Saturday 23 February 2019

84 Arab teams qualify for MIT start-up contest

BEIRUT, Lebanon, January 23, 2018

A total of 84 teams from 14 Arab countries have qualified to the finals of 11th Edition of MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition, which will be held in Oman on April 19.

The MITEF Arab start-up competition is being held in partnership with Community Jameel, a social enterprise organization that operates a wide range of initiatives to promote a positive society and economic sustainability. Community Jameel has been a founding partner for 10 consecutive years.

Strategic partners this year include Riyada, the competition's governmental backbone, and Omantel, the key contributor and supporter. Regionally, partners also include Zain Group, the competition's digital partner.

This year's edition, that was open for applications between September 3 and December 5, 2017, witnessed an impressive participation, with more than 5,300 applications including Saudi Arabia, which runs a parallel competition. The submitted projects came from a variety of sectors, such as internet services, software, education, healthcare and creative industries.

The semi-finalists hailed from 14 Arab countries, as follows:  Lebanon (20), Egypt (14), the United Arab Emirates (10), Saudi Arabia (9), Jordan (7), Palestine (6), Morocco (4), Tunisia (6), Bahrain (2), Sudan (2), Kuwait (1), Qatar (1), Algeria (1) and Oman (1).

As in previous years, the competition includes three tracks - the Ideas track, the Startup track, and the Social Entrepreneurship track, with respectively 26, 34 and 24 semi-finalist projects in each one of them. Each project includes a team of at least three people bringing the number of Arab entrepreneurs coming to Oman in April to over 200.

All 84 teams will participate in pre-boot camps in February and March in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates. Nine winning teams from the MIT EF Saudi Competition will be announced in March, and will be part of the list of the Pan Arab semi-finalists.

This year's edition is yet another annual competition that celebrates Arab innovators, who see it as a platform to showcase, test and develop their creative ideas and skills. Cash prizes exceeding $160,000 will be distributed among the nine lucky winners, three per track. Beyond the cash prizes, all 84 semi-finalists will benefit from advanced training sessions, personal mentorship and guidance, as well as media visibility, and excellent networking opportunities.

Hala Fadel, chair of the board of MIT EF Pan Arab, said: "Every year, our confidence and belief in the importance of this competition grows in its role in supporting and nurturing the culture of entrepreneurship. Developing the ideas and projects of the Arab youth and empowering them to transform these pioneering ideas into success stories couldn't make us prouder."

Fady Jameel, president of Community Jameel International, said: "We are happy to give the opportunity for innovation and creativity across the Arab world. We see new promising business models each year, all coming from diverse backgrounds. This reinforces the fact that the Arab world is full of talent and creativity.

“Community Jameel has offered full support to this successful Arab event for 11 consecutive years now, and remains true to its commitment to see it through. As it has been the case in previous years, our strong belief in this competition continues, as we strive to encourage an environment where new ideas flourish and projects are implemented not only in the Arab region but internationally. The generation of young Arabs deserves our full support to realize their hopes and bring their aspirations to life."   

The MIT Arab Startup Competition will culminate in a two-day event on April 18 and 19 in Oman, with the announcement of this year's winners, set to take place during the final award ceremony. – TradeArabia News Service

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