The largest interactive gathering in MENA bringing thousands of entrepreneurs, investors and tech & media enthusiasts together with the best of technology, digital and entertainment industries in a 2-day event loaded with talks, exhibitions and signature happenings.
STEP Music in partnership with Anghami is bringing together music leaders, record labels, producers and artists together under one roof to explore the latest trends, challenges and the future of the regional music industry – all combined with live performances from some of the region’s top independent artists!
Dr. Charles Elachi is Professor (Emeritus) of Electrical Engineering and Planetary Science at the California Institute of Technology. From 2001 to 2016 he was the Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Vice President of California Institute of Technology.
He is the Chair of the St. Exupery Innovation Council in Toulouse France, Member of the United Arab Emirates Space Agency International Advisory Council, a member of the Commission on DOE National Laboratories, a member of the Visiting Committee for the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, the past chair and current member of the UCLA Sciences Board of Visitors, a past member of the Huntington Hospital Board of Trustees in Pasadena, the past chair and member of the Lebanese American University Board of Trustees New York and Beirut, a member of the International Advisory Board of King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in Saudi Arabia, a past member of the International Advisory Council of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia and a member of the International Advisory Board of the University Oman. He was a member of the University of Arizona Engineering School Advisory Committee and the Boston University Center of Remote Sensing Advisory Council.
He is a fellow of IEEE and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and a member of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).
During his 16-year tenure as JPL Director; JPL launched 24 mission.
In his 40 year career at JPL, Dr. Elachi played the lead role in developing the field of spaceborne imaging radar which led to Seasat, SIR-A, SIR-B, SIR-C, Magellan, SRTM and the Cassini Radar. He received numerous national and international awards for his leadership in this field.
During the late 80's and 90's as the Director of Space and Earth Science programs, Dr. Elachi was responsible for the definition and development of numerous JPL flight instruments and missions for Solar System Exploration, the Origins program, Earth Observation and Astrophysics.
In the mid to late 90’s, Dr. Elachi chaired a number of national and international committees which developed NASA roadmaps for the exploration of neighboring Solar Systems (1995), our Solar System (1997) and Mars (1998).
Dr. Elachi participated in a number of archeological expeditions in the Egyptian Desert, the Arabian Peninsula and the Western Chinese Desert in search of old trading routes and buried cities using satellite data, some of which were featured in National Geographic magazine.
He has lectured and given keynote speeches at numerous international conferences and universities inside and outside the U.S., including Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, Denmark, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, China, Japan, India, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Monaco, Morocco and Switzerland. He was also a speaker at the Caltech Alumni Day and the Watson Lectures.
Dr. Elachi has received numerous awards, including the most recent as the Aviation Week Lifetime Achievement Award (2016), 2016 RNASA National Space Trophy, 2016 IAF Allen D. Emil Memorial Award, American University of Beirut Honorary Doctorate (2013).
Sean Ryan, Vice President, Global Business Platform Partnerships, Facebook
Sean Ryan has been with Facebook since 2011 and currently leads the Global Business Platform Partnerships teams for Facebook. This includes the Workplace by Facebook enterprise collaboration offering, the Payments & Commerce team, and the Gaming team. He previously started the Audience Network publisher team and managed the Facebook developer relations teams.
Prior to FB, Ryan was EVP/GM, Games at News Corp and earlier worked as a consultant in digital goods and social media monetization, including serving as Global CEO of Live Journal, a top Russian social platform. He was previously the founder and CEO of Meez, a leading teenage-oriented, virtual world platform, as well as SingShot, an online karaoke service sold to Electronic Arts. Ryan earlier served as vice president of music services at RealNetworks, where he managed the music division after selling Listen.com/Rhapsody to Real in August 2003. Prior to that, he ran business development for online game company SegaSoft Networks, spent several years at the GAP helping launch the successful Old Navy clothing line, and worked at Chemical Bank.
Ryan holds an MBA from UCLA's Anderson Graduate School of Management and a BA from Columbia University.
Christopher M. Schroeder is an American entrepreneur, advisor and investor in interactive technologies and social communications.
