Gulf Capital and MEED-GlobalData announce shortlist of 122 small and medium businesses displaying resilience and agility amid the global health crisis

  • SMEs constitute 94% of all companies operating in the UAE and 99% of private sector companies in KSA
  • The 2020 Gulf Capital SME Awards saw 300+ entries submitted from 152 organizations across the GCC

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 27 October 2020 – Gulf Capital and MEED-GlobalData have revealed the finalists for the 9th edition of the Gulf Capital SME Awards. The award aims to identify and celebrate small and medium businesses that are spearheading commercial growth in the region.

The SME sector, which constitutes over 94 per cent of all companies operating in the UAE and 99 per cent of private sector companies in Saudi Arabia[1], is the backbone of the Middle Eastern economy, employing a large portion of the region’s workforce and helping countries realise their strategic visions to diversify economies away from oil revenue. The focus that governments have placed on helping SMEs mitigate the financial impacts in light of COVID-19 have been significant, reiterating the importance and value that these organisations present.

The Gulf Capital SME Insights programme saw 750 live attendees participate virtually from all across the GCC for a series of webinars, which cumulated with an online summit, receiving great feedback for its content-led discussions and endeavour to build a community to support the SME sector through the COVID-19 crisis. As part of the programme, the awards entries recorded over 350 registrations on the website with 300+ entries being submitted by companies in the GCC. 122 companies have been shortlisted across 17 categories including Gulf Capital Business of the Year, Mastercard Technology Startup of the Year, Business Innovation of the Year, Emirati Business of the Year, and Disruption of the Year. Among the shortlisted companies are Acorn Strategy, Hotel Data Cloud, Kingston Stanley, Lock&Stock and Munchbox. Finalists will proceed to the judging phase for review by an independent panel of more than 50 representatives from global and regional businesses, government stakeholders and industry experts.

Dr Karim El Solh, CEO of Gulf Capital, said: “The awards programme has evolved to become a wider initiative that supports SMEs across the Gulf region, and this couldn’t have come at a better time. This year, we wanted to reach out to a larger group of SMEs, and we wanted to give them broader support, over and above the recognition they get from the awards. The Gulf Capital SMEs Insights was born to provide knowledge transfer and networking opportunities to SMEs across the GCC. This includes a series of live webinars, virtual conference, and an information hub, all of which were added to the awards programme, now in its 9th year. Support, mentorship, and recognition are now the three pillars of our programme. I hope this will contribute to building and maintaining a healthier SMEs ecosystem amidst the current turbulence and that it will guide SMEs to safer shores post-crisis. I was particularly delighted with the level of interest and engagement from regional SMEs, and with the unabated interest in the awards.”

“The Gulf Capital SME Awards recognise small and medium-sized businesses, whose talent and hard work has enabled them to not merely survive, but also to thrive through the exceptionally difficult challenges of 2020,” says MEED editorial director Richard Thompson. “The way that they have adapted their strategies and business models during this challenging period is incredible. And the very large number of entries that we received for this year’s awards is a testament to the resilience and determination to succeed, of entrepreneurs and SMEs in the UAE. The ambition, the energy and the flexibility of these organisations is inspiring, and is a why I know that we can continue looking forward to long-term sustainable success in this region. I am delighted to be able to celebrate the remarkable achievements of these vital organisations.” 

The winners from the 17 categories will be announced at an awards reception on Wednesday, December 9 2020.

Gulf Capital SME Awards is supported by Founding partner: Gulf Capital; SME Payments Partner: Mastercard; Association partners: DTEC, in5, She Is Arab, startAD, TiE Dubai; Communications partner: Four Communications; Endorsing partners: Dubai SME, Khalifa Fund For Enterprise Development; Knowledge and Research partner: Diligencia Consulting Limited; Leadership partner: Young Arab Leaders; and Strategic partner: Beehive P2P Limited.

About MEED

MEED is a senior management media brand, its flagship subscription products are the MEED Business Review publication and website, As well as organising the MEED Projects Awards, Gulf Capital SME Awards, Daman Corporate Health Awards and the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC).

MEED also has two high-value content businesses, MEED Projects and MEED Premium Insight Reports. MEED Projects is the Middle East’s premium project tracking database and MEED Premium Insight Reports offer tailored research and in-depth analysis. Established in 1957, MEED, has been integral to delivering business information and news, intelligence and analysis on the Middle East economies and activities ever since.   
MEED celebrated its 60th birthday in 2017. From small beginnings in a London flat on 8 March 1957, MEED has grown with the region, to become the Middle East’s most-trusted source of business information.

About Gulf Capital

Gulf Capital is one of the leading alternative asset management firms in the Middle East, investing across several asset classes including Private Equity, Private Debt and Real Estate and currently manages over US$2.5 billion of assets across seven funds and investment vehicles. Gulf Capital’s mission is to grow capital and build value with world-class expertise and best practices to generate sustainable superior performance for all stakeholders. 


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