STEP Conference 2017

Tech Digital Entertainment
April 5 & 6 | Dubai International Marine Club

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Our Story

Since the event started in 2013, STEP has grown from 300 to more than 4000 attendees in 2016 interacting, engaging and sharing experiences, while the conference has expanded from technology-centric to become the largest gathering for technology, digital and entertainment industries in the MENA region.

Watch Last Year’s Recap

Who Attends

Planetary Scientist

Charles Elachi

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).

Facebook

Sean Ryan

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.

Entrepreneur & Venture Investor

Christopher M. Schroeder

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.

Wamda Capital

Fadi Ghandour

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.

R/GA

Fura Johannesdottir

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.

BuzzFeed News

Sara Yasin

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.

AJ+

Dima Khatib

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.

Careem

Mudassir Sheikha

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.

BBC

Kim Ghattas

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.

Anghami

Eddy Maroun

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.

UAE’s Ambassador to Russia

Omar Ghobash

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.

Golden Gate Ventures

Michael Lints

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

HuffPost

Chaker Khazaal

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.

Barjeel Art Foundation

Sultan AlQassemi

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.

BECO Capital

Dany Farha

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.

Satirist

Karl Sharro

Karl Sharro is an architect, satirist and commentator on the Middle East. He is a Director at PLP Architecture in London and co-author of Manifesto: Towards a New Humanism in Architecture which was included in 100 Artists’ Manifestos: from the Futurists to the Stuckists, a survey of 100 influential art manifestos from the last 100 years.

Karl has practised architecture in London and Beirut, and taught for five years at the American University of Beirut. He wrote a chapter on Density vs Sprawl in the The Future of Community: Reports of a Death Greatly Exaggerated and a chapter entitled 'The Visionary City' in The Lure of the City: From Slums to Suburbs. He is also the author of Style: In defence of Islamic Architecture. He has been involved in the design of various buildings and master plans in the UK, Europe and the Middle East, as well as theoretical projects that look at how cities could look in the future.

Karl has written for a number of international publications and organisations, such as The Independent, The Sunday Times, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Open Democracy, The Globe and Mail, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Creative Time Reports, New Humanist, Vice, The National, Al-Akhbar English, Now, Jadaliyya, Syria Deeply, Daily News Egypt, World Architecture News, Index on Censorship, Die Presse, Springerin, The Architectural Review, Mark Magazine, Novo, Urban Design, Glass, Blueprint, An-nahar Cultural Supplement, and Culture Wars. He blogs at Karl reMarks, where his satirical writing is published.

He has spoken on a range of issues such as art, architecture, urbanism and politics, at MoMA, the Barbican, Internazionale Ferrara and many others. He appears regularly on the BBC and other media outlets. He presented his argument for open borders in a TedX talk in London in 2011 and an argument for removing planning constraints and allowing people to build whatever they want in BBC Radio 4 'Four Thought' broadcast. He has also taken part in BBC Radio 3 programmes reviewing the Islamic Art gallery at the Louvre Museumin Paris and The Shard in London. His idea for a ‘1000 Mile-City’ along the East Mediterranean coast was broadcast on the BBC’s This Week’s World as part of the ‘Think Again’ strand, exploring radical ideas for the future.

AJ+

Ahmed Shihab-Eldin

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.

Wamda Capital

Fares Ghandour

Fares Ghandour, Partner, Early-Stage Investment Principal- is currently focused on execut- ing the Fund’s seed stage strategy. He worked previously as Investment Manager at MVI and community manager at Wamda Platform. Fares has more than a dozen seed stage transactions executed including portfolio management and other operational support for key MVI companies. At the Wamda Platform, Fares ran their flagship event Mix ‘N Mentor in 13 cities where entrepreneurs were introduced strategic mentors. Fares also organized the first MIT Media Lab workshop in the Region at twofour54.

BBC

Lorna Blount

Lorna Blount is a world-renowned social media expert with more than a decade of experience in some of the world's most influential media organisations across the globe. Previously at Sky News and Asia, she currently works at BBC World News in London as a multi platform producer and journalist, focusing on using social media as a tool for both newsgathering and audience building. Passionate about technology, she covers social media trends and developments in the industry, in addition to overall social and mobile strategy for the channel.

