Bruce Gurfein, a serial entrepreneur in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), completed a 5,600 mile (9,000 km) road trip across the countries the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, and Israel, the first conducted in modern history. The trip was made to promote the launch of Future Gig, a UAE-based agrotech startup accelerator.
From Dubai to Jerusalem via Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel it took 38 hours of 5 days driving a Nissan Armada, covering more than 3,580 km with stops in major cities on the way. During the 20-day journey, Bruce Gurfein and his trip partner Joe Koen have met investors, land owners, business partners and innovators in food technologies and desert agriculture to create a joint platform that would allow startups to share data, exchange experiences, test products and gain market access, with a mission to ensure a shift towards sustainability in the region. The road back to the UAE was routed through Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain and was completed in six days.
Bruce Gurfein is a Jewish-American entrepreneur who has been living in the Gulf region for 25 years, connecting the US, the UAE, Israel and Saudi Arabia businesses. He speaks 11 languages, including Arabic and Hebrew, and is passionate about tech startups, traveling and whiskey. Bruce is the CEO of UAE-based Connect LLC, a technology investment company owned by Abdullah Al Naboodah, one of the UAE’s wealthiest men.
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At the age of 17, Gurfein set up Focus Communications, which he sold to HP two years later as the world’s first online banking platform. Since then, he has been taking multiple companies from seed stage to successful IPOs and exits (ICQ, MP3.com, RoadMetric and others). Now Bruce is launching Future Gig, a startup accelerator to unite agrotech projects from many countries: the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan and Israel.
In Israel, Fleur Hassan, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem and co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council welcomed Bruce Gurfein and Joe Koen to discuss UAE-Saudi-Palestinian-Israeli business cooperation updates.
In Tel Aviv Bruce Gurfein had a meeting with Brevel Company, learning about the future of food and protein.
In the heart of Arava desert, Bruce met with DeserTech experts who presented their advanced approach to desert cultivation.
The World Bank’s data shows that in 2020, the Middle East region’s share of the world’s acute food insecurity was 20%, which is disproportionately high considering its 6% share of the population.
It is vital that the region’s wealthiest join forces to address this challenge. The global food and agriculture industry is valued at over $8 trillion and makes up for more than 10% of the global GDP. There are tremendous opportunities for innovation and technology in these industries – for example, in Israel alone, investments in foodtech have increased from $53 million in 2015 to $866 million in 2021, according to IVC-MEITAR Israeli Tech Review 2021 Report.
“Expanding Investments in the region and leveraging the UAE as a neutral center can create a superpower that will provide food security and help build a better future for our families and planet,” said Bruce Gurfein. Peace is not just a word, and it doesn’t come with two signatures; it comes with a wholehearted embrace, via interpersonal relations being built. This is the Middle East after all; we don’t rush things here. Even our coffee takes time… that’s why it tastes so good.”