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Dubai Investors That Truly Add Value. According To Founders And Investors.

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

This report has been compiled from contributions of founders and investors from the Dubai Ecosystem from the 18th of Jan, 2023 til the 14th of Feb, 2023, as part 3 of DSRPTD MAG's Dubai Venture City Guide.

The values that Dubai investors add can vary depending on the type of investor and their specific focus. Some examples include:

Angel investors: These individuals provide early-stage funding for startups and can also offer mentorship and industry connections to help companies grow.

Venture capital funds: VCs bring not only funding but also expertise and experience in growing early-stage companies. They typically invest in a company, take a board seat and help the company to grow in many different aspects and at different stages

Investment funds: These firms invest in a wide range of assets and can provide a steady source of capital for companies. They can also offer valuable advice and guidance on financial matters.

Sovereign wealth funds: These government-controlled funds invest large amounts of capital in various assets and can provide significant funding for large-scale infrastructure projects and companies.

Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA): This is a government-owned free zone that provides a platform for technology-based companies. It provides services such as business setup, incubation, and funding for companies to develop technology in Dubai.

In general, Dubai investors bring valuable resources, industry knowledge, and strategic connections to the table, which can help companies to grow and succeed.

Privity (Sector agnostic)

Privity was founded in 2004, an independent Venture-focused advisory firm that seeks entrepreneurs with interesting and unique ideas and helps them develop and grow. Privity is agnostic to geography and industry vertical. It focuses on the quality of the entrepreneur and the compelling value proposition of the idea.

Privity draws upon its unique methodology – 4i , to deliver insightful advisory and consulting services. The proven 4i Methodology is a result of Privity’s vast and diverse experience gathered over the years as well as application of highly specialized domain expertise. The four i ‘s are:

  1. Ideas

  2. Intelligence

  3. Innovation

  4. Invention

Helion Ventures (Web3 focused)

Helion Ventures is headquartered in Dubai, regulated by the DIFC, and is regarded as one of the top VCs and Venture Builders in the MENA region. Their founders have been part of Dubai’s successful growth since 1999. For the past two years, they have played an essential role in building the UAE’s web3 ecosystem.

Crypto Oasis Sentio (Web3 focused)

Crypto Oasis Sentio invests in early-stage Tokens, with a foot hold in the UAE and strong growth potential. In doing so, they focus on both consumer and enterprise facing business models. Their preference lies within companies building proprietary products and services that can demonstrate advisable network effects across industry verticals, enabling technologies for multiple industries, facilitating the onset of new decentralized technology backbones, or any combination thereof!​

Woodstock Fund (Web3 focused)

A Thesis and Research driven fund, investing in early and growth stage Web 3.0 startups.

"These folks at Woodstock Fund are value diggers and their investment leads are usually followed by the likes of Pantera and Binace Labs. I have got know them and be part of their journey some way since their very early days and some of their very early top deals such as El Rond among others."

DAI Dubai Angel Investors (Sector agnostic)

DAI are a member-led Micro-VC made up of more than 100 like-minded investors. They are passionate about entrepreneurs and teams that have taken their ideas from proof of concept to customer traction to scale with drive, energy, determination and ambition.

DAI invest in the Seed and Series A rounds of early-stage technology companies with high growth potential.

What makes DAI different is that DAI are not a fund. DAI are a fully-capitalized investment company and their angels range from seasoned investors, tech entrepreneurs, venture fund partners, senior executives of successful companies and one institutional investor. Together, They leverage their collective experience as well as their extensive network of contacts to add value to their investees through their ability to open doors and to mentor them.

Whenever possible they seek to invest alongside established venture funds that act as lead investor but DAI also has also acted as lead investor on various seed and bridge rounds.

DAI typically deploys between $100,000 to $250,000 in each of the companies they invest but their members can, and frequently do, co-invest with DAI. This means that DAI (together with co-investing members) have made first-round investments of between $100,000 and $2,000,000 in all their portfolio companies to date.

For portfolio companies that show strong traction after their initial investment, they have a 'dry powder' reserve to enable them to deploy additional capital to support their growth. Since inception, they have invested in 5 follow-on rounds with existing portfolio companies including two Series A rounds.

MEVP Middle East Venture Partners (Sector agnostic)

MEVP provide both early and growth-stage funding to exceptional founders looking for smart capital and help them bring forth innovation in tech and societies alike.

