Ranging from real estate to e-commerce platforms these 10 entrepreneurs have definitely made a mark in the Middle East.
Here’s a sneak peak…
#1. Ronaldo Mouchawar
Co-founder and CEO of Souq.com
Ronaldo Mouchawar, co-founder and CEO of the largest e-commerce site in the Arab world, is without doubt the leading figure in the UAE’s entrepreneurial sector. His website, Souq.com-which was launched 10 years as an auction site linked to the Arab internet portal Maktoob- is regarded as the Amazon of the Middle East, and operates both as a retail site and as a marketplace for third party sellers. Souq.com spun off in 2009 as part of Jabbar Internet Group. Currently, it features over 600,000 products ranging from electronics, fashion and household utensils and attracts over 42 million visits per month. After raising over $150m in financing, including $75m from Naspers last year, the company has employed over 2000 people in customer service and logistics. According to Google, the company is the second most searched for brand in 2014 within the Arab Emirates
#2. Ralph R Debbas
CEO and chairman of W Motors
Second on our list is founder and CEO of W motors which is the Arab world’s first manufacturer of high performance luxury sport cars in Lebanon in 2012, before moving the company to Dubai a year later. The company auctioned its first vehicle which was a Lykan HyperSport $3.4m, and was the most expensive car to feature in the Fast and Furious franchise. A special edition vehicle has also been delivered to the Abu Dhabi Police for testing. Ralph has received quite a number of international awards for his accomplishments and he is currently looking forward to launching the company’s second model, the Lykan SuperSport, as well as an eco-friendly race-car and a watch line for Lykan owners.
#3. Khalid Al Khudair
Founder and board member of Glowork
Nationality: Saudi Arabian/Iraqi
Formerly chief operating officer for KPMG in Saudi, Jordan and Kuwait, Al Khudair is the current Founder and CEO of Glowork which is a women empowerment organization that has created thousands of jobs for women. Khalid eventually left his day job when Glowork was acquired in 2013 by Saudi investment firm SAS Holding. Upon launching his site, it now boasts a database of over 1.2 million Saudi women and has connected thousands with jobs.
He has also managed to lead the firms he worked with to over 30 awards which were aligned to the firm’s overall corporate goals and strategy. In addition to his accomplishments, Khalid led Glowork to an investment of over $16m to expand its current operations into different verticals.
#4. Magnus Olsson and Mudassar Sheikha
Co-founders of Careem
Nationality: Swedish and Pakistani
Careem was started in June-2012 by Magnus Olsson and Mudassir Sheikha, both former consultants at McKinsey & Company, and previously technology entrepreneurs in Sweden and Silicon Valley respectively. It has expanded the chauffeur service across the region. It is now present in 14 cities across the Middle East, most recently expanding into Morocco through the acquisition of Taxi. Upon being launched, Careem has completed more than 10k trips with an average customer rating of 4.8 (on a scale of 1 to 5). The company has raised over $10m on an investment led by a cooperation known as Al Tayyar travel group
#5. Loulou Khazen Baz
Founder and CEO of Nabbesh.com
Third on the list is Founder and CEO of Nabbesh.com, Loulou Khazen Baz, which is the Middle East’s first online work marketplace which connects businesses with top quality freelancers from the world’s emerging markets with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa region. Loulou rose to fame shortly after winning the 2012 series of The Entrepreneur and her enterprise kept growing rapidly as a result. Nabbesh.com connects businesses with freelance professionals and has a community of more than 40,000 people across 130 countries worldwide. In 2013, she managed to raise up to $100,000 on crownfunding platform Eureeca.com in an attempt to fund the next phase of her company’s development.
#6. Paul Kenny
Founder of Cobone.com
Paul Kenny, founder and CEO of Cobone.com, is one of the region’s most influential and recognized entrepreneur in the technology industry. Upon being launched in 2010, Cobone.com has become one of the Middle East and North Africa’s top e-commerce sites and was sold to Tiger Global Management in 2010 for an estimated $40m before its most recent sale to Middle East Digital Group. Paul has now allocated his resources by focusing and investing in mentoring and advising companies all over the world through Emerge Ventures.
#7. Saygin Yalcin
Founder and CEO of SellAnyCar.com
Saygin Yalcin, founder and CEO of SellAnyCar.com moved to Dubai more than five years ago by the emerging technology scene, starting flash sales site Sukar.com. In 2012, he sold his Souq.com and launched used-car selling site SellAnyCar.com. The idea has been copied by entrepreneurs in Germany, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkey hoping to achieve the same level of success. This has led Yalcin to seek further funding of up to $100m to boost its European expansion with hopes of a $1bn valuation from American venture capital investors.
#8. Mark Carroll and Andreas Borgmann
Co-founders of Kcal
Nationality: British and Danish
Eighth on our list are Mark Caroll and Andreas Borgmann who founded Dubai-based Kcal Healthy Fast Food in 2010. They were aware of how unhealthy fast-food was for the public and decided to make a change by establishing a calorie counting fast food chain Kcal. They’ve managed to expand both at home and abroad with the aim to build upon their six UAE outlets, and for up to 14 branches in Egypt following Kcal’s expansion there last year. They’re also planning to establish outlets into Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Jordan is also planned this year.
#9. Hind Hobeika
Founder of Instabeat
As a former Olympic swimmer, Hobeika saw a gap in the market for a swimming-tracking device and has carried her idea across the world. In 2011, she established a company named Instabeat, which is a sports technology startup based in Lebanon. Hind has raised funding through both traditional and crowd funding platforms, achieving more than twice her initial goal of $35,000 on Indiegogo during the first days of a campaign in 2013. She is now planning for the Instabeat product launch in San Francisco, where she is working with a manufacturing partner.
#10. Michael Lahyani
Founder and CEO of propertyfinder.ae
Michael Lahyani, founder and CEO of propertyfinder.ae, a site which became the UAE’s first online real estate catalog, comes in 10th on our list. The site now has one million visitors and 150,000 enquiries per month and allows them to browse over 80,000 residential and commercial properties posted by over 500 real estate agents across the region for absolutely free. Real estate agencies and developers profit from Propertyfinder’s one million monthly views, which generate over 120,000 leads for their businesses. The site also publishes its own real estate tips and quarterly industry reports, including its real estate luxury magazine known as “Presige”.