MIT Innovation Forum promotes pan-Arab innovation

If proof were needed that Bahrain is pre-eminent in ICT across the Middle East, a special event in Manama recently provided it.

MIT Enterprise Pan Arab held its first-ever Innovation Forum for the Arab world at the Four Seasons Hotel on 27th-28th September. It was hosted in partnership with the EDB and Investcorp, a leading provider of alternative investment products for high-net-worth private and institutional clients.

The aim of the forum was to foster a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship and technology adoption. As can be seen below, it covered a wide range of emerging technology trends, including cloud, autonomous driving, cybersecurity, AI and Blockchain.

More than 2,000 MENA influencers attended from disruptive start-ups, researchers, entrepreneurs and investors, to CEOs, CTOs and CIOs from world-leading tech companies. Policy-makers and the media were also there.

Business-friendly hub

Another trend on which the forum focused was FinTech. Bahrain is fast becoming a regional FinTech hub, with significant strengths in card and mobile payments, and with entrepreneurs eager to pursue opportunities from our business-friendly commercial environment.

So, why did MIT choose Bahrain as the natural venue for the Innovation Forum? The answer: our powerful digital economy. The Kingdom itself is ranked in leading surveys as one of the world’s freest economies, and this applies directly to digital.

Liberal and progressive

We offer the Middle East’s most liberal ICT infrastructure, with a progressive regulatory framework and policies, backed by a multi-award-winning regulator (as voted by CommsMEA). With a thirst for new technology and mobile and broadband penetration that outstrips the rest of the GCC, Bahrain is in the global top ten for network readiness, ICT use and development, as well as being first in MENA.

It is little wonder, then, that ICT entrepreneurs and start-ups increasingly love being here.

Speaking before the event, Hala Fadel, Chairperson of the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab stressed the importance of this forum, which will constitute a unique occurrence especially in terms of the discussed topics as well as the rich crowd of tech experts, innovators and entrepreneurs this event brings together from all over the world. She said: “The forum aspires to gather the brightest minds in the academic, corporates, and startup communities in an effort to glean insight into the innovations that shape the world economy, which are the product of both global and regional businesses.”

Speakers and scheduleThe forum heard from regional and international speakers on the latest technology and scientific research.


H.E. Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of the EDB
Hazem Ben-Gacem, Managing Director, Corporate Investments – Europe
Paul Papadimitriou, CEO, Founder, Intelligencr
Dr. Denis Batalov, Senior Solutions Architect, Amazon Web Services Artificial Intelligence
Niall Clauberg, Head of Financial Services Middle East, Salesforce
Mark Whelan, GCC Regional Territory Manager, Salesforce
Ghareeb Saad, Senior Security Researcher, Kaspersky
Dr. Georges Aoude, Co-Founder & CEO, Derq
Amira Rashad, Co-Founder & CEO, BulkWhiz
John Defterios, Emerging Markets Editor, CNN
Saqr Ereiqa, Senior Managing Consultant, IBM
Emad Kashgari, Western Region Manager, Badir Program for Incubators and Accelerators
Areije Alshakar, Vice President, Bahrain Development Bank
Hadya Fathalla, Executive Director, C5a/Executive Director, Peregrine Foundation
Yasin Aboudaoud, Chief Development Officer, Brinc
Julio Alejandro, Director, Jada Consulting


Day 1:

Keynote: AI & disruption

Talk: Cybersecurity. Beyond quantum: securing your systems for tomorrow

Panel: Cybersecurity. How to protect your brand, product and data online and offline

Panel: Autonomous driving. So close yet so far: when will machines finally take over our cars?

Day 2:

Keynote: How to keep AI from slipping beyond our control

Fireside chat: Artificial intelligence

Talk: Cloud computing

Fireside chat: cloud computing and data. The challenges with cloud data for medium sized companies

Panel: FinTech

Panel: Lessons learned from start-up accelerators. The challenges facing tech start-ups in the region

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