Job website Bayt.com was declared the Gulf Capital Business of the Year at the first Gulf Capital SMEinfo Awards held last night at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, The Palm Jumeirah.
With more than 250 guests, the highly-awaited night recognised the top performing small and medium enterprises in the UAE. Edward Poultney, editor of SMEinfo and the chair of the judging panel, said, “The winners are all companies that impressed the judges with the passion that each had for their business and their determination in bringing growth and innovation to their respective sectors. The winners, and indeed all the shortlisted groups, represent what is best in the UAE’s rapidly-expanding entrepreneur and SME space.”
At the ceremony, Dr. Karim El Solh, CEO of the awards’ headline sponsor Gulf Capital – an alternative asset management company in the Middle East – also noted that the quality of the winners was very high and the contenders had set benchmarks for new standards in the region.
In addition to winning the Gulf Capital Business of the Year, Bayt.com was also the recipient of the People and Culture of the Year Award. The judges felt that Bayt.com “managed to successfully show year-on-year growth and demonstrated strong customer-employee focus. The judges also liked what they saw in terms of leadership,” announced Brandy Scott, the co-host of Dubai Eye 103.8′s The Business Breakfast show, and the host for the night.
Lama Ataya, chief marketing officer at Bayt, told SMEinfo, “We’ve been serving the region since 2000 and this is a wonderful recognition of the kind of work we do to serve the region’s employers and jobseekers. It’s a great honour to be here tonight.” She added that there was more growth on the charts for Bayt: “The year is still not over. [We have] big plans for 2013…There is going to be a lot of new bells and whistles on Bayt.com in the next few months.”
PTL Solar, a solar energy solutions provider in the Middle East Africa, also bagged two coveted titles last night. The company received the Sustainable Initiative of the Year award, and its CEO Prabissh Thomas was honoured with the Entrepreneur of the Year award in absentia. According to the judges, Thomas was recognised for his role in driving the adoption of renewable energy in the UAE and as “someone who has seen great success in his business venture, even though he founded the company with very little capital.”
Another leadership award up for grabs was clinched by Lama Bazarri, CEO of NStyle International, the parent company of grooming concepts NStyle Nail Lounge and Urban Male Lounge. As the Business Leader of the Year, Bazzari was described by the judges as someone they felt “was constantly striving to give back to the regional market and still focusing on her team internally, completely.”
Speaking to SMEinfo, Bazzari said, “I’m very honoured to have won Business Leader of the Year. It means a great recognition especially with all these companies that have been recognised in the same category. With NStyle, it started off with just a few employees; now we employ over 500 across the region and we’ve got international expansion planned soon. So the company has surpassed my own expectations and it all revolves really around our employees and their dedication to their work, and I feel this award is a gift to all their hard work.”
One of the highlights of the event were the awards for small-sized and early stage companies who’d managed to make a mark in this competitive environment. The MasterCard Small Business of the Year award went to biotechnology company Eastern Biotech & Life Sciences, while boutique production company Saluki Media was declared the RSA Start-up Business of the Year.
Meanwhile, the Online Business of the Year award was claimed by group buying website Cobone.com, which was recognised by the judges for its “outstanding customer focus” as well as market presence and innovation. Expressing his delight at winning the award, CEO Paul Kenny said, “I was really happy when we [were chosen as a finalist] because then I knew we were getting somewhere, and then the questioning during the judging panel was quite hard. But I’m glad we got here. We’ve got lots going on. We’re growing very fast. We have seven offices within two years, [with] 120 people. So if we’ve done that in two years, I can’t wait to see what we do in the next two.”
Here is a full list of the winners:
Gulf Capital Business of the Year: Bayt.com
MasterCard Small Business of the Year: Eastern Biotech & Life Sciences
Emirati Business of the Year: CIRTA Electro Mechanical Maintenance
Online Business of the Year: Cobone.com
RSA Start-up Business of the Year: Saluki Media
Entrepreneur of the Year: Prabissh Thomas, PTL Solar
Business Leader of the Year: Lama Bazzari, Founder and CEO, NStyle
Sustainable Initiative of the Year: PTL Solar
Customer Focus of the Year: Wild Guanabana
Business Innovation of the Year: Just Falafel
People & Culture of the Year: Bayt.com
Congratulations to all the winners! See you next year!