Middle East tech start-up investors

25 April 2011

Six heads of venture capitalist companies in the Middle East: Rashid al-Ballaa, Barig Siraj, Emile Cubeisy, Usama Fayyad, Walid Hanna and Hany Sonbaty

Rashid al-Ballaa

Position Chief executive, National Net Ventures

Biography Rashid al-Ballaa is the founder and chief executive of National Net Ventures, also known as N2V, one of the largest internet holding companies in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region. N2V’s core business is to develop online and interactive web-based ventures. Its companies include Net Advantage, Onecard, Jeel ISP, EDC, HawaaWorld and Mubasher.info. Previously, Al-Ballaa founded Mubasher Financial Services, Mena’s first e-trading platform, in 2005. As chief executive of Mubasher, he spearheaded the business development of the company in the Middle East. Al-Ballaa is also a board member of the National Technology Group, an information, communication and technology conglomerate and provider of financial technology and services. Al-Ballaa graduated with bachelor of science degree in computer science from King Saud University in Saudi Arabia in 1999.

Contact Tel: (+966) 1 291 8193

Barig Siraj

Position Chief executive, ICT Ventures

Biography Barig Siraj is the chief executive of ICT Ventures, a Saudi Arabia-based investment company that works as a venture capital fund. The firm focuses on the information and communications technology sector in the Mena region. Siraj is also chief executive of IT Security Training & Solutions and a board observer for Idealratings and Mobidiv, a company that develops mobile applications for smartphones. He began his career as an information technology (IT) specialist with Saudi Arabian Airlines in 1988. In 2000, he became community website Arabia Online’s chief technology officer focusing on new product development. He re-engineered the site’s infrastructure to increase web traffic. Siraj has also worked as an IT professional in the private sector in banking, broadcasting, airline and online businesses. He graduated with a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of California in the US in 1987.

Contact Tel: (+966) 1 207 7008

Emile Cubeisy

Position Managing director, Interactive Ventures Holdings (IV Holdings)

Biography Emile Cubeisy is the managing director of Interactive Ventures Holdings, a company focused on online and interactive ventures. IV Holdings has invested in internet firms that aim to serve the global Arab audience. Cubeisy is also vice-president of Amman-based Accelerator Technology Holdings. He is the director of the board of Shabakat Jordan, a non-profit firm aimed at empowering youth through technology. With more than 10 years’ experience in industry development and technology promotion in the Middle East, Cubeisy has served as director of Jeeran, Shoofeetv, Gate2play, Wizards Productions and Mediascope. He was programme director of the Jordan Education Initiative from 2002-04. A graduate of Southern California University in the US, Cubeisy completed the senior executive programme at Harvard Business School, also in the US in 2004.

Contact Tel: (+962) 6 593 9094

Usama Fayyad

Position Executive chairman, Oasis 500

Biography Usama Fayyad is the executive chairman of Oasis 500, an early-stage investment and development company in Jordan that aims to fund 500 technology start-ups in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region within the next five years. Prior to his current role, Fayyad served as Yahoo’s chief data officer and executive vice-president of research and strategic data solutions from 2004-08. During his time at the US web portal, Fayyad built the world’s largest behavioural targeting system operating more than half a billion user profiles and accurately predicting interests in many categories. In 2008, Fayyad founded and served as chief executive of Open Insights, a data strategy, technology and consulting firm. He has master of science degrees in computer engineering and mathematics from the University of Michigan in the US. He completed a doctorate in computer science and engineering in 1991.

Contact Tel: (+962) 6 580 5460

Walid Hanna

Position Founder and managing partner, Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP)

Biography Walid Hanna is the founder and managing partner of MEVP. He has 13 years of experience in corporate finance, new venture development and private equity. Prior to founding MEVP in 2009, Hanna was the chief executive of the Arab Business Angels Network, the venture arm of investment firm Dubai International Capital. In 2006, Hanna joined Dubai-based Abraaj Capital as vice-president, where he served on the investment management team for a year. Between 2001-06, he was managing partner of Beirut-based Orange Investment Holding. Hanna has co-founded, invested in and led several start-ups in Lebanon, across a range of industries, including technology, consumer finance and hospitality. He has a bachelor of science degree in economics from McGill University in Canada and a masters in finance from Hautes Etudes Commerciales in France.

Contact Tel: (+961) 1 999 604

Hany Sonbaty

Position Co-founder and managing director, Sawari Ventures

Biography Hany Sonbaty is co-founder and managing director of Sawari Ventures in Egypt. He has more than 12 years of experience as a venture capitalist in the Mena region. Prior to co-founding Sawari Ventures, Sonbaty was a partner at Egypt-based EFG-Hermes Private Equity, heading the technology media and telecoms (TMT) and venture capital business. At EFG-Hermes from 1997 until 2009, he managed more than $200m of TMT-related investments and was involved with many of the region’s technology firms, including Maktoob.com, LinkdotNet, ITWorx, Raya and NextMedia Holdings. Sonbaty was also instrumental in the creation of Ideavelopers, the venture capital arm of EFG-Hermes and the formation of its technology development funds. Sonbaty has a bachelor of engineering and master’s of science degree in electrical and electronic engineering from Imperial College in the UK. 

Contact Tel: (+202) 3 570 18023

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