The criteria for choosing our 30 Under 30 is somewhat different to other lists. Among other things, for founders, we consider factors such as how established they are, their scalability, and the project’s commercial viability, and for employees, we look at their scope, expertise, and influence. But actually, many of the elements that go into choosing our final 30 are not quantifiable. For example, we uncover the candidates’ missions and how committed they are to being a force for good and sustainability in the world. What impact do they want to have on their communities? We look for the innovators introducing new concepts to the Middle East or accelerating the use of new technologies. How disruptive are they? The inventors, the thinkers, the creatives. What are they contributing?
It’s not an easy job. That’s why we didn’t do it alone. Firstly, we opened online nominations and reached out to universities, venture capitalists, startup accelerators, and other candidates based on our own research to source a diverse selection of the Middle East’s most innovative founders, game-changers, policymakers, and social entrepreneurs. Then we invited independent judges from the Forbes Middle East Tech Council and a couple of the region’s biggest NGO foundations to give their thoughts and expert opinions. We listened, we discussed, we negotiated. Eventually, we chose our final 30.
This list recognizes a selection of the most impressive and highly-accomplished young minds in the Arab world. Some of them have already built and scaled multi-million-dollar businesses patented cutting-edge technology, or made a considerable difference in the lives of other people and those less fortunate than themselves. Their achievements at such a young age are incredibly impressive. Of course, they still have a long way to go, and their journeys will not be without challenges. But here we celebrate their abilities and potential within the context of a year that has presented nothing but challenges so far. The Class of 2020 won’t give up easily.