Forbes Middle East presents the 2023 class of 30 Under 30

Dubai: Forbes Middle East has unveiled its highly anticipated sixth annual 30 Under 30 list, showcasing the region’s most exceptional young talent making waves across diverse industries. This year’s list spotlights 120 entries spanning four main categories: Commerce and Finance, Entertainment, Science and Technology, and Social Impact. Each category has 30 entries.To be eligible for the 30 Under 30 list, applicants had to have been under 30 years old on December 31, 2022, meaning that anybody born in 1993 or later was eligible to be on the list. Candidates could have any nationality but had to have their primary impact in MENA.To find the region's most promising young talent, Forbes Middle East assessed more than 600 applications over several rounds of assessments. A shortlist of 240 candidates were then evaluated by independent external judges, all experts in their respective fields. Factors like candidates' impact on their industry, market, society, and future potential were considered. Quantifiable data such as funds raised, awards won, revenues, the value of deals, number of people impacted, number of customers, and number of social media followers were also taken into account.The Class of 2023 celebrates the achievements of 145 individuals representing 22 nationalities, with Egyptians leading the way with 44 individuals, followed by 15 Saudis, 14 Lebanese, 13 Emiratis, and 10 Jordanians. All honorees are based in the Middle East or have their primary business or conduct their core activities in the region. They are dispersed across 20 countries, showcasing the diversity and impact of the region’s emerging leaders. The U.A.E. is home to the most listees with 43 based in the emirates, 36 in Egypt, 14 in Saudi Arabia, nine in Lebanon, and six in Jordan.While each category has 30 entries, Commerce and Finance dominates with the highest number of individuals with 44, followed by Science and Technology and Social Impact with 34 each, and 33 in Entertainment. Among the impressive roster of honorees is Egyptian table tennis champion Hana Goda, the youngest listee at just 15, and 18-year-old Iraqi weightlifter Ali Ammar Rubaiawi. The average age of everyone on the list is 26.6 years old. The list also features Egyptian rapper Wegz and sports stars Mayar Sharif, Hana Gouda, Basant Hamida and Sarah Samir.Of the 145 individuals, 107 are entrepreneurs, making up 74% of the list. If one business had two cofounders or more under the age of 30, they were counted as one entry. Notably, Abdallah Abu Sheikh, leads U.A.E.-based Astra Tech, the highest-funded company on the list. The 28-year-old secured $500 million from G42 in 2022.Forbes Middle East is now finalizing an electrifying agenda for its flagship Under 30 Summit in El Gouna, Egypt in January 2024, which will gather together the Middle East’s esteemed Under 30 community, investors, and business leaders.

Astra Tech's Botim exceeds AED 1.3bln transactions in four months

Astra Tech, MENA’s leading consumer technology holding group, now leads the UAE’s remittance industry through Botim. Botim’s fintech PayBy has witnessed an exceptional increase in remittances, processing 1.3 billion transactions and growing by 41x since its launch in January 2023. Botim has rapidly positioned itself as a financial powerhouse, equalling the capabilities of traditional banks. This transformation is underpinned by an expansion in its user base, now exceeding 150 million users, demonstrating a remarkable surge in user adoption.Since January, the PayBy-powered Ultra app witnessed a 75% increase in the number of transactions quarter-on-quarter across its fintech offerings. The most substantial remittance corridors are from the UAE market to India, followed by Pakistan, and the Philippines. The platform recorded a 98% success rate on all processed transactions to date. Botim’s milestone is a result of its strategic acquisitions and partnerships that have been instrumental in underpinning this growth, including a recent collaboration with Fawry in Egypt and the acquisition of Y Finance in the Philippines.To facilitate cross-border financial transactions, Botim strategically allied with MoneyGram at the start of the year to establish itself as a pivotal player in the remittance industry. Further enhancing its capabilities, Astra Tech recently partnered with Mastercard to introduce Botim-branded multi-currency prepaid cards. This initiative is part of Astratech’s ongoing mission to enable transactions for billions of users worldwide through a network of strategic partnerships and integrations.Abdallah Abu Sheikh, Co-founder of Astra Tech and CEO of Botim, said: “In just a few months, we have already emerged as the UAE's foremost player in remittances. Our Ultra app vision is rapidly coming to fruition, showcasing our strength and innovative fintech products. Botim has seamlessly evolved into an extensive platform, offering a wide range of financial services, including peer-to-peer transactions, international money transfers, and cards. The platform's inclusive approach empowers individuals without traditional banking access to conduct seamless global transactions, benefiting both users and merchants.”Astra Tech's strategic acquisitions and innovative solutions, reaffirm the platform's commitment to revolutionizing the remittance landscape and pioneering transformative financial services for users worldwide. In the UAE, where over five million migrants are sending $42 billion every year back to their respective home countries, this significant milestone represents a transformative leap toward a digital-first UAE economy, seamlessly combining innovation and inclusivity. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the company remains dedicated to reshaping fintech accessibility and experiences while championing a more connected and empowered future.

Astra Tech's PayBy disrupts fintech solutions

PayBy, a leading fintech innovator recently acquired by Astra Tech in August 2022, has been licensed by the Central Bank of the UAE to conduct Stored Value Facility (SVF) and Retail Payment Services (RPS) operations. The license represents one of the country's highest levels of financial services approvals, enabling Astra Tech’s PayBy to continue altering the fintech landscape with its payment solutions. Customers and merchants will experience ultra-fast and secure services, such as international money transfers, seamless payment solutions, wallet top-ups, and more on Astra Tech’s upcoming app to be launched in the coming months.Founder and CEO of Astra Tech, Abdallah Abu Sheikh, commented: “We are honored to have secured the license from UAE’s Central Bank which marks a huge milestone achievement for both Astra Tech and PayBy. We’re excited to launch our secure payment solutions to customers and merchants in the UAE to enable smoother digital transactions and make everyday commerce friction-free. We have always aligned with the UAE’s vision of creating a cashless ecosystem and are thankful to the Central Bank for trusting us with our secure technology. Astra Tech will stay true to its mission of offering a more robust value proposition to customers and merchants by eliminating the burden of unfavorable & compounded commission structures that are usually passed on to suppliers, partners, and consumers by today’s super apps.”Astra Tech is acquiring and equipping sector-leading customer-centric businesses with disruptive and progressive technologies that will enrich merchants’ and users’ lives with effortless usability and efficiency, a gap that currently remains unfulfilled in the UAE digital commerce space today.Astra Tech is one of the biggest additions to the MEA’s ever-growing tech ecosystem aiming to raise 500 million USD (AED 1.8 Billion) from various strategic investors and partners, bringing the company one step closer to its vision of launching an app. PayBy is one of the largest fintech companies in the region, with over AED 600 million in transactions as of May 2022, and aims to build an all-in-one mobile payment ecosystem in the UAE and GCC, offering a safe and contactless payment solution. Astra Tech’s acquisition of PayBy follows the company’s recent acquisition of Rizek, a platform for on-demand personal and home services.