12 years of successful investing in companies across various tech sectors:

E-commerce Marketplaces | Mobility | New Media | Enterprise, SaaS, BaaS, IoT | E-education, E-health, Others

They understand how challenging it can be to scale your business. They've been there themselves. That's why they focus on providing patient capital with the commitment and the suitable resources their tech founders need.

Ghaf Capital Partners (Web3 focused)

Ghaf Capital Partners is one of the first locally managed blockchain / Web 3 only private capital firms based in Dubai, U.A.E & acts as an extended version of the team of all their partners and portfolio of companies so as to add value as strategic partners and growth accelerators.

The name was inspired by the beauty & characteristics of the Ghaf tree. Known for its strong roots, extreme self-sustenance, essential source of shade, food & medical supplies for all species, being one of the only evergreen trees in the harsh conditions of the desert.

For GCP, they believe it is the perfect formula for a firm to base its values & strategies on to help achieve the goals and objects of the companies.

ADQ FWD (Forward) - Sector specific

From data to insights to action, the ADQ FWD platform brings together industry experts, government, and advocacy leaders to discuss and address issues of economic and strategic importance for the UAE.

ADQ FWD are exploring the opportunities and solutions that can contribute to the UAE’s economic diversification, achieve sustainable growth, and advance key economic clusters including Energy and Utilities, Food and Agriculture, Healthcare and Life Sciences, and Mobility and Logistics.

Sequoia (Sector agnostic)

As the world's top and leading VC capital firm, Sequoia has entered the Middle East in the past recent years with their investment in the UAE based proptech Huspy and Egypt's fintech Telda.

Venom Ventures Fund (Web3 focused)

Venom Ventures Fund (VVF) invests in the people, projects, and creative

ideas that will pave the path to mass adoption, leading us towards a fairer financial system.

DGH Draper Goren Holm (Web3 focused)

Draper Goren Holm is a blockchain venture studio and fund created by Tim Draper, Alon Goren, and Josef Holm with a focus on incubating and accelerating the best early-stage startups from around the world.

Josef and Alon are the same team that has built some of the top blockchain conferences such as LA Blockchain Summit (FKA Crypto Invest Summit), Global DeFi Summit, Security Token Summit, and other events. In 2019 they partnered with billionaire investor Tim Draper to build the next-generation blockchain venture studio and fund with a global focus.

Dubai Future District Fund DFDF (Part of DFF Dubai Future Foundation) - Sector Agnostic

The fund is mandated to support future economy companies who will operate out of the Dubai Future District, and who have the potential and foresight to drive Dubai’s economy and contribute to enhancing the emirate’s position as a preferred destination for global talent and entrepreneurship, through many initiatives and projects aimed at turning Dubai into a nexus for business and an integrated investment environment that offers exceptional facilities.

The Dubai Future District Fund is the evergreen venture capital fund of funds of Dubai, anchored by the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) with an initial Dhs 1 billion in committed capital.

The fund aims to deploy half of its investments into venture capital funds with a local focus and the other half into startups directly or through Future District affiliated programs. The mandate of the fund is to boost startup and venture capital investing and business activity in Dubai and the region, providing a healthy return to investors while facilitating diversified GDP growth and job creation for the next generation of industries and skills.

Dtec Ventures (DIEZ) - Sector agnostic

Dtec Ventures is the venture capital fund of Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority and part of Dtec. Dtec Ventures invest in early-stage technology companies in the MENA region with a nucleus to Dubai, that are disrupting or enabling traditional industries.

Contributors to the Dubai Venture City Guide report:

Feroz Sanaulla, Global Co-Head of Crypto Economy and Partner at Roland Berger heading Financial Services, mainly fintech, insuretech and digital banking solutions. He has been active in building the operational blockchain solutions business offering to financial services companies (e.g. identity solutions, L/C and escrow solutions, 3rd party interaction protocols for banks. He has a vast regional network and am often a sounding board to C-level executives regionally. He has traveled extensively and has worked with clients in US, Europe and Asia.

With his past experience as a VC, he has also assisted incubators and worked with all of the major regional and silicon valley based VC and PE funds

Nathan Cooper, Chief Program and Innovation Officer at Sheesha Finance.

