Regional & International Industry Experts
Taking The Stage at STEP2017

More to be announced soon

2017 Speakers

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.

Touch Surgery

Jean Nehme

Dr Jean Nehme MBBS BSc MRCS MSc (Hons) is a co-founder and CEO of Touch Surgery. Jean co-founded Touch Surgery whilst training in Plastic Surgery in London, UK. Jean has an honours Masters degree in surgical technology from Imperial College London. Jean was recently named by Debretts as one of the most influential 500 people in the UK.

UM

Rasha Rteil

Rasha Rteil is labeled as an active speaker, outspoken web evangelist & a technology native, but what mostly echoes is a "Seasoned Technologist”. With a distinct mix of agency upbringings, she has 10 years of experience in brand building, digital integrated solutions mapping, and sagacity in media innovation. She’s esteemed for creating vibrant digital and immersive campaigns in the region.

Having one of the most enthusing positions as Head of Innovation, Rasha is now at UM MENA where she sets out to orchestrate innovative, integrated and digitally led solutions on international, regional and local clients. With her plug N’ play approach to technology, her drive is sparking memorable moments across all the UM MENA brands.

Due to her love for the Big Apple & for the cyberspace, Rasha was nurtured at VML New York- a WPP Digital Agency. She also made her way to leading Innovation at Mindshare MENA while heading the digital division at Mindshare Lebanon.

When she’s not a surreal tech & media zealot, she a 12 years baller, and a Sci-Fi junkie.

Future London Academy

Ekaterina Solomeina

Ekaterina Solomeina is a creative director, entrepreneur and TEDx speaker. She is a founder of Future London Academy and Design Director at Mind Gym.

For the past 14 years, Ekaterina has worked with top design and innovation companies around the world, including Mind Gym, LOWE, NB Studio, St. Lukes and Michael Wolff, helping grow brands, developing design teams and creating new products. Her client list includes Versace, Coca-Cola, IBM, Russian Standard, Sony, Microsoft, Samsung and Walmart.

Her passion for education has led her to start Future London Academy – introducing a completely different way to learn and improve in your field, offering a 1-week program for professionals which are taught directly by top companies in the industry, including Google, Facebook, Ustwo, Pentagram, Wolff Olins and BBC.

For the past 3 years, Ekaterina has been exploring the link between behavioural psychology and design, using the latest research in the field to understand how designers can create better user experiences.

Ekaterina is a regular speaker for creative organizations and educational institutions across the globe, including TEDx, Brunel University, Rambler&Co, Yandex, London School of Economics and others.

OpenMarket

Oisin Lunny

Oisin Lunny is part of the Market Development team at OpenMarket, providing mobile engagement solutions for global Fortune 2000 companies.

Oisin’s background of over 21 years in technology and media includes roles as UK Managing Director for the world’s largest social space for teens, and Global Product Manager for Media Services at Europe’s largest network operator.

Oisin speaks and moderates at conferences globally, maintaining a parallel profile as film composer, producer, and DJ. Oisin has spoken at over 130 conferences, contributes to The Guardian and Digital Doughnut, sits on advisory boards for SXSW and The Economist Big Think, and was named the #5 most engaged marketer in the UK by LinkedIn.

EyeEm

Ramzi Rizk

Ramzi Rizk is a Lebanese-born entrepreneur, and a founder and CTO of EyeEm; the Berlin-based photography community and marketplace. EyeEm's distinct blend of talented photographers sharing beautiful and authentic photos, and unique, deep learning powered photo classification, ranking and search technologies have made it one of the fastest growing photography platforms in the world. Before founding EyeEm, Ramzi spent years as a doctoral candidate researching privacy in Social Media, and as an engineering manager leading development teams focused on mobile and web. Ramzi is a passionate software architect, photographer and pianist. Together with his team at EyeEm, he organizes @PhotoHackDay, a global hackathon focusing on Photography. Ramzi loves product, scalable architecture, and the magical space where product, engineering and business meet.

