There is no denying that Covid 19 temporarily paralysed businesses globally. Most deeply affected were the SMEs. Hit first and hardest by employee illness and cash-flow predicaments many SMEs struggled. Over a year into the pandemic, despite the worldwide grip the virus still has on us all, the UAE is proving to be a pioneer of survival, not just from a health perspective -but also from a business one.  Like the UAE, the local SMEs we see thriving are doing so because they are proactive, agile, innovative, strategic, and thoughtful.

Omni-channel has taken on a new meaning. Businesses have worked on providing their services at home and in the office. In lock-down or out. In-person or virtually. Always mindful of safety and well-being. A grueling fitness class with a health expert in your living room - via zoom, monitoring your heart rate remotely plugged into your new wearable. A backyard wedding/birthday supported by suppliers who have worked out how to decorate your house without being there! Unable to travel, SMEs have seized opportunities to curate and deliver 'zoom-boxes' and care packages not just locally but internationally too. With education under pressure, more onus on parents, and protecting the community at the heart of decision-making, learning and development has been revolutionised by creative and passionate local educators supplying home kits for toddlers to teens. The list is truly inspiring!

Powering every change is a brave business owner supported by a passionate team. Often bridging cash-flow gaps with personal savings, always making difficult choices, re-contracting suppliers, and re-modeling their proposition.

The pandemic has proven that having a strategy and being prepared to innovate are keys to managing a crisis. Our programme for 2021 aspires to offer SMEs a framework on which to build strategy and thought-provoking insights to spark innovation. Our series of activities aims to help SMEs plan and mobilise sustainable, safe practices as well as look forward to a decade of future success.

SMEs remain pivotal to the continued diversification of the economy in the Middle East. Crucial to the development of a knowledge economy, SMEs will continue to add in-country value through job creation and the development of talent pools. 2021 will be another year of continued change as consumer demands evolve, technology drives solutions and the pandemic continues to put downward pressure on finances.

MEED's programme of activity brought to you in partnership with founding partners Gulf Capital will provide a suite of learning opportunities, networking engagements, and chances to showcase your business to potential partners and investors. Our community of partners and industry experts are primed to lead the way, share their learnings, and deliberate ideas to help support the SME community through the next decade of success.

Building on the successful format of last years programme, our hybrid model will continue to facilitate active participation from regional small business owners and entrepreneurs representing multiple sectors. Through Gulf Captial SME Insights & Awards 2021 our community will be able to access information, insights and intelligence to support business decision making, networking and business development.

From June 2021 particpants will be able to register for the following:

Gulf Capital SME Insights LIVE

June to October 2021

Last year our broadcasts received 1.5k registrations with a 95% turnout. Led by panels of industry experts we aim to provide practical solutions to real business problems.

The 2021 agenda will focus on finance, legal, ESG, digital transformation, and logistical challenges.
Register for the latest broadcast here

Gulf Capital SME Insights SUMMIT

22 November 2021
An engaging conference that is made up of keynote sessions, panel discussions and networking.

This summit is designed to stimulate thought, challenge SMEs to re-assess their priorities, and offer an unrivaled chance to connect with future clients, partners, mentors, and investors.

Gulf Capital SME AWARDS

24 November 2021

This year marks the 10th edition of the awards.

Supported by a cohort of 60+ judges, our awards programme is a great opportunity to showcase thriving businesses setting higher standards of excellence. With 300+ entrants last year, we hope to encourage many more companies to share their growth stories on our dynamic platform and get the recognition they deserve.


What we are talking

What we’re talking about in 2021


Running an SME is no easy feat, the success of which boils down to one critical aspect – money management. Our programme will outline the framework for a solid financial future with healthy profit margins to keep a business viable and attractive for future investors.


There’s no escaping technology. Digital transformation can improve operational efficiency, simplify archaic internal processes, and help a business scale sensibly, irrespective of its sector. Our discussions will reveal practical examples and benefits of using 4IR technologies.


Legal is a pressing theme that we’ll explore with our audience to help them mitigate contractual risks, avoid commercial disputes, and understand the regional law and its implications to forge better partnerships.


As part of the wider ESG spectrum, we aim to educate business owners on how they can make transformative and sustainable decisions to help grow their business into the future. With sustainable investing becoming more and more mainstream, there is no better time to incorporate a business plan for the planet into that of a business.


A motivated, self-driven team with largely limited resources is usually the crux of an SME. Our programmes will recommend decisive policies to protect human capital so SME’s can embed an inclusive growth mindset.


Our programme will guide leadership teams to embrace change and good governance, swiftly and effectively. Early adopters of the latest ESG trends can remodel their business for greater top-line growth, reduced operating costs, and can better adapt to regulatory and legal challenges.


Content-driven, relevant discussions bringing together 50+ panellists and industry thought leaders – all entrepreneurial, agile and experts in their fields. This is an opportunity to be heard, share pain points, and find creative solutions together.
Register for Live Events


A dynamic awards programme that gives SME’s a platform to magnify their brand value and benchmark against peers. A stamp of success from our cohort of 60+ judges that will attract future partners, investors, and employees.
Start an Entry


Accelerating innovation and growth of the SME sector is our priority. With our thriving 20K strong community and interactive programmes, our platform aspires to be an incubator of ideas giving registrants access to every resource needed for success.

Awards Categories

  • Gulf Capital Business of the Year

  • B2B Small Business of the Year

  • B2C Small Business of the Year

  • Business Innovation of the Year

  • Business Leader of the Year

  • Cigna People and Culture of the Year

  • Customer Focus of the Year

  • Digital Business of the Year

  • Disruption of the Year

  • Emirati Business of the Year

  • Entrepreneur of the Year

  • FedEx Start-up Business of the Year

  • Micro Business of the Year

  • New Entrepreneur of the Year

  • Sustainable Business of the Year

  • Technology Startup of the Year

Our Advisory Board

Camilla d’Abo

Managing Director, Dubai

APCO Worldwide

Mazin Al Mardhi

Senior Associate

Charles Russell Speechleys

Julien Plouzeau

Investment Manager

DTEC Ventures

Assia Riccio


Evolvin' Women

K.S. Parag

Managing Director

FVC Inc.

Adrienne Doolan


Green Touches

Majd Khodr

Vice President

Gulf Capital

Jennifer Kedissa

Regional Director Financial and Professional Services, MENA

Hill+Knowlton Strategies

Asma Shabab

Senior Managing Consultant, Digital Strategy


Ashish Panjabi

Chief Operating Officer

Jacky’s Business Solutions

Manish Das

Group Chief Officer – Franchise Retail

Jashanmal Group

Kerem Cengiz

Managing Director- MENA


Dr. Madhavi Ayyagari

Executive Director / Head, Business-Post Graduate

Mindsbourg Consulting / Murdoch University Dubai

Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen


Novo Cinemas

Jaya Maru

Co-founder and CEO Middle East


Hisham Akhtar

Senior Venture Associate

Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa)

Jeremy Shorter

Startup Programming Lead


Bianca Gracias


Suits & Advisors (RAK)

Nabra Al Busaidi

Executive Director

Young Arab Leaders

Imad Atwi

Member/Principal - Emerging Technologies

Young Arab Leaders/Strategy&, part of PwC Network

In Association With

Founding Partner :

Official Health and Wellbeing Partner :

Official Logistics Partner :

Endorsing Partners :

Association Partners :

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