Since the event started in 2013, STEP has grown to become the largest interactive gathering in the MENA region bringing together over 5,000 attendees to explore and experience the latest trends and future of technology, digital and entertainment industries.
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.
Fadi Ghandour is the Executive Chairman of Wamda Capital, a Venture Capital fund that invests in technology-enabled companies in the Arab World, and the Founder & Vice Chairman of Aramex, a global logistics and transportation company.
He is also a member of the Board of Abraaj Capital, the Board of Endeavor Global and the Board of Trustees at the American University of Beirut (AUB). Additionally, he serves on the Advisory Council of the MIT Media Lab.
Fadi is the Founder and Chairman of Ruwwad for Development, a private-sector led community empowerment initiative that helps disadvantaged communities across the region overcome marginalization through activism, civic engagement, education and financial inclusion.
Ronaldo Mouchawar holds a Master's degree in Digital Communications and a Bachelor degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Northeastern University in Boston, MA.
He has accumulative 15 years of experience in technology, and business management. He served as a technical and systems consultant with EDS in the US. In 2000, he spearheaded a consulting company that managed numerous, web and e-commerce projects in the Arab world. In 2005, he launched souq.com the first auction site for the Arab world.
Today Ronaldo is the co-founder and CEO of souq.com (www.souq.com) which has grown to be the largest online shopping mall in the Arab world.
Souq.com provides buyers and sellers with a convenient, competitive and safe shopping experience - with the widest selection of brands and products - anywhere in the region.
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.
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.
Ahmed Shihab-Eldin is an Emmy-nominated journalist working for AJ+ as a Senior Correspondent. In 2010, Ahmed created, produced and co-hosted Al Jazeera English’s “The Stream,” an award- winning interactive talk show nominated for an Emmy award for Most Innovative Program in 2012. That year, Ahmed helped launch the award-winning HuffPost Live for the Huffington post where he produced and hosted World Brief, a 30 minute interactive global news show, averaging one million views a day. Ahmed joined VICE in 2015 where he served as a correspondent/producer for eight pieces on their groundbreaking, award-winning documentary series VICE on HBO. In 2015 and 2016, he was featured on the Arabian Business power list of the planet’s 100 most influential young Arabs. In 2012 he was featured on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list of ‘young disruptors, innovators & media entrepreneurs impatient to change the world’.
Before joining Al Jazeera English in 2009, Ahmed helped launch the Doha Tribeca Film Festival in Qatar where he worked as a Correspondent and led the site's editorial content. Before Qatar, Ahmed worked in New York as a Digital Producer at PBS’s award-winning series Wide Angle, a videographer for FRONTLINE/World and for The New York Times foreign desk.
In 2009, Ahmed began teaching digital media courses as an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University's Graduate School Of Journalism, his alma mater, where he graduated with honors in 2007. In 2013, Ahmed published his first book, 'Demanding Dignity'
Ahmed has interviewed Presidents and A-list celebrities, but his passion is in giving voice to the voiceless and reporting under-covered global stories. Ahmed often appears as a commentator for CNN, NBC, BBC, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, Yahoo and other online platforms. He is often invited to speak at leading media, technology, and ideas conferences around the world, including the UN, World Economic Forum, SXSW, Aspen Ideas Festival and Google Zeitgeist. In 2013, the Network of Arab-American Professionals honored him with the 2013 Professional Excellence Award.
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.
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.
Bassem Youssef, dubbed the Jon Stewart of the Arab World, was the host of popular TV show AlBernameg – which was the first of its kind political satire show in the Middle East. Originally a 5-minute show on YouTube, AlBernameg became the first online to TV conversion in the Middle East and the most watched show across the region with 30 million viewers every week.
AlBernameg received wide acclaim around the world with coverage in some of the biggest media outlets, topping it off with Youssef’s appearance on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart twice in June 2012 and April 2013. In June 2013, Youssef hosted Jon Stewart on AlBernameg in Cairo marking the second season’s peak.
Throughout its three seasons AlBernameg remained controversial through its humorous yet bold criticism of the ruling powers, which led to tens of lawsuits being filed against the show and its host. Youssef was even issued an arrest warrant in March 2013 and turned himself in the next day where he was questioned for five hours and released on bail. In recognition of his success, Youssef was named among the Time Magazine most influential list for 2013 – under the “Pioneers” category, was awarded the International Press Freedom Award by the CPJ, and was chosen by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the global thinkers during the same year.