Bookwitty

Nasri Atallah

Nasri Atallah is British-Lebanese author and media entrepreneur. He is Head of Media Partnerships at cultural discovery platform Bookwitty and works on the Creative Cluster & Artist-in-Residence programs at Keeward.

His writing on travel, multiculturalism, pop culture and the media industry has appeared in The Guardian, Brownbook and GQ, amongst other places. In 2011, Atallah published a collection of essays entitled Our Man in Beirut. He is currently working on his first novel, due to be released in 2017.

Atallah regularly comments on issues related to media, culture and the Middle East in places such as the BBC, Al Jazeera, The Washington Post & The New York Times.

Atallah holds a BA in Political Studies from the American University of Beirut and an MSc in International Politics of the Middle East from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

SnapChat

Virginia Salas Kastilio

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.

Proximie

Nadine Haram

Dr. Nadine H Haram is a Surgeon, Lecturer and Clinical Entrepreneur. She gained a BSc with distinction from University College London, receiving the Jack Drummond and Jackson Lewis prizes, for top marks in the Faculty and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and subsequently enrolled in the accelerated graduate entry program at Barts and the London, where she graduated in 2009, with distinction and earned the Harvey Minasian Prize for academic excellence. Since then she has been appointed as an NHS Clinical Entrepreneur, Council member of BAPRAS Innovation UK, a UCL Honorary Clinical Lecturer, SAC Plastic Surgery Simulation task force, President of BFIRST trainee members committee, and council member of the Royal Society of Medicine Plastic surgery section.

Nadine drew on her passion for innovation, education and global surgery and co-founded Proximie in 2014, an augmented reality platform that allows doctors to virtually transport themselves in to any operating room to guide, teach, train and support other surgeons and medical experts independent of any specific hardware.

When she isn’t working Nadine spends her time with her husband and 3 children in London.

Tamatem

Hussam Hammo

Hussam Hammo is a serial entrepreneur, CEO and founder of Tamatem Inc. the leading mobile games publisher in the MENA region. He founded the world's first Arabic social network in 2006 which was acquired by Maktoob.com which was later acquired by Yahoo. Hussam also co-founded a regional gaming studio called Wizards Productions in 2008 and in 2013 he founded Tamatem which is part of the 500Startups portfolio, Tamatem currently has an office in Amman, Jordan & Cairo, Egypt.

Comedian

Tima Shomali

Tima Shomali is an Arab Producer/ Writer and Comedy actress from Jordan, as well as the founder of Filmizion Productions. She stood out in Jordan’s comedy world through her boldness on screen and her ability to present societal issues in a new light. She was the first female comedian in Jordan to have her own YouTube show and has since created a large regional following and fanbase.

Tima has a BA in Business Administration and Finance and was granted an MFA scholarship from The Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts - where she majored in screenwriting and producing.

She went on to write with local comedy show “Bath Bayakha” – in which she also made her debut as the lead comedy actress. The show was broadcasted on YouTube, OSN TV Network and Ro’ya TV.

Finding a voice in comedy, she then created her own YouTube show, "FemaleShow" in 2012 through her company Filmizion Productions in partnership with Kharabeesh. FemaleShow was an instant regional success as it tackled the comedic nature of relationships with a focus on a couple’s dating journey into marriage and starting a family. It has released three seasons so far, which were shown on Ro’ya TV as well as its online YouTube channel.

FemaleShow is the most viewed show in Jordan and has been rated as one of the top five web series in The Arab World. The FemaleShow YouTube channel has received more than 50 million views to date.

Following the FemaleShow success, Tima did not limit herself to comedy, but branched out into drama as she produced the TV series "Zain," which was aired on MBC1, Abu Dhabi TV and MBC+. She also found a place in talk shows, both as one of the hosts of Emirates TV, "DardaChat" and worked behind the scenes as the supervising producer in the groundbreaking, Nida’a Show (an Arabic version of The Oprah Winfrey Show) - presented by Zainab Salbi alongside The Oprah Winfrey Show producers - Katy Davis and Lisa Morin.

