Fireside Chat: Looking Forward in the Middle East

Rouzbeh Pirouz

Chairman, Turquoise Partners

Mr. Rouzbeh Pirouz received his Bachelor's degree from Stanford University, a Master's degree from Harvard University and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. He is the Executive Chairman of Turquoise Partners, the leading Iranian asset management and corporate finance firm, which manages over 80% of foreign investment funds on the Tehran Stock Exchange (TSE). He is also Senior Partner at Pelican Partners, a private equity and real estate investment company headquartered in London. Previously, he was Founder and CEO of Mondus, an innovative technology business in Europe, leading to a share sale to Seat Pagine Gialle which was part of the Telecom Italia Group. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the Iran Heritage Foundation (IHF). Mr Pirouz is also the Chairman of the Iranian Business School (IBS) which is a philanthropically motivated project aimed at creating a world-class business school in Iran.

Adil Toubia

Group Chief Executive Officer, Al Ghurair Investment

Adil Toubia is the Group CEO of Al Ghurair Investment (AGI), one of the largest industrial conglomerates in the Middle East, with businesses spanning sectors, such as, Foods, Resources, Properties, Construction, Energy, Printing, Retail, and Education. Adil's career stretches over 30 years. Prior to joining AGI, he was the Global CEO of the Oil and Gas Division at Siemens.


He started his career with Schlumberger where he spent 20+ years and held various executive leadership positions (President Schlumberger Middle East, Worldwide President of Formation Evaluation Wireline and Schlumberger Drilling Services Divisions). He also spent 8 years in private equity as Senior Partner at Energy Capital Group and as Chief Executive Officer of The GCC Energy Fund. Throughout his career, Adil has held numerous board seats.


He currently sits on the boards of multiple entities, including Fucom, a leading retailer operating Geant Hypermarkets in the UAE, and Al Ghurair University.


Adil received his Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University in New York.

Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: Forging New Paths

Eyad Alkassar

Managing Director Middle East, Rocket Internet

Dr Eyad Alkassar grew up in Germany, where he earned a PhD Summa Cum Laude in Computer Science from Saarland University. Before joining Rocket Internet as Managing Director of Middle East, Eyad worked as Senior Researcher in Computer Science. During his studies, he was a fellow of the German National Academic Foundation. Dr Alkassar is a co-founder of In the fall of 2013, he became the Co-Founder of the Middle East Internet Group.

Tarek Sadi

Managing Director, Endeavor Lebanon

Tarek Sadi has 18 years of experience in entrepreneurship, corporate finance and direct investments, primarily with early-stage companies in the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America. He is the Managing Director of Endeavor Lebanon, an economic development non-profit focused on supporting and growing outperforming entrepreneurs.


Prior to Endeavor Tarek was co-founder and Managing Partner at MEVP, a Beirut-bbased venture capital fund, which invests in early stage opportunities in the Middle East. Before MEVP, at the Private Equity fund of Dubai International Capital (DIC), he invested in growth companies in the Middle East and Asia; he, in tandem, served on the investment committee of DIC`s ABAN. Previously, he was a founding partner of Access Advisory, a London-based venture partner firm, geared at principal investors, and before that was part of Merrill Lynch`s Mergers and Acquisitions team in London. He also co-founded, built and exited two ventures in mobile content and automotive services in Mexico.


Tarek has a BS in Political Science and Economics from Georgetown University (USA), and an MBA from London Business School (England).

Aurore Belfrage

Head of Together, EQT Ventures

Aurore Belfrage is experienced and passionate about building tech businesses, either as a cofounder or investor. She’s a news junkie, ex-scrap dealer, speechwriter & aubergine lover. She considers Nordics, Europe and the Middle East as home markets. Aurore started her operational career as a scrap dealer in Stena Metall Group where she was managing director for the Czech and Italian scrap yards.


Aurore recently joined Stockholm based EQT Ventures and heads up the matchmaking platform Together for early stage startups and angel investor’s. She co-founded the hyped global gift card startup Wrapp with Skype founder Zennström and Linkedin founder Reid Hoffman as early investors. During 2014-2015 she partnered with the current affairs site Your Middle East and hosted a successful Middle East road show about startups and entrepreneurship “Saluting the Crazy and Naïve”. Check out her blog

Amr Abou El Azm

Vice Chairman, CEO & Co-Founder, Tanmeyah

Mr. Abouelazm is the Vice Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of Tanmeyah Micro Enterprise Services, a company majority owned by EFG Hermes, the leading investment bank in the MENA region. Tanmeyah was established in March 2009 with the aim of providing access to financial services to the low to middle income group of individuals and enterprises through an extensive network of branches in Egypt. Mr. Abouelazm is recognized as a leader in Egypt in the fields of policy structuring and micro finance. He has 24 years of experience in finance, economic development and investment finance.


Prior to setting up and managing Tanmeyah, Mr. Abouelazm was the Deputy Director of the German Development Bank (KFW) in Egypt. He was responsible for managing a number of projects with a portfolio exceeding EGP 900 million in the fields of micro finance, infrastructure, SME development, Renewable Energy Finance and other areas. Mr. Abouelazm is Board Member of the International Council for Small Business (ICSB), Treasurer and Board Member of the Middle East Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (MCSBE) and member of the Financing and Resources Committee at the Ministry of Antiquities, he is also Board Member and Member of the Restructuring Committee of Nasser Social Bank.