The second day of the ArabNet Digital Summit 2018, the MENA’s largest gathering of leaders and experts in the digital business, began with the launch of “The State of Digital Investments in MENA (2013-2017)” report – published in partnership between ArabNet and Dubai SME. A comprehensive analysis of investors and investments in technology startups in the MENA, the third edition of the report highlights emerging opportunities and year-on-year trends in the industry.
“The UAE continues to be the entrepreneurial hub in the Middle East region, representing the largest number of deals, investors and funding, which are largely driven by the government’s focus on innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Omar Christidis, Founder and CEO of ArabNet. “We are thrilled to be collaborating with Dubai SME for the second consecutive year to provide the most comprehensive report on investment in the tech space and to make this knowledge available to the broader ecosystem. This will guide us in understanding the development of the sector as well as where we can be the most impactful,” added Christidis.
The second day of the summit featured the Smart Economy Forum, with Smart Cities NYC and Xische as Knowledge Partners. The full track of the forum explored visionary outlooks for creative cities of the future, featuring five panels with industry leaders from du, the Government of Dubai, and City of Amsterdam, among many others. It also saw the launch of the “Artificial Intelligence in the Middle East” report, in partnership with Xische. Simultaneously, the summit day introduced a whole new forum, Real Estate Tech, with Du as Strategic Sponsor and KAIZEN Asset Management Services as Knowledge Partner. It discussed the impact of technology on real estate and hosted experts from Al-Futtaim Group Real Estate, Emaar, Cavendish Maxwell, and WeLive – WeWork.
On the other hand, the Investment Forum, with VentureSouq (VSQ) as Knowledge Partner, hosted investors and venture capital firms in discussions about investing in startups, the future of alternative funding and global technology trends. The opening panel featured Owl Ventures, Flybridge Capital Partners, ConsenSys Capital, and Urban Us. Moreover, the forum welcomed international speakers, including Jonathan Nelson of Hackers/Founders, Guido Ghedin of Cifnews (China), and Nicolai Strøm-Olsen of Startup Migrants and KUNSTforum. The summit also held, on its sidelines, The MatchUp, which is a series of one-on-one meetings between top business executives, and fast-growing regional startups.
For the 2nd consecutive year, the summit featured the Finale of the ArabNet Startup Championship, highlighting eighteen of the MENA’s most promising startups, hand-picked through local pitching rounds across Kuwait, Muscat, Riyadh, Dubai, Beirut, and Casablanca. The championship winner, Sadeed from Dubai – which automates social media customer service using AI without coding experience, received $20,000 in cash, and a three-week training at TVLP in Silicon Valley, among other in-kind prizes. The summit also hosted – for the third consecutive year – the Smartpreneur competition and awards ceremony, organized by Dubai Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Smart Dubai Office. The competition highlighted promising startups that are aligned with Dubai’s tech entrepreneurship vision and can help the emirate elevate itself into a global platform for innovation-focused businesses. WakeCap won first place at the Smartpreneur competition, with AED 75,000 in cash. Intuito and TeleDoc came in second and third place respectively.
The sixth edition of ArabNet Digital Summit concluded with success, bringing together more than 1,800 attendees, 100 speakers, 75 exhibitors, as well as over 100 international and regional investors from across the UAE, the wider region and the world. The event’s high-level sponsors included Du, OMD, Gulf Capital, Emirates NBD, IDAL, Bayt.com, and Dubai Chamber.