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If you’re a keen reader of the Endeavor blog you’d know already about the other Arab Spring. The Middle East’s tech industry has become a hotbed of innovation and development, and many Endeavor affiliated companies are leading the way. Listed below are a few of those rising tech stars, as selected by Al-Monitor (original post here).
Endeavor Network Members:
Habib Haddad, Lebanon
The World Economic Forum has recognized Habib Haddad as a Young Global Leader, while Arabian Business ranks him as one of the most influential Arabs under 30. This tech entrepreneur founded bothYamli.com, an Arabic search engine, and YallaStartup!, which nurtures early-stage ventures in the Middle East and North Africa. Now Haddad is CEO of Wamda, where he helps fund, educate and empower the region’s entrepreneurs.
Fadi Ghandour, Jordan
It took three decades of innovating within the Middle East’s logistics industry, but Fadi Ghandour has grownAramex into a $700 million-a-year company with a presence in more than 60 countries. He built Aramex into the Arab world’s first business to list on New York’s Nasdaq exchange, and has recently been adding new e-commerce services to boost company revenues via technological innovations. Ghandour, known for mentoring promising young business owners, was named a high-impact entrepreneur of the year in 2011 and is set to retire from Aramex this year.
It’s been nearly three years since Yahoo! forked over $164 million for Maktoob, an Arab news site founded in Amman, and the deal still remains one of the region’s most talked about tech acquisitions. Co-foundersSamih Toukan (shown) and Hussam Khoury helped grow Maktoob’s base from 2 million users a decade ago to more than 18 million today. But both men have since moved on to run another online giant together:Jabbar Internet Group, which has spun-off the brands not acquired by Yahoo and include Souq.com andCobone.com.
Since Omar Koudsi (left) co-founded Jeeran.com in Amman in 2000, he has evolved the blogging service into a user-generated review site that’s similar to Yelp and attracts more than 25 million page views each month. Last month, the company received seed funding from the 500 Startups accelerator. Koudsi still oversees Jeeran as its CEO, though Laith Zraikat (right), a co-founder who left the venture, is now reportedly working on a new mobile app service.
Peak Games, Turkey
Peak Games is another fast-growing online gaming company, and its founders Rina Onur (left) and Sidar Sahin (right) secured a $5 million investment a few months ago from Earlybird Venture Capital. Their Istanbul-based business boasts more than 30 million active players, many who play the company’s traditional Turkish and Arabic card and board games. Peak Games has grown to become the world’s third-biggest social gaming company.
Khaled Ismail, Egypt
In 2007, Endeavor, an organization that finds and grooms high-impact entrepreneurs from around the world, selected Khaled Ismail (pictured) as its first member in the Middle East. Last year, Ismail became Endeavor’s board chairman in Egypt just months after having most of the assets from his successful software company, SySDSoft, acquired by Intel. The Egyptian now mentors other entrepreneurs in his home country and works as managing director of Intel Mobile Communications.
Curl Stone Studios, Jordan
Fadi Bargouti (left) and Majdy Abo-Mathkoor (right) have created one of the region’s most promising digital entertainment houses, Curl Stone Studios, which is introducing many of their characters through web episodes and mobile apps. Their venture was incubated at Oasis 500, a well-known Jordanian accelerator, and both men were just selected to be mentored through Endeavor, a group that identifies high-impact entrepreneurs. Fadi Ghandour, the founder of Aramex, sits on their company’s board of directors.
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