Day 2 of the ArabNet Digital Summit 2017 began with the launch of the second edition of The State of Digital Investments in MENA (2013-2016) report published in partnership with Dubai SME. “MENA witnessed a record year in technology startup funding in 2016,” said Omar Christidis, ArabNet Founder and CEO. “More than 30 new investment institutions launched, and more than $900 million were invested in 2016 alone, more than the value of all investments between 2013-2015 combined.”
“The report shows that the UAE has led the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in attracting investments into digital entrepreneurship,” His Excellency Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME said while launching the report. “The report reflects the overall strategic focus of the UAE, particularly Dubai, on supporting innovation and investments in digital economy as well as in promoting the country as the preferred choice of Arab entrepreneurs and investors.”
Day 2 featured the Smart Economy Forum, a full track exploring smart cities, smart governments, the future of cars and transportation, and the digital enterprise; as well as the Innovation & Investment Forum which included a full ScaleUp track highlighting cross border growth, raising capital, acquisition, and building teams, while featuring over 100 investors from more than 20 countries. For the first time this year, the Summit featured the Finale of the ArabNet Startup Championship, powered by PepsiCo, highlighting 18 of MENA’s most promising startups, hand-picked through local pitching rounds across Riyadh, Dubai, Beirut, Kuwait, Cairo, and Casablanca. The Championship winner was Sihatech from Saudi Arabia, which presented a solution to enhance healthcare services, access, quality and price, and beneficial to patients, doctors, hospitals and insurances. Sihatech received $20,000 in cash, a scholarship to participate in the Blackbox.vc Connect Program in Silicon Valley, as well as services from a wide range of providers.
For the second consecutive year, the Summit also hosted the Smartpreneur Competition and awards ceremony, organized by Dubai Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Smart Dubai Office. The competition highlighted promising UAE startups that are aligned with Dubai’s mission and can assist the emirate into becoming the smartest, happiest city in the world. FriendyCar, a marketplace for borrowing and lending cars in the Middle East, won first place at the Smartpreneur competition, with 75,000 AED in cash.
Held in strategic partnership with the Smart Dubai Office and Publicis Media, the fifth edition of the ArabNet Digital Summit set new records, with over 1,600 attendees, 120 speakers, 60 exhibitors, as well as 100 international and regional investors from across the UAE, the region and the world.