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Communicate Levant | Advertising, marketing, public relations and media in the Arab world and beyond

A Friday night at SmartEx


A Friday night at SmartEx

This is not your usual Friday night, but it’s still a party as much as an exhibition could be. You have probably read about the SmartEx exhibition in one of our previous articles. If not, we have you covered.

This year, SmartEx, an annual all-tech exhibition prepared by conference and exhibition organizer M.I.C.E Lebanon, celebrated its third four-day fair.

Communicate Levant attended the third day (Friday, April 12), that kicked off with a tech-talk featuring music-tech startup Band Industries’ CEO and co-founder Hassane Slaibi. Slaibi gave future entrepreneurs a couple of advice based on his own experience. “Find a good co-founder,” he said, adding: “It’s easy to quit if you’re on your own, but if you have a good co-founder, you will always have a shoulder to cry on.” His second nugget of wisdom was: “Go global”. According to Slaibi, one should think big and go for international standards from the get go, rather than start small and hope to grow internationally or wait for an exit.

The second topic was “Reforming the public sector in Lebanon: lessons learned and future plans”, tackled by the Office of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform’s (OMSAR) COO Joe Hage. The main highlight of this talk was the importance of big data being open and accessible for all the community. Hage argued that to maintain order, not only should Lebanon go digital, but also have accurate open data. When data is open for everyone, bribery, data theft and data selling will cease to exist. It’ll also facilitate data-collection for startups and provide transparency for the community; with it follows trust in the government. On another note, Hage revealed OMSAR’s agenda on biometric passports, wherein one could renew their passports from home and receive them the second day – a change that will be taking place a few months from now.

Hage was not the only one to discuss Lebanon’s digital transformation; Nadim Gemayel, member of the Lebanese Parliament and head of the IT committee, also focused on the importance of Lebanon going digital. Countries all around the world are becoming, if not already, digitized. In support to this notion, Gemayel highlighted his proposal of introducing a new type of companies called “SAL-T” for technological firms. The draft law aims to facilitate the legal environments for startups, allowing entrepreneurs to focus on innovation without wasting time on legal procedures.

The topic of digital transformation was then narrowed down to cloud migration (where all data would be stored on cloud) by Amazon Web Services’ architect and cloud computing company Zero & One’s CEO Ali El Moussaoui. Cloud transformation, according to Moussaoui, is a more secure and efficient way of storing data. For example, picture this: you store your data on a server and then an electrical current damages the server. What happens? All your data is gone. Software company ZOHO’s business development director Ali Shabdar presented similar arguments for cloud migration. However, Shabdar dove more specifically on how to successfully transfer to cloud (which he has written a full book about, Mastering ZOHO Creator, Build Cloud-Based Business Applications from the Ground Up). In the end, it all comes down to one fundamental: put security and reliability first.

The talks were, to put it this way, techtastic (a tech form of fantastic). Lebanon is going digital. We have heard several talks on the importance of change and several how-tos. Now, with the implementation of new laws and decrees, a digital Lebanon is materializing.

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