Press Release

April 01, 2020

Gulf Capital SME Awards 2020 to celebrate resilient SMEs in the region

Gulf Capital in partnership with MEED will be hosting the 9th edition of Gulf Capital SME Awards as their long-running initiative to support, identify and celebrate small and medium businesses that are spearheading commercial growth in the region.

Despite a challenging economic climate exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, regional governments have re-affirmed their support to help SMEs mitigate the expected financial impact. The implementation of such initiatives and funds highlight the significant opportunities that these businesses present, reflecting the value they add to the economic potential of the region.

The development of non-oil sectors is a key objective of numerous GCC countries, in line with their strategic vision to diversify their economies away from oil revenue. With SMEs placing their efforts in various sectors such as technology, healthcare and education, these enterprises are instrumental in supporting their countries to achieve their economic goals.

In the UAE for instance, SMEs represent over 94 per cent of all companies operating in the country, contributing 52 per cent of the country’s non-oil GDP. The Central Bank of UAE also announced an AED100 billion economic stimulus package to support businesses, particularly SMEs that are likely to be amongst the hardest hit due to the current economy.

Similarly, Saudi Arabia has also recognised the importance of SMEs in helping the country realise its Vision 2030, a key pillar of which involves the increase of SME contribution towards GDP, from 20 to 35 per cent. The Kingdom also announced a SR50bn package to enhance financial stability to enable growth in this sector.

In addition, Bahrain’s Small and Medium Enterprises Development Society (BSMES) and Kuwait’s National Fund for SME Development (the “SME Fund”) aim to support entrepreneurs as they drive economic progress in their respective countries. Oman’s SME Development Fund (SMEF), as well as the Special Economic Zone Authority in Duqm (SEZAD), continue to develop entrepreneurship and support the SME ecosystem.

“SMEs have played a major role in transforming the economies of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman, and their importance continues to be seen through their rapid growth and substantial contribution to the regional economies. From biotechnology to F&B, e-commerce, as well as healthcare, healthtech, business services, fintech, water and energy it is clear that SMEs are leading the way in terms of innovation and growth, and we are delighted to recognise their efforts in the region,” said Dr Karim El Solh, Chief Executive Officer of Gulf Capital.

“SMEs continue to innovate, grow and create new jobs in the private sector while showcasing resilience and nimbleness during these challenging times. As we enter a new decade, this year’s Gulf Capital SME Awards marks its 9th edition and we are proud to celebrate the achievements of SMEs across the region and hope to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs,” he added. 

Commenting on the accolades, MEED editorial director Richard Thompson said, “SMEs and entrepreneurs are essential factors to propel the regional economy forward. Now more than ever, their innovations, creative concepts and services are critical to the future success of the GCC. We are delighted to partner with Gulf Capital to host the SME Awards, and we strongly encourage these organisations which are contributing to the ongoing development of the region’s economy to apply in recognition of their incredible efforts.”

In celebration of the very best achievements shaping the region’s modern economy, SMEs from across the GCC will be able to enter the award for the first time. Applications can be submitted across 16 unique categories including Sustainable Business of the Year, Business Innovation of the Year, Disruption Business of the Year and Gulf Capital Business of the Year. Entries are now open for organisations to submit their nominations by 12th April, 2020. Since its inception in 2012, Gulf Capital SME Awards has seen over 1,500 registrations from the UAE, representing over 1,000 participating companies.

Gulf Capital SME Awards 2020 is supported by Audit partner: Grant Thornton; Association partners: in5 (in5 Tech, in5 Media and in5 Design Innovation Center), She Is Arab, startAD, TiE Dubai; Endorsing partners: Dubai SME, Khalifa Fund For Enterprise Development; Knowledge and Research partner: Diligencia Consulting Limited and  Strategic partner: Beehive P2P Limited.

To submit your entry, please visit the webpage: