ArabNet Founder Omar Christidis explains, “ArabNet Riyadh is dedicated to exploring opportunities and challenges that are specific to this burgeoning digital market and the accompanying entrepreneurial initiatives taking place which are growing at an unprecedented rate.” ArabNet Riyadh will take place at the Four Seasons Hotel on November 20-21. The event will bring together more than 45 thought leaders in cutting-edge discussions on web and mobile business in the KSA and GCC and is expected to draw over 600 attendees.
With such a young and well connected population, it’s no wonder that, like ArabNet, governmental agencies and universities are placing their bets on digital entrepreneurship and what it can do for the country in terms of creating tens of thousands of jobs, and building a sustainable knowledge-based economy. Badir Technology Incubation Program is working to incubate the country’s top startups, and a proliferation of entrepreneurship centers are opening their doors at universities across Saudi Arabia, including KAUST in Jeddah, and King Saud and Princess Noura Universities in Riyadh. ArabNet is working closely with Badir and these centers to foster Saudi Arabia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem through its conference.
ArabNet Riyadh will offer the most promising GCC entrepreneurs the unique opportunity to showcase their innovative ideas and promising young companies on stage in its well-known competitions, the Ideathon and Startup Demo. The Ideathon aims to promote innovation and entrepreneurship at its very earliest stages by turning bright ideas into functional products, while the Startup Demo looks to support early-stage startups and help them take their business to a new level. The Ideathon and Startup Demo competitions will connect participating entrepreneurs with invaluable sources of funding, mentorship, and exposure and will highlight the hottest emerging digital trends to gathered industry leaders.
At the same time, angel investors, VCs and international NGOs are showing increasing interest in the Saudi digital sector. STC launched a $50m venture capital fund last year, with which it aims to develop Saudi talent in IT and telecom. Similarly, Endeavor, a leading global organization that scouts out and fosters high-impact entrepreneurs, recently announced that it will be opening an office in Saudi Arabia.
The number of Saudi startups attracting the interest of investors and securing rounds of funding is on the rise as well. Oqal, an angel investor network founded in Riyadh, has invested in Twitmail.com, while National Net Ventures (N2V), the largest web / mobile holding company in Saudi Arabia, has made recent investments in GameTako.com and E-commerce SEA. Yet another success story comes from the social gaming world, where Kammelna.com, a popular Saudi online card game, was acquired by Peak Games, one of the largest and fastest growing social gaming companies in the world, based out of Turkey.
ArabNet Riyadh will bring together the stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the GCC to network, share their expertise, and develop their business. Christidis elaborates, “We’re excited about the potential of the Saudi digital market and look forward to gathering the key players and helping grow the web and mobile industry.”
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