Wednesday 12 June 2019
Arabnet Beirut Celebrating 10 Years of Tech & Innovation

ArabNet Beirut Conference Celebrates 10 Years by Uniting Government Officials to Build an Innovative Nation with the Participation of H.E. Prime Minister of Lebanon Mr. Saad Hariri at the Opening Ceremony


Beirut, 12/06/2019 – The highly anticipated 10th edition of Arabnet Beirut conference launched on June 12th under the High Patronage of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Lebanon, General Michel Aoun and in collaboration with Banque du Liban, along with the participation of H.E. Prime Minister of Lebanon Mr. Saad Hariri as well as H.E. Mr. Mohamad Choucair, Minister of Telecommunications and H.E. Dr. Riad Salameh, Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon.

Over 4, 000 senior government officials, diplomats, enterprise decision-makers, innovators and investors were in attendance, keen on connecting and exchanging ideas on digital innovation and entrepreneurship as key drivers for Lebanon’s future economic development.

ArabNet Founder and CEO, Omar Christidis launched the ceremony with his opening speech where he said “I'm proud of what Arabnet has been able to achieve in the last 10 years - helping build the tech industry and startup ecosystem from the ground up, and successfully expanding our business from Lebanon to the GCC.  I'm also proud that we've been able to create a real impact for the MENA economy, with our alumni - the startups that pitched at Arabnet across the years - collectively employing more than 3,500 today.  As for the future, I'm thrilled to see MENA governments - and especially Lebanon - prioritizing technology and innovation as key drivers for economic development; in the future, I see Arabnet playing a bigger role in working with them to shape and deliver policies and programs that are impactful for entrepreneurs."


In his opening speech, H.E. Prime Minister of Lebanon Mr. Saad Hariri said

“It is a priority for myself and for my Government to do all that is in our power to support and further enable the Digital Economy in Lebanon.’’


H.E. Mohamad Choucair said

‘’With the available capabilities of Lebanon’s youth and the incentives it provide for start-ups, the country can progress quickly on this path when the advanced infrastructure is provided. It is important to maintain the same pace support and very useful to establish a national agenda for the digital economy.’’


H.E. Dr. Riad Salameh said

“Our intention is to regulate and supervise fintech companies, by imposing their licensing by Banque du Liban.”

The Opening Ceremony was preceded by a Ministerial Panel entitled, The Roadmap to a Digital Economy in Lebanon which covered the government’s plan to develop the different enablers for digitization from infrastructure and digital identity, to regulations and business incentives. The Ministerial Panel featured H.E. Mr. Ghassan Hasbani, Deputy Prime Minister; H.E. Ms. Raya El Hassan, Minister of Interior and Municipalities; and H.E. Ms. May Chidiac, Minister of State For Administrative Development; H.E. Mr. Riad Salameh, Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon; and Mr. Saroj Jha, Regional Director of the Mashreq at the World Bank. Also during the opening, the H.E. Mr. Saad Harriri and the H.E. Mr. Riad Salameh were respectively given honorary awards.

After an engaging morning, the conference program split into two main forums:

The LaunchPad Forum also explored how the diaspora can bring technology opportunities back to Lebanon. This event gathered some of the most inspirational Lebanese diaspora such as Sarjoun Skaff, Co-Founder and CTO, Bossa Nova Robotics; Monir Zok, Former Director of Technology and Innovation for the U.S. Olympic Committee; Managing Director at N3XT Sports; and Walid Soussou, President, Wearable Sensing to talk about their journey working abroad, highlighting Lebanon’s advantages and opportunities as a regional tech hub, as well as discussing what it would take for the diaspora to establish offices in Lebanon and to create job opportunities. 

The Finverse forum gathered stellar high-profile fintech experts - including Simon Redfern, Founder, Open Bank Project; Maher Mikati, CEO, areeba; Viola Llewellyn, Co-founder & President, Ovamba who discussed current topics of interest ranging from New Trends and Innovation in Fintech, Capturing untapped opportunity of financial inclusion, banking innovation and digitization in Lebanon and more.

Arabnet Beirut X also featured a Startup Showcase, bringing together 100 startups from Lebanon and beyond to exhibit and connect with industry experts and more than 100 GCC/regional investors. The event also featured a number of dynamic initiatives to support entrepreneurs including: The Academy, workshops on entrepreneurship, marketing and e-commerce; Founder’s Journey, gathers successful Lebanese startup founders to share their journey and lessons learned with aspiring entrepreneurs; The Investor Lounge, providing one-on-one interactions and meetings between over 70 investors and the entrepreneurs that are disrupting traditional business models.

During the event, Bank Audi seized the opportunity to launch the latest game changer in banking solutions: “My Novo”, the first digital, relational banking platform in Lebanon, which allows users to open an account and personalize it, conduct local and international transfers, pay bills, talk to advisors through video conference, and many other features, 7 days a week.