Tima was nominated for "Best Jordanian Actress" in Tyche awards in 2012 based on the audience’s voting. In 2015, Tima was invited as a Key Speaker by Tina Brown at the annual “Women in the world” Summit (hosted by Tina Brown) in New York. In both 2015 and 2016, Tima was named one of the most influential young Arabs in the world by Arabian Business Magazine.

Deliveroo

Anis Harb

Anis is Deliveroo's General Manager in the G.C.C. He is focused on scaling Deliveroo's presence in the region.

Anis has spent 5+ years in B2C technology businesses, most recently as a Category Manager at Amazon UK. Prior to this, he was an Investment Banker at J.P. Morgan New York.

Anis earned a B.A. in Economics from Northwestern University, and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania.

BitOasis

Ola Doudin

Ola is cofounder & CEO of BitOasis. Based in Dubai with an outlook towards emerging markets, BitOasis is a fintech startup building the infrastructure for new digital payment products using blockchain technology. Ola previously worked as an Associate in IT Advisory for financial institutions at Ernst & Young London. Moving back to the Middle East, she was involved in various entrepreneurship initiatives supporting and mentoring tech startups and social entrepreneurs.

Talabat

Dikdyuti Sen

Dikdyuti (DK) Sen, is the Chief Marketing Officer for Delivery Hero's business in the MENA region. The business operates 6 brands in 8 countries, with Talabat as the flagship brand. Prior to Delivery Hero, DK has a decade of experience with Google and Groupon in India and Asia-Pacific, in areas of General Management, Integrated Marketing Strategy, Online Advertising, Social Media, SEO, Web Analytics, Web Technologies, Business Intelligence, and Training. He has a M.Sc in Electronics.

YouTuber & Comedian

Ibrahim Saleh

Comedian, actor, and TV presenter. Ibrahim hosts The Broadcast Show on YouTube.

He is an influencer on social networks and an activist on YouTube and in his stand-up comedy routines. He’s also a humanitarian.

Brand Strategist

Phil Pallen

Phil Pallen builds brands for TV personalities, experts and businesses. You've seen his clients making deals on Shark Tank, advising country leaders, winning a Nobel Peace Prize, and changing lives with an incredible business idea. Based in LA, Phil is often featured by media outlets like Entertainment Tonight Arabic, Access Hollywood, and The Daily Mail, and speaks at conferences around the globe.

Telfaz11

Fahad Albutairi

Fahad Albutairi is the first Saudi stand-up comedian to appear on stage professionally, he is also an actor, a creative producer and a writer. Fahad is a co-founder of Telfaz11, a leading Saudi online entertainment network, and the first entertainment network in the Middle East to receive three Gold Play Button awards from YouTube.

Since his debut in the Middle East on October 2, 2008, he has shared stage with the likes of Gabriel Iglesias, Sebastian Maniscalco, Bobby Lee, Dean Edwards and Eddie Griffin. In March 2013, both The Washington Post and The National named Fahad Albutairi the "Seinfeld of Saudi Arabia.” On January 15, 2016, Fahad Albutairi performed at the Hollywood Laugh Factory with Maz Jobrani, Tony Rock, Steve Hofstetter and many others.

Stand Up Comedian

Yaser Bakr

Yaser Bakr was born in Vienna, Austria, on August 27, 1978. Raised and lived most of his Life in Jeddah, Then went to the eastern provincYe to get his Collage Degree in Electrical engineering from KFUPM. Yaser worked in various Multinational companies in Saudi reaching the position of VP of BD and marketing. During which Yaser became a media figure in 2003 when he launched his Blog (Yaserbakr.com) and then a SM influencer & YouTube comedian/presenter in 2008.

Yaser then became a stand-up comedian preforming all over Saudi. and in 2012, he created AlComedy Club (formally known as jeddah Comedy Club).Which is Saudi's first comedy club. and ever since then he has been performing and managing AlComedy Club. in addition to appearing on various shows on traditional and digital media.

Barajoun Entertainment

Ayman Jamal

Ayman Jamal is well known as the Founder and Producer of Barajoun Entertainment, a leading animation and visual effects studio in the MENA region, based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He holds an MBA in Marketing with more than 18 years of extensive experience in Creative Communications, Marketing, Banking, and Production.

