The First ArabNet Conference in Kuwait: Leaders Discuss the Future of Digital
Over 500 digital leaders gathered at the ArabNet Kuwait conference to discuss the latest in digital innovation and entrepreneurship, and the opportunities they bring for Kuwait’s businesses and youth.
Held under the patronage and with the presence of H.E. Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem Al-Homoud Al-Sabah, Minister of Information and Minister of State for Youth Affairs, and with the sponsorship of the Kuwait National Fund (KNF), Alghanim Industries, and Mefazec, the highly-awaited first edition of ArabNet Kuwait brought together government leaders, enterprise decision-makers, innovators and investors to connect and exchange ideas on how to leverage technology to drive business growth and improve quality of life in Kuwait and the region.
The conference was launched on October 4th, with an opening speech by H.E. Sheikh Salman Al-Sabah, with him stating that the ArabNet conference held in Kuwait today is a testament to the existing confidence in the sector, and is in alignment with the vision of His Highness the Emir, as well as the leadership of Kuwait, to turn the country into an investment hub, in the fields of IT and digital creativity - hence providing the youth with the opportunities to excel in the world of digital. He then went on to say that the conference is a golden opportunity for the people of Kuwait to benefit from global and regional experience, and have access to the latest in business transformation, which can help stimulate the knowledge economy – future backbone of the economy, as well as international trade. H.E. Sheikh Salman Al-Sabah wished the conference to be successful and thanked the ArabNet team and Founder/CEO Omar Christidis for their hard work in helping grow the digital entrepreneurship ecosystem in Kuwait.
The speech was followed by a welcoming note by ArabNet Founder and CEO, Omar Christidis. To quote Christidis, “there is a strategic government interest in supporting the entrepreneurship ecosystem - including the launch of the $7B Kuwait National Fund for SME Development, as well as a number of initiatives by the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs. And we're thrilled to be partnering with both of them to achieve our vision here: helping build bridges between the Kuwaiti digital market and the world, and connecting the diverse stakeholders in this ecosystem - entrepreneurs, investors, corporations and government leaders”.
The Opening was followed by a dynamic panel discussion on the state of entrepreneurship in Kuwait, with Shafeeq Al-Saed Al-Omar, Assistant Undersecretary for the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs; Abdulaziz B. Al Loughani, Vice Chairman of the National Fund for SMEs Development; Essa Al Essa, Chairman at Mefazec; Mohammad Alhajeri, Chief Investment Officer at Impulse International (part of the National Technology Enterprises Company NTEC); as well as Mohammad Jaffar, the entrepreneur and investor behind the success of Talabat.com.
ArabNet Kuwait continues for two days, with more than 30 sessions on a range of topics, including e-commerce and payments, digital media, e-marketing and social media, as well as entrepreneurship and investing in technology. It also includes 1-on-1 interviews with top private sector executives leading digital transformation across sectors, including Tarek Sultan, CEO of Agility, one of the world’s leading logistics companies; Peter Roberts, General Manager of IT and CIO at Gulf Bank, who is responsible for the bank’s strategic digitization efforts; and Divyank Turakhia, Founder of Media.net, a global advertising technology company acquired earlier this year for $900M.
Also on the occasion of the conference, ArabNet and OMD released their “E-commerce Insights and Best Practices 2016” research report to help brands develop their e-commerce strategies. The report interviews the region’s top e-commerce companies about the key factors for their success, and presents a guide to support businesses who are looking to incorporate e-commerce into their activities.
ArabNet Kuwait included over 50 regional and international speakers such as Abdulla Al-Ajmi, CEO at Knet; Andrew Hyde, Director of New Programming at Techstars; Dikdyuti Sen, Chief Marketing Officer at Talabat.com; and senior executives from Careem, Twitter, Ipsos, Google, Zain, Arzan Venture Capital, OMD, and Mastercard, amongst many others. ArabNet Kuwait also included ArabNet’s signature competitions, Ideathon and Startup Demo, where the most promising entrepreneurs from Kuwait and the region compete on stage and showcase their ideas and companies to investors and business leaders. Top investors from around the region joined the event, including 500 Startups, Arzan VC, BECO Capital, Dubai Angels, Flat6Labs, Impulse / NTEC, Middle East Venture Partners, and VentureSouq.
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