The UAE remains the hub of venture capital investing in the Middle East and the number of startups is skyrocketing. Two-thirds of Middle Eastern entrepreneurs consist of angel investors looking to seed promising companies and watch them grow into substantial enterprises.
Here are the top 7 UAE venture capitalists…
1. Rabih Khoury – Partner & Chief Exit Officer of Middle East Venture Partners | Manging Parter of MelWood Capital
Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) focuses on helping bold entrepreneurs scale exceptional companies and is the region’s oldest and largest venture technology capital firm! Its portfolio includes more than 50 companies in sectors ranging from eCommerce marketing to new media to E-education and E-health. While MEVP has made an estimated investment of $119.3 million in 13 startups in the MENA, it has raised more than $350 million overall for startups.
Khoury is also the managing partner of Melwood Capital, a merchant bank specializing in MENA private investment structuring. His extensive private equity experience includes having executed more than $5 billion in transactions and raising more than $2 billion in the capital.
2. Fadi Ghandour – Chairman & CEO of Wamda Capital | Co-Founder & Longtime CEO of Aramex.
When he took Aramex public on NASDAQ in 1997, it was the first Arab world company listed on a U.S. stock exchange. Now, the company is a Middle Eastern & South Asian logistics & transportation giant, which Gandour continues serving as Aramex’s vice-chairman.
Ghandour is considered a key figure in the world of MENA startups. In 2010, he launched the angel investor company MENA Venture Investments (MVI) to provide seed, start-up and early-stage investments to companies. MVI’s investment focus is in the e-commerce, analytics, entertainment, mobile, SaaS, logistics and technology sectors.
Wamda Capital partners with startups to build scalable technology businesses. It seeks to invest in and develop sustainable, innovative tech businesses by providing growth capital to the region’s leading entrepreneurs. the company has an estimated investment of $60 million in 14 startups to date.
3. Dale Wood – Founder & CEO of Dale Ventures
Wood has invested in six firms and acquired a majority stake in Dubai-based X-Golf Entertainment. He will support this groundbreaking company as it plans to open its flagship urban golf club venue in late 2021. Wood, himself, is an avid golfer!
Dale Ventures focuses on financial and business services, real estate, technology and media, and consumer and retail industries. The company partners only with management teams where it can provide the significant strategic and analytic resources necessary to build and grow great companies. Its strategy is based on the five key elements; high-quality people, vertical expertise, value-added consulting, global integration and aligned incentives. Dale Ventures helps companies improve competitive positions by new product and market expansions, along with growing productivity and strengthening their organizations.
Dale Ventures has invested millions of dollars in several companies with high potential. These include Instanda, Rayo Credit, Arcadier, TechMet, and Huma. The most recent investment was on Oct 1, 2020, when TechMet Limited raised $500K.
4. Dany Farqua – Co-founder & CEO of BECO Capital.
For more than 20 years, Farqua has been a successful regional investor and serial entrepreneur. Earlier, he co-founded Bayt.com, the Middle East’s largest job site; Butler’s, the UAE’s largest commercial laundry company, and one of the UAE’s largest catering companies, Intercat.
As an early-stage UAE venture capital firm, BECO’s goal is the reinvention of the Middle East through innovation and tech. BECO has about $60 million invested in six UAE startups!
5. Waleed Bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim – Chairman of the MBC Group
MBC Ventures, MBC’s venture capital arm, invests in telecommunications media and technology in the MENA. The company invests in early-stage, Series A startups for a maximum of $500,000 with between 10 to 20 percent equity. MBC prefers startups that have been in the market for several months, done product testing, and show traction.
Its portfolio includes top media company QSoft; Supermama, an online and mobile platform for busy mothers, and elCinema.com, the largest Arabic movie database on the internet.
To date, it has invested in three UAE startups for a total investment of $25 million.
6. Ali Malek – Co-founder of Glowfish Capital | Co-founder of McKinsey & Co. Alumnae | Co-founder of CarSwitch
CarSwitch, the UAE’s first marketplace for pre-certified and warranted used cars. With a slogan of “Seed. Grow. Disrupt,” Glowfish Capital provides access to seed funding, strategic direction, additional operational, technical and infrastructure assistance.
Once launched, with proof of concept, Glowfish helps grow the venture not only with funding but help with scaling the team, technology, and marketing. Glowfish commits to the venture until it matures enough to stand alone. It is an ‘old-school’ VC model, where partners become actively involved in their ventures.
Its portfolio includes Tap the Market, a legal and professional services marketplace; Oladoc, which connects patients with the right doctors while helping healthcare professionals automate their practice, and MobiMatter, a Telcos digital distribution channel.
Glowfish Capital has funded two UAE startups for a total of $4 million.
7. Waleed Albanawi – Founder and Executive Chairman of Jisr Venture Partners.
He has more than a quarter-century of experience as Vice Chairman, Director, and C-suite Executive of a diversified manufacturing corporation in Saudi and the MENA region. Jisr Venture Partners focuses on numerous sectors, including healthcare, fintech, food and beverages, consumer goods, consumer internet, and new media and advertising.
Its portfolio includes Waitrr, a mobile payments and ordering service to create a seamless dining experience for restaurant partners; Reserve Out, a restaurant reservation platform; Abjjad, the first Arabic social network for readers, authors, and bloggers in the Middle East.
In addition, Fishtree, a 21st-century learning platform that solves the problem of scaling one-to-one instruction, and believe in helping care providers – such as payers, physicians, and loved ones. They identify high-risk patients more effectively and intervene by relying on real-time data.
To date, Jisr Venture Partners has invested in one UAE startup.