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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 19 July 2018

Wamda Capital head Fadi Ghandour watching Iran’s start-up scene closely

Fadi Ghandour said that it would take time for the opportunities in Iran’s start-up scene to emerge fully, given that sanctions will unravel gradually.
Fadi Ghandour says it is still too early to say whether he would be investing in Iran. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
Fadi Ghandour says it is still too early to say whether he would be investing in Iran. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

Fadi Ghandour, one of the Arab world’s most storied entrepreneurs and technology investors, says he is watching the Iran market closely following the lifting of economic sanctions against the former pariah state.

Mr Ghandour is the founder of the logistics group Aramex, and now heads up Wamda Capital, a prominent regional venture capital firm.

He told The National that Iran represents an interesting market – but that it is still too early to say whether he would be investing there.

“It will take time – but we’re watching. We’re watching very carefully,” said Mr Ghandour.

“There is a lot of activity that has been happening on the domestic field. There are a lot of e-commerce companies doing domestic e-commerce inside Iran. We are told … that there is quite an impressive tech community. So it’s interesting stuff – we’ll see what comes out of it.”

Many of the western sanctions against Iran have been lifted after it was confirmed on Saturday that Iran was carrying out the measures agreed under the historic nuclear deal agreed in July.

Mr Ghandour said that it would take time for the opportunities in Iran’s start-up scene to emerge fully, given that sanctions will unravel gradually.

“We’ve been hearing some stuff about what’s happening over there. But having spent a long time under sanctions, you cannot feel exactly what the real story is,” he said. “Iran is an interesting market but it’s way too early for us to look at that at this stage … It will take time for the sanctions to be fully lifted.”

Wamda Capital is gearing up for several investments closer to home, said Mr Ghandour.

It plans to invest between US$3 million and $4m in The Luxury Closet, a Dubai-based e-commerce company specialising in online sales of designer clothing. The venture capital firm will be making several other investments before the end of March, said Mr Ghandour.

“Our pipeline is quite busy. We did already 10 investments, you’re going to see several more coming this quarter,” he added.

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