Ayman is a prolific entrepreneur who has established eight companies in the past 14 years and one of his companies (Visualizit) won the 1st Position in “The 100 Fastest-Growing Companies” in Saudi Arabia by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority back in 2011.

His passion for storytelling and expertise in developing Media Content, Branded Entertainment, Animation and Documentaries inspired him to produce his first full animation feature film “BILAL”, which tells a story about faith, hope, and courage. His work paved a way to pursue his ultimate goal of inspiring people through his masterpiece of producing stories that impart values and life-changing experience to different generations of all mankind.

Despite being an enthusiast in the business world, he spares some time from his own schedule to share notable insights about life and deliver public service messages on different occasions. Whilst his charity campaigns focuses on promoting better values for better living, he has also the knowledge to influence one’s perspective using his own well-designed model of “perception”, making FilmFestivals.Com call him, “The Guru of Perception Change”.

Cartoonist

Khalid Al-Baih

Khalid Albaih is a Sudanese cartoonist living in Doha, Qatar. His stark, politically- charged images rose to prominence during the early stages of the Arab Spring protests. Posting his work in the public domain through social media, Albaih quickly became an artist from the revolution, his work being shared online across Arabia and around the world. His cartoons were made into stencils to be reproduced on walls in Beirut and Cairo.

Albaih has been profiled by both the BBC and the New York Times. He has also published his work in the Atlanticand Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Alongside worldwide attention and major publications, Albaih has staged major exhibitions of his work, most recently at the Edge of Arabia Crossway Foundation in London .Khalid constantly publishing new works on his Facebook page Khartoon! (a play on Khartoom, the Sudanese capital) for all to consider, use, and share.

Comedian

Ali Al-Sayed

Recipient of the “Comedian of the Year Award 2016” – Esquire Magazine “Host of Comedy Central Presents… Stand-Up” “One of the most influential comedians in the world” – Toastmasters Magazine US “Funniest people of 2012” – Rolling Stone Dubai’s Ali Al Sayed started writing, performing and producing comedy in 2008. His lightning fast wit and rapport with audiences has allowed him to perform in numerous shows on the iconic and historic Comic Strip Live in New York – Headlining in Caroline’s on Broadway, performing in the Gotham Comedy Club and the New York American Arab Comedy Festival. Ali has performed further major international gigs including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Theatre of Change Festival in Greece where he has taught on numerous occasions.

Further to his Stand-Up career, Ali has featured Specials on PBS, CBS, BBC World, articles in New York Times, and classed as “Funniest People in 2012” by Rolling Stone. Numerous shows and interviews have been aired on UAE and New York Radio stations.

As the Co-founder of Dubomedy, who do “all things comedy”, Ali co-started the first comedy school in the region, introducing Stand-Up Comedy from an Arab perspective and paving the way for many young comedians.

Producing numerous accredited festivals with Dubomedy International Performing Arts Festival, Dubai International Comedy Carnival, led Ali onto having a weekly segment on Abu Dhabi TV and as OSN Consultant, Producer and Presenter. Interviewing artists like Usher, Dave Chapelle, Nick Frost, Cheb Khalid are to name only a few acclaimed highlights.

Ali was recently involved in the Dubai Comedy Festival not only as curator to the event, but also debued his very own Comedy Special “Onestly Sbeaking” as part of the 10 day bill of hit comedians. The festival saw a perfect line-up of global talent including Dave Chappelle and Trevor Noah, combined with the Hottest comedians in the region, with the likes of Badr Salah, Fahad Al Butteri & Ibrahim Khairallah.

With a significant number of followers and viral acclimation, Ali was recently scouted and considered for a supporting role in Will Smith’s latest movie ‘Focus’. In Nov 2015 Ali guest starred in Dubai’s most successful short film yet – “Two Bellmen Two”. He is now scripting his first feature film and working on a new Arabic show for 2016/2017.

Listed in Forbes, Voted in Top 3 Best Male Personality category for 4 years running and as brand ambassador for Etisalat, Ali Al Sayed is currently one of the hottest comedians in the UAE.