He is author of the recent best seller, and first book on startups in the Arab World, Startup Rising -- The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East.
Schroeder was the CEO and Publisher of washingtonpost.newsweek interactive and co-founder of the Silicon Valley venture capital backed startupHealthCentral.com.
Schroeder serves on the board of advisers of the American University of Cairo School of Business, American University School of International Service, and the boards of directors of the American University of Beirut, The German Marshall Fund and the American Council on Germany.
He is on the Investment Committee of The Wamda Fund, one of the largest venture capital funds in the Middle East. He has co-led the Economic Recovery and Revitalization working group of the Atlantic Council's Middle East Strategy Task Force.
He was named one of LinkedIn's first 50 Influencers. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Business School.
Fadi Ghandour is Chairman and Managing Partner at Wamda Capital. Founder and Vice Chairman of Aramex, Fadi is also Co-Founder of Mena Venture Investments, the leading seed stage tech investment company, and is a founding investor in Maktoob.com, and sits on the Board of Trustees of the American University of Beirut, and the Advisory Council of the MIT Media Lab, and the Board of Abraaj Group. Fadi is passionate about social entrepreneurship where he founded and chairs, Ruwwad for Development, and entrepreneurs-led youth empowerment organization.
Fura joined R/GA 10 years ago after finishing her MFA degree from Parsons School of Design - Design & Technology. She was based in NYC her first 9 years with R/GA overseeing and managing creative for Nike and Samsung US Mobile. She started her career in Reykjavik, Iceland in 2000 as a digital producer and interaction designer, but moved quickly into a management role for the office.
Fura oversees and leads the creative within R/GA Stockholm. She sets the creative and strategic vision for the team and manages a team of experience designers, visual designers, art directors and copywriters.
She has worked on a variety of projects throughout her career, spanning everything from digital campaigns, to complicated web/mobile design, services, retail experiences and e-commerce. Her work has won a number of awards and recognition, placing her has one of the most lusted after creatives by rival agencies in 2012.
Sara Yasin is a Palestinian-American journalist raised on a steady diet of hummus and fried chicken. When she's not busy making bad jokes on Twitter, she works for BuzzFeed News, leading the News Curation team in New York. She has previously worked at GlobalPost and Mic. She enjoys obsessing how we consume news, and the impact of false stories that go viral about Muslims.
Dima joined Al Jazeera in 1997 as a broadcast journalist in Al Jazeera's Doha newsroom. She quickly became a news producer, known for managing the coverage of the channel during the Iraq War. She set up bureaus in China and Venezuela for the network and was the first female bureau chief of Al Jazeera's (in Latin America). In 19 years, Dima has reported from over thirty countries, interviewing presidents and people from all walks of life. In 2012 Dima was classified as the most connected woman on Twitter in the Middle East. Dima has also worked for WHO, Swiss Radio International, Radio Qatar (French), AFP and has lectured in journalism at the American University in Dubai. Of Palestinian and Syrian heritage, Dima studied English Literature at Damascus University, holds a Masters' Degree in Translation, Geneva University, Switzerland. She speaks eight languages and writes in four of them. Dima has one published poetry collection in Arabic: Love Refugee.
Mudassir looks after growth and expansion. He spent a geeky decade in Silicon Valley before becoming a management consultant in the region. He aspires to build the Middle East's first corporate institution that will improve people's lives and inspire others. When not traveling, he is hanging out with Captains and giving engineers feedback on user interface. He is an alum of McKinsey, Stanford and USC.
Kim Ghattas covers international affairs for the BBC from her base in Washington D.C. She also covered the 2016 American presidential campaign. She writes a regular column for Foreign Policy magazine. She was the BBC's State Department correspondent from 2008 until 2013, travelling around the world with three secretaries of state. She wrote a NYT best seller The Secretary- a Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power. Before moving to DC, she covered the Middle East for a decade, for the BBC and the Financial Times among others, from her base in Beirut, where she was born and raised. In 2006, she was part of an Emmy-Award-winning BBC team covering the Lebanon-Israel conflict. She has covered Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran extensively. Her work has also been published by the Daily Beast, TIME magazine, and the Washington Post. She appears regularly on NPR and American television shows to discuss foreign policy.
Eddy is the co-founder of Anghami – the leading music streaming service in the Middle East. In late 2012, seizing the opportunity of a lack of proper digital music service, Eddy and his partner Elie Habib launched Anghami (meaning My Tunes in Arabic). Since then, Anghami has reached over 33 million users, streams close to 20 million licensed Arabic & English tracks and is integrated with 20 mobile operators. Anghami successfully raised VC money from MEVP and recently from Samena Capital, it also has 2 telcos on board Mobily-KSA and du-UAE - it partnered with MBC the largest media group in the region.
Omar Saif Ghobash is the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the Russian Federation. He is also the author of the recently published book Letters to a Young Muslim, which is written as a series of personal letters to his older son and offers a bold and intimate exploration of what it means to be Muslim in the twenty-first century.
Ghobash began his career with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a diplomat at the UAE Mission to the United Nations. Prior to his appointment to Moscow in 2008, Ghobash founded the Third Line, Dubai’s first international contemporary art gallery showcasing artists from the Middle East. He is also a founding trustee of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, which runs with the support of the Booker Prize Foundation in London; sponsors the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation in memory of his father, Saif Ghobash, who was the UAE’s first minister of state for foreign affairs; and serves on the acquisition committee of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the advisory body of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London, and the board of trustees of the Emirates Diplomatic Academy in Abu Dhabi.
Ghobash was born in the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah in 1971 and is of Arab and Russian descent. He studied law at Balliol College, Oxford University, and mathematics at the University of London.
Michael studied Management and Control of information science in The Hague, The Netherlands. After his graduation, he worked briefly as a project manager at one of the largest insurance companies in the Netherlands, after which he started his own IT business. In 2007, he founded his own venture fund focused on Dutch SME’s before joining Golden Gate Ventures as a venture partner in 2013. Michael has had various positions on a societal and administrative level as a result of which he has been able to build an extensive international network. He is a former vice chairman of the Economic Development Board Rotterdam and a regular speaker at conferences.
In 2011 and 2014 he studied Financial Analysis for Business Valuation, and Private Equity and Venture Capital at Harvard Business School in Boston. He has various hobbies. Sports is one of his favourites. He was a member of the Dutch Karate Team for 3 years during his late teens and he loves to run and cycle.
Michael was recently selected to join 30 professionals in a leadership research by Quartz and Hennesey VSOP
Chaker Khazaal is a reporter, speaker, Huffington Post contributor, and author of the Confessions of a War Child trilogy.
Born in 1987 as a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon, Chaker grew up in Bourj El Barajneh camp in Beirut. At a young age, he participated in several local plays and starred in the Palestinian film Sugar of Jaffa. He later immigrated to Canada. Being one of four recipients of the Global Leader of Tomorrow Award, Chaker studied at York University in Toronto and graduated in 2009 with a B.A. in International Development Studies.
He then worked as a public speaker and web-shows host before publishing his first novel, Confessions of a War Child (Part One) in March 2013, later followed by part two (subtitled Lia) published in 2014 and part three (subtitled Sahara) released in 2015. He traveled to refugee camps and conflict zones conducting interviews to inspire the events of his three novels and articles.
Chaker is an advocate for refugees and aspiring young writers. A savvy communicator, he has spoken at a number of platforms including United Nations Headquarters (New York), HuffPost Live, Google (San Francisco), msnbc’s Road Map show, International Youth Conference (Bahrain), Thomson Reuters Foundation (London), and the launch of the 8th Arab Youth Survey (Dubai).
Chaker manages a for-profit program that offers refugees and migrants contractual remote employment in e-marketing, graphics, social media management and web development. Inc. (magazine) listed him 49th in their list of "50 Powerful Arab Businessmen You Should Know”. He has also cooperated with the Social Enterprise Project in Jordan to design the Chaker Scarf, embroidered by Palestinian refugees in Jordan. In addition, Chaker was the chairperson of the judging panel for the United Arab Emirate’s first Young Arab Awards held in Dubai.
