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Five Books Every Entrepreneur in the GCC Should Read


Five Books Every Entrepreneur in the GCC Should Read

A few months ago we started a book club at the Payfort offices, and we reached out on Twitter for suggestions of what to read.

Since then we’ve been working our way through a hefty list of recommendations and putting together a collection of ones that we love. Here are five books that every entrepreneur in the GCC has to read. Are there any books that have changed the way you work…? Tweet us @payfort and we’ll be sure to head to Borders to pick up a copy! In a few weeks we’ll follow up on this post with more of your suggestions and picks from our own Payfort book club. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh Delivering Happiness was recommend to us by @mo7amedmousa and it’s been passed around the Payfort office ever since. It was penned by Tony Hsieh, the founder and CEO of and it’s essential reading for any entrepreneur who wants to learn about balancing the competing interests of profits, objectives and…happiness.

Hsieh focuses on happiness which is a novel change in the shelves of bottom line focused business book: s. He also includes a section on the questions founders should ask investors and board members – we’ve covered this section extensively on the Payfort blog, and Hsieh’s advice has certainly influenced our own thinking on this crucial point.

Startup Rising by Christopher M. Schroeder

Startup Rising by Christopher M. Schroeder

This is an absolute must read for any entrepreneur in the Arab World. Schroeder directly addresses the startup ecosystem in the Middle East and covers the rise of companies like Aramex and Maktoob.

Of particular interest is his section on the growth of a startup ecosystem here in the Middle East. At Payfort we are passionate about this growing community and it’s rewarding to see it examined from an outside perspective.

The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

At the beginning of the technological revolution experts thought that computers would lessen our working hours. They couldn’t have been more wrong and most people, especially entrepreneurs, find themselves spending more of their time working than ever before.

The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss is designed to help you avoid that workaholic lifestyle. And while it’s a bit self-helpy for our tastes it has some great tips about reducing the clutter in your life and using automation and virtual assistants to make the most of your time in this world.

It’s an inspiring book, and while it won’t truly get you down to a four hour work week it will teach you how to be more efficient with your most precious resource: time.

The Lean Startup by Eric Reis

The Lean Startup by Eric Reis

This book is a practical guide to starting a company and if you’re looking to start a new venture, it’s well worth the time.

Reis’s formula is based upon creating a lean organization and moving quickly towards an MVP (minimum viable product), and how along the way startups should take on customer feedback and iterate.

The book comes with some illuminating case studies and covers a wide range of verticals so it should be equally applicable to all founders in the Middle East and GCC.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Starting a business is hard. It’s lonely, exhausting and the rewards only come after untold hours of work (unless you’re Tim Ferriss of course). This is the book to read when you are down on your knees and success feels like a distant glimmer in the future.

The book is penned by Ben Horowitz the co-founder of one of the Valley’s biggest VCs. It tells the story of Horowitz own successes and failures and includes salient advice on how to fire executives, how to build a great sales team and much more. His experience is in tech, so it’s highly relevant to any Middle Eastern entrepreneurs looking to tap the growing online economy.

It’s also the only book on the list that prefaces each chapter with a rap lyric!

Stay tuned – in a few weeks we’ll complete the list with more books to line your shelves. In the interim be sure to let us know what books have influenced you in your work and life and we’ll add them to the list.

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Dalia El Gammal

Marketing Specialist PAYFORT



  1. Ammar Mardawi

    April 16, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    The Four Hour Work Week?! Are you guys serious?! Have anyone who actually started a business read this book and recommended it?! Just replace it with E-Myth before anyone else notices 🙂

    • Faisal Al-Khalidi

      April 19, 2015 at 9:44 am

      Thanks for your inputs, Ammar 🙂 I thought The Four Hour Work Week was a great book for productivity and time management. I haven’t read E-Myth, but I’ll definitely give it a look!

  2. Ralf Wendtorff

    April 16, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    I recommend “Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader” by Brent Schlender. That’s a “start up story” lasting several decades, but there is much to learn from it if you are so inclined. And are interested in the tech industry of course.

    • Faisal Al-Khalidi

      April 19, 2015 at 9:46 am

      Great recommendation, Ralf! We’ll add it to the PayFort library 🙂

      • Ralf Wendtorff

        April 19, 2015 at 10:28 am

        Great, hope it will be read. I finished it, and while Steve was one in a kind, so you can’t copy him, you can still take inspiration.
        Next book: one recommended in there – Ed Catmull: Creativity Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration (Ed Catmull is the MD of Pixar)

        • Faisal Al-Khalidi

          April 19, 2015 at 10:30 am

          Creativity Inc is excellent! I’ve recently read it, you’ll enjoy it Ralf 🙂

  3. ajas

    June 11, 2015 at 10:34 am

    I recommend ‘seven habits of highly effective people’

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