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Top 10 Influential Businesspersons to Watch In the Middle East in 2023 Their stories' details vary; some don't last long term, but entrepreneurs all share a title similar to superheroes

By John Stanly

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Entrepreneurs are in a league of their own. They come from diverse backgrounds, start at varying ages, bring their skills to the table, possess individual perspectives based on their life experiences, and have their own ways of doing things. Their stories' details vary; some don't last long term, but entrepreneurs all share a title similar to superheroes.

Here are some entrepreneurs and businesspersons making an impact in the Middle East.

Dr. Vidya Vinod, Study World Education Holding Group

Currently, the President, Founder, and Group CEO, Dr. Vidhya, is responsible for the overall leadership and management of the Study World Group. Leading from the front, she has created a loyal, passionate, and execution-focused team, which has been instrumental in the success of providing students with international education affordable and accessible for students through the past partnership with Heriot-Watt University and current partnership with De Montfort University, University of Bolton, Global College Malta, etc. Dr. Vidhya distinguished herself as a student, sportsperson, and socially committed citizen in her early years and is also a much-lauded teacher.

One of the youngest women CEO in the region, Dr. Vidhya aspires to use her innovation and management skills to establish the largest higher education institution in the region and to make reputed and commercially viable international education available to students from different parts of the world. Dr. Vidhya is a mother, homemaker, and yoga enthusiast who is highly committed and leads a balanced lifestyle.

Athar Ahmed, Legion Network

Athar Ahmed, the CEO of the multi-award-winning Legion Network, began his entrepreneurial journey at the age of 17 when he graduated from Peter Jones' (Dragon's Den) Enterprise Academy in the UK. Since then, he completed a BA (Hons) in International Business and worked in many corporations managing key clients worldwide.

Athar's main vision is to simplify the blockchain industry so the world can participate in its revolutionary concept. Being the first of its kind, the super app aims to revolutionize the vast crypto space for its millions of users by offering a variety of services ranging from a non-custodial Crypto Wallet, NFTs, Play to Earn, Watch To Earn, Launchpad, Rewards and soon they will be launching Bluemoon, an NFT Marketplace with an Integrated Social Metaverse that will support next generation VR experiences.

Ryan Godinho, Specialty Batch Coffee

Ryan Godinho is an industry veteran when it comes to the world of coffee in the Middle East. With admiration from his impressive list of loyal clientele, over the last 12 years, his brands have also won numerous local and international awards.

A self-made entrepreneur and a certified coffee professional heavily invested in the food and beverage sector within the United Arab Emirates, he is widely considered one of the region's pioneers in cafe culture development and specialty coffee education.

He owns a handful of businesses in the UAE, one of which includes Specialty Batch Coffee, a wholesale coffee company that manages coffee and equipment supply & operational support to over 500 restaurants across the country. He also owns Stomping Grounds, a multi-award-winning neighborhood cafe concept in the heart of Dubai.

Seif el-Hakim, Riversong Tech

Seif El-Hakim is an internationally acclaimed businessman, entrepreneur, investor, business advisor, and highly decorated global CEO with 15+ years of international experience.

Vice President for Riversong EMEA, a leading smart devices provider. Co-founder and Global CEO of Momentum group specializing in real estate, tourism, fitness, and food services. Co-founder 10xVibez Holiday Homes, World's first - Elite boutique holiday homes platform & investment vehicle in Dubai. 

Seif has been awarded internationally as a top marketing executive, business strategist, and entrepreneur. He is an entrepreneur & inspirational speaker, and guest writer on several business and marketing platforms.

Bally Singh, Everdome

Bally is a successful Indian businessman and entrepreneur. He is the Co-Founder and Chairman of Hoko Group and serves as Chief Marketing Officer for Everdome - a venture at the forefront of the metaverse evolution.

As the founder of the Rich List Group, Bally has developed and staged numerous large-scale entertainment events and experiential marketing campaigns worldwide.

