The Rainmakers: The UAE's startup stars
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The Rainmakers: The UAE’s startup stars

The Rainmakers: The UAE’s startup stars

Revealed: The movers and shakers powering the growth of the UAE’s startup ecosystem, brought to you by Gulf Business in partnership with Virtuzone

Startups are often referred to as the ‘growth engines’ for any economy. In the UAE, backed by a supportive regulatory framework that welcomes innovation at every stage, entrepreneurs from across an eclectic mix of sectors have achieved remarkable growth, in turn feeding the booming ecosystem to create a train of success stories.

According to official stats, the wider SME sector contributed an estimated 53 per cent to the UAE’s GDP in 2019, up from about 49 per cent in 2018. Small-and-medium-sized businesses also accounted for approximately 95 per cent of the companies in the country and for employing 86 per cent of the total workforce in the non-oil private sector.

While challenges persist – whether it’s setup costs, financing, scaling or external factors such as the Covid-19 crisis which struck every industry hard, several startups in the UAE have managed to stay the course, assisted by mentors and business enablers.

To highlight the true stars within the startup ecosystem, Gulf Business, in collaboration with leading company formation specialists Virtuzone, put together the names of the movers and shakers within the space – whether it’s company founders, venture capitalists, government officials or mentors.

By no means is this list exhaustive, but it provides a glimpse into the people powering the startup space and driving the UAE’s agenda to be a global startup hub.

Names arranged in no specific order

FOUNDERS

Magnus Olsson and Mudassir Sheikha

 

Co-founders, Careem

Michael Lahyani

 

Founder and CEO, Propertyfinder

Rashid Al Ghurair

 

Founder and CEO, Cafu

Eddie Maroun and Elie Habib

 

Co-founders, Anghami

Ambareen Musa

 

Founder and CEO, Souqalmal.com

Kunal Kapoor

 

Founder and CEO, The Luxury Closet

 

Jon Richards

 

CEO, Yallacompare

Sky Kurtz

 

Founder and CEO, Pure Harvest Smart Farms

Saygin Yalcin

 

CEO and founder, SellAnyCar.com

Mona Ataya

 

Founder and CEO, Mumzworld.com

Bader Ataya, Mohamad Ballout, Andres Arenas
and Saman Darkan

 

Co-founders, Kitopi

Jad Sayegh, Nadine Mezher and Mark Chahwan

 

Co-founders, Sarwa

Michael Truschler

 

Co-founder and CEO, FlexxPay

Fodhil Benturquia

 

Founder and CEO, Okadoc

Hosam Arab

 

Co-founder and CEO, tabby

Craig Moore

 

Founder and CEO, Beehive

Vilhelm Hedberg

 

Founder, ekar

Donna Benton

 

Founder, The Benton Group

Huda Kattan

 

Founder, Huda Beauty

Mohamed Khaled

 

Founder and CEO, Hotdesk

Talal Bayaa, Brian Habib and Tarek Bayaa

 

Co-founders, Bayzat

Maaz Sheikh

 

Co-founder and CEO, Starzplay

John Tsioris

 

Co-founder and CEO, Instashop

Marwan Hachem

 

Founder and CEO, YAP

Gaurav Biswas

 

Founder and CEO, Trukker

 

INVESTORS

Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed

 

Chairman, Abu Dhabi Executive Committee (Ghadan 21)

Fadi Ghandour

 

Executive chairman, Wamda Capital

Dany Farha

 

Managing partner, Beco Capital

Najla Al Midfa

 

CEO, Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa)

Mahmoud Adi and Shane Shin

 

Co-founders, Shorooq Partners

Mohamad Sabouneh

 

Managing director, Startupbootcamp Fintech Dubai

Mayank Singhal

 

Head of Venture Capital and Technology, ADQ (DisruptAD)

Raja Al Mazrouei

 

Executive vice president, DIFC Fintech Hive

Abdullah Mutawi

 

Co-founder and chairman, Dubai Angel Investors

Salem Bou Aoun

 

Founder and CEO, Novos Capital

Hanan Harhara Al Yafei

 

CEO, Hub71

Louis Lebbos and
Muhammed Mekki

 

Founders, AstroLabs

Samih Toukan

 

Chairman, Jabbar Internet Group

Walid Hanna

 

Founder and chairman, Middle East Venture Partners

Mohamed Alabbar

 

Chairman, Zand/Founder, Noon.com

Kamal Hassan and Yousif Al Mutawa

 

Founders, Turn8 Venture Capital

Abdallah and Ghaith Yafi

 

Co-founders, B&Y Venture Partners

Noor Sweid

 

Founder, Global Ventures

Ramesh Jagannathan

 

Managing director, startAD

 

ENABLERS

Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi

 

UAE Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Abdul Baset AI Janahi

 

CEO, Dubai SME

Shaker Zainal

 

Head, Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund

Sami Al Qamzi

 

Director general, Dubai Economy

Fahad Al Gergawi

 

CEO, Dubai FDI

William Chappell

 

CFO and EVP, Technology and Entrepreneurship, Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (Dtec)

Esam Mahmoud

 

Senior vice president, Etisalat SMB

Khalfan Juma Belhoul, CEO, and Dr Noah Raford, chief of Global Affairs

 

Dubai Future Foundation

Hamad Buamim

 

President and CEO, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Sheikh Dr Rashid bin Hamad Bin Mohammed
Al-Sharqi

 

Chairman, Fujairah Creative City

Vic Barreto

 

CEO, Capital Club Dubai

Philip Bahoshy

 

Founder and CEO, Magnitt

Ammar Al Malik

 

Managing director, Dubai Internet City (in5)

Ronaldo Mouchawar

 

VP, Amazon MENA/Co-founder, Souq.com

Dr Khalid Al Midfa

 

Chairman, Shams

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saqr Al Qasimi

 

Chairman, RAKEZ

 

Ones to watch

Amir Milad

 

Founder and CEO, Karma Media

Jad Antoun and Khalid Ashmawy

 

Co-founders, Huspy

Ritesh Tilani and Alper
Celen

 

Co-founders, Joi Gifts

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