BEIRUT: Signature MENA tech event ArabNet celebrates its 10-year anniversary, a decade since it began its journey in Lebanon’s capital, with thousands of attendees, hundreds of forums and speakers and a knockout selection of exhibitors, expected this year.
Over the last decade, ArabNet has organized 25+ events in Beirut, Kuwait, Dubai, and Riyadh, released 20+ in-depth reports on the different sectors of the MENA ecosystem, and has provided up-and-coming startups with a chance to grow and achieve high levels of success through competitions.
This year, ArabNet Beirut 2019 will be bigger than ever, gathering 3000+ corporate executives, government leaders, entrepreneurs and digerati under one roof. The event will also bring together 250+ experts and speakers from around the globe, covering a range of topics, including Launchpad for startups and investors; Ad/Edge for digital media and advertising, and Finverse for digital banking and fintech, the company said.
"We are very proud that ArabNet is turning golden this year and what an incredible journey a decade working to build the tech and startup ecosystem in the Middle East from the earliest days. We hope we will be able to be part of many more success stories and helping the industry grow for the next 10 years to come," ArabNet founder and CEO told Annahar.
The company noted in its statement that ArabNet Beirut will also continue to be the leading platform for budding talent to present their ideas, startups, hardware innovations and marketing talent through Arabnet’s long-running competitions:
Expected this year: the always-anticipated Startup Battle, which will select the top three startups from Beirut to compete against the best in the region at the Startup Championship for a shot at winning $20K, an acceleration scholarship in Silicon Valley, along with in-kind prizes; the popular Ideathon, which brings together aspiring entrepreneurs to showcase their innovative ideas; and the Creative Combat showcasing budding marketing talents’ ability to develop unique online campaigns.
ArabNet also announced for the first time this year, the event will feature a Startup Showcase, bringing together 100 startups from Lebanon and beyond to exhibit and connect with industry experts and more than 100 investors.
Between now and June the program is expected to grow even more, and the startup candidates and speakers will be announced later this spring.
The program will be “also decked out with satellite events, happenings, activations, and parties linking together friends, colleagues, stakeholders, business attendees, and students to celebrate a decade of ArabNet events, paving the way to more growth and innovation,” the company said.
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 to the tech and startup ecosystem in Beirut.
It has been described as a game changer. ArabNet has reported at least 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 has been a key part of the ecosystem.
According to Arabnet Business Intelligence, more than $950M was invested in MENA tech startups in 2018. For that reason, Launchpad will gather key regional investors, government leaders, and successful startups to highlight the changing tech landscape as well as emerging trends and opportunities. It will also feature investors from around the world tackling the latest trends in the global technology sector.
Technology in marketing has become critical in targeting, reaching and engaging consumers – and driving sales. Advertising campaigns are increasingly powered by data: brand-collected, agency and third-party. Additionally, Influencers continue to play a key role in the marketing value chain, with 94 percent of the brands, agencies, and retailers finding influencer marketing beneficial, according to Liniqia.
Ad/Edge tackles how brands, agencies, and publishers are adapting their strategies to keep up with cutting-edge technologies and consumer behaviors, and the structural changes that are reshaping the industry as a result.
According to ArabNet Business Intelligence, regional funding to fintech companies hit over $250M from 2012 until 2018. As the impact of technology on financial services deepens, banks are adopting new strategies to stay innovative, and partnering with fintech startups to develop and deliver new service offerings. Finverse will explore the latest trends and opportunities in fintech and banking innovation, diving into chatbots and Roboadvisors, big data, blockchain, and the practical opportunities available for banks and financial services providers.
The Investor lounge will provide one-on-one interactions and meetings between the most active investors and entrepreneurs that are disrupting traditional business models. “Do not miss your pass to the Investor lounge for a chance to build powerful synergies and get advice on how to take your business to the next level,” the company said.
First founded in Beirut and since grown to be a profitable and popular MENA-wide yearly conference, the 10th local edition of ArabNet is gathering a markedly increased number of key regional and Lebanese digital players since its start a decade ago. Entrepreneurs from all walks of life, tech gurus, digital leaders, and maestros of the IT sector are all expected at the ArabNet 2019 show.
Listen to tech experts, follow the giant live twitter feeds, try advanced virtual reality demos, shake hands with talking robots and wave at the drones skimming through the exhibit hall, there is much going on at the event.
-- Annahar editor, writer, Hala Mezher contributed to this report.
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