In 2015, Esquire Middle East named him Man of the Year; and in 2016, Chaker was ranked first by Arabian Business Magazine in the 100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40. In the same year, he was presented with the Mentor Arabia Award by Queen Silvia of Sweden and Prince Turki Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. In December 2016, Chaker was awarded the Global Trailblazer together with Arianna Huffington by New York based NGO Bridges of Understanding.
He is currently writing his fourth book, Tale of Tala.
Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi is a United Arab Emirates-based columnist whose articles have appeared in The Financial Times, The Independent, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, The New York Times Room for Debate, Foreign Policy, Open Democracy, and The Globe and Mail, as well as other notable publications.
Al Qassemi is also a prominent commentator on Arab affairs on Twitter. Rising in prominence during the Arab Spring, his tweets became a major news source, rivalling the major news networks at the time, until TIME magazine listed him in the “140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011.”
Al Qassemi is an MIT Media Labs Director’s Fellow, and in 2014, Arabian Business placed Al Qassemi in its list of World’s 100 Most Powerful Arabs under the Thinkers category. He continues both to write and tweet about the Arab world both from his home in Sharjah, as well as while giving lectures internationally.
Al Qassemi is also the founder of the Barjeel Art Foundation, an independent initiative established to contribute to the intellectual development of the art scene in the Arab region by building a prominent and publicly accessible art collection in the United Arab Emirates. Barjeel Art Foundation currently has exhibitions at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, and the Whitechapel Gallery in London.
Dany is the Co-founder and CEO at BECO Capital, a Venture Capital firm that provides early stage growth capital and hands-on operational support for technology companies in the MENA region with a focus on the GCC.
BECO Capital has been associated with some of the most successful technology venture capital transactions in the region. The Firm is a hands-on partner that assists its portfolio companies through growth finance and operational support. Its team brings a rich and diverse experience in venture capital, technology, entrepreneurship and finance, triggering value creation across all the business and operational functions of portfolio companies. This includes helping them to expand to new markets across the GCC, acquire key talent, implement operational improvements, adopt corporate governance practices and raise further growth capital.
Leading these efforts is Dany Farha, with his 20 year track record in the region as a successful serial entrepreneur and investor, with many exits from ventures in a variety of industries. Dany co-founded and exited Bayt.com, the Middle East’s largest job site, Butlers, the UAE’s largest commercial laundry company and Intercat, one of the largest catering companies in the UAE. Prior to that, Dany worked at Lehman Brothers in London for 3 years after gaining a BSc from UCL (University College London) in Statistics, Operations Research and Economics.
He currently sits on the board of the PropertyFinder Group and several other portfolio companies.
Patrick Boulos is Universal Music's CEO for the Middle East and North Africa. In this capacity, he is in charge of the Group's strategy and growth in this region, which holds great promise for the development of cultural exchanges. He builds strategic partnerships and develops innovative services and tools to promote the diverse musical offering of Universal's labels. He also works to expand this catalogue by discovering local talent. Patrick’s connection with music started at a very early age; since his childhood he was surrounded by a strong musical influence and environment as his mother was a piano instructor, and he enrolled in music classes himself. A lot of his leisure time was spent listening to records, and reading about new musical trends and developments and the music makers on the scene. Attending live shows was always his passion, and his first was at the age of 11. His journey with Universal Music Group started in 2001 in Paris, France, after multiple years of advertising experience with multinational ad agencies. He moved to the Middle East in 2010 to establish the operation of the company in Dubai and to found Universal Music MENA to look after the multiple markets of this region.
Hamza Hawsawi, also known as Ayzee, is a prolific singer-songwriter hailing from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He is best known for winning The X Factor Arabia in 2015. Hamza’s work is inspired by R&B, soul and pop music. Hamza is currently working on his debut album – recorded and produced in London, Dubai and Los Angeles – and says he can't wait to share it all with his loving and supportive fans. Although he was signed to Sony Music after winning The X Factor Arabia, he is releasing his album independently. The first single from the album, “Love A Little”, was released in January.
