The Most Experiential
Tech Festival in the Middle East

2019 Details Coming Soon

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OUR STORY

STEP started out as a series of workshops and small gatherings and over 6 years, has grown to become the largest tech experiential festival in the Middle East. With 4 conferences, more than 300 startups showcasing, and 7000+ attendees over two days, STEP 2019 will bring you the latest in tech and digital.

conferences

step start

STEP Start is the home-base for founders, startups, and entrepreneurs. STEP Start includes startup mentorship sessions, flagship pitch competition, and partner activations. learn more

step digital

STEP Digital focuses on the most forward thinking topics and global trends on digital, advertising, content, and technologies. learn more

step x

STEP X focuses on future technology including smart cities, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, cloud, IoT, and regulation. learn more

step money

Tackling the most relevant topics in financial technology including blockchain, cryptocurrency, and payments across roundtables, workshops, talks and panels. learn more

Past speakers

Mark D’Arcy

Facebook

Mark D’Arcy

Facebook

VP, Chief Creative Officer at Facebook where he leads the company’s creative efforts to make advertising across Facebook and Instagram more relevant for people and more valuable for businesses. Mark joined Facebook in 2011 and today his team, The Creative Shop, operates from more than 40 Facebook offices and last year alone helped produce several thousand projects across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Oculus for an extraordinarily diverse client base including 80% of the world’s top 100 advertisers. The Creative Shop does all this through close partnerships with all the major advertising groups and collaborations with independent creators, influencers, artists, production companies, media companies and technologists. The work these partnerships create is regularly recognized in the press for driving innovation and at leading award shows, including Cannes Lions, where Mark has served on the inaugural Innovation and 2016 Glass Lion juries. Mark helped establish the Facebook Awards to celebrate the best creative work on the platform and in 2012, he founded the Facebook Global Creative Council. Mark is proud to serve on the boards of AD and the IFP, Independent Filmmaker Project.

Colin Rhys

Hyperloop One

Colin Rhys

Hyperloop One

Colin Rhys’s desire to explore the human experience in relation to environment and creativity launched in 2004, with his role as owner/executive director of the RHYS art gallery. Simultaneously at RHYS’s founding, Colin began his education at Tufts University later earning degrees in Fine Arts and Entrepreneurial Leadership. Nine years, stunning international exhibitions in six different continents & over thirty-two countries later, RHYS was a globally-recognized brand. Ignited by his unequivocal success in fine arts, Colin was driven to the intersections of design and architecture in 2010. He began building and designing bespoke residences in the greater Los Angeles area for the Xanadu Group, with the purpose to enrich human experience in physical spaces. His Xanadu spaces were more than just homes, with work spanning commercial projects and high profile landscapes. Colin became a master craftsmen of entire environments, capable of creating aesthetic worlds for his clients that held not only innovation, but purpose.  Inspired to adventure not only in his design, Colin founded the Xanadu Explorers Society in 2012. Guided by the pursuit of knowledge and interpersonal connection through the outdoors, the Explorer’s Society knows no bounds. With expedition goals to see all natural seven wonders of the world in seven years — Paricutin volcano, the Aurora Borealis and the Grand Canyon already visited — the journey remains to unfold. By 2016, after recognized successes on multimillion dollar projects—several of which earned international acclaim, awards and critical acknowledgement, including multiple features on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing – Colin was ready for his next creative evolution. Hyperloop became that visionary opportunity where Colin’s passion of the experiential and his expertise in design intersects with a company whose mission will rewrite our ideas of transportation.

Sagar Sarbhai

Ripple

Sagar Sarbhai

Ripple

The head of regulatory relations for APAC and Middle East at Ripple, a payment technology company named one of the 50 Smartest Companies by MIT and the recipient of the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneer Award. Sagar manages Ripple’s relations with central banks and policy-makers across APAC and Middle East, focusing on payment innovation and virtual currency policy. Prior to Ripple, Sagar spent 9+ years in the banking industry across multiple functions including technology, strategy, risk and government affairs. Sagar holds an MBA from INSEAD Business School, where he founded and presided over the INSEAD Fintech Club. He was recognized as one of India's top young business leaders by The Economic Times, India's largest selling financial daily.

