AstroLabs celebrates 10 years


AstroLabs celebrates 10 years of ecosystem building in MENA amidst a full house of its community members, partners, and the UAE’s top disruptors at the opening night of Step 2023. This exclusive event gathered panels and fireside chats with tech industry champions, including Mudassir Sheikha, Co-Founder and CEO of Careem, along with Muhammed Mekki and Louis Lebbos, founding partners of AstroLabs.

Setting the tone for the evening, Founding Partners Muhammed Mekki and Louis Lebbos were joined by Roland Daher, Chief Executive Officer at AstroLabs, for an exclusive panel dubbed “The Long Game: Scalable Impact in MENA.”

A first since the inception of AstroLabs, the conversation between them detailed the roadmap from founding the company to address palpable entrepreneurial challenges to becoming a full-fledged ecosystem builder in MENA. Starting with the premise of enabling entrepreneurship and elevating tech talent skillsets, over a decade, AstroLabs became well-positioned as MENA’s trusted expansion and digital innovation partner.

Running large-scale entrepreneurship, innovation, and market entry programs in partnership with government entities, multinationals, and ecosystem shapers, AstroLabs has taken on the challenge of accelerating the digital transformation and future-forward economic contribution of the region. Over the past decade, the company has enabled noticeable growth in key industries, including retail, eCommerce, fintech and banking, tourism, gaming, and emerging sectors, including SMEs and startups. “AstroLabs is about building solid economies from the bottom up,” Roland Daher highlights, “watching our ever-evolving ecosystem engage in conversations around the future of tech and entrepreneurship in MENA is a testament to the power of community building and collaboration.”

Headlining the event was an exclusive session between Mudassir Sheikha, Founder of Careem, and Louis Lebbos, exploring Careem’s journey from ride-hailing to a multi-billion super app. The panel immersed in the personal experiences of MENA-based tech founders in building a successful tech venture with an outlook towards the future. “This is an exciting time to be part of the region’s tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem, and we believe the future is incredibly bright.”, Lebbos highlighted, “As Mudassir mentioned earlier and with the relentless support from leadership, the private sector, and enablers like AstroLabs, the mission is to now multiply our potential and amplify the momentum we’ve built over the past 10 years.”

The UAE has observed exponential growth over the past decade from a nascent ecosystem brimming with potential to the region’s leading startup ecosystem and a home for the first tech unicorns. These were some of the themes shared on the “Digital Technologies Shaping the Future of MENA” panel that gathered Ambareen Musa, Founder & CEO of, Anis Harb, VP and Middle East General Manager of Deliveroo, and Ray Dargham, Co-Founder and CEO of Step.

While the UAE continues to lead in innovating its digital infrastructure, providing tech startups with fertile grounds for growth, the region is also witnessing an exciting influx of global and regional players. These drivers have been some of the core focuses of AstroLabs over the past decade, in parallel to the digital upskilling of talent communities and business units.

AstroLabs has set up more than 700 tech-enabled companies in Dubai and accelerated the growth of more than 400 startups into new digital mediums region-wide. The company has been bridging corporate units by debuting fast pilot programs in MENA, including the likes of the Chalhoub Greenhouse Accelerator program and, most recently, the Majid Al Futtaim Launchpad program with top emerging startups to build proactive and self-sustaining innovation pipelines. This event was the last stop in the roadshow of celebrations that connected Riyadh to Dubai to mark a decade of ecosystem building at AstroLabs.

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