Ali’s aim is creating a comedy industry instead of only importing entertainment – but to export entertainment and give comedians from the Arab world the opportunity on the international big stage.

“UAE’s King of Comedy” Ahlan! Magazine “Impossible not to laugh at” Timeout Dubai “Highly Commended” Timeout Night Life Awards

Visualizing Impact

Ramzi Jaber

Ramzi is the cofounder of Visualizing Impact (VI), an interdisciplinary organization that specializes in data visualization, technology and data journalism creating visual stories on social issues . www.visualizingimpact.org. Visualizing Palestine is one of the first initiatives and has reached an estimated 5-10 million people. Ramzi is also cofounder of onlinecensorship.org (OC), a platform that promotes transparency and accountability of the major social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc) . OC won the 2015 Knight News Challenge. Ramzi has also served as key organizer and curator of TEDxRamallah, an independently organized TED event, showcasing inspirational stories of Palestine.

Ramzi's work has been featured in CNN, BBC, Fortune, Policy Mic, Foreign Policy , Fast Company, Jazeera, Open Democracy, Stanford Daily, Global Voices, Guardian and has given talks at Google Mountain view and a TEDx Talk at TEDxSummit in Doha. During the Spring of 2012 he was a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law as a Social Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Ramzi has been selected as an Ashoka Fellow , featured by Creative Commons and part of the 2016 Ford- Mozilla Tech Exchange program. For two years in a row, Ramzi has been selected as one of the 100 most influential young Arabs and 100 most powerful arabs under 40

STARZ Play

Maaz Sheikh

Maaz Sheikh brings more than 20 years’ experience in media and telecom sectors, spanning technical, operational, sales & marketing functions at Fortune 100, as well as early stage technology companies operating in the US, Europe, and the Middle East.

Maaz started his professional career with Sprint Corporation, where he developed a passion for cutting edge technologies to improve consumer experience. After Sprint Corp, Maaz held consulting positions with Ernst & Young’s San Francisco office where he provided technology and marketing consulting services to media and telecom companies. Maaz also held various positions in US-based technology and communications corporations including Product Manager at Concentric Network (now XO Communications), Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Virtela Communications (an NTT Communications Company) and Vice President of Worldwide Sales & Marketing at StorePerform Technologies (now JDA Software).

Maaz spent a part of his childhood growing up in Dubai and returned to the region in 2006 to join Showtime Arabia (now OSN). As Chief Sales & Operations Officer at OSN, he was responsible for regional growth, customer service and spearheading overall customer operations across the Middle East.

As CEO of STARZ Play, Maaz is inspiring his team to deliver a new and highly anticipated digital media platform. With its internet–savvy population, the region is a leader in adopting innovative technologies and under Maaz’s leadership, STARZ Play is ushering in a bold new world of entertainment options.

Maaz holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Oklahoma State University and an M.B.A from The University of Kansas. He currently lives in Dubai with his wife and two sons.

Fifa World Champion

Abdulaziz AlShehri

Fifa World Champion 4 Times Saudi Arabia Champion 3 Times Middle East and Asia Champion First ever Saudi Arabian Player to become A Pro FIFA Player. First ever player in Asia and Middle East to win the FIFA interactive World Cup. For the first time ever as FIWC champion , Abdulaziz's pictures were featured on every copy of Fifa16 on both consoles Xbox, Playstation and PC.

IFC World Bank

Issa Aghabi

Issa’s career has focused on finance and investments for the past 11 years.

He started his career in investment banking and transitioned into the regional Venture Capital space in 2008. He was one of the founding members of IV Holdings / Accelerator technologies, one of the first venture funds in the Arab world. His venture experience focused on early stage / growth companies in the TMT space. Issa consulted at Yahoo! to help shape their growth plans from both an investment and business development perspective. He then joined N2V, a regional online holding company, as the Head of business development and investment as well as their acting director in one of their largest ecommerce investment. He recently rejoined twofour54 as the Head of investment which includes overseeing their Venture activities.