Wamda Capital

Walid Faza

Walid Faza is a Partner at Wamda Capital, a $70m venture capital fund, investing in high growth and capital efficient technology business led by exceptional entrepreneurs. Previously, Walid has been the Investment Manager for both Mena Venture Investments (MVI) and Wamda Capital 1, which has collectively deployed close to $20m in over 80 seed stage companies spanning 12 countries. Responsible for screening, structuring, negotiating and executing investments as well as providing networking opportunities, strategic direction and ongoing management to the funds’ portfolio companies. Walid sits on the board of several regional companies, is an advisor to many startups and has extensive managerial, leadership and investment experience.

Fetchr

Idriss Al Rifai

Idriss Al Rifai is an entrepreneur passionate about disrupting the Middle East retail market with technologies and customer-centric services that enable the growth of e-commerce in the region. Idriss has developed and optimized a last mile delivery solution specifically for the e-commerce needs and requirements in the Middle East.

In 2012, Idriss founded Fetchr, formerly MENA360, which has evolved to become a full end-to-end logistic solution, backed by technology, for e-commerce companies, regional players, social media sellers as well as SMBs in the MENA region. Fetchr is also the first company in MENA to raise $11M in Series A funding, led by a top Silicon Valley VC, New Enterprise Associates.

Previously Idriss worked for MarkaVIP, a leading ecommerce player in the MENA region, where we headed the operations and built an in-house logistics department for the company to expedite deliveries. Prior to this he worked as a consultant at Boston Consulting Group.

Idriss holds degrees from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques of Paris (Sciences Po) and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He is also a Rath and Fulbright scholar and Endeavor entrepreneur.

MEVP

Walid Mansour

Walid has more than 15 years of experience in Venture Capital, strategy, corporate finance and engineering within the digital, telecom, software and new media industries. Prior to joining MEVP in 2010, Walid was a lead associate at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and before that he worked as a strategy manager at the UAE’s Prime Ministry Executive Office focusing on public policy initiatives. During his stay in Dubai, he worked on setting-up entrepreneurship related programs and developing incubation in the Arab World through several Dubai based initiatives such as the Mohammed Bin Rashid Foundation.

Prior to that, Walid worked at Booz & Company as a consultant covering telecom & media. Prior to Booz & Company, Walid worked as an industrial engineer in France. In 2009, he completed Morgan Stanley’s summer associate program within their investment banking M&A division in London. Walid holds an industrial and urban planning engineering degree from Institut National des Science Appliquées de Lyon (INSA de Lyon) and an MBA in finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Gulf Capital

Karim El Solh

Dr. Karim El Solh is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gulf Capital, one of the largest and most active alternative asset management firms in the Middle East. Under his leadership, Gulf Capital has been associated with some of the region’s most prominent private equity transactions and has won numerous awards including ‘Best Private Equity Firm in the Middle East’ for five years in a row (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015) 2015 and the “Best Private Equity Firm” in the Middle East and North Africa by Private Equity International, as well as “Best SMEs Credit Fund in the Middle East’ in 2015. Gulf Capital currently manages over AED 12.4 billion (US$4 billion) of assets across 10 funds and investment vehicles: private equity, credit and mezzanine and real estate.

Prior to founding Gulf Capital, Dr El Solh was the CEO of the Abu Dhabi investment bank, The National Investor. Under his leadership, the Firm was involved in a number of groundbreaking private equity transactions and was ranked the number one IPO underwriter in the Gulf.

Dr. El Solh holds a B.S. degree in civil engineering from Cornell University, an MBA from Georgetown University and a Doctorate in Economics from the Institute D’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Science Po).

Criteo

Farshad Dabeshkhoy

Farshad Dabeshkhoy is the Commercial Director for the Middle East at Criteo, overseeing all of the client side activities across the region. Prior to this he was based in London and Dubai, working closely with the publishers for Criteo, heading the Business Development team, across the Middle East, Turkey and Africa. Prior to joining Criteo, Farshad worked with the same regions, at AppNexus located in London as a client advisor to both buyers and sellers.

Valora Digital

Borja Burguillos

Founder & Chairman of Valora Digital, a global sport tech startup. Valora Digital develops Valorafutbol, a platform that helps the football & sports ecosystem to leverage their fan engagement in the new sports age. Valorafutbol is a reference site for user-generated football performance rankings globally, allowing everyone to rate players, play with friends, share and browse related content.

Valora Digital has a presence around the world, with multiple alliances and strategic partnerships with global media and digital players. Valora Digital’s partners are distributed across Europe, America, Middle East & North of Africa and India.

Borja possesses 10+ years of combined experience in Management Consulting and Corporate Strategy.

