UAE Startup Showcase: Hayi, the UAE’s First Neighbourhood App

August 9, 2021

The team behind Hayi have a simple enough vision: set a new benchmark for connected communities. A hyperlocal social networking app, Hayi seeks to digitize neighbourhoods in the UAE and across the MENA region to create stronger and more connected communities, bringing a significant solution to the social impacts of the pandemic and modern-day city life as a whole. By creating stronger and more connected communities, Hayi aims to decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation, increase expat retention and provide general support to all neighbourhood stakeholders by promoting positivity and a more connected, neighbourly community.

“Hayi” which translates to “My Neighborhood” in Arabic, encourages residents to connect and befriend each other, create groups based on their location’s proximity, shared interests and preferences, in addition to creating and taking part in social initiatives and activities around their communities. The founders of the app, Chris Darnell and Rene Morgan, created the Hayi app with the intention of bridging the communication gap between three key stakeholders; neighbours, community managers and local businesses. Hayi has aligned its vision with the UAE Government in that a smart city starts with a smart neighbourhood, with a mission to become the largest and most trusted social network for neighbourhoods in the MENA region.

Since its pilot phase, the ‘neighbourhood app’ has been linking and bringing residents from all backgrounds in the UAE together through its inventive digital platform, and has already rolled out across 20+ neighbourhoods in Dubai with more than 6,000 verified app users.

With a unique neighbour verification process to sign up, Hayi ensures that neighbourhoods are kept genuine. The app acts as a hyper-local social network and offers users the ability to connect residents with one another through a home feed where information can be shared or questions exchanged amongst neighbours, as well as a private messaging feature, allowing users to communicate with one another directly. Neighbours can also engage with an interactive map of their neighbourhood where they can connect with other neighbours who share similar interests to their own; such as tennis, fitness boot camps, carpooling, etc.

The Hayi app also aims to assist local businesses recover from the Covid-19 pandemic by offering a more engaging way to build a digital presence within their local communities. The platform allows businesses to take advantage of hyper-local marketing where they can promote exclusive offers to neighbourhoods of their choice, thereby reducing their ad spend as well as enabling them to reach their relevant customer base more efficiently. Hayi will also provide all community managers across the region with free access to their digital communities to better connect with residents and share real-time community updates via a punchy digital noticeboard.

The startup has partnered with prominent developers and organizations such as Nakheel, Damac, Dubai Municipality and Bee’ah, to help manage their community announcements and events more efficiently. Hayi has already begun creating stronger social bonds across several neighbourhoods through successfully organized offline social initiatives as well, which included clean-up drives, recycling events and mental wellness webinars.

by Anil George
Avid follower of all things tech. In between his quest for the ultimate gizmo, Anil fiddles with light meters, collects rare books and feeds his fetish for Jap horror movies. As Managing Editor of T3 Middle East for the GCC, Anil oversees content direction across print and digital. He was a CES 2020 Innovation Awards Judge, reprising his role as an Innovation Awards Judge at CES 2018, CES 2017, 2016 and 2015. Anil is also the Middle East's first Brand Ambassador for Ashdown Engineering. Reach him at: