ArabNet Beirut 2018 Kicks Off!
The highly-anticipated ArabNet Beirut 2018 conference was launched on February 21st 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. Jamal Jarrah, Minister of Telecommunications andH.E. Dr. Riad Salameh, Governor of Central Bank of Lebanon.
Over 1,800 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 remarked that “More than $500M was invested in innovative MENA tech startups in 2017. Investors from around the world will be at the event to highlight the latest trends in the global technology sector.”
In his opening speech, the Prime Minister focused on his trust in the Lebanese youth whom he believes will bring a much needed positive change. “With all the problems affecting us and the region, we really need to be united on the agenda that will provide a better future for the youth!” and added : “I want to tell the youth that I rely on them, and all I want to do is try and stabilize this country and update the laws because change is good; change is for the people.”
Meanwhile, H.E. Mr. Jarrah stressed in his speech on the ministry’s goal of improving connectivity across Lebanon, providing higher speeds and increasing landlines capacity. "We have worked to update the network and equipment in a bid to transform the telecommunications sector and pave the way towards establishing a complete FTTH network in the coming years".
Moreover, in his speech, H.E. Dr. Riad Salameh talked about Circular 331 and the positive effect it had on the Lebanese economy.“The Central Bank of Lebanon is preparing to launch the digital currency, which will lead to an important development in the digital economy and will fall under Lebanese law.” Dr. Salameh added:“We recognize that the financial sector plays a leading role in the development and modernization of the Lebanese economy. However, growth is largely linked to improving Lebanon's competitiveness, whereby the Knowledge Economy plays a significant role. Innovation and human capacity are the pillars of the 4th industrial revolution; they are fundamental elements that contribute to improving competitiveness."
At the end of the opening ceremony, the Prime Minister launched the TechFair and toured its hall where he met the exhibitors and the finalists from ArabNet competitions. The Startup Battle Beirut finalists are Cherpa, DOX, Feel22, Fig, Find a Nurse, Gliq, Harold, Lexyom, RAY and Wanowi.Three of these startups will be announced as winners at the awards ceremony during the final conference day.
The first day of the event saw the launch of the Lebanese Innovation Economy Report which sheds light on the overall strengths and development needs of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The opening panel, entitled “Hot Global Trends for Tech Investors” featured Ayman Jomaa, President of Numbase Group and Jonathan Nelson, Managing Director of Hack VC.The conference also hosted the second edition of the Banking Innovation Day, with more than 100 senior banking executives from 15 banks across Lebanon. It was launched by Dr. Saad Andary, Second Vice-Governor of Central Bank of Lebanon.
The conference was preceded by the Founders’ Day on February 20, a pre-conference day featuring three tracks of hands-on workshops on entrepreneurship, product development and technology. Furthermore, the conference hosted the Flat6Labs Beirut 1st Demo Day, which introduced the ten startups from Flat6Labs Beirut’s first seed program cycle that supported a diverse group of entrepreneurs tackling solutions across an array of industries.
ArabNet Beirut continues for another day, with over 15 sessions to go on the latest in digital media and technology. For the first time in Beirut, the conference will hold the Digital Transformation Forum which will highlight the digitization occurring in different sectors. Also, the second forum day will feature exclusive interviews with Christine Assouad, CEO of Dunkin Donuts Lebanon and Semsom; Mohamad A. El-Hout, Chairman - Director General of MiddleEast Airlines - Air Liban as well as Moussa Rifai, owner of Al Rifai Roastery.
The ArabNet Beirut 2018 conference is being held at the Hilton Habtoor Hotel February 20- 22, in collaboration with Banque du Liban. The event was sponsored by many leading companies such as Beirut Digital District, Creditbank, Touch, Digital Media Solutions and Alfa.
Learn more here