Yesterday was the closing ceremony of ArabNet Beirut, where the awards were distributed to Lebanese startups and enterprises. ArabNet is not just a key reference for businesses in the Middle East, it is the hub for Arab digital professionals and entrepreneurs to connect and learn. This is done through the various conferences handled in different key cities. The event also supports the founding of new businesses and offers job opportunities for ambitious youth. This month, the event was held in Beirut, one of the editions recognized as being one of the largest gatherings in the MENA region, holding a record of bringing globally-renowned speakers to discuss the latest field topics. During the event, workshops were organized, as well as hackathons, in order to help designers and developers build the skills they need to launch their innovations.
This year, the event was launched under the patronage of the President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, and took place at the Hilton Beirut Habtoor Grand hotel from the 20th until the 22nd of April. This was done in collaboration with Banque du Liban, along with the participation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, as well as Minister of Telecommunications Jamal Jarrah, and Governor of Central Bank of Lebanon Riad Salameh. The event’s 9th Edition, sponsored by touch, Alfa, Beirut Digital District and many more, brought together more than 1800 attendees and more than 90 speakers from all over the world.
The event’s opening, entitled Founders Day, was a day dedicated to entrepreneurs and innovators. It featured workshops and trainings in the hopes of improving their skills and help develop their products. The second day was Forum Day 1, kick-starting with the event’s first forum, the Investment and Innovation Forum. This day featured the latest trends in the global technology sector as well discussions revolving around the rise of cutting edge technology innovation, all being highlighted by investors from different parts of the world. Various competitions took place as well, shedding some light on emerging innovators and talents. The first competition was the Startup Battle, where three startups from Beirut were selected in order to compete at the Startup Championship in Dubai in May. We also had the Creative Combat competition that showcased budding marketing talents’ ability to develop unique online campaigns. Finally, we had Innovation Avenue, which highlighted hardware innovators. On the same day was the Banking Innovation day, launched by Saad Andary, Second-Vice Governor of Central Bank of Lebanon. More than 100 Senior Banking Executives were present and discussed the latest financial technologies that are shaping the future of the banking and influencing consumers’ behaviors.
Yesterday was the third and final day, Forum Day 2. There were a total of 9 panels across two forums. The first being the Media and AdTech Forum, where brands and agencies discussed the latest trends, as well as the need to adapt to rapidly changing interests and a constant evolution of customers’ habits in the digital age. The second and last forum was the Digital Transformation Forum, where technology was given a very important role in various sectors, transforming them and helping better customers’ experiences, improve services and products, and optimize performance and efficiency. On this day we also witnessed 1-on-1 interviews with CEOs (CEO series) such as Dunkin Donuts Lebanon and Semsom CEO Christine Assouad, and Mohamad A. El-Hout, Chairman and Director General of MEA.
At the closing ceremony, the winners of all competitions were announced. With the sponsorship of Creditbank, the Ideathon winners were Lemonade Fashion by Arthur Bizdikian in first place. It received $2,500 as a seed grant to help the young innovators kick start their idea, it being a fashion platform that allows customers to take complete control in customizing what they wear, all provided with the help of known fashion designers and high quality products. In 2nd place was The Advisory Company by Wael Khattar, a B2B white label advice provider, basically a provider of investment advice. And in 3rd place was Ilham by MaryJo El-Azzi, a platform that helps teacher by providing necessary tools and tips to help them personalize exams for dyslexic students. As for the Creative Combar winner, sponsored by Alfa, was Dicers, which helps raise awareness about the prevalence of diabetes among children.
The three winners of the Startup Battle were Lexium by Rami Alami in 3rd place, an online platform that enables users to get answers to their legal questions by connecting them to legal professionals at any time. In 2nd place was dox by Nicolas Michael El-Jamal, which wants to help e-bike sharing companies eliminate inventory costs and unnecessary site visits by creating a battery fleet management platform. This will improve the reliability of their batteries. Finally, in 1st place was Cherpa by Ibrahim Ezzedine, which offers courses that help people solve real live challenges designed by industry experts, all-the-while offering technical skills – such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and creativity – and providing future job opportunities.
All this being say, after three days of panels, workshops and talks on different entrepreneurship topics, let’s hope those startups make us proud at the Startup Championship in Dubai in May!