Meet the judges: 2016 Arabian Business StartUp Awards

Find out more about the judges for the fourth Arabian Business StartUp Awards.
Meet the judges: 2016 Arabian Business StartUp Awards
By Tamara Pupic
Wed 14 Sep 2016 10:50 AM

We are introducing the 2016 Arabian Business StartUp Awards judges who will have the difficult task of choosing the individuals and businesses that have made an outstanding contribution to the region's thriving start-up scene.

This year's judging panel consists of:

Muna Al Gurg

Muna Al Gurg is one of the UAE’s most prominent women in business. She was presented the Emirates Women’s Award for Outstanding Achievers in 2010 and the Businesswoman of the Year Award at the 2013 Arab Woman Awards.

In addition to being the director of retail for the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, Al Gurg is a founding board member of The Hub Dubai, Endeavor UAE, and is the chairwoman of Young Arab Leaders UAE. She also serves on the Board of the Emirates Foundation, ESAG Charity Foundation, Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, and is the Ambassador of UAE’s Pink Caravan’s breast cancer awareness initiative.

Muna Al Gurg

Najla Al Midfa

Najla Al Midfa was the first ever Emirati female to join the board of an Arab bank, when she was elected to the Board of Directors of United Arab Bank at the 2012 Annual General Meeting and was appointed as Member of the Board Executive Committee.

Al Midfa is the founder of Khayarat, a social enterprise that helps Emiratis to make informed career choices. In addition to being the general manager of the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheera), Al Midfa is also on the board of both the Sharjah Business Women Council and Young Arab Leaders UAE.

Donna Benton

Australian born, Donna Benton launched The Entertainer in 2001, shortly after arriving in Dubai with just $3,000 in her pocket. The company has evolved from one book, to an app, and now a global brand that currently has more than 10,000 merchant partners and more than 12 million redemptions per year across 45 products.

Since 2001 Benton’s team has grown to include 230 people. The Entertainer Group is now active in Cyprus, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Africa and London, in addition to every GCC country.

Donna Benton

Prashant K. (PK) Gulati

Prashant K. Gulati (PK) is a technology innovator, angel investor, mentor, idea accelerator, and writer.

PK has served in numerous leadership capacities including as trustee of the Global Board of TiE, past president of TiE Dubai, founder of SmartStart Fund, CEO of Optimistix Ventures, chairman of Gulfcom Group, chairman of Prokraft Group in India, and a board member for Indian Documentary Foundation, Dubai Enterprise Centre, and many more.

PK is actively involved in various developmental initiatives like The Assembly, Startup Weekend, Mobile Monday, Dubai Enterprise Centre, in5 Incubator, Dubai SME, and various angel investment groups.

Habib Haddad

Haddad is the co-founder and CEO of Wamda. He is a serial entrepreneur, an early stage investor, and a venture partner at Wamda Capital.

Haddad is also the founder of Yamli, the leading Arabic transliteration smart search engine, and YallaStartup, one of the first support organisations for MENA entrepreneurs. In 2009, the World Economic Forum recognised Haddad as a Young Global Leader. He was also named as a ‘top innovator under 35’ by the MIT Technology review in 2011.

Habib Haddad

Walid Akawi

Akawi is the chief executive officer of ITP Publishing Group, the region’s biggest publisher serving the Middle East’s business-to-business, consumer, technology and communications markets.

Akawi joined the group in 1999 as the publishing director – at a time when it produced just six publi-cations – and rose to become managing director in 2003, before becoming the chief executive officer in 2005. Akawi is a highly respected figure in the business community, with close professional ties to business leaders and royalty.

The winners of the 2016 Arabian Business StartUp Awards will be announced in front of the cream of the region's entrepreneurship sector during a gala dinner, which will be held at the The Westin Hotel, Dubai Mina Seyahi on Tuesday, 15 November.

For more information about the 2016 Arabian Business StartUp Awards nomination process, please follow this link.

The Arabian Business StartUp Awards are held in partnership with AJSM Investments, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Skyline University College, and Dawaam.

To book tables or individual tickets please contact Joanna Farrer, Events & Marketing Manager at ITP, at

For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Natasha Pendleton, sales director at ITP Executive, at and Dima Mousseli, Sales Manager, Arabian Business StartUp, at

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