It wasn’t the business-as-usual awards show at the most hotly anticipated event in the Middle East in which Fast Company Middle East honored the most innovative companies shaping trends across multiple sectors in the region, and celebrated them.
Iconic innovators, short-listed nominees, VCs, ground-breaking pioneers, and business leaders from across the region attended the red carpet event, Fast Company Middle East’s Most Innovative Companies 2022 awards show, at the iconic Armani Hotel at Burj Khalifa in Dubai on October 20 to hear the much-awaited results.
The prestigious list recognized 42 outstanding companies across 25 categories, including AI, retail, emerging tech, enterprise, and sustainability. When the winners were revealed, it reflected this spirit of inclusion.
Saying innovation is at the heart of everything Fast Company Middle East does, Ravi Raman, Publisher of Fast Company Middle East, said, “It inspires and humbles us from the kind of response we’ve received. The Most Innovative Companies 2022 list is both extensive and inclusive of MNCs, small enterprises, and startups. One thing is clear to us, it doesn’t matter how big your company is. What matters is how big your vision is.”
It’s no secret that people bring more innovative ideas to the table when their unique contributions are valued. The MIC list recognized companies, from established enterprises to startups, that have adopted cutting-edge business models, technology, or applications.
In his opening remarks, Ammar Al Malik, Managing Director of Dubai Internet City, emphasized the culture of innovation and inventing new ways to do business.
“In the past two-three years, I’ve seen a number of innovation-led companies and companies that have been here for two decades changing themselves into R&D centers and innovation-led companies. This event comes at the right time because we’re celebrating innovation.”
“I truly believe in the next few years we’re going to see innovation coming from the region, not just for the region but going global,” added Malik. Among the first awards handed out in the evening was Artificial Intelligence – Crayon, IBM and SAS were honored in this category. With AI being our present reality and our promising future, IBM was recognized for implementing AI to improve business outcomes and create efficient processes. “We’re very humbled to receive this award, thank you to the team for recognizing IBM as a leader in AI, in many areas, including data, healthcare, security, and sustainability”, said Saad Toma, General Manager at IBM Middle East.
Under the Emerging Tech category, RedSea and Technology Innovation Institute – were the two winners whose efforts were unparalleled. Using its patented proprietary technology, agritech company, RedSea has grown fruits and vegetables in harsh desert climates.
“Innovation is one of our core values and has a creative impact on humanity. We’re happy to have received this award, which will motivate us to keep doing more than what we’re doing and help keep the world sustainable for the future,” Derya Baran, co-founder and CEO, RedSea.
NOMADD, which developed a self-cleaning, waterless technology for solar panels, was the only company listed in the Energy category among the many nominations we’ve received. Accepting the 3D-printed MIC trophy, Raed Alahmdi, R&D Tech Manager, NOMADD, said, “We want to change the industry’s previous systems and create robotics that enables more sustainable systems.”
As technology has grown, the entertainment industry continues to be transformed by innovation, making it a crucial category in the list. OSN+ and TikTok were named as the two most innovative entertainment companies that revamped content and user experience. TikTok, which ushered in a new era of entertainment with innovative storytelling, made it to the list for placing power in the hands of the masses. Rola Abu Hassan, Head of Communications METAP, Tiktok, accepted the trophy, saying, “As an entertainment platform, our dedication is to inspiring creativity and bringing joy. Innovation is part of our DNA and we’d be nowhere without our community and our creators.”
In the sustainable category, Masdar City, one of the world’s most sustainable urban communities, and a low-carbon development made up of a growing clean-tech cluster, was recognized along with Dulsco and Emirates National Oil Company. Mohamed Al Breiki, Director, Sustainable Real Estate, Masdar, said, “Masdar is providing a path for sustainable development and is committed to advancing sustainable development across the UAE and beyond. As a company, we seek to deliver a commercially viable city providing the highest quality of life with the lowest environmental footprint possible.”
In a tech-driven world, where women are still tackling incredible obstacles, Balinca was honored for pushing the boundaries and rising above all as a women-backed company. “Most people don’t like finance, but we make finance fun. We teach it through a board game like Monopoly except at the end people become pros at strategy and finance,” said Rawan Badeeb, CGO, Balinca.
Choosing the most innovative companies from a large pool of companies that nominated themselves, competing in categories ranging from advertising and AI to sustainability and fintech, wasn’t an easy task. “For the past 16 weeks, the editorial team has worked on the hundreds of nominations that we’ve received and shortlisted the ones that are sitting here,” Ravi Raman said.
To see the full list of winners from the night, click here.
Apart from giving away the most prestigious awards to the region’s innovative companies, the evening saw some standout acts. In a unique live painting performance, Cathy Deniset, a VR performer and speed painter, drew the MIC bulb logo. It was an immersive experience involving a VR headset and screen projection.
Adding to the entertainment factor, the Neon Mob Troupe, debuting in the UAE at the event, performed a meticulously choreographed show that blended technology and movement.
The after-party continued with a high note, with DJ Tala Sammam mixing R&B and hip-hop tunes.
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