Nathan Cooper, MBA is a highly skilled and experienced Strategy and Execution professional with a proven track record of defining and delivering change plans to drive business readiness and employee adoption. With 20 years of experience, he has successfully led initiatives in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, the US and Canada, focusing on Operational Excellence, Change Management and is passionate about building ecosystems, connecting needs to resources, addressing root causes of complex systems problems and impacting culture change.

Nathan's exceptional communication, collaboration, and presentation skills, along with his ability to work with geographically dispersed teams, make him a valuable asset in fostering strong global partnerships, aligning business strategy and delivering communications and training interventions. He uses his experience in customer-centred design thinking, critical analysis and synthesis, data analytics, technical expertise, and interdisciplinary collaboration to innovate experiences, product-service development, and workflow efficiency.

As the Chief Program and Innovation Officer of Sheesha Finance, Nathan drives organizational growth through innovative solutions and effective team management, consistently delivering measurable results across the business development, marketing, IT and projects departments. He also advises on innovation and new technologies to clients, investors and startups he advises. He was previously a Senior Program Manager at Société General and a Technical Program Manager of Operational Analytics at the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, holding multiple certifications including Scrum and Agile, and is In his final year completing his doctoral studies in Strategy and Innovation.

Jorge Sebastiao, CEO at Global Blockchain Organization, and Co-Founder of EcoX.

International ICT speaker. Seasoned CTO, with Blockchain, Web 3.0, AI, NFT, IoT, Gaming, Digital Twin, Cyber Security, Managed Services, Cloud Computing, Big Data, & ICT innovation professional focused on business value; brings experience, creativity, structure, motivation, & agility. Over 35 years of ICT experience, covering, innovation, architecture as well as risk management, compliance, auditing, certification, business continuity, & disaster recovery. Served sectors include Telecom, Oil & Gas, Financial , Government, Defense, HealthCare, & Education. Created the process A6 of security: Assess, Architect, Apply, Administer, Awareness & Agility. He architects practical & business focused solutions using standards & industry best practices.

He has been the speaker at numerous international conferences with topics including: ICS Security, ICT Security, Business Continuity, ICT Architecture (TOGAF), Wireless Security, Regulatory Compliance, Physical Security, Biometrics and Smart Cards, Ethical Hacking, ISO27001, ISO27002 (ISMS), ISO2000 (ITIL), ISO13335 (Risk Management), ISO22301 (BCMS), CobIT, Basel II, EMV-2, PCI-compliance, SOX, Info warfare, Fraud, Identity Theft, SAP-Security, CISSP, Forensics & Incidence Response.

Jorge is action and results oriented with passion to deliver a results in a collaborative approach.

Mr. Sebastiao also co-authored book "La Face Cachée du Credit".

Languages Advanced: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish

Learning: Italian, Greek, Arabic, Russian

Quote “Information security is a continuous skilled process…”

Specialties: Cyber Security, Cloud Services, blockchain, big data, IoT, Managed Services, Business Continuity, BCP, Disaster Recovery, DRP, Virtualization, CMS, Workflow, Storage Management, Infrastructure, Information Security, IT Architecture, TOGAF, Satellite, Wireless, VoIP, Managed Services, Physical Security, Homeland Security, CCTV, Training, Security Awareness, Ethical Hacking, Security Monitoring, Forensics, Data Recovery

Muhammad Salman Anjum, Salman has been named a “Top 100 Blockchain Leader in World.” As a Founder and Chief Mate of InvoiceMate he is co-creating future of invoice financing with blockchain enabled invoice financing marketplace. Aiming to solve real world business issue of inefficient invoice processing and enabling businesses reach out to all important working capital finance.

A key influencer in the space of Enterprise Blockchain adaption, Salman has moderated events & presented keynotes at stages around the world including a talk at esteemed TEDx platform. He’s a Blockchain & FinTech specialist in PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Faculty. A results-driven professional with over 20 years in corporate & entrepreneurial roles aligning People, Performance and Profit. He has been featured as success story in “Soul Beats @ UAE” the book published by Dubai Government. Pursuing his Doctorate degree, he is a CIPD Member and one of the pioneer Lead Auditors of ISO 29990:2010 for L&D operations.

Salman lives, plays and works in Dubai and on stages around the world committed to empower the human potential.

Walid Hanna, Founder, Chairman, and Co-CEO of MEVP Middle East Venture Partners, a $260M AUM VC firm focused on Tech investing in MENA, with offices in Dubai, Beirut, Cairo, Riyadh, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.

