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6th MIT Enterprise Forum Arab startup contest announces winners
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 29 - 04 - 2013

DOHA — Results of the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition, which was organized for the sixth year in a row in partnership with ALJ Community Initiatives, were announced recently. Prizes were distributed to the five winners who were chosen from 50 teams, including 150 semi-finalist entrepreneurs participating for three days in activities and entrepreneurship workshop in Doha, co-sponsored by Enterprise Qatar and Silatech.
Instabug team (Egypt) won the first prize. Instabug is a mobile phone application that helps developers test their software by providing a platform for comments. The second prize was won by Darebni TV (Jordan), which is the first online training website specialized in graphic design in Arabic in the Middle East. The third prize was jointly won by Gallery AlShark (Jordan), a website that offers thousands of rare Middle East digital photographs, and Home Page (Egypt), a website that helps clients decorate their homes.
Diana Al Dijjani won the best Female Entrepreneur award for the website EduTechnoz, which is specialized in teaching Arabic for children in an entertaining way.
Hala Fadel, Chair of the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab began the prize distribution ceremony by commending the teams from 12 participating countries, which included Algeria, Egypt, Jordan Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates, and thanked Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives for its continuous support to the competition.
Fady Jameel, President of Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives International said, “The competition is progressing year after year, and the number of entrepreneurs is increasing. In Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives, our efforts will not end by the announcement of winners, but we will continue supporting them by identifying the best ways to leverage their project and to create job opportunities from their projects.”
Noura Al-Mannai, CEO, Enterprise Qatar said, “This competition was a life-time opportunity for participants, who were lucky to find a chance to develop themselves in the final stage. This year's event has come to an end, but we will remain prepared to maintain this driving force to create a local environment that helps establishments and companies to succeed.”
Dr. Tariq Yousuf, CEO, Silatech, remarked that entrepreneurs in the region are inclined to high technology. “This is an important experience that will drive social change in the Arab World. If young people believe in their abilities and continue the hard work, this kind of competitions will be part of the Arab rebirth after 50 years.”
Alex Slon, a Silicon Valley-based investor who manages an investment portfolio in “School” Charity Association, invited entrepreneurs to have a social impact for their organizations from day one. He said, “ambitious young people can have a positive impact on their communities. The legacy they will make depends upon how they will benefit from this opportunity. I saw that participants are introducing products and projects that respond to the needs of their societies; in health, environment, education or finance sectors.”
Ann Habibco, founder of “All the World Network” managed a session on digital content, in which a number of successful entrepreneurs in Arabic digital content participated, including Ihsan Jawad, founder of Zaway, Qaswara Al Khatib, chairman of U-Turn, Amjad Abbas, Digital Media director al Al Jazeera, Faris Aqad, E-Media Development Director at MBC and Brihan Abu Zain, founding partner of Qabila. The session discussed the importance of improving quality of the digital content in Arabic language. Jawad said, “We have a lot of content, but what differentiates between companies is the quality of the content they offer.”
Sonny Fou, founding president of Misfit Wearables, a company specialized in developing smart wearable devices, introduced tips on how to “create a company with vivid culture and easy-to-use product.”
Dugan Sherwood, president of Cambridge Creativity Center in Massachusetts, US, conducted a session on success stories in the Arab region, followed by a session on Qatar Vision for enabling entrepreneurs, with participation by a representative of Al Jazeera, the channel that positioned Qatar in the heart of global media, and representatives of Google, the search engine. Wael Al Fakhrani, Regional Director of Google in Egypt and North Africa said, “The playground is open for those who are interested. All what you need is to find a mentor in your field and to schedule an appointment for a meeting.” —SG

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