charge,” a piezoelectric (electricity caused from pressure) device that charges your smartphone whilst you walk. Thus far, they’ve successfully produced an electric powered charge at a small device that rests in the soles of trainers. Inspired from the success associated with a West Bank startup which created a top-up battery pack, they prefer to launch a Kickstarter campaign in order to develop a more sophisticated prototype.

“Need to have is the caretaker of invention,” says NuNu. “You need to replace the frustration in your head to create something.”

Still, the optimism only goes at this point. Hussain lost her home in last summer’s war. NuNu lost a friend within an Israeli airstrike.

“A couple of seconds fuels me to have going,” according to, vowing not to ever give up on behalf of his beloved friend. “It just fuels me to carry out the impossible…to someday arrive at Silicon Valley and do big things.”

On their down days, the most effective friends linger on TED.com, watching talks for quick-hits of inspiration. Among their favorites is a by the South African entrepreneur who invented a bath-substitute lotion to combat water deficits — a reminder that they’re not the only ones facing antiquated problems.

“It’s not crazy to dream big. Get real, Steve Jobs knew growing up a hard life too,” says Badawi. “If they can get it done, I could do it right.”

La Belle

Ahmed Al Wakil, 31, and Engy Rehim, 24, founders of La Belle.
Photo: Lauren Bohn/GlobalPost

When Ahmed Al Wakil was raised watching his sisters toil at the mirror, looking to find the perfect mixture of eyeshadow and lip gloss, he always wondered why there wasn’t an easy to get at technology which would let them test makeup on themselves through photography before using.

“Even just in Gaza, women wish to be beautiful, it’s a universal language,” the 31-year-old accountant says. “It’s the most significant internet business opportunity.” So in 2009, he joined with 24-year-old Engy Rehim, someone of his wife, to create La Belle, an ambitious virtual one-stop makeup hub and social media network for any Middle East.

“Nothing beats this exists for the Arab world,” Rehim says. “We would like website visitors to connect over beauty, to experiment using our technology as well as transform themselves.”

Wakil’s own journey of transformation hasn’t been an effortless one. He spent 2 years in Malaysia for graduate school, but returned to Gaza in 2012, cannot obtain scholarship money to go on his studies. The only college graduate in the category of automobile workers, he worked his up from the menial factory job to retail inside of a men’s boutique to a relatively well-paying job in a Gazan bank. According to him he will be alone within the family that has a stable salary.

For Rehim, who recently got engaged but hopes to work toward a master’s degree in Turkey, to be a woman presents its unique challenges within a conservative society. “Plainly leave Gaza for education, people might judge our household,” she says. “In particular, my leaving might create it tough in my sisters for getting engaged.”

They acknowledge the realities are unfair, but they’re determined to work ahead.

“Look, imagine getting out of bed everyday to venture to have a bank within a nice suit, but the truth is walk to your workplace inside dusty sand and also you arrive dusty to some place where none of us really cares about their job and everybody is depressed,” he said. “But Gaza helps you with something important: one and only thing you’ll be able to change is yourself, and that’s the most important thing. Entrepreneurship could be the door away from our cage.”

He attributes the majority of his optimism for the best-selling self-help book “The secret to success,” which holds that one can create his or her own reality via the power his thoughts.

“If you possibly can imagine it,” he says, his cellphone ringing to your chorus of the hit song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, “you could end up it.”

Baskalet, “Bicycle”

Mohammed Ezzdeen, 27, Baskalet developer.
Photo: Lauren Bohn/GlobalPost

Mohammed Ezzdeen traces his life’s mission into a decision his father made twenty-some a long time ago: purchasing an IBM computer. He tells his father was one of the initial in Gaza to do this and, right at that moment, everyone thought he was crazy to invest a great deal money technology. “It had become a very important thing,” he recalls. “I came to be a computer geek and things were never the exact same.”

Ever since, Ezzdeen says he’s been obsessive about computers, specifically gaming. Speculate he grew older, he became frustrated that none of the popular games specified for by Arabs, not to mention devised for an Arab market.

“What i’m saying is, the streets aren’t even Arab in fashion,” he tells. “People here play Western games without really understanding them.”

So the 27-year-old, along with two self-taught programmer friends and a illustrator, got together to begin with Baskalet, Bicycle in Arabic, a mobile gaming company.

“When we were a teenager, creating a bicycle was our dream,” according to. “But today’s generation wants technology and mobile games. Gaming may be the new bicycle.”

The group recently released its first title, an Arabic-language driving game certainly where an son steals his father’s tips for use a joyride — a memory, they laugh, is shared by so many with their friends.

