Meet The Young Visionaries Shaping MENA's Future
Forbes Middle East has released its fifth annual 30 Under 30 list, featuring an inspiring young cohort of entrepreneurs, pioneers, creatives, and athletes, spanning six categories: sport, commerce, science & technology, money, creative, and impact.
To be eligible for the 30 Under 30 list, applicants had to have been under 30 years old on December 31, 2021, meaning that anybody born in 1992 or later was eligible to be on the list. Candidates could have any nationality but had to have their primary residence in MENA.
The Class of 2022 features 35 individuals from 13 nationalities. Egyptians reign the list with 12 entries, followed by six Lebanese entries, and three each from Oman and Saudi. They are based across eight countries in the Middle East: 12 in Egypt, 10 in the U.A.E., five in Lebanon, and three in Saudi Arabia. The average age of listees is around 27 years old.
To find the region's most promising young talent, Forbes Middle East delved into over 400 applications over several rounds of assessments. A shortlist of 80 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.
Entrepreneurs make up a sizeable chunk of the 2022 list, with 21 individuals founding or cofounding a business. If one business had two under 30 co-founders, they were counted as one entry. For example, Muatasam Aulaqi set up NomuHub to introduce the concept of "travel with a purpose." On the education front, Mohamed Algawish and Mustafa Abdulmoneim cofounded iSchool, which enables six to 18-year-olds to learn to code. And Jad Antoun's proptech startup Huspy, secured $37 million in a Series A funding round in June 2022.
Among the non-founders are scientists, athletes, and digital content creators. Astrophysicist Maryam Haytham Esmat has worked on the James Webb Space Telescope and is one of the five gen-z high achievers – born in 1997 or later. Nouran Gohar is making history as the world's number one female squash player. The youngest person on the list is 23-year-old Hassan Suleiman—better known as Aboflah. The impact-driven Somali YouTuber raised over $11 million in 2022 for a refugees' World's Coolest Winter campaign. As of September 2022, his entertainment and gaming channel had over 26.6 million subscribers and 3.6 billion views.
Forbes Middle East is now finalizing an exciting agenda for its first-ever Under 30 Summit in El Gouna, Egypt in November, which will gather together the Middle East’s Under 30 community, investors, and business leaders.