ArabNet Beirut signals continued growth of Silicon Lebanon

It is time for ArabNet Beirut 2018, three intensive days for exhibiting, networking, business deals, startup pitches, and breaking news announcements on VC funding expected for Lebanon and the IT sector.
by TK Maloy and Yehia El Amine

18 February 2018 | 11:51

Source: by Annahar

This photo shows ArabNet CEO Omar Christidis giving his opening speech at ArabNet Beirut 2017. (Photo Courtesy of ArabNet)

BEIRUT: The Startup Battle is back. 

"We're very excited being selected as one of the top 10 startups in the ArabNet startup battle. This is an amazing opportunity for us to find potential investors, partners and expand our network," Ibrahim Ezzeddine, CEO, and co-founder at tech startup, Cherpa, told Annahar. 

"Looking forward to pitching at one of the best events in the region," he added.

It is time for ArabNet Beirut 2018, three intensive days for exhibiting, networking, business deals, startup pitches, and breaking news announcements on VC funding expected for Lebanon and the IT sector. ArabNet Beirut is Lebanon’s leading conference on digital business.

First founded in Beirut and since grown to be a profitable and popular MENA-wide yearly conference, the 9th local edition of ArabNet is gathering key regional and Lebanese digital players on both the exhibitor and attendee front, with this year nearly 2,000 persons expected at the conference thus far. Entrepreneurs from all walks of life, tech gurus, digital leaders, and maestros of the IT sector will be at the Hilton Habtoor Hotel venue

Sponsors include Beirut Digital District (BDD), DMS, Creditbank, LBCI, Touch, Bank Audi, Alfa and BLOMINVEST Bank. The event runs from February 20-21-22, with the opening ceremony will be held on the morning of the 21st at 9:00 am.

This year’s event will feature three forums: Digital Transformation, Media & Advertising, and Innovation & Investment. Additionally and for the 2nd year, the conference will feature the Banking Innovation Day; covering the latest trends in technology impacting the banking sector.

"As technology and innovation have become strategic priorities for CEOs across sectors, ArabNet Beirut in its 9th edition covers a broader and more diverse set of industries and trends than ever before,” event CEO, Omar Christidis told Annahar.

“With panels and talks covering digital transformation in banking, media & advertising, real estate, F&B, travel & tourism, education, and of course startups, the conference will gather top decision-makers looking towards the future and aiming to turn technology into a strategic advantage."

The conference will kick off on Feb. 20 with "Prototype Day", dedicated to helping startups and innovators hone their skills and develop their businesses via a series of workshops on entrepreneurship, hardware, and product development.

“I've been attending ArabNet for the past three years now, and it’s an honor for me to give a workshop there this time around on a topic as fundamental as analytics and user experience design,” Georges Abi Aad, a speaker at the event and Growth Strategist at BirdHaus, told Annahar.

“Since I’m going for the first time as an entrepreneur, I hope to get even more out of the event,” he added.

ArabNet Beirut 2018 will then carry on with a two-day Forum, focused on the latest in business transformation, technology, entrepreneurship, and digital media.

ArabNet Beirut will also be highlighting the next generation of digital business leaders via its signature competitions, the Startup Battle, and Ideathon, along with the Creative Combat and Innovative Avenue.

The Startup Battle selects the top three startups from Beirut to compete against the best in the region at the Startup Championship in Dubai in May (and chance to win $20,000); the Ideathon is designed for aspiring entrepreneurs to showcase their innovative ideas; and the Creative Combat will be showcasing budding marketing talents’ ability to develop unique online campaigns; and the Innovation Avenue, highlights hardware innovators.

The exhibition space of the avenue will showcase work by all these sectors. For the competitive part, a jury will select the top six innovators at ArabNet 2018 based on innovation and creativity, market potential, usability and reliability, design, and competitive advantage.

The Creative Combat is designed to highlight young talent in regional advertising, communications, and media industries. Small teams of students or professionals are required to showcase a plan for an effective digital marketing campaign that addresses a specific creative brief on deadline.

The three finalists will showcase their campaign plans and benefit from feedback and training. A panel of judges will award the winning team a $5,000 prize.

 “We're very excited to partake in ArabNet Beirut 2018! It will be our fourth participation in the local event and we're looking forward to meeting with new startups in the market at our booth and watch our startups take the stage during the multiple pitching competitions,” said Sami Abou Saab CEO of Speed@BDD, a longtime Lebanese startup accelerator.

“We'll also be participating in the expert roundtables and leading a workshop to help startups improve the UX of their solutions. This is the first major event in a while in the Lebanese ecosystem and we hope that we'll be able to leverage it to recruit for our upcoming batch and catch up with all the major players and support organizations.”

A short list of the over 80 speakers includes; Angel Saad Gómez, Venture Partner, Oak Investment Partners, Maan Eshgi, Partner, VentureSouq, Abed Agha Managing Director, VineLab, Dagmar Symes, General Manager, Phoenicia Hotel and Le Vendôme, Bechara Haddad, Country Manager, Zomato and Zeina Saab Co-Founder, SE Factory.

With the Central Bank’s circular 331, promulgated in 2014, acting to leverage investment of over $600 million in seed capital, along with active VC funding in Lebanon, and the increasing local cohort of incubators and accelerators, things have been happening.

Much of this money is still in the pipeline and being injected into the local tech ecosystem. It has been described as a game changer. ArabNet reported last year 200 startups in Lebanon and growing.

There are challenges, but given the right alignment of stars, along with the local talent level and the new concepts arriving to market, Beirut has the potential to become a strong regional tech-hub. 

ArabNet Beirut 2018 will be signaling this loud and clear. 

"As technology and innovation have become strategic priorities for CEOs across sectors, ArabNet Beirut will be covering a broader and more diverse set of industries and trends than ever before,” said Cristidis.

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The conference will be held on February 20-22 at the Hilton Habtoor Hotel.

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