DJ Outlaw (Mohammed Al Mohri) was born and raised in Bahrain, and is the founding member of Outlaw Productions creative studio. His DJ career started in 1997, but it was 2009 before he released his debut studio album History in the Making, featuring many local and international artists. It was the first Bahraini hip-hop album to be distributed in musical outlets across the country as well as being sold on digital distribution platforms including iTunes and Amazon. His annual mixtape series “The Middle East Invasion” (which is currently on volume six) presents Arab artitsts handpicked by Outlaw so that the world can experience what Arabian hip-hop has to offer. Most recently Outlaw joined Radio Bahrain 96.5FM in October of 2016 and is now hosting his own Hiphop/RnB drive time show every Friday.
Outlaw has been producing music since 2003. “Bahrain Unite” and 2011’s “Arab World Unite” were two of his biggest projects so far – the latter, featuring seven artists from around the Arab world, was released on Saudi hip-hop artist Qusai’s album, and both tracks garnered international media attention. In 2014, the hit single “Samboosa” – produced by Outlaw and performed by Kuwaiti Outlaw Productions artist, Daffy – quickly went viral, bagging 100,000 views on YouTube within a week of the video release. In July 2016, 9ARAT, a collaborative album between Outlaw Productions artists Flipperachi and Daffy produced by DJ Outlaw, was released, claiming the Number One spot on the iTunes MENA charts. The video for one of the album’s singles “EE LAA” was released in July 2016, and now has over 10 million YouTube views. The single also reached Number One on the iTunes MENA general and hip-hop charts.
Outlaw has also worked with artists including G-unit, DJ Lord Sear, MC Lyte, Jaz O, The Outlawz, TQ, Ace Hood, Freeway, Mad Skillz, Fatman Scoop and actor Orlando Jones. He has shared a stage with DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Tony Touch, Junior Jack, Yves Larock, Fatman Scoop, DJ KOOL, Shortie Blitz, Just Blaze, Tabu of the Black Eyed Peas, and most recently, DMC of RUN DMC.
Zahed Sultan is a multimedia artist, social entrepreneur, culture producer and filmmaker from Kuwait. He is the founder of El Boutique Creative Group (EBCG), a multi-disciplinary organization devoted to social impact and arts & culture. EBCG’s platforms serve to invigorate society with creative energy via conscious thought. His music has been licensed for television, film and music compilations. Zahed has been featured on renowned media platforms as an emerging artist and tours internationally with a live audio-visual experience.
Oliver (Olly) Wood is widely known as one half of the multi-award-winning electronic music duo Hollaphonic, the first ever dance music duo to be signed to a major label (Universal) in the Middle East. His vast experience in the music industry has seen him work on promoter, label and artist sides, starting his growth from a business perspective working for EMI Records UK on high-profile releases from such artists as Kylie Minogue, Coldplay, Paul McCartney and Robbie Williams. During that time, Wood revolutionized the way many labels engage within universities and venues on-ground through playbacks and club launch nights. Finally back in his preferred position as a recording artist alongside best friend Greg Stainer, Hollaphonic have gone from strength to strength since their 2013 inception with a Number One debut album, multiple Number One singles across more than eight countries, cross-platform brand partnerships with the likes of adidas, Red Bull, Rolls Royce, Neff, Toyota, Emirates Airlines and Jumeirah, airplay on international radio and a Number Three globally trending Shazam track – the highly successful “Dangerous”. Things are looking good for a band and brand that epitomize the exciting evolution of the regional music industry.
Rami H. Mustafa is best known as the guitarist of the hugely successful Dubai-based extreme metal band, Nervecell – the Middle East’s biggest-selling metal act, hailed as one of the “50 Heroes of the New Metal Revolution” by Metal Hammer magazine. He is also an entrepreneur: He’s the owner of Shredder’s Planet Musical Instruments and Studio, and managing partner of coffee franchise Icons Coffee Couture. Being a passionate, self-taught musician and an MBA graduate, Rami has used his talent and skills in both music and in business. Rami and Nervecell have toured around the world and shared the stage with Metallica, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Decapitated, Suffocation and many more. Rami is sponsored by Ibanez Guitars, ENGL Amplifiers, EMG Pickups, GHS Strings and others.