Georges Aoude

Derq

Georges Aoude

Derq

Dr. Georges Aoude is the CEO and co-founder of Derq, an MIT spin-off with a mission to eliminate road accidents for both conventional and autonomous vehicles using patented artificial intelligence and connected vehicle technology. Derq has been hailed in the media, including CNN, BBC, and TechCrunch as the leading advanced technology start-up in Dubai. In 2017, Derq was only Middle East start up to be selected to join the prestigious Techstars Mobility program in Detroit, and opened an office in Michigan to expand operations and business to the US market. See recent BBC (http://tiny.cc/DerqOnBBC) and CNN (http://tiny.cc/DerqOnCNN) coverage of Derq. Dr. Aoude holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from MIT, where he worked closely with NASA, US Navy, and Ford. Dr. Aoude is also an inventor and his patented work in connected and autonomous technologies has been featured in the press, including New York Times, Wired, and MIT News. His satellite research has also been tested and validated in the International Space Station in collaboration with NASA. Dr. Aoude has consulted governments and global companies in North America and the GCC for more than 10 years. His points of view are regularly published in key outlets including Harvard Business Review, Forbes and Brink. He is a board member of the Transportation Research Board and the MIT Arab Alumni Organization.

Christian Eid

Noon

Christian Eid

Noon

Chris is passionate about driving the Middle East to the forefront of innovation, creativity and progression. Chris has spent the last 10 years in startups. From social enterprises to building some of our favorite homegrown brands. Passionate about brand, and more importantly impact, Chris leads noon’s journey to becoming the strongest, most impactful and beloved brand of our region."

Asad Rehman

Unilever

Asad Rehman

Unilever

Manages Unilever’s media investments across the Middle East and North Africa region. He is also responsible for driving digital transformation for Unilever brands across the region. Asad has been in Dubai since August 2013, prior to which he managed Global Media for Unilever’s Foods and Personal Care businesses, based out of Unilever’s HQ in London. Prior to joining Unilever, Asad did various assignments for MindShare/Group M in various parts of the world. He managed local offices in Vietnam and Pakistan for them, did a global role at their HQ in London, and managed regional projects in AsiaPac and LATAM. Asad is also the founding Chair of The Marketing Society Middle East chapter. The Marketing Society focuses on inspiring bolder marketing leadership in the region. Asad also sits at the board of the IAA UAE office. A graduate of IBA in Karachi, Asad is a technology enthusiast and an internationalist at heart, and considers himself fortunate to be working in the Middle East. You can find him on most social media platforms as @asadchawla

Fadi Ghandour

Wamda Group

Fadi Ghandour

Wamda Group

The Executive Chairman of Wamda Group, a platform that invests, nurtures and builds entrepreneurship eco-systems across the Middle East and North Africa. Fadi is also the Co-Founder of Aramex, one of the leading global logistics companies. Fadi spent the first 30 years of his work life as CEO of Aramex, building the company, making it the leading emerging market logistics company, employing over 15,000 people working in over 250 offices in 90 countries. He took the company public twice, first on Nasdaq making it the first company from the Arab work to do so, then on Dubai Financial market. He continues to be active on the Aramex board. Fadi is a serial entrepreneur. In his career, he was involved with founding, investing and launching tens of companies and non-profits, from digital tech, hospitality, F&B, fitness & wellness to security. Passionate about impact and social entrepreneurship, Fadi founded and Chairs Ruwwad for Development, a private‐sector led community empowerment platform that helps marginalized communities across several countries in the MENA region, overcome marginalization through activism, civic engagement, education and financial inclusion. He has also co-founded and continues to support one of the leading not-for-profit sports clubs in Jordan. Fadi also served and continues to serve on several global and regional boards of companies, education institutions and non-profits.

Sara Grinstead

RAK Bank

Sara Grinstead

RAK Bank

The Chief Innovation Officer to lead the Bank’s approach to product and service design, ensuring that solutions are customer-centric and leveraging new business models and technologies. This includes developing new capabilities within RAKBANK, establishing partnerships with FinTechs, and working with the broader UAE eco-system to support the FinTech agenda in the region. Prior to joining RAKBANK, Sara spent three years developing challenger banks in the UK and Middle East, taking new banks from paper concept to operational businesses. Sara lead the development of banking operations and controls, delivered the underlying technology, developed regulatory license applications, and supported in fundraising and investor relations. Sara has over 15 years of retail banking experience both as a strategy consultant and operational leader. She has worked for large multi-national banks helping to solve some of their most complex challenges and deliver lasting transformation.

Bibop Gresta

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Inc.

Bibop Gresta

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Inc.

Expert in finance, transportation and media, Bibop G. Gresta has dedicated himself to improving the world. A world-renowned speaker, he has spoken about and discussed the future of transportation and human mobility at many high-level global meetings such as the World Economic Forum and the United Nations. He is a respected activist in Transhumanism and Ethical Entrepreneurship. He founded Bibop S.p.a, a digital content firm; he sold 40% to Telecom Italia for 11bn Italian Lira, creating one of the earliest successes of the Italian New Economy. In 2004, he co-founded the influential startup incubator Digital Magics SPA, responsible for more than 70 companies, and served as venture partner. He entered into the venture capital market in 2011 with two publically- traded companies in the United Kingdom and Germany. In 2014 Bibop partnered with HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn to become Chairman for Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Inc.

