Middle East’s biggest innovation festival Unbound returns to Bahrain

Anchor event of StartUp Bahrain Week draws over 75 speakers and 3,000 delegates from across the region and around the world

Features innovative topics including building a sustainable tech ecosystem, the growing FinTech industry, artificial intelligence, sustainability, venture capital and blockchain

BAHRAIN, 20 February 2019 – World-renowned innovation festival Unbound will return to Bahrain on March 6 and 7 to showcase some of the most inventive brands, start-ups, and government initiatives seen in Bahrain and across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Expecting to double in size from last year, Unbound Bahrain moves to a new venue, Bahrain National Theatre for the 2019 edition.

The MENA region’s largest and most exciting innovation festival, Unbound Bahrain is the anchor event of “StartUp Bahrain Week” held under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander, Chairman of the Economic Development Board (EDB) in association with the EDB and supported by Tamkeen (The Labour Fund) as a strategic partner and startup community in Bahrain. The festival celebrates the Kingdom’s commitment to creating a digital economy and fuelling a digital future for the wider MENA region.

The festival will host over 75 speakers and more than 3,000 local, regional and international delegates, including inspiring entrepreneurs sharing their experiences on starting and growing a business venture.

Mr. Daniel Seal, Founder & CEO at Unbound, said: “Unbound is delighted to be returning to the MENA region. This year’s event promises to be the biggest yet, with speakers from across the globe discussing the very latest in innovation. With startup battles, awards and showcases, Unbound Bahrain provides startups with unique opportunities to connect with investors and help make ideas become a reality. In a very short space of time, Unbound has become the go-to platform for MENA innovators to embrace opportunities in Bahrain and the wider region.”

The Middle East is embracing digital disruption with technology at the heart of economic diversification. As Governments look to increasingly partner with the private sector to help drive growth and efficiencies, Unbound Bahrain will showcase the latest innovative products and services being developed by startups from around the world.

Ms. Pakiza Abdulrahman, Manager of Business Development – Startups at the Bahrain Economic Development Board, said: “The EDB is committed to fostering a supportive environment for start-ups and has found a perfect partner in Unbound to showcase the benefits of doing business in Bahrain and the Middle East. Unbound comes with an immersive experience of running this international event in London, Miami and Singapore, and we are thrilled to host them for a second year to showcase GCC & MENA’s startup trends.

“As digital disruption changes the face of the modern economy, we must do all we can to enable startups and the next generation of innovative technologies. Getting the right balance of soft infrustructure; access to funding; and mentorship in place is crucial to our success and Unbound Bahrain will be the ideal platform to learn more about the technological trends shaping our society.”

This year’s line-up of speakers builds on the 2018 inaugural event with senior leadership from some of the largest corporates in the GCC and beyond, as well as some of the most exciting start-up founders and investors. High-profile speakers include:

  • Tom Goodwin, EVP, Head of Innovation, Zenith USA (Publicis): Tom is the #1 voice in Marketing on LinkedIn with over 690,000 followers. He is also one of 30 people to follow on Twitter by Business Insider and in the top two people in Advertising to follow (FastCompany). An industry provocateur and commentator on the future of marketing and business, he’s a columnist for the Guardian, TechCrunch and Forbes and frequent contributor to GQ, Ad Age, Wired, AdWeek, Inc, The World Economic Forum and Digiday.
  • Tim Draper, Founder, Draper Associates: One of the world’s most well-regarded Venture Capitalists, co-founder of Draper Fisher Jurvetson. DFJ’s core funds have raised more than $5 billion and is invested in more than 300 companies.Tim was ranked 52 on the list of the 100 most influential Harvard Alumni, and seventh on the Forbes Midas List, and is known as the Creator of Viral Marketing. He was named Always-On’s #1 top venture capital deal maker.
  • Waleed Alballaa, Partner, STV VC: STV, based out of Riyadh, and anchored by Saudi Telecom, the largest telecom company in the Middle East, is the largest venture capital fund in the region. As one of STV’s key staff, Waleed Alballaa has been responsible for some of the fund’s key operations and continues to be a leading voice in shaping the Middle East investment scene.
  • Hussain Mohammed Al Mahmoudi, CEO, Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP): Hussain serves a dual role as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the American University of Sharjah Enterprises (AUSE) and as the CEO of the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP). Mr. Hussain has held leadership roles at leading regional and international companies such as the Royal Dutch Shell Group, Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC), and several Dubai Holding entities.

In formats ranging from keynote speeches, fireside chats, and panel discussions, Unbound Bahrain will dive into innovative topics including ecosystem building, FinTech, artificial intelligence, sustainability, investing & venture capital, and blockchain.

Platinum Partner Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is set to open its first Middle East data centre in Bahrain this year, is supporting Unbound Bahrain. 12 qualifiers from regional start-up competitions prepare to battle it out and pitch their entrepreneurial skills to a panel of expert judges in the Grand Final at the AWS pavilion.

Initiatives at Unbound Bahrain will include the Unbound50 Zone, a competition to showcase the latest start-ups across the MENA region, as well as the Female Founders Challenge, a platform for women in tech to pitch their pioneering ideas. In addition to this, Unbound Bahrain will host pitch-to-investors sessions, which provide start-ups with the opportunity to raise awareness of their product in front of an international audience.

The Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF), the leading provider of quality education in the region, will partner with Unbound Bahrain as the official Training Provider and a Strategic Partner for the Unbound Bahrain 2019 Event. BIBF will launch its “Technopreneurship” Programme, targeting start-ups, SMEs and creative individuals who aim to secure the knowledge and skills that will prepare them to start their own journey.

As the region’s leading telecoms provider, Zain Bahrain will again support Unbound Bahrain, as a Gold Sponsor and the event’s official telecommunications partner. Zain Bahrain is committed to promoting the empowerment of Women in Technology, and as such will be hosting a special panel, providing a global platform for MENA’s most inspiring female founders and entrepreneurs. Ride-hailing app Careem has also joined Unbound Bahrain as its official Transport Partner.

Unbound Bahrain will provide seamless networking opportunities with local and international business leaders and innovation stakeholders, highlighting the Gulf’s rise as a leading digital hub. Further information can be found on www.unbound.live/bahrain.


For more information, please contact:

Communications and Media Department

Economic Development Board

Phone: +973-17-589972

E-mail: internationalmedia@bahrainedb.com

About Bahrain Economic Development Board

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is an investment promotion agency with overall responsibility for attracting investment into the Kingdom and supporting initiatives that enhance the investment climate.

The EDB works with the government and both current and prospective investors, in order to ensure that Bahrain’s investment climate is attractive, to communicate the key strengths, and to identify where opportunities exist for further economic growth through investment.

The EDB focuses on several economic sectors that capitalise on Bahrain’s competitive advantages and provide significant investment opportunities. These sectors include financial services, manufacturing, ICT, tourism, logistics and transport.

For more information on the Bahrain EDB visit www.bahrainedb.com; for information about Bahrain visit www.bahrain.com.


About Unbound

Unbound is a global innovation platform, with festivals in Bahrain, London, Singapore and Miami. As a powerful, trusted brand with a globally respected voice on innovation, Unbound bridges the gap between entrepreneurs, corporate business, governments and trade agencies to fuel a digital future. It encourages innovation by showcasing pioneering ideas to digital communities around the world.

In 2018, Unbound festivals welcomed 25,000 of the finest minds in tech to hear from a thousand future-focussed speakers, and take part in immersive brand experiences, pitch sessions and start-up battles. For more information please visit www.unbound.live.

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