Forbes Middle East has unveiled the sixth edition of its annual Under 30 list, highlighting the region’s young innovators under 30 who are making an impact across industries. This year’s list has expanded to include, for the first time, 120 participants and participants evenly divided into 4 categories of 30 participants each.
This year’s list highlights the achievements of 145 creatives from 22 different nationalities. Egyptians dominated the list with 40 people, followed by Saudis with 15, Lebanon, the UAE and Jordan with 14, 13 and 10, respectively. The shortlisted reside in the Middle East or carry out their main activities in it and are distributed in 20 countries, reflecting the diversity and influence of future leaders in the region, with the UAE hosting 43 of them, followed by Egypt with 36 candidates, Saudi Arabia with 14, Lebanon 9 and Jordan 6.
Here are the most prominent young pioneers nominated from Egypt in the four categories.
Category I: Science and Technology
1. Abdullah Kamel
Kamel co-founded adam.ai in 2017 as a platform to help companies organise and manage meetings. The platform allows the content of meetings to be recorded and organized in an integrated manner, from scheduling to follow-up after they have been held. The platform targets companies and has more than 16,000 teams to manage their meetings in America, Canada, Europe and the Middle East. Among its users is the ADNOC Group.
2. Ahmed Adel
Adel founded Cardo, a specialist in consumer electronics based on Internet of Things technology, of which CardoO Watch is the flagship product. The company has sold 200,000 of its products in Egypt since its inception and plans to expand into Saudi Arabia by the second quarter of 2024. Cardo raised $660,000 in an initial funding round and is currently in talks with potential investors for a Series A funding round.
3. Dalia Hassan
Hassan created Bloom, the first three-dimensional printed prosthetic leg design made from recyclable bottle caps and materials for war victims. She is currently experimenting with the design clinically before the production phase begins. Hassan manages innovative capacity-building programs in the Middle East and Southeast Africa in collaboration with Siemens Healthineers Middle East and Africa’s Innovation Think Tank. She also created Little Innovators, an innovation infrastructure at Children’s Cancer Hospital 57357 in Egypt, enabling children to develop and implement creative healthcare solutions and turn them into startups.
4. Jalal Al-Beshbishi
Al-Beshbishi co-founded Synapse Analytics, which helps companies integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning into their operations. Konan is one of its most essential services that helps financial institutions decide on credit risk. Over the past 12 months, the company has processed loans granted by financial institutions worth more than $105 million, while facilities of about 3 times that amount have been denied. The company has raised two million dollars in funding and has over 50 clients, such as P&G and Unilever.
5. Mohamed Khaled
6. Muhammad Alsarraj
In 2021, Khaled and Al-Sarraj launched an Airbnb-like platform to book co-working spaces on demand, allowing users to rent private offices, meeting rooms and office spaces and enabling those wishing to rent empty holes in their offices to generate revenue. Hotdesk has served more than 350,000 people with nearly 2.5 million hours of bookings until October 2023 through a network of more than 1,700 offices in more than 45 countries and 200 cities. Hotdesk also acquired the Spanish co-operability app (YADO) in early 2023.
7. Omar El Desouky
8. Muhammad Alkhatib
El Desouky and El Khatib founded Seqoon Real Estate Tech in 2021 to enable the co-ownership of holiday homes. The company is operating in El Gouna and Egypt’s North Coast and is considering making its services available in new tourist destinations. To date, it has sold more than 14 shares. In 2022, the company raised $500,000 in a pre-initial funding round and plans to expand outside Egypt in the fourth quarter of 2023.
Category II: Recreation and Sports
9. Ahmed Emad El-Din
Emad El-Din designed the cover of the album “The Endless River” by the international rock band (Pink Floyd). His work includes more than 50 posters of art and cinematic works, and he has designed graphics for commercial campaigns, book covers and art albums. His work has been exhibited in international exhibitions such as Doges Palace, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sotheby’s Gallery and The Victoria and Albert Museum. He is Wacom’s Arab Ambassador for the Middle East and Africa and the recipient of the BPI Platinum Award and Oniros Film Awards for Heavy Rain.
10. Basant Hamida
The Egyptian sprinter won a gold medal in the women’s 200m at the FBK Athletics Championships in the Netherlands in 2023, setting a new record of 22.41 seconds. Bassant also won gold medals in the 100m and 200m at the 2022 Mediterranean Games, becoming the first Egyptian to win gold in the 100m. In 2022, she was appointed an ambassador for the United Nations Global Initiative (Generation Unlimited) in its Egyptian version (Shabab Balad).
11. Hana Gouda
Gouda started playing table tennis at the age of four. In 2022, at 14, she became the youngest player to win a continental title after winning the African Table Tennis Cup in the women’s singles event. In September 2023, she qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games after winning the 2023 African Women’s Singles Table Tennis Championships. She was ranked second in the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) ranking for singles under 17 and 31st for women’s singles in October 2023.