Hana Malhas is a Jordanian singer-songwriter, and the founder and host of BalaFeesh, a concert series that promotes independent artists in the Arab world. Over the past three years BalaFeesh has grown to represent an intimate listening experience, and a platform that supports several online and offline initiatives in the Arab indie music scene. Hana combines a unique blend of music and business perspectives, with experiences ranging from performance to songwriting and composition; and from artist management to financial consulting and strategy planning within the entrepreneurial environment of the online media and music industries. On stage, Hana is a storyteller with an expressive vocal delivery; her voice is at times haunting, and hard-hitting at others. She performs with her band The Overthinkers, engaging audiences with an indie folk-pop sound. Her 2012 EP release Hana Malhas & The Overthinkers features the song “How We Love”, which was nominated for the 12th annual Independent Music Awards in the Folk/Singer-songwriter Song Category. JO Magazine’s Nick Seeley described Hana as “a songstress with a 10,000-watt voice… it’s as if the music is taking over her body, channeling through her lungs in a sort of velvet explosion…she has an infectious smile, and a playful way of grooving onstage, performing with either piano or guitar.” This year, Hana is working on multiple music projects, including producing new initiatives under the BalaFeesh umbrella, as well as spending time in the studio for 2017 releases.
Hassane Dennaoui , a.k.a "Big Hass" is the host of Saudi’s first & only FM hip-hop radio show Laish Hip-Hop? and the founder of Re-Volt Blog which focuses on underground artists and Re-Volt Magazine which is a bi-monthly online magazine dedicated to hip-hop and Arab culture. He believes in music liberation and supporting local and regional artists. His passion is all about being true to hip-hop culture and its essence. In 2013, he founded "THE BEAT" – a series of events aimed at supporting local artists by having them perform live. Hass has interviewed the likes of LL Cool J, Russell Simmons, K'naan, DMC, Shadia Mansour, Lowkey, Dj Premier, Dj Kool Herc, Omar Offendum, The Narcicyst, Outlandish, el Seed and many other regional talents. Hass recently relocated from Jeddah to Dubai.
Afra started talking at eight months old, and, as her mother puts it, she was never quiet again. She has performed her spoken-word poetry (and slammed) on local and international stages. She was named Best Performer for 2015-16 by Abu Dhabi-based open-mic event Rooftop Rhythms and, most recently, became the first Emirati to ever perform at the legendary Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe in New York. In addition, Afra is the only Emirati to perform at the Bowery Poetry Club and win the PoetNY poetry slam at the same venue.
She enjoys giving back to the community through workshops and mentorships. She has been a featured performer/speaker at platforms like the Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, TedxAUS, NYUAD, Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival, and Sheraa Sharjah.
Afra holds a master’s degree in international relations and diplomacy (specializing in Middle Eastern politics, gender policies, and power dynamics) and is currently pursuing her PhD at UAE University. Performing takes centre stage in her life, though. Afra performs both serious and comedic pieces in a contemporary fusion of English and Arabic.
Music producer and songwriter Ayham Homsi (aka A Y) is renowned for using his ambition to push the indie music scene forward while discovering and developing upcoming talent from the region, such as 2016 X Factor winner Hamza Hausawi.Refusing to conform, Ayham has always been motivated to break away from the region's mould and industry standards. He has encouraged all artists he has worked with to express themselves honestly, regardless of society’s norms and language barriers. Following his beliefs, he founded The Harmony (HRMNY) along with his brother, Moh Flow. HRMNY is a creative collective whose aim is to push the quality of independent music in the region to an international level. He executively produced Moh Flow’s debut album This is Yo(u) which earned them features on iTunes Middle East and France, in addition to securing their first Soundcloud worldwide Top 10. He is currently working on fellow HRMNY artist Majeed’s new project that is slated for release early in 2017. Internationally, Ayham has been working closely with songwriters in the UK and USA to place music with reputable artists and his first major song with an international artist is also scheduled for a 2017 release.