Entrepreneurial ecosystems

Arabnet Beirut 2019: Highlights From The Tenth Anniversary Of The Landmark Event

"We've been able to create a real impact for the MENA economy, with our alumni -the startups that pitched at Arabnet across the years- collectively employing more than 3,500 today."
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“We've been able to create a real impact for the MENA economy, with our alumni -the startups that pitched at Arabnet across the years- collectively employing more than 3,500 today,” said ArabNet founder and CEO Omar Christidis, opening the ArabNet Beirut X, the celebratory 10th edition of one of the MENA region’s most active tech innovation-focused program organizer- Arabnet.

Indeed, the ArabNet Beirut X’s primary focus was on regional entrepreneurs once again- MENA-based startups, Searchie, Hadiyati, and YNG, stole the spotlight by each winning one of the event’s three startup competitions. Searchie, a Dubai-based AI-based recruitment platform, won the Startup Championship powered by Touch, taking home a cash prize of US$20,000 and an acceleration scholarship to Silicon Valley, while Hadiyati and YNG were declared the winners of Ideathon, and Creative Combat sponsored by Ogero, competition tracks respectively.

The two-day event, held on June 12-13, in Beirut, also featured a Startup Showcase, bringing together 100 startups from Lebanon and beyond to exhibit and connect with industry experts and more than 100 regional investors.

Overall, the event brought together more than 4,000 attendees for a total of 22 panels, keynote speeches, and interview sessions across the two forums taking place simultaneously. The event was held 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 Saad Hariri as well as H.E. Mohamad Choucair, Minister of Telecommunications and H.E. Dr. Riad Salameh, Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon. “It is a priority for myself and for my government to do all that is in our power to support and further enable the digital economy in Lebanon,” said H.E. Hariri at the opening ceremony which was preceded by a ministerial panel, titled “The Roadmap To A Digital Economy In Lebanon”, that explored the government’s plan to support the country’s further digitization process.

The first day of the event also featured The LaunchPad Forum which explored how Lebanese diaspora could bring technology opportunities back to the country, and The Finverse Forum which analyzed the current state of innovation in fintech and the banking sector, further opportunities of financial inclusion, and much more. Bank Audi launched a new banking solution, My Novo, which is the first digital, relational banking platform in Lebanon, allowing users to open an account and personalize it, conduct local and international transfers, pay bills, talk to advisors through video conference, and many other features, 7 days a week. Furthermore, Abu Dhabi-based Hub71 announced a partnership with MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab, aiming to support regional startups with global ambitions.

Kicking off the second day of the event, Arabnet and The Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development (Dubai SME) launched the fourth edition of the State of Digital Investments in MENA 2013-2018 report which investigates the technology investment landscape in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region by analyzing investments made by MENA-based investors into MENA-based startups.

Related: A Decade Of Impact: Founder And CEO Omar Christidis On Arabnet Beirut's 10th Anniversary

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