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Tue 4 Apr 2017 02:12 PM

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UAE's Gulf Capital says $135m invested in technology, e-commerce

Investment firm CEO forecasts 'substantial increase' in technology investments in the GCC

UAE's Gulf Capital says $135m invested in technology, e-commerce

UAE-based investment firm Gulf Capital said on Tuesday it has deployed over AED500 million ($135 million) in technology and e-commerce across the GCC.

The company said in a statement that it has invested in the leading regional online B2B hospitality platform, the largest Middle East auction platform and the leading online sport-based products and supplements marketplace.

Dr Karim El Solh, CEO of Gulf Capital, said: “The technology scene is rapidly evolving in the GCC, and we are seeing the rise of a number of regional players that are becoming market leaders on both the regional and global fronts.

"Gulf Capital is actively backing and investing in these market leaders and helping them graduate to the next level... We forecast a substantial increase in technology investments in the GCC and significant returns to be generated for the early backers of these technology companies.”

Gulf Capital said its first technology investment was in Destination of the Word which has become one of the largest online accommodation wholesalers in the world, with footprints extending from North America to Asia Pacific.

Gulf Capital added that it has also invested in two e-commerce platforms, Sporter.com and Emirates Auction. 

El Solh said: “The GCC region is set to witness an explosion in ecommerce activities. This trend will undoubtedly generate attractive investment opportunities for regional and global investors."

According to Boston Consulting Group, the digital economy is estimated to be worth more than $4 trillion in 2016, and is growing at 10 percent a year.

“Regional ecommerce is still small when compared to world averages, but this is set to change,” El Solh added. “Recent transactions like Amazon buying the leading regional online marketplace Souq.com demonstrate the huge potential global players see in this market."

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon remain the leading regional hubs for tech startups and are attracting significant early stage and private equity investments.

El Solh's comments came ahead of the STEP Conference, the largest tech startup event in MENA taking place this week in Dubai.

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