Walid has been active in venture capital and new venture development for the past 20 years, successfully completed more than 50 VC investments in the past 10 years and several exits.

Walid has also co-founded, invested in, and led several startups in the MENA region, spanning a range of industries with a focus on technology. Walid holds a Bachelor's of Economics from McGill University (Canada), and a Master's in Finance from Hautes Études Commerciales, H.E.C (France).

Fatma Elsafty, Founder and CEO of MetaEssence.

Fatma ElSafty, is an experienced blockchain business and technical lead with over 15 years of hands-on experience in many vital businesses and the capacity of enterprise and solutions architecture division and enterprise IT solutions implementation and management in different industries including telecommunications, Banking, insurance, education, healthcare and government services. Coming from engineering background; Fatma was able to provide innovative IT solutions supported by solid architectural design using the latest technologies and platforms in the market. Her experience in blockchain and cloud computing enabled her to harness the power of both technologies and work with startups and big companies alike to scale up and achieve sustainable growth. Fatma's main passion is to use her skillset to shape today's technology into innovative, sustainable solutions that simplify, secure, and streamline vital business transactions to bring a high return on investment combined with high customer satisfaction. Fatma is a passionate self-learner and very curious to explore and try new ideas and share her experience with others. Her frequent participation in international technology summits exposed her directly to the latest innovations from every corner of the globe and enabled her to align her solutions to the market needs while building valuable business connections with customers, partners, technology providers, and colleagues.

Sleem Hasan, Founder and CEO of Privity. AKA The Father of Startups. Experienced Owner with a demonstrated history of working in Venture Capital and the Japanese Capital Markets. Skilled in Investor Relations, Securities, Asset Management, Investment Advisory, and working with Technology Entrepreneurs. Strong entrepreneurship professional with a Part III Mathematical Tripos from Cambridge University & M.A.(Hons) Mathematics from Oxford University.

Ahmed Refaie, Founder, CEO, and Global CIO at G.P.I. Global Partners Investments Limited, and DSRPTD Host.

A Financial Engineer, Investment Architect, Mathematician and Computer Engineer who turned into the entertainment industry at a very young age to run the concerts for the most famous singers and Djs from all over the world at the most sought after and international venues. Shifted tremendously to leading a military troop as a lieutenant in the Air Defense Forces fulfilling his service.

Switched to business and finance and started the second wave of his career as an equity portfolio and fund manager, and FX trader. Deeply experienced in the hedge fund industry. Ahmed instructs the CFA Charter levels 2 and 3 as well as teaching on different topics for banking and investment professionals and practitioners such as Technical Analysis & Trading, Asset Selection and Allocation, Alternative Investments, Cryptoassets, Tokenisation, Hedge Funds, Family Offices, and Risk Management. Also with extensive experience in the MICE Industry engaging in running, organising, and managing Tech VC conferences and events globally.

Refaie is a four time entrepreneur in 4 different sectors (Retail, FnB, Education, and Finance) across two regions (Middle East and Europe).

Refaie leads G.P.I. the London based asset allocator for sovereign wealth and MFO Fund of Funds Manager Selection, as well as FDI Foreign Direct Investment Promotion Agency for governments for G2G Startup Acceleration Programmes and PPP Public Private Partnerships Investor Relations and Communication.

Refaie runs, manages, and administrates the Tech VC Browser of the World where they host their very own annual DSRPTD Summit (The world's most untold and unspoken off happening in the VC world) which brings the DSRPTD MBA Course to life, with a lot of initiatives and activities such DSRPTD Expeditions (The Open Accelerator of the World), Web3 Master Course, in addition to a Media Powerhouse (behind the PR, Marketing, speakers, and investors at almost all major tech & VC events and conferences from LA to Tokyo) consisting of DSRPTD Blog, DSRPTD MAG, DSRPTD Reports, DSRPTD News, DSRPTD Radio, and DSRPTD TV (On Demand Streaming of the World's Top Tech Events). Also DSRPTD Press (PR Wire). In addition to branch activities such as (Deal listing and launchpad), and (Open and free databases of all the investors in the world).

Refaie holds a BEng in Computer Engineering, the PMT Professional Market Trader Certification, Cambridge International Diploma in Business majoring in Marketing and HRM, the European Business Competence Licence Level A, and a MSc in Financial Engineering.

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