DUBAI // Thirteen entrepreneurs from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt were rewarded for their business skills yesterday in the presence of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai.
The event was the ceremony for the sixth edition of the Mohammed bin Rashid Awards for Young Business Leaders, initiated in 2003 by the Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for Small and Medium Enterprises.
The ceremony was opened by the Establishment's chief executive, Abdul Baset al Janahi, who said the event emphasised the "creativity of young business leaders in the UAE".
The Establishment helps entrepreneurs to finance their businesses, in an effort to develop and diversify Dubai's economy.
The awards categories included best business in healthcare, tourism, design and consultancy, as well as best Arabic businessman and businesswoman. The winner of the Young Entrepreneur Competition 2010 was the Lollipop Team.
Government agencies were also rewarded, among them the Mohammed bin Rashid Housing Establishment, Dubai Courts and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs.
Ali Khalifa bin Ahmed bin Thalith and Mona Hassan Ali Saleh won the best business category in marketing and promotions for his production company, First Lens, and her internet marketing company, DWSI Net Power.
Mr Thalith, a 35 year-old award-winning Emirati photographer who produced two films, graduated from the London Academy in 2008 as a documentary filmmaker, He said he and his eight-member team had been working hard for the past three years.
"I can't explain the feeling, but it was such an honour for me to receive this award from His Highness [Sheikh Mohammed] himself," he said.
"Now that I received this award, I want to [reach] an even higher point as you can only [go up from here], and I'm glad my hard work paid off," said Mr Thalith, who also works for National Geographic as an underwater photographer.
Ms Saleh, also an Emirati, said she felt overwhelmed and happy: "I don't know what to do next, I might look for another award, another opportunity, let's see how it goes."
Saif Abdullah Salem, a 37-year old Emirati, was part of the winning team for best business, retail category, with his mobile phone enterprise called HI Phone Communications.
"I am very happy, it's really nice and I hope the future will bring even more," he said. "I worked very hard for this and I want to thank the Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for SMEs [for having] given me and other young businesspeople the push."
Mr Salem has nine outlets in Dubai and plans to franchise his company in the future, he said.
Mr Janahi said that Sheikh Mohammed had "actively encouraged the small and medium business sector" and that the awards ceremony was a "powerful testament to his vision".
Since its inception, the Establishment has helped in supporting entrepreneurs and has facilitated their access to over Dh1 billion in government contracts.
"The objective was to spearhead the development of entrepreneurs and create new SMEs in Dubai to further energise socio-economic growth," said Mr Janahi.
"The critical role of the Establishment is to develop the leadership of Emiratis to be their own managers, instilling in them entrepreneurial qualities which are needed in Dubai.
"We have a determination to push our national talents to compete globally through their innovative projects and we are keen to support these projects to grow and [become] major companies, enhancing the UAE's position on the global map."