HomeBlogA Guide To Venture Funds in the UAE

A Guide To Venture Funds in the UAE

March 01, 2024

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    The United Arab Emirates continues to be the premier destination for entrepreneurs, with Dubai at the forefront, offering a comprehensive ecosystem for the growth of innovative and promising projects. This ecosystem is bolstered by support from leading venture capital funds.

    The UAE as a launchpad for startups

    The UAE has the highest proportion of expats relative to its total population compared to any other country, with 88% of its residents having originated from abroad. Part of the reason for this lies in the influx of foreigners arriving for business.

    They are drawn to the UAE because of several advantages the country offers:

    • Free Economic Zones: These zones allow foreign citizens to own 100% of their company. Each zone specializes in a particular theme, catering to different sectors: media projects are based in Dubai Media City (DMC), IT companies in Dubai Internet City (DIC). Among the most prominent Free Zones for startups is Dubai Silicon Oasis, an electronics hub that runs its own venture fund.

    • Minimal Taxes: Dubai imposes no taxes on real estate, property, or the income of individuals and legal entities. The Value Added Tax (VAT) is a modest 5%. However, the tax benefits can vary depending on the Free Zone where the business operates.

    Top 10 Venture Funds in the UAE

    Here’s the breakdown of our top 10 picks for leading venture capital funds in the Emirates. (In no particular order).

    1. Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP)

    Founded in 2010, MEVP is one of the largest venture funds in the Middle East, having invested in over 60 startups across the region. Currently, the fund manages $300 million.

    More than just aiding startups in scaling their operations, MEVP aims to make a significant impact in the developing countries within the MENA region. Startups backed by MEVP have created over 73,000 jobs and contribute $284 million in annual revenue, bolstering the economies of developing nations.

    • Investment range: $3M to $5M

    • Stages: Seed series and later

    • Industries:  Fintech, SaaS, Health-tech, Edtech, Logistics, Ecommerce, On-demand services, Marketplaces, Web3

    Website

    2. Wamda Capital

    Established in 2014, Wamda Capital promotes itself as the leading venture capital firm in Dubai. The fund focuses on nurturing innovative startups throughout the MENA region. So far, the firm has invested in more than 140 companies, including behemoths like Tabby and Careem

    • Investment range: $1M to $5M

    • Stages: Seed, Series A, A+

    • Industries: Technology, Digital Media, Fintech, E-commerce, Healthcare, Education, Logistics

    Website

    3. BECO Capital

    Founded in 2012, BECO Capital is headquartered in Dubai and is a key VC player in the UAE. The fund focuses on powering the next wave of innovative startups across the MENA region. They’ve invested in over 50 startups.

    • Investment range: $500K to $5M

    • Stages: Seed, Series A

    • Industries: Tech, Digital Media, Fintech, E-commerce, Healthcare, Edtech, Logistics

    Website

    4. VentureSouq

    VentureSouq, established in Dubai, has quickly become a prominent investor in fintech, healthtech, and edtech startups across the MENA region and beyond. The fund’s portfolio counts over 200 startups. Today, their focus lies in Fintech and ClimateTech industries.

    • Investment range: Undisclosed

    • Stages: Seed, Series A

    • Industries: Fintech, InsurTech, Agriculture, Climate & Sustainability, Education, Healthcare, Media, SaaS, Enterprise

    Website

    5. Arzan Venture Capital

    Launched in 2013, Arzan Venture Capital supports startups from the early stages of development. The fund started by targeting medium-sized tech startups, but now supports innovative projects at later stages. It boasts a diverse portfolio, having invested in over 60 companies.

    • Investment range: $1M to $20M

    • Stages: Seed, Series A

    • Industries: Tech, Fintech, E-commerce, Healthcare, Edtech, Logistics, SaaS

    Website

    6. Dtec Ventures

    Based in Dubai, Dtec Ventures is the investment arm of Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, focusing on tech startups in the MENA region.The fund has supported over 30 startups to date. Dtec Ventures is known for its commitment to fostering the growth of the tech ecosystem in Dubai. The fund provides not just capital but also strategic support to its portfolio companies.

    • Investment range: $100K to $1M

    • Stages: Seed, Early Stage

    • Industries: Technology, SaaS, Digital Health, Fintech, E-commerce, Edtech

    Website

    7. Shorooq Partners

    Established in 2016, Shorooq Partners quickly became a significant investor in technology startups across the MENA region. Today, the fund has branches in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain. They support companies in the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan, focusing on transformative tech that promises to redefine industries. To date, the fund has supported over 70 startups.

    • Investment range: Undisclosed

    • Stages: Seed, Series A

    • Industries: Fintech, Healthtech, Edtech, SaaS, E-commerce

    Website

    8. Global Ventures

    This fund, with presence in Dubai, Cairo, and Abu Dhabi, has been supporting innovative startups since 2018. It targets startups that demonstrate strong potential to make a positive impact in their industry. The firm has made investments in over 40 startups and secured 4 successful exits.

    • Investment range: $500K to $4M

    • Stages: Seed, Growth

    • Industries: Financial services, Healthcare, Edtech, InsurTech, Blockchain, Logistics, E-Commerce, AgriTech

    Website

    9. EQ2 Ventures

    EQ2 Ventures, based in Dubai, was established by experienced investors and serial entrepreneurs. This firm specializes in supporting businesses within sectors they are well-acquainted with. Consequently, startups backed by EQ2 Ventures gain access to a supportive ecosystem and valuable connections. The firm selects startups with precision, having supported just over 30 companies to date.

    • Investment range: Undisclosed

    • Stages: Seed, Series A, Series B

    • Industries: Healthtech, Fintech, e-commerce, Adtech, Edtech

    Website

    10. Mubadala Ventures

    Mubadala Ventures, the venture capital arm of Mubadala Investment Company, began its operations in 2017. Since then, they have backed over 75 technology and healthcare companies. The fund operates both direct investment strategies in early-stage companies and a fund of funds strategy, investing in leading venture funds around the world. They manage a whopping around $280 billion.

    • Investment range: Undisclosed

    • Stages: Series A, and beyond

    • Industries: Technology, AI, Fintech, Healthcare

    Website

    Wrapping up

    For startups looking for a business hub in the Middle East, the UAE, and Dubai at its heart, offer unparalleled advantages. Even as startup support saw a decline in 2023, the UAE's commitment to nurturing innovation remained strong.

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