Payfort

Omar Soudodi

Omar is the Managing Director of PayFort one the leading online payment service providers in the Arab World. Prior to PayFort Omar successfully launched Souq.com in Egypt to become one of top 30 most visited sites and number one e-commerce site in Egypt.

Prior to Souq.com Omar co-founded Accelarabia.com the first online loan origination website in the Middle East in late 2005 and sold majority of company to ORASCOM Development in 2006. Omar started his career in the US in various capacities in Banks to include consumer banking, business banking, International banking and commercial banking for Bank of America, California Bank and Trust and Sunwest Bank after studying Financial Management at California State Fullerton and obtaining a Financial Advisor Certification from the NASD.

Omar is actively involved the Arab World business community serving as an advisory board member for American University in Cairo as well as a mentor at FlatSixlabs and Injaz Middle East.

Zomato

Rohin Thampi

Rohin Thampi is the Regional Director for Zomato in the Middle East. Having graduated with a B.Tech Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2007, he went on to pursue a PGDM from IIM Ahmedabad in 2009. Prior to joining Zomato, Rohin has worked in multiple sectors such as FMCG and Real Estate. He has successfully handled and grown the business for Zomato in Bangalore, India and in his current role he oversees all operations for Zomato at a regional level, across the Middle East & South Africa.

Carat

Ramzi Haddad

Ramzi Haddad, Managing Director – Emerging Markets at Dentsu Aegis Network MENA, has over 14 years of solid experience in client servicing and business development assignments whilst working with renowned agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi, BBDO and McCann Erickson networks in Beirut, Milan and Dubai. Ramzi Haddad joined the network as General Manager of Carat in the UAE and Lower Gulf in September 2013 and lead the move to a cluster structure for client servicing teams that broke up silos between digital and traditional media and set the agency on a mission to become fully hybrid by 2017. He also lead on developing of local business in the UAE and with network partners which has seen Carat win the World Future Energy Summit of Abu Dhabi and Ajman Bank among others. He is now responsible for local and regional business for UAE, Lower Gulf, Pakistan and Iran and will be charged with growing the network of partners in terms of scale and capability.

propertyfinder

Michael Lahyani

In 2005, Michael recognised a gap in the real estate advertising space in the Middle East. He moved to Dubai to launch propertyfinder.ae, soon becoming the most popular property portal in the region.

Today, the company operates across seven markets and employs over 200 people, attracting high-profile local and international investors. In 2013, the company won the SMEinfo “Online Business of the Year" Award and the "Dubai SME 100", an index of the Dubai Economic Department, twice in a row.

Arabian Business Start up CEO of the Year in 2016 and the first Endeavor Entrepreneur of the UAE Chapter, Michael has become a regular speaker at the Harvard Business Conferences on Entrepreneurship. Michael is also a founding partner at Merro, a vehicle that invests in online marketplaces across the globe.

Prior to founding propertyfinder Group, Michael began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in his hometown of Geneva. He holds a Master in Economics and Finance from HEC Lausanne.

BECO Capital

Amir Farha

Amir is an entrepreneur, angel investor, startup advisor and mentor. He has invested in and co-founded a number of local businesses, including Toolman, a property maintenance business; Purple PR, a boutique PR company of which he successfully exited in 2012; and Tandem Partners, a startup and small business advisory firm in which he helped over 100 companies plan and grow their businesses. He has looked at early stage businesses from every angle, starting with a Swedish VC firm based in London, followed by a stint at what was the first seed capital fund in the MENA region, the Arab Business Angel Network (part of Dubai International Capital), before becoming an entrepreneur himself.

Conference

What Goes On?

The crowd tunes in to big-name speakers and influencers as they engage in talks and discussions on our tech, digital and entertainment stages.

Talks & Panels

STEP attendees get access to numerous workshops about industry trends and best practices held by regional and international experts from the tech, digital and entertainment industries.

Workshops & Activities

400 startups will be showcasing their products & services in STEP2017 to a room filled with investors, industry experts, and fellow entrepreneurs.

Startup Basecamp

Startups pitch to an audience of fellow entrepreneurs, VCs, investors, and other professionals with prizes presented by our partners.

Pitch Competition

Startups and attendees get their very own 1-on-1 sessions with influential mentors.

Mentor’s Corner

Meet the hottest companies from tech, digital and entertainment industries, watch their latest innovations in display and find out about what they're up to next at STEP Exhibition Square.

Exhibition Square

2017 Partners to be Announced Soon

Partners

STEP

Startup Basecamp

STEP2017 Startup Basecamp will feature 400 startups from all around the world exhibiting their products & Services in the largest startup showcase in MENA.

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