Save The Date: Here Are The Key Entrepreneurship Conferences In Saudi Arabia That You Need To Keep An Eye Out For If you are a startup founder or an aspiring investor in Saudi Arabia, attending entrepreneurship conferences is a great way to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and opportunities in the Kingdom's business landscape, and to network with other entrepreneurs, investors, and experts.
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If you are a startup founder or an aspiring investor in Saudi Arabia, attending entrepreneurship conferences is a great way to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and opportunities in the Kingdom's business landscape, and to network with other entrepreneurs, investors, and experts.
Here, we have provided you with the key entrepreneurship conferences that have taken place in 2022-2023; these are the conferences and events that were most talked about by investors and entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia.
These events offer valuable insights for you whether you're just starting out on your entrepreneurial journey, looking for talent or investment, or are ready to take your business to the next level. Here they are, in no particular order:
LEAP is a four-day international tech conference which takes place in Riyadh each year in February or March, organized by Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT). The conference hosts over 700 speakers, and brings together over 100,000 technological innovators and experts from around the world.
In 2023, more than US$9 billion worth of investments and initiatives for the Saudi startup ecosystem were announced at LEAP. Other major announcements included Meta announcing the opening of its first metaverse academy in the MENA region in Saudi Arabia. The conference also saw the Kingdom continuing its leadership position as the MENA region's largest digital market with more than $42 billion in active investments, and more than 340,000 people currently working in the digital, telecommunications, and information technology sectors.
The next edition of LEAP is scheduled to return to Riyadh and is slated for March 4-7, 2024. This event promises to be an exciting opportunity for individuals and businesses interested in the latest tech developments and innovations.
In 2017, Monsha'at launched Biban, a four-day annual conference for entrepreneurs, startups, investors, and policy makers to develop innovation capabilities in the Kingdom and foster growth. It is a dynamic and interactive event with 12+ stations that includes conferences, awards, and exhibitions. In these formative years of the Saudi startup ecosystem, the Biban conference has been incredibly important to help address and tackle obstacles faced by entrepreneurs and stakeholders in the ecosystem, such as lack of familiarity with government systems, procedures, and regulatory requirements for startup founders.
Biban 2023 ran under the slogan, "Fostering Tangible Opportunities" in March. Biban 2023 saw 25 agreements launched alongside a range of investment initiatives announced in its first day. Among these agreements, a whopping $2.93 billion was pledged by eight attending banking institutions and financing entities for the sole purpose of funding the Kingdom's SME ecosystem.
The Global Entrepreneurship Congress took place in Riyadh in March 2022, and was organized by Monsha'at and the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN). The four-day event gathered entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, and key stakeholders to promote, connect, and strengthen the ecosystem. The GEC secured $13.8 billion in investment directed towards financial products, mentorship, and funding. The conference hosted 150 speakers including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph.
At the event, Monsha'at announced that it would allocate $3.2 billion to startup funding, and that the Ministry of investment would allocate $1 billion to license international companies and encourage entry to the Saudi market. It is uncertain whether or not the Global Entrepreneurship Congress will become an annual or bi-annual event to attend in the future, but keep your eyes peeled for announcements.
RiseUp Summit is one of the largest innovation and entrepreneurship events on the MENA entrepreneurship circuit, originally birthed and taking place in the heart of Cairo. In November 2022, RiseUp Summit came to Saudi Arabia for the first time under the theme #THRIVE. The summit took place at the King Abdullah Financial District and attracted nearly 10,000 participants, 150 startups, investors and 200 speakers. This summit is gearing up to become an annual affair.
Learn more about the KSA startup ecosystem by checking out the report, The Evolution of Saudi Arabia's Startup Ecosystem 2010-2022.
This article was originally published on Lucidity Insights, a partner of Entrepreneur Middle East in developing special reports on the Middle East and Africa's tech and entrepreneurial ecosystems.