Manal Rostom

Mountaineer

Manal Rostom

Mountaineer

Egypt’s most prominent female mountaineer, a name given to her last 2017 by What Women Want Magazine, and surely a name she earned, is someone who has achieved many firsts for Arab and Egyptian women, from being the first Hijabi woman to be featured in an international Nike campaign, to being the first Egyptian woman to run the Great Wall Marathon. Year to date, Manal has reached 5 mountain tops, 2 of which are Kilimanjaro & Elbrus , considered as two of the 7 highest mountains on each continent, as well as run 8 full marathons around the world including NYC & China Wall Marathon.

Elias Bou Saab

American University in Dubai

Elias Bou Saab

American University in Dubai

The founder and Executive Vice President of the American University in Dubai, the first US accredited university in the Gulf. Through his role at the university and as Former Minister of Education and Higher Education in Lebanon, Elias Bou Saab has garnered vast experience in international higher education, working on diverse projects and collaborations such as establishing new institutions/programs and scholarships; negotiating and implementing educational collaborations with major universities in the US and Europe; and advising governments on higher education and other investment projects throughout the Arab world. As Minister of Education, Elias Bou Saab was in office at the peak of the Syrian Refugee crisis, calling on the international community to help resolve the humanitarian crisis in Lebanon. He proposed actions for a comprehensive education solution, using the current Lebanese educational infrastructure and school system to educate hundreds of thousands of refugee children. The solution was implemented with the support of the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown, UNICEF, UNCHR, the World Bank, DFID and USAID. An advocate for youth empowerment, Elias Bou Saab works on several regional and international initiatives to give a voice to youth and to engage them in higher education. During the span of his 20-year career, Elias Bou Saab has ventured in many entrepreneurial initiatives, founded reputable media outlets and organizations, along with keeping active memberships and participation in many associations & foundations around the world.

Fadi Yaish

B&W Report

Fadi Yaish

B&W Report

Described by Dubai’s Media Week as “The Dark Horse” in the region, Fadi made his agency and the region famous and took a place amongst the World’s Top 10 in Advertising today. He was the first creative director from his region to be ranked in The World’s Top 10, finding himself at #3 ECD Worldwide in 2015, #4 2016 and #2 2017. Fadi strayed to the world of Design, Digital and Advertising two decades ago working for small independent agencies to large leading networks. He joined Impact BBDO in late 2013. Under his creative direction and leadership, Impact BBDO Dubai delivered the most innovative crosschannels body of work that has been recognized nationally and globally. Within his first year, Fadi led his agency to be ranked #6 Worldwide and #1 Agency and Network in MENA for the first time ever. In 2016, Impact BBDO Dubai also won ‘Dubai Lynx Agency of the Year’ for the first time and again in 2017. The same year Impact BBDO Dubai got ranked #8 Worldwide. In 2017 Impact BBDO Dubai won ‘Agency and Network of the Year’ at Dubai Lynx, Cristal, Loeries, and MENA Digital. It also won ‘Most Awarded Agency in MENA’ in Cannes Lions, One Show, D&AD and LIA. Fadi is one of the world’s most awarded creative leaders in advertising. His work has been recognized with a plethora of industry honors at award shows such as D&AD, One Show, Cannes Lions, Clio, LIA, NYF, Dubai Lynx, Cristal and many others. He has Chaired D&AD, PIAF, Cresta, AdFest and judged other prestigious shows such as One Show, Cannes Lions, LIA, Clio, NYF, Spikes, Adfest and Loeries. With a career that has seen many firsts for his Clients and Agencies, he continues to adamantly raise the benchmark for innovation and creativity year after year.

past partners

Attending Companies

What goes on

5 stages of content covering fintech, future tech, digital media, and all things entrepreneurship.

Talks & Workshops

We’re bringing back our flagship startup showcase, pitch competition, and mentor’s corner.

Startup Activities

We’re curating focused networking opportunities and meet-ups across industries, job levels, and interests.

Meet-Ups & Networking

Connect with your next partner, client and learn about what’s new in the market.

Exhibition Areas

Engage with brands that are leading in the tech and digital space.

Brand Activations

Food trucks, performances, and pop-up vendors all across the event areas will keep you entertained and relaxed.

Entertainment

Dubai Internet City

We're bringing you the most experiential tech event at the heart of Dubai's innovation hub.