“There’s a lot of potential while in the Arab world for games that speak to us,” says Ezzdeen, who recently quit a fairly stable job in a outsourcing company. The heart East, plus the Gulf region specifically, is usually an active consumer of games. For 2011, this market was estimated to be around $1.4 billion.

“We’re willing to burgled this market and work out the Arab world the hub for gaming,” according to him. “But, we need to make kids smile.”


Nawal Abu Sultan, 31, founder of MENAship.
Photo: Lauren Bohn/GlobalPost

​Nawal Abu Sultan was always top-notch student. While she studied engineering with the Islamic University of Gaza — the place where a quarter in the program consists of women — she soon gravitated toward the field of education.

“I must help people expand their brains, to master,” the 32-year-old teacher says. When she started teaching 7th grade technology and science, she realized she needed to do more away from classroom to expand their horizons.

“A great deal of Gazan students have a whole lot potential, but don’t get sound advice to be able potential,” she says. “The keys exist but often educational opportunities are abroad so they don’t know best places to look.”

Inspired by her challenges for scholastic advancement, she as well as a team of 4 friends started MENAship, a web database and mentoring site that connects Arab students throughout the Middle East with scholarships abroad. She offers partner with universities and education centers surrounding the region.

“Navigating these applications is tough for all, particularly those in Gaza who aren’t acquainted with the outside world or how things work,” she says. “Education didn’t remember the words East needs a revolution…the unit looks her age and now we must innovate.”

While Abu Sultan says she’s the most hopeful people she knows, last summer’s war would be a test of her strength. The earlier dilapidated school where she teaches was full of students who fled from war-torn neighborhoods of Gaza.

“Sometimes it’s hard, since i want to provide them with hope,” she says. “Having said that i don’t recognize how.”

Still, while she concedes MENAships might be a stop by the bucket, she believes it’ll make a meaningful dent.

“I really believe a good education is often a right, not only a gift,” she says, updating the company’s Facebook page. Its avatar includes a photograph of Cambridge University’s wide green campus, a galaxy clear of Gaza’s concrete obstacle course. “And i also won’t stop until my students get that right.”


Mohammed AbuHaiba, 24, developer of TebCare.
Photo: Lauren Bohn/GlobalPost

The Israeli invasion of during the past year was “heartbreak” for 24-year-old Mohammed AbuHaiba. While he’s survived two other wars, it was at the first try he was practicing medicine at Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest clinic.

“There have been dead people everywhere,” he admits that, recalling instances where he experimented with reunite loved ones using their lost household. He wasn’t always successful. “We have been attempting to do as much as we could, but there we were powerless.”

Even in many peaceful times, as being a doctor in Gaza may be a challenge. “I suture wounds for patients, but we sometimes we don’t develop the proper materials for him or her,” he admits that. “Thus must tell them to be down the road into a pharmacy to get them after which it bring the materials back…are you able to imagine?”

Two years ago, aggravated by deficits during the region’s healthcare system but encouraged by advances in technology, AbuHaiba started TebCare (Teb is medicine in Arabic). It’s an Arabic-language WebMD of sorts, designed to address the parallel needs associated with a void in medical knowledge on the internet and off while with a great deal of talented but unemployed doctors. The internet site averages 3,000 unique visitors per day, he states.

“Arabs are lazy,” he laughs. “Keeping them the office is typically hard…therefore if we can do about we will remotely, we’ll succeed.”

The team currently contains a volunteer staff of 43 doctors from around the region who respond to your questions totally free within Twenty four hours. They’re intending to introduce paid consultations with video services and scale the intend to the Gulf region. AbuHaiba says they’re currently in talks with the US-based Mayo Clinic to translate content and provide it for your Arab world.

He hopes the website can become a practical employment chance for Arabic-speaking doctors, who often make dismal salaries in between East. He states there are actually around 1,700 doctors in Gaza, 1 / 2 of whom don’t be handed a regular salary. Folks that do average $600 thirty days.

Along with developing the region’s go-to source for medical care bills, AbuHaiba also wishes to crack Gaza’s professional glass ceiling. Since he procured a united states visa last February, that is no small feat, last month he finally obtained permission from Israeli and Palestinian authorities to go to Houston, Texas, where he hopes to grab the US Medical Licensing Examination.

“America is a good country on this planet as a doctor,” AbuHaiba says. “I need to bring a few things i learn there to Gaza…to change lives. It’s a large dream, but dreaming is carry out in Gaza.”

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