On January 27th, 2018 TechWadi hosted its eighth Annual Forum. This year, the Forum’s focus was to “Fuel Growth for MENA.” Entrepreneurs traveled from as far as the Middle East to either attend or speak and inspire others on new, innovative ways to expand the MENA’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The event kicked off with Senior Program Manager, Tasneem Sabri, thanking all of our generous sponsors: Mubadala, Wells Fargo, Careem, Sajj Street Eats, Incorta, Qatar Science and Technology Park, and Lahlouh. Then it was followed by an amazing speech by Chairman Sharif El-Badawi on TechWadi’s impact on the Middle Eastern diaspora and the Middle Eastern communities both in the region and the world over. After hearing inspiring words and the Forum being kicked off in full-force, our attendees were treated to an incredible speaker lineup as introduced by the Forum’s MC, the incredibly intelligent and impactful Christoper Schroeder.
From Qatar Science and Technology Park’s Executive Director, Dr. Maher Hakim, speaking on five ways to build bridges between Silicon Valley and MENA, to Mubadala Ventures’ Alaa Halawa on bringing a global ecosystem to Silicon Valley, attendees learned how to connect two regions and expand the entrepreneurial ecosystem the world over.
Following the keynotes was the Ted Talk series of the day where attendees learned from Kamran Elahian on iTechpreneurship and creating chaos to avoid chaos. Then, Cloudera Co-Founder and CTO, Amr Awadallah spoke on “The Sixth Major Wave of Automation: The Automation of Decisions,” which was followed by cryptocurrency expert Miko Matsumura’s talk on “The Geopolitics of Blockchain.” The day’s last Ted Talk was presented by Yusuf Saber, Head of Data Science at Careem, where he spoke on “The MENA Tech Ecosystem from the Eyes of Careem.”
During the breaks spread throughout the day, attendees and entrepreneurs had the opportunity to network and learn from one another whether it was outside on Plug and Play Tech Center’s beautiful patio over some delicious food catered by Sajj Street Eats, or in the lobby area over some light refreshments and coffee.
Following lunch and the Ted Talks were the breakout sessions which covered different topics ranging from the intersection between social good, policy, and tech to how blockchain is changing the world to the VC’s perspective. The event ended on a high note with a fireside chat on “What Are We Seeing in MENA and Where Are We Going?”
After a day filled with exciting insights, exposure to new, innovative ideas, and professional networking which promises to globalize the entrepreneurial ecosystem, we at TechWadi can’t help but wonder, what else can we do to continue to fuel growth for MENA?
“Just keep doing what you’re doing,” said Panelist Managing Director of Endeavor Catalyst, Allen Taylor, and that’s exactly what we plan to do.
By: Yasmin Younis