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3 Middle Eastern Family Offices Investing in Technology Companies

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In utilizing the FINTRX family office data and research platform, which provides intel into thousands of direct deal transactions made by 3,100+ family offices worldwide, we explore three Middle Eastern family offices making investments in the technology space.

1. The Private Office of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum (Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum Family Office)

Established in 2000, The Private Office of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum (Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum Family Office) is a Dubai, United Arab Emirates-based single-family office acting as the private investment vehicle for Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum. Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum has extensive ties to the United Arab Emirates and served as the president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority. He has served as CEO and Chairman of Dubai World, Noor Takaful Insurance, and Emirates Group. As of 2018, his estimated net worth was roughly $38B, making him one of the world's richest men.

Today, the firm operates internationally with business interests in Saudi Arabia, Australia, the United States, China, Thailand, and throughout Europe in countries including Italy, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Latvia. The Private Office allocates opportunistically to a range of investments throughout the tourism, media, entertainment, technology, finance, banking, and real estate sectors. The firm looks to invest in companies that seek to benefit from the advantages the UAE offers, given its uniquely positioned place in the global markets.

The group constantly conducts research to identify quality opportunities that fit their risk profile and investment criteria. The firm makes investments in a range of stages, including early-stage ventures via its subsidiary company, SEED Group. When allocating to emerging companies, the firm primarily targets opportunities within the hospitality, tourism, business services, oil and gas, technology, and healthcare sectors. The Private Office of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum's large group of investment professionals conducts all due diligence in-house. Regarding its early-stage investments, the group primarily invests alone and does not take part in co-investments and their deal sizes vary from $2M-$5M. The firm's later-stage investments and fund investments are much larger.

In January 2019, The Private Office of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum made a venture investment in Fantom Foundation, a high-performance, scalable, and secure smart-contract platform for digital assets and dApps. Fantom was designed to overcome the limitations of previous-generation blockchain platforms. Lachesis, its revolutionary aBFT consensus mechanism, allows Fantom to be much faster and cheaper than older technologies, yet extremely secure. The advantages brought by Fantom are not merely pure performance; its modular architecture allows for full customization of blockchains for digital assets, with unique characteristics tailored to each use-case.

In March 2019, The Private Office of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum made a venture investment in SmartCargo, an IT company that has completely revolutionized the logistics process, offering its users a digital application with full control over their cargo flow. Its solution optimizes key logistics processes, ensuring an improvement in performance (up to ten times faster) and a significant reduction in operating costs (up to 83%). SmartCargo connects shippers, suppliers, distributors, carriers, freight forwarders, insurance companies, and all other potential stakeholders. Thanks to emerging blockchain and other Industry 4.0 technologies, they can now provide a new level of security and control. Its digital solution guarantees the authenticity of documentation and prevents fraud. Using data storage capabilities, SmartCargo plans to systemize the logistics process so that its customers can monitor their workflow and identify where any problems occurred. 

In July 2021, The Private Office of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum made an undisclosed investment in Servion Global Solutions, an IT company based in Princeton, New Jersey. Servion delivers complete solutions for businesses by providing digital experiences using the best technologies while maximizing their existing investments. Its 800 CX professionals apply their domain expertise to the  design-build-run-optimize solution lifecycle. Servion has helped 600 enterprises across the globe deliver great experiences to their customers, partners, and employees.


2. Arison Investments (Arison Family Office)  

Founded by Shari Arison, the daughter of Israeli business mogul, Stern Arison in 1991, Arison Investments (Arison Family Office) is a Tell Aviv, Israel-based single-family office managing the wealth of the Arison family. Ted Arison created his fortune in the travel industry after moving to the United States in the early 1950s. In 1966, Arison partnered with Knut Kloster and founded the Norwegian Cruise Line. After several years of internal strife, Arison split from Norwegian and formed Carnival Cruise Lines in 1972. In addition to Arison's interests in the travel and hospitality industry, he expanded into the sports industry, founding the NBA's Miami Heat in 1988. Arison passed away in 1999, leaving his fortune to his three children, including his daughter, Shari Arison. Besides the firm's business interests, Arison Investments and the Arison Family have been heavily active in philanthropy. The firm's foundation, Ted Arison Family Foundation, has donated to several charitable organizations, primarily based in Israel, including several focused on assisting people with special needs and disabilities, children, education, and more.

