Press Release

September 27, 2012

Top performing SMEs boast a combined turnover of AED700 million in 2011

Gulf Capital SMEinfo Awards finalists record average growth rate of 70%, highlighting the robustness of the sector in the UAE

The close to 40 shortlisted finalists of the Gulf Capital SMEinfo Awards boast a combined turnover of AED700 million and have recorded an average growth rate of 70% in 2011, highlighting the healthy business environment in the UAE.

These top performing SMEs have been shortlisted out of hundreds of entrants in the first Gulf Capital SMEinfo Awards, a recognition programme that seeks to honour the top performing small- and medium-sized enterprises whose outstanding business performance and innovations have contributed to the growth and robustness of the UAE economy.

“Such robustness is unprecedented and clearly illustrates how the SME sector has consistently grown in the last few years, contributing as much as 60 percent to the UAE economy last year,” said Becky Crayman, Head of Awards, Gulf Capital SMEinfo Awards. “The shortlist is an impressive portfolio of businesses, from dynamic start-ups, media and online enterprises; technology and finance service providers; to educational, engineering and F&B operations that showcase the vast business opportunities in the UAE economy.”

Dr Karim El Solh, Chief Executive Officer of Gulf Capital, the leading alternative investment firm in the Middle East and the headline sponsor of the awards, praised the high calibre of submissions and the shortlisted SMEs for their impressive business performance and growth prospects. He said, “The awards have set very high standards for determining the finalists and yet have attracted a substantial list of eligible candidates. The selected finalists include some of the most promising and fastest growing businesses in the region. We share their passion for excellence, success and innovation and hope that they will become shining examples to aspiring entrepreneurs across the region.”

From hundreds of applications, those who have stood out in the first round of judging include:, KCal, Citruss TV, German Imaging Technologies and Hacker Kitchen for Gulf Capital Business of the Year; Special Occasions Party Planning, Plug UAE, Mr Bens Costumes Closet, Eastern Biotech & Life Sciences and Caistor Associates for MasterCard Small Business of the Year;,, Content Syndicate, Ethica Institute of Islamic Finance, and for Online Business of the Year; and Content Syndicate, Brain Learning Centre, E-Walls, Saluki Media, My Office for RSA Start Up Business of the Year.

Five wholly-owned Emirati SMEs competing for the Emirati Business of the Year include DAS Collection, Maestro Commercial Enterprises, Just Falafel,, and CIRTA Electro Mechanical Maintenance.

The first Gulf Capital SMEinfo Awards will also be recognising businesses in four different special categories, including: Wild Guanabana, German Imaging Technologies, Summertown Interiors, WMS Metal Industries and PTL Solar for Sustainable Initiative of the Year; Ethica Institute of Islamic Finance, Citruss TV, Wild Guanabana, Emirates Pearl Trading, Plug UAE for Customer Focus of the Year; CIRTA Electro Mechanical Maintenance, ZagTrader, Just Falafel, Ethica Institute of Islamic Finance, Alsayegh Media for Business Innovation of the Year; and BodySmart, Innovative Human Resource Solutions, Biz-Group, Summertown Interiors, for People and Culture of the Year.

Meanwhile, outstanding entrepreneurs and leaders have been shortlisted for two individual awards – Lama Bazzari (Founder and CEO, NStyle), Paul Berger (CEO, Harlequin Marquees & Event Services), Alex Marr (CEO, Xeratek), Rajan Israni (CEO, Caistor Associates Ltd), and Abdulatif Alsayegh (CEO, Alsayegh Media) for Business Leader of the Year; and Michael Chalhoub (Sport360), Manish Hiranandani  (Hira Industries), Nicole Rodrigues Larsen (Diva Group of Companies), Lama Bazzari (NStyle) and Prabissh Thomas (PTL Solar) for Entrepreneur of the Year.
The shortlisted businesses have been selected by a panel of regional business trailblazers, SME enablers from the government, and highly respected members of the UAE business community, including Essam Omran Disi, Senior Manager of Strategy and Policy, Dubai SME; Salina Handa, Founder & Managing Director, SensAsia Urban Spas; Saer Imad, Manager, Enterprise Development & Support Department, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development; Hussein Mohamed, Senior Manager, Entrepreneurship Development Department, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development; Raghu Malhotra, Division President, Middle East and North Africa, MasterCard Worldwide; Eyad Al-Kourdi, Vice President & Country Manager UAE, MasterCard Worldwide; Ahmed Detta, Managing Partner Middle East, Industry RE; Ibrahim N. Al-Zu’bi, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Majid Al Futtaim Properties; Muhannad Qubbaj, Managing Director-Private Equity, Gulf Capital; Donna Benton, CEO, The Entertainer; Walid Cherif, Managing Director, Gulf Credit Partners at Gulf Capital; Arto Joensuu, Marketing Change Agent,; Dimitri Metaxas, Executive Regional Director, Omnicom Media Group; Kamal Hassan, Founder, President and Chief Excitement Officer, Innovation 360; Tatiana Antonelli Abella, Co-Founder and Managing Director,; Nader Henein, Advisor, BlackBerry Security Group; Yunib Siddiqui, CEO and owner of Jones the Grocer, UAE; David Harris, Sales and Marketing Director, RSA Insurance Middle East, UAE; and Richard Dean, Radio Presenter at Dubai Eye.

There will be a final round of judging to select the winners, who will be revealed at an awards ceremony on November 7, 2012 at the Mehteran Theatre, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, The Palm Jumeirah.