Hub71, a global tech hub based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, announced a new partnership with MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab in a joint mission to support the region’s entrepreneurs and exceptional talent to go global.

Arabnet Beirut continues for another day at Biel Sea Side with the LaunchPad forum continuing, in addition to the AdEdge forum which includes talks on all the latest in digital media and technology. The best startups from the region will be announced and crowned as Arabnet’s Startup Champions, and H.E. Mr. Adel Afiouni, Minister of State for Investment and Technology Affairs, will also be speaking at the closing of the event.

Arabnet Beirut is supported by a wide range of sponsors that include Banque du Liban, Alfa, Touch, Beirut Digital District, Ogero, Blominvest, Bank Audi, Banque Credit Natinal, IDAL, among others.


Beirut, 13/06/2019 - Under the High Patronage of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Lebanon, General Michel Aoun and in collaboration with Banque du Liban, along with the participation of H.E. Prime Minister of Lebanon Mr. Saad Hariri as well as H.E. Mr. Mohamad Choucair, Minister of Telecommunications and H.E. Dr. Riad Salameh, Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, ArabNet Beirut X wrapped up in success on June 13. The 10th edition brought together 4000+ attendees and 250+ from across Lebanon and the world.

The conference held a total of 22 panels, keynote speeches, and interview sessions across the two forums taking place simultaneously. Additionally, startups, entrepreneurs, and marketers took the stage for our competitions: Startup Championship powered by Touch, Ideathon, and Creative Combat, sponsored by Ogero.

At the Launchpad forum, Arabnet Research and Data Director, Azza Yehya, took to the stage to officially launch the 4th edition of “State of Digital Investments in MENA 2013-2018” report developed by Arabnet, in partnership with The Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development (Dubai SME). The report is a holistic analysis of MENA technology investors and investments. The report investigates the technology investment landscape in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region by analyzing investments made by MENA-based investors into MENA-based startups.

The reveal was followed up by a panel titled “International Perspective: Global Trends Shaping the Tech Sector” in which international investors gathered on stage to share their insights on what’s hype and what’s here to stay, the hottest startups they’re investing in today, and the trends they expect to see in the near future. They also gave tips for startups in emerging markets on how to attract the interests of global investors and capture global opportunities. The speakers included James Tan, Managing Partner, Quest Ventures; Richard Harris, Partner and Head of EMEA, G Squared; Tugce Ergul, Partner, Angel Labs; Ihor Ovcharenko, Founder & CEO, Scal8R; and Kartik Varma, Managing Director, Techstars.

The Launchpad Forum was packed with keynote speeches and panel discussions including “the Evolution of the Music Industry” led by Scott Cohen, Chief Innovation Officer at Warner Music Group; the “Innovation in Family Businesses” panel which brought together some of Lebanon’s key family businesses like A.N.Boukather, Ghia Holding, and Grand Cinemas, to discuss how they are responding to the entrepreneurial culture, what are their objectives and strategies to beat competition,  and the challenges they’re facing diving into new innovative opportunities.

The Ad/Edge forum brought together some of the brightest minds in Adtech and Digital Media who took part in in-depth sessions such as “Content that Connects - Why Understanding Culture Is the Key to Growth” by Codec, “It’s a MADtech World Out there” which examined publisher’s readiness in the digital age by MMPWW and MOAT. Attendees were also able to be part of debates on advertising content “Data vs. Creativity”, witnessed panel discussions on Artificial Intelligence, Content Marketing, and ecommerce.

At the closing ceremony, the winners for the Startup Championship, Ideathon, and Creative Combat were announced. 3 startups were chosen as the top 3 for the Championship with 2nd and 3rd place being Bakala and Seez respectively. As for the top spot, Searchie took home the Championship cash prize of $20K, acceleration scholarship to Silicon Valley, along with in-kind prizes!

As for the Ideathon, 10 aspiring took the stage and pitched their innovative ideas in front of an esteemed panel of judges. After careful deliberation, Hadiyati came out on top for his/her disruptive idea.

YNG secured the top spot in the Creative Combat receiving a cash prize of $5000.

During Arabnet Beirut, Arabnet signed a memorandum of understanding with Xische in Dubai to enable Arabnet to enhance support clients from strategy, to storytelling and thought-leadership, to events and innovation program implementation.


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About ArabNet

Arabnet is a leading event, insights, and innovation program organizer focused on tech business and innovation in the MENA region. We organize major conferences for the tech sector in Dubai, Riyadh, Kuwait and Beirut; publish news and analysis of the sector in our online news portal and produce original research and reports focused on the sector; and organize custom-tailored innovation programs for corporations and governments.

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