During its third season, the show achieved unprecedented weekly viewership ratings for 11 consecutive weeks. In June 2014, and after a six-week break, AlBernameg team held a press conference where Youssef announced the termination of the show due to overwhelming pressures on both the show and the airing channel.
In the spring of 2015 Youssef served as a resident fellow at the Institute of Politics at the John F Kennedy School of Government for one semester. During his stay in the US he appeared twice as a Senior Middle East Correspondent on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, commenting on the recent political situation in the region. He has recently hosted the International Emmy Awards gala of 2015, as well as the 49th Carthage Film Festival in Tunis. Youssef is also currently hosting a zasgital series titled “The Democracy Handbook” for Fusion Network, namely on its new digital platform F-Comedy. In March 2016, “Tickling Giants,” a documentary featuring Youssef’s story with AlBernameg, has been announced as one of the competing entries at the Tribeca Film Festival for 2016.
Youssef majored in cardiothoracic surgery, passed the United States Medical License Exam (USMLE) and is a member of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS).
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 (JPL), where he played the lead role in developing the field of space borne imaging radar, and Vice President of California Institute of Technology.
During the late 80's and 90's, as the Director of Space and Earth Science programs, Dr. Elachi was responsible for the 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, our Solar System, and Mars.
During his 16-year tenure as JPL Director; JPL launched 24 missions. He is a member of the United Arab Emirates Space Agency International Advisory Council, 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.
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.
Matteo is an entrepreneur and a technology practice executive at frog, a global design and strategy firm, covering Europe and the Middle East.
With more than 18 years of technology, software design and development experience, Matteo consults top-clients in executing and deploying their product vision across the globe.
In 2005 he founded the internationally successful “Frontiers Conference” event, which brings innovators in business and design together. Most recently, Matteo founded “Talent Garden Milano," the biggest co-working space in Italy, which provides talent, brilliant minds, and startups an environment to connect, grow and blossom.
And he is bald.
Tamara Pupic is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Middle East. She has been a long-time active reporter on the goings-on of MENA start-ups and SMEs, insisting that a good business story can always be written about new ventures, even those still at an idea stage. In addition, she has put the spotlight on the inside world of more established GCC-based businesses by analysing the business acumen and stamina of some the region’s most successful entrepreneurs.
Prior to starting her career in journalism in 2012, Tamara worked in the international trade policy development field, especially focusing on World Trade Organisation (WTO) law. She holds a master’s degree in international law and economics (MILE 8) from the World Trade Institute in Bern, Switzerland.
Virginia Salas Kastilio is the world’s #1 Female Snapchat Business Influencer (Inc. Mag) who is known for growing her biggest social following on Snapchat itself, which is something only a few people in the world so far have achieved. After 5 years of working in Corporate IT at Apple and Oracle, she has dedicated herself fully to being a Snapchat Strategist and Speaker. Virginia is currently launching the BBC's Snapchat channel in London. Her other clients include Nasdaq, Heroics and Soulpancake to name just a few. She’s uncannily good at chicken impressions and enjoys contemporary dancing.
Kei Shimada is a Japanese American entrepreneur from New York. After working for global companies big and small, he successfully established and ran Infinita, one of Japan’s first multinational mobile strategy firms.
Today Kei is Global Director of Innovation and Business Development of Dentsu Inc., Japan’s largest agency. He is responsible for leading a group wide innovation initiative while supporting the growth around 10 core areas of innovative technologies including artificial intelligence, biometrics, drones, fintech, IoT, locational big data, robots, space, VR/AR and wearables.
Kei also works with government ministries and municipal governments on crisis management infrastructures, going beyond the traditional advertising business to cultivate new and sustainable business opportunities. He leads a project team that created Japan's first smart device based evacuation management platform and evacuation shelter database and holds several related patents. The team is the only team in Japan that has won three government awards (each by a different ministry) in this category. He is also the Chief Lab Officer of dmLab, Dentsu’s media innovation lab in South East Asia.
Kei is one of the world’s most prominent speakers. He has delivered keynote presentations and moderated panels on future tech in more than 20 countries around the globe.