ArabNet Riyadh 2017 wrapped up its sixth edition on December 13. Held under the patronage of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), the conference gathered over 1,800 attendees and over 100 speakers.
With its four forums, Digital Transformation, Adtech, Innovation and Investment and Digital Commerce, the event highlighted the arising opportunities following the bold Vision 2030 plan and the fast-evolving digital economy in Saudi Arabia. During the inaugural ceremony, HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud stressed on the need for steering technology to help advance the Saudi entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The conference also discussed the best channels to build the next digital frontier in the Kingdom.
“The huge flow of information today is for the advantage of the economy and the attainment of Saudi Vision 2030,” said Abdulaziz Al-Noghaither, managing director of AACC Consulting and secretary general of Saudi Food Bank.
Fadi Ghandour, chairman and CEO of Wamda Capital said that accompanying the digital evolution should move from being a dream to a request and a must to each and every SME.
The conference shed the light on the importance of transforming the education system in the country as an introduction to boosting the ecosystem and initiate future growth.
Speaking about challenges, Omar Christidis, CEO of ArabNet said they “revolve around funding, as well as being able to find the skilled individuals.”
On its second day, the show witnessed the launch of ‘KSA Innovation Economy Report’, a publication that caters to stakeholders, investors, and entrepreneurs, willing to explore opportunities in the Saudi Arabian tech startup scene.
The day also featured the Digital Commerce Forum. The conference held eight panels and an exclusive interview with the CEO of Souq.com, Ronaldo Mouchawar. He said it is crucial for Souq to maintain its initial principles following the acquisition, and to make sure clients’ comfort always comes first. The highlights included an interview with Faraz Khalid, chief executive officer of Noon; chats with Walid Hanna, CEO of Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP); and keynotes by Critoe and Paytm.
Faraz Khalid, CEO of Noon, said that they consider Saudi Arabia is a primary market, thus they are very keen on the quality of the execution. “Soon, we will start focusing on marketing,” he said.
Walid Mansour, partner and chief investment officer at MEVP said that Saudi entrepreneurs do not lack cleverness, experiences, nor skills. They just need is courage and patience.
It also held the Creative Combat, taking place for the first time in Riyadh, where young marketeers showcased their digital marketing skills. The team of Koraspond, a digital marketing agency, won the combat.
At the closing ceremony, the three winners of the Startup Battle were announced. Under the sponsorship of 9/10ths, three finalists were chosen as the top startups. The first place was taken by Moustafa Osama Moussa from Sadeem, the world’s first multi-patented flood and traffic information system with active networks to save lives and money in real time. The second place was taken by Bassem al-Baladi from Labayh, a project that helps individuals suffering from family and psychology problems, whereas the third place was taken by Abdullah Bin Shamlan from Autotash, which organizes the spare parts industry in KSA,
The three winning startups will get the chance to participate in ArabNet Startup Championship that will be taking place in Dubai at the ArabNet Digital Summit 2018 (April 30 - May 1).
Additionally, and with the sponsorship of The National Commercial Bank, Banan Sulaiman Al Rahil’s Dolaby, an online shopping platform for new and pre-owned fashion items was announced as the Ideathon winner and received $5,000 as a seed grant to help them kick start their idea. In the second and third place came Noura Al Zahrani’s Ibrah and Ahmad Baismail’s Teller App.
ArabNet will be hosting its next events in Beirut on February 20-22, 2018 and in Dubai on April 30 - May 1, 2018.