Over the years, Bally has established a partnership ecosystem to promote joint technology, entertainment, and business developments with his counterparts at Microsoft, McLaren, Mercedes Benz, Michael Kors, F1, Etihad, Al Dar, Miral, Abu Dhabi DCT, The Marriott Group amongst many others.

Ilker Baburoglu, MedTrade Energy & Commodities

Ilker Baburoglu is an Atlantic Council Millennium Leadership fellow and CEO of MedTrade, multinational energy, and commodities trading firm. He has been heavily working to improve and contribute to energy security and reliability for various communities.

He has a diverse background in consulting, mega-project development, investments in natural resources, power generation, and critical infrastructure projects, especially in emerging markets. Ilker previously held senior-level positions at multinational groups based in Europe, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Zambia, Iraq, and UAE, some of which he represented at various World Economic Forum meetings. Ilker originated social-impact projects in the energy, mining, and infrastructure sectors, and has managed investments in the Middle East and Africa.

Ilker is an alumnus of Harvard Business School, Koc University, and Bogazici University. He is also a member of Chatham House and a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Odai Al Hazmi, Private Fleet Services

As a Saudi Founder & CEO of Private Fleet Services Group, Mr. Odai Al Hazmi envisioned creating a niche and adopted out-of-box solutions to solve the private aviation sector problems.

Private Fleet Services offers a unique mix of luxurious private jet charter and hospitality services, making the travel a cherishable memory. He has achieved 3000 plus aircraft charter hours worldwide since he founded the company in 2018. The number of satisfied clients has contributed to the phenomenal growth of Private Fleet Services. Thanks to the enthusiasm and continued hard work of the CEO.

After realizing financial, business, and taxation compliance-related issues for the small and medium enterprises in the Kingdom, he founded FinSolutions, a boutique business consulting firm supporting multiple listed companies and large business houses in Saudi Arabia and SMEs.

Khadija A Ba., Der Mond Oil and Gas

Khadijah A. Ba is a young businesswoman from Senegal working in the sectors of Energy, Mining, and Real Estate around the world. Driven by her passion, her core business is Der Mond Oil and Gas, where she is involved in the full channel of the Industry from the Upstream to the Downstream! She is the Founder of Der Mond Academy and Der Mond White Refinery as well.

Khadijah aims to ensure ethics in business and world-class practices. Her past experiences in multinational Oil and Gas companies have been a decisive milestone in defining her role in generating Der Mond Group business strategies.

With over 1,000 employees in several countries, Khadijah is the youngest Member of the Middle East Energy Club, which gathers the Elites in the Energy Industry.

Tansu Yegen, UiPath

Tansu Yegen is managing more than 80 countries in Middle East Africa and CIS countries, including Turkey and Israel. He is a Vice President of Europe in UiPath, a global software company that offers an end-to-end platform for artificial intelligence-based automation and helps businesses unlock human creativity and full potential.

Before UiPath, he held executive positions at Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Apple, Turkcell Ukraine, IBM, and Samsung.

In 2008, he was selected as the most successful CEO in Europe by Stevie Awards. In 2019, he received an award from the President's Office of Ukraine for solving the street children problem in Ukraine. In 2021 Mr. Yegen's book "Shine Your Career with 40 Tools" was selected as the Best Human Resources and Career Book of The Year.

Mohammed Khashoggi, Ejaro

Mohammed Khashoggi was born in Saudi Arabia, a self-made entrepreneur with a passion for Tech, Innovation & Sustainability. In 2019 he Founded Ejaro, The first licensed peer-to-peer car-sharing marketplace in Saudi Arabia, aiming to disrupt the car rental industry in the region with a platform that is considered the Airbnb for cars.

Throughout his career, he has founded several companies in different industries, from Real Estate to Hospitality and Tech, with total sales of 500 million SAR. Forming several partnerships with the largest real estate development companies in the UK, brokering deals worth $60 million at 24 years old, and has continued to grow, finding his passion in Tech.
John Stanly

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