Venture capitalists in the Middle East are growing increasingly aware of the opportunities in local IT start-ups according to Amr Ramadan, co-founder of Egypt-based mobile applications development company, Vimov.

Local venture capital firm Sawari Ventures launched its first round of funding and has invested in Vimov and Alzawad Mobile Services, another Egyptian mobile applications developer. Founder and chairman Ahmed el-Alfi says: “The Middle East is poised to become the next global centre of entrepreneurship.”

The fund is sponsored by Orascom chairman Naguib Sawiris. “Entrepreneurship, innovation and education are critical to the region’s future,” he says. The size of the investment has not been disclosed.

“We have seen more interest from the private sector and they will play a much larger role in this field within the next couple of years. The penetration of mobile devices is extremely high in the region, but the availability of local content and applications is far behind what it should be. There is huge opportunity for growth that has so far remained untapped,” says Ramadan.

Vimov was founded in 2008, a self-funded start-up which has become one of the most successful applications development company worldwide. Its Weather HD for the Apple platform is the best-selling weather application and will soon be made available on other mobile platforms.