Tech festival STEP is back for its sixth year in a new location and with a new format. Previously held at the Dubai Marine International Club, this year the venue has changed to Dubai Internet City. It will be held over two days – 28 and 29 March – and will feature five content stages, four industry-focused conferences and more than 200 speakers. The talks will span across the sectors of entrepreneurship, digital, fintech, the future of transport and smart cities.
“We are living in exciting times where new technology is completely redefining how we live, work and play. The rate of disruption is accelerating thanks to a thriving startup scene here in the MENA region. It’s important that STEP continues to inspire and support innovation amongst this community with a platform that really caters to their needs. Our new home in Dubai Internet City allows us to evolve the STEP format to deliver even more great content and facilitate stronger connections within the region’s leading technology hub,” explains Ray Dargham, CEO, STEP Group, in a statement.
The four new industry-focused stages are STEP Start, STEP X, STEP Money and STEP Digital.
The STEP Start stage will bring together top entrepreneurs and aspiring startup owners to talk about setting up, ownership, the legalities of launching a tech startup in the region and what stakeholders are currently doing to develop the startup ecosystem. Investment topics to be covered include how family offices are investing in tech startups, the industries that appeal most to investors today and the etiquette of effective fundraising.
Speakers from across the digital sector will be at the STEP Digital stage to discuss topics including “Arab Brands and Advertising” and “Publishers, Platforms & Agencies in the 21st Century”. Panelists will discuss and debate topics like AI and its impact on content creation, digital marketing and customer service as well the state of content creation in the 21st century.
The Step X stage will focus on future technology such as autonomous vehicles, AI and machine learning, and smart cities. The abstract concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) will also be examined from a business and personal perspective and whether there are any compromises in privacy.
With Fintech in the Middle East expected to emerge as one of the strongest sectors of the economy in the coming years, STEP Money takes a closer look at how blockchain, cryptocurrency and other digital payment methods are transforming industries, across a series of roundtables, workshops, and panels. Heralded as the region’s “new oil”, this program will also explore how institutions and regulators are working with stakeholders to enhance governance standards to support the rapid pace of development within the fintech sector.
Speakers already confirmed for STEP2018 include Facebook’s vice-president and chief creative officer, Mark D’arcy; TechCrunch Founder Michael Arrington; Guggenheim partners, Matt Spence; Noah Raford from Dubai Future Foundation; Noelle Acheson from CoinDesk; CEO of Gizmodo Media Group, Raju Narisetti.
The STEP Conference program concludes on both days with a diverse lineup of musical performances from some of the region’s best talent in hip-hop, pop, and alternative music. The two-day festival will also bring together food trucks, market vendors, street artists, gamers and skaters.