It’s time to leapfrog: Why MENA entrepreneurs will be the catalyst to leapfrog over other economies

Marc Andreessen, a well-known US innovator, and prolific investor, recently wrote an article that has attracted a lot of attention, called ‘It’s Time to Build’.

The article blames America’s response to COVID on “smug complacency, this satisfaction with the status quo and the unwillingness to build.” It’s hard-hitting at times: “as I write this, New York City has put out a desperate call for rain ponchos to be used as medical gowns. Rain ponchos! In 2020! In America!”

Fuelled by Silicon Valley’s ethos of innovation, he proposes a solution that’s an inspirational call to arms. It’s time to build things, he said, like more universities, better hospitals, skyscrapers, delivery drones, zero-emission nuclear reactors, hyperloops, flying cars, and Elon Musk’s “alien dreadnoughts.”

The article is designed to stretch the imagination, and although it’s written from a US perspective, it made me think about how we are building in MENA. And given the technological and cultural revolution taking place in the region, is our ambition simply to build? Or is there an opportunity for MENA to ‘leapfrog’ other developed economies through the catalyst of our entrepreneurs?