12. Mayar Sherif
Mayar ranked 31st in the WTA Singles World Rankings in June 2023, the highest ranking achieved by an Egyptian tennis player since former Egyptian champion Ismail El Shafei, who ranked 34th in the world in 1975. Born in Egypt and of Spanish descent, Mayar is the first Egyptian player to play in a Grand Slam tournament and the first to win the Hologic WTA Tour. In 2023, she won her sixth WTA 125 title; during her professional career, she won 16 singles and 7 doubles titles.
13. Sara Samir
The Egyptian weightlifter won a bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at 69kg, becoming the first Arab athlete to win an Olympic weightlifting medal. She also won gold at the Women’s 76-kilogram World Weightlifting Championships in 2022 and 2023 in Colombia and Saudi Arabia, respectively. She won her third continental title in the adult competition in May 2023 after winning the African Weightlifting Championships. She currently ranks third in the 2023 IWF senior ranking for 81kg.
Ahmed Ali, known as Wegz, began his career in 2017. In 2022, he became the most-listened-to Arab artist in the MENA region on Spotify and the most-listened-to in Egypt for the third year in a row. His song “Al-Bakht” is the most listened to in Egypt and the region, followed by “Baouda Ya Biladi” and “Kaifi Keda” in fourth and tenth places in Egypt, respectively. “Al-Bakht” was also the most listened-to Arabic song on Anghami in 2022, with about 45 million times, in 11 countries across the Middle East and North Africa, breaking the record for the most listened songs achieved in a year. Wegz has 3.5 million YouTube subscribers and over 875 million views as of October 2023.
Category III: E-Commerce and Finance
15. Abanoub Jamal
16. Fadi Ibrahim
Jamal and Ibrahim founded the agricultural technology company (Krupsa) to connect suppliers with traders and farmers. The company has facilitated the wholesale purchase and sale of raw materials and animal farm inputs to about 150,000 farmers. Jamal has contributed to developing technology to extract active ingredients used in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and organic food industries from medicinal and aromatic plants rather than exporting them as raw materials. This technology simplifies and speeds up the extraction process while reducing cost.
17. Said Talaat
18. Youssef Jalal
19. Hashem Ibrahim
20.Walid Abu Al-Nour
Founded by 4 partners, Klickit offers a tuition fee payment system for educational institutions, with services available in 6 countries in Africa and the GCC. The platform serves over 55,000 public schools, 400 private and international schools, and more than 25 million students in Egypt. It has partnered with the Ministry of Education in Egypt, under which it will become the official platform for paying fees. The company also claims to have helped increase the collection rate of costs in public schools by about 1,000%.
21. Mohamed Ehab
22. Omar Rizk
23. Mennat Allah Zaghloul
Three partners joined to establish Intelaq to provide accelerator programs and advisory services to startups. In January 2023, it launched programs for pre-seed startups, graduating two cohorts yearly. The duration of each program ranges from 4 to 6 months, with the possibility of an investment of up to $50,000 per startup. The firm has provided advisory services to companies, including Rabbit in Egypt, Kaasim in Saudi Arabia and Ninjacart in India.
24. Mahmoud Moussa
Moussa co-founded Hollydesk to facilitate the management of day-to-day expenses for SMEs. In its first year, it processed $7 million in fees. The platform received $1.4 million in funding, including $400,000 in equity and $1 million in debt. Moussa also founded a team to design, build and manufacture Formula racing cars, many of which have participated in several events at Silverstone in the United Kingdom, and the team has also received sponsorship contracts from brands such as ExxonMobil and Uber.
25. Joud Ben Halim
At 17, Ben Halim founded her jewellery brand with her mother, Rana El Azm, in 2011. It currently has 3 stores in Egypt and plans to open another. The brand allows shipping worldwide through its website. Her designs have attracted celebrities such as Kendall Jenner, Vanessa Hudgens, Chrissy Teigen and Adriana Lima.
26. Hazem Al-Tawab
27. Ibrahim Al , Zayat
ReNile’s founders provide technology solutions to farmers using the Internet of Things, controlling water, air and soil quality, from farm monitoring to emergency alerting and analytics. Its services extend to various agricultural sectors, including soilless hydroponics, animal plant farming, fish farming equipment and management, poultry farming systems, greenhouses, and traditional agriculture. The company claims that these solutions reduce operating costs by about 20% and currently has more than 200 customers in Egypt, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE.
28. Amr Qushti
29. Tariq Ezzedine
Qushti and Tarek founded In Your Shoe, a company that sells clothing and accessories to consumers, with over 75 product lines and 7 stores in Egypt. It is currently negotiating with Majid Al Futtaim to open a flagship store in Egypt and small retail stores in the UAE. The company has sold about 400,000 pieces to over 90,000 customers in 20 countries, primarily Egypt and the GCC. It has a portfolio of over 52 customers, including Starbucks, Amazon, Red Bull, Coca-Cola, Vodafone, Orange and Dell.
