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Industry Leaders Reflect on Venture Capital Developments in the Middle East

November 2017

Leading representatives of the region’s venture capital (“VC”) sector participated in a panel discussion hosted by Conyers Dill & Pearman in Dubai to discuss developments in the industry and opportunities ahead.

It has been an eventful year for VC in the UAE and wider GCC region. Developments have included Amazon’s acquisition of Dubai-based e-commerce platform Souq.com, locally based ride-hailing platform Careem achieving unicorn status (US$1 billion valuation) with strategic investments from Japan, China and Saudi Arabia, and the launch of promising VC and FinTech initiatives in the Dubai International Financial Centre (“DIFC”) and Abu Dhabi Global Market (“ADGM”). The year has also witnessed the launch of Noon.com, a new e-commerce venture backed by Emaar Properties Chairman H.E. Mohamed Alabbar and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.

Panellists reflected on how the past 12 months can shape 2018, the likely impact of the DIFC and ADGM initiatives on the regional VC landscape, and hot sectors to watch for VC investment in 2018.

Fawaz Elmalki, Director and Head of Conyers’ Dubai Office, introduced the panel, and commented that: “VC in the region has grown in size, scope and sophistication in recent years. It was a pleasure to engage in such lively discussions and to see how leaders in this space are investing in technologies that are empowering and advancing change”.

Oliver J. Simpson, Associate and a participant in the Panel discussion, added: “This was an interesting and timely discussion as we look ahead to 2018. The VC area is developing rapidly in the region – particularly here in the UAE. Established offshore jurisdictions like the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands continue to play a valuable role in enabling complex deal structures, incentive plans and bespoke shareholder arrangements in cross-border fundraising scenarios. They are complemented by emerging entity structures made possible by the DIFC in Dubai and ADGM in Abu Dhabi.”

Fawaz Elmalki moderated the panel discussion with executives and founders from Dubai Angel Investors, Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG), Iliad Partners, Dubai Holdings, Tagstone Technology, Careem, Bayzat and the US law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius.

The event was livestreamed on Swoo, a new video-sharing platform developed by KryptoLabs, an exciting new initiative of ADFG and a client of Conyers. We are proud to have worked with ADFG on the launch of both KryptoLabs and Swoo.

Please follow our Swoo account @ConyersDillPearman!

 

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