Today, Arison Family Office invests in a range of opportunities across several asset classes, including real estate, private equity, direct investments, and venture capital. When making direct transactions, the firm has historically considered several sectors and industries, including technology, banking, finance, infrastructure, renewable energy, natural resources, and more. The firm regularly co-invests alongside like-minded family offices, institutions, and individuals. Besides traditional research methods, the firm also implements a stringent ESG mandate, ensuring each investment is environmentally and socially responsible. When making direct transactions, the firm has historically taken part in later-stage private equity deals. Geographically, the firm will consider investments globally, however, they have historically focused on domestic investments.

In February 2008, Arison Investments acquired Dorot Water Technology, pioneers in providing high-quality solutions for hydraulic control valves and air valves, and now one of the world’s leading manufacturers and developers of sustainable technologies and products for water control and optimization systems. In 2020, Dorot merged with A.R.I. and OCV Control Valves, forming a new company now known as Aquestia. Combining these three successful brands in one entity enhances the service delivered to customers around the world, providing them with a wider range of solutions and expertise for a variety of water management systems. Each product is hydraulically tested in advanced testing facilities that simulate precise field conditions.

In March 2021, Arison Investments made a Series F investment in BYJU'S, a global ed-tech company, providing highly adaptive, engaging, and effective learning solutions to over 150 million students worldwide. Founded in India in 2011, BYJU’S mission is to make high-quality learning accessible to students everywhere. BYJU’S delivers a world-class learning experience with tools that sit at the cross-section of mobile, interactive content, and personalized learning methodologies. BYJU’S geography-agnostic solutions and 12,000+ teachers make learning an engaging experience, with visual and contextual programs that adapt to the unique learning style, skill level, and pace of each student. In addition, the company has partnerships with some of the world’s leading companies, including Disney and Google, to drive engagement and help even more students become active and lifelong learners.


3. Kingdom Holding Company (Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Family Office)

With roots tracing back to 1980, Kingdom Holding Company (Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Family Office) is a Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-based single-family office managing the capital of Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal. Prince Alwaleed is a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family and is a seasoned entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist with a net worth of approximately USD$18B. Kingdom Holding invests in both public and private equity across a range of sectors, regions, and asset classes. The firm has an interest in both traditional and alternative asset classes, including direct and fund investments in private equity and real estate.

Kingdom Holding Company’s conservative investment approach positions the group as a long-term, value-added partner to its portfolio companies. The firm seeks to identify high-quality opportunities for value creation in underperforming/undervalued assets globally, backed by a committed and collaborative management team. Sectors of interest for Kingdom Holding include financial services, real estate, hospitality (including luxury hotel properties), aviation, oil and gas, manufacturing, media and entertainment, healthcare, education, consumer and retail, social media, and technology. The firm’s geographic interest spans the globe, with a particular interest in the Middle East and North Africa regions, Saudi Arabia specifically, and the United States. Kingdom Holding will invest in both emerging and developed markets. Kingdom Holding will conduct all investment manager research, analysis, due diligence, and selection internally, and is open to a myriad of strategies when investing.

In March 2015, Kingdom Holding made a Series E investment in Snapchat, an American technology and camera company, founded in September 2011 by Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy and based in Venice, California. One of the principal features of Snapchat is that pictures and messages are usually only available for a short time before they become inaccessible to their recipients. Snapchat allows you to keep in touch with friends, reach a unique audience, grow your business, and drive the results that matter most to you.

In December 2015, Kingdom Holding made a Series F investment in Lyftan American company that develops, markets, and operates a mobile app, offering ride-hailing, vehicles for hire, motorized scooters, a bicycle-sharing system, rental cars, and food delivery. It is based in San Francisco, California, and operates in 644 cities in the United States and 12 cities in Canada. Lyft was founded in 2012 by Logan Green and John Zimmer to improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation. Lyft is committed to effecting positive change for our cities by offsetting carbon emissions from all rides, and by promoting transportation equity through shared rides, bike-share systems, electric scooters, and public transit partnerships.

In June 2017, Kingdom Holding made a Series E investment in Careema vehicle for hire company and subsidiary of the American company, Uber. It is based in Dubai, with operations covering 15 countries, including the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia regions. The company was valued at over US$2 billion as of 2018. Careem was established in July 2012 and operates in over 100 cities across 14 countries and has created over one million employment opportunities in the Middle East region.


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