30. Ahmed Abdeen
Abdeen co-founded the association in 2019 to digitise traditional savings associations, known in Arab countries as the association. The platform has over 250,000 users and aims to reach one million by the end of 2024. The platform also allows instalment of school fees in partnership with more than 90 schools. An initiative has been launched to help women in rural areas earn extra income by making them ambassadors for the platform to create their associations. The company plans to expand into Saudi Arabia by partnering with one of the kingdom’s banks.
Category IV: Social Impact
31. Abdel Razek Ali
32. Rami Abd El , Zaher
Ali and Abdel Zaher founded Bonocle in 2015 after the former suffered a car accident, after which he joined the Center for People with Special Needs to learn for the first time about the suffering of the blind. The Bonocle, which the two partners created, is a braille mobile device with a single cell. It also acts as a controller for electronic devices, allowing blind people to study, read books, and play games with their friends and family in person and online. The device converts content to Braille in real time. The company raised $1.1 million in funding from angel investors and governmental and non-governmental organisations through October 2023.
33. Abdullah Al-Atrash
Al-Atrash co-founded Natrify in 2020 to provide sustainable solutions to the bioplastics industry. A year after its commercial launch in 2022, the company obtained a licence in America with a production capacity starting from 1,000 tons per year and up to 70,000 tons per year after 4 years of the contract. The company is negotiating a licence in Saudi Arabia and plans to obtain two permits in the European Union. The company’s technology helps improve air quality by reducing carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 2,450 tons per ton of plastic production, leaving no microplastic waste behind.
34. Ahmed Samir Eid
Eid has dedicated his time to simplifying and disseminating scientific and educational content through his Egychology channel, which he launched in 2014. The track has attracted over 1.2 million subscribers and 38.3 million views as of October 2023. His channel has been temporarily suspended for over a year but will resume operations in the fall of 2023. During the hiatus, Eid collaborated with Kerning Cultures in 2021 to launch a scientific podcast, which took the lead on Apple Podcasts in its first and second seasons. Eid is one of the youngest faculty members at the University of Alberta, Canada, where he is an assistant lecturer.
35. Alaa Afifi
Afifi founded Bekia in 2017 to allow users to exchange their inorganic waste, such as metal and plastic cans, edible oils and minerals, for money deposited in their e-wallets or bank accounts. The company has recycled over 10,000 tons of waste and collected over 10 million plastic bottles. It also attracted investments from Flat6Labs, Oman Technology Fund’s Valley Accelerator Program, Catalyst Fund and Core Vision.
36. Hadeer Shalaby
Shalaby co-founded Freeziana as an online platform for buying and selling handmade products. It has trained more than 200,000 women in collaboration with 30 international and governmental agencies and 150 local partners such as CARE Egypt, UN Women, UNDP and Oxfam. The platform also received investments and grants worth $1.4 million. Shalaby founded subsidiaries, including Green Fashion, which recycled 600 tons of textile factory waste, 83,700 pieces of old clothing, and Crafty platform for remote learning of crafts and creative industries.
37. Mohamed Ezz
Ezz is one of the founders of Lemon Spaces, which designs and leases different spaces for work and residence. The company operates 80 locations, with 168 places available in November 2023. It has served more than 25,000 customers and has signed partnerships with real estate developers, adding 460 units to its network in 2024.
38. Mostafa Abdel Latif
The educational platform EYouth, co-founded by Abdullatif, serves more than 1.6 million people and has created more than 350,000 jobs for its graduates. The company has three head offices in Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, has educational programs in 14 countries, and plans to expand into the Middle East and North Africa within the next five years. It has raised two million dollars in funding from venture capital firms and angel investors.
39. Omar Emara
Amara contributed to establishing Fresh Source to reduce food waste through an electronic application that allows managing fresh produce sourcing and following up on their distribution and sale. It also provides data analysis services to help producers adjust production plans. It has contributed to increasing farmers’ income by about $200,000, claiming to raise their average income by about 15 per cent and reduce costs by 10 per cent. Freshsource also partnered with the Central Bank of Egypt to provide loans to agricultural producers.
40. Youmna Jaafar
JAFFAR helps governments and policymakers use digital tools to develop economies and improve the lives of the poor and marginalised. In her current role at the IMF, she is creating a value-added tax database, which will be released in an IMF handbook. It also contributes to analyses to determine ways to provide fiscal support to the agricultural sector. Jaafar also worked as a sustainability executive for MBC Group and managed a project supporting Zero Hunger and Food for Children with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) by launching the Feed Their Dreams campaign.
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