He has successfully executed diverse operational strategies, originated deal flow, conducted in-depth market research and competitive analysis, as well as performed appraisals of target investment opportunities’ business models to ensure profit maximization. He closed over 35+ investment deals (from $100K to $3.5M), managed over $100m in MENA Venture funds and served as a BOD member for a number of companies, providing commercial and business strategies, along with general operational, financial, and strategic support as needed. In 2015, he lead and supported the exit of twofour54’s largest two investments.

Issa holds an MBA with focus on Strategy, Entrepreneurship, Mergers & Acquisition, Corporate Finance from Cass Business School (City University of London) and a bachelor degree in Commerce from Concordia University.

Cazza

Chris Kelsey

Chris is the 19-year-old CEO & co-founder of Cazza, an AI and robotics construction startup developing the world’s next-generation construction automation technologies and materials. This includes the implementation of new 3D printing technologies to automatically build houses & buildings onsite, reducing up to 90% of labor costs.

Saily

Jihad Kawas

Jihad Kawas is the founder & CEO of Saily Inc, a company that develops one of the top ranking shopping apps on the US App Store with over 1,000,000 members. A recipient of the $100K Thiel Fellowship grant and a college dropout, the 19 year old currently resides in Silicon Valley where he focuses on growing his company. Jihad is also keen on education reformation and has delivered two TED talks on this subject. Jihad's work has attracted press attention from around the world and has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, Yahoo! Finance, Bloomberg Businessweek, Mashable, and VICE. Jihad has been selected as the "Young Entrepreneur Of The Year" in 2016 by Entrepreneur Magazine, has been on the cover of Arabian Business Magazine and is currently ranked one of the most influential young Arabs in the world by the same publication.

Previous

Speakers

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.

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.

Abraaj Capital

Arif Naqvi

Arif Naqvi is Founder and Group Chief Executive of The Abraaj Group

Arif Naqvi established The Abraaj Group in 2002 and has served as its Group Chief Executive since inception, building it into one of the leading private equity firms in the world. Abraaj is widely recognized as a pioneer of global growth markets private equity with over 20 country offices including 5 regional hubs in Dubai, Istanbul, Mexico City, Nairobi and Singapore. Mr. Naqvi has over three decades of experience of investing in public and private companies and has led the Group’s investment strategy, resulting in some of the most notable private equity transactions across global growth markets over the last decade.

Mr. Naqvi is a Trustee of the Interpol Foundation and is on the Board of the United Nations Global Compact. He is also a Columbia Global Leadership Council member and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Art in London.

Mr. Naqvi has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Oslo Business for Peace Award, the highest form of recognition given to individual private sector leaders for fostering peace and stability through business, and the Sitara-i-Imtiaz, a prominent civilian honor awarded by the Government of Pakistan. In 2011, Private Equity International named him as one of the 50 most influential people in the global private equity industry.

In 2008, Mr. Naqvi and his family established the Aman Foundation, the largest private social sector enterprise in Pakistan, which supports sustainable development in healthcare, nutrition and education.

Mr. Naqvi is a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Satirist

Bassem Youssef

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).

Golden State Warriors

Daniel Brusilovsky

Daniel Brusilovsky is the Digital Initiatives Lead for the Golden State Warriors, focused on digital & technology innovation and emerging technology. He is also a co-founder of imoji, the largest sticker library in the world.

Prior to joining the Golden State Warriors, Daniel was the Head of Business Development & Growth at Ribbon, a San Francisco-based payments startup. He has also spent time at Highland Capital Partners, JESS3, Qik and TechCrunch. He also founded and was CEO of Teens in Tech Labs from 2008-2014.

AJ+

Dena Takruri

Dena Takruri is a host and producer with AJ+, Al Jazeera’s all digital video news network based in San Francisco.

The videos Takruri hosts range in format from in-studio explainers that provide essential context to the biggest news stories, to interviews with experts and stakeholders, and even ground reports from where news is breaking. Her videos have gone viral, netting millions of views on Facebook and hundreds of thousands of shares on YouTube and Twitter.

Dena has reported domestically from Charleston, South Carolina in the aftermath of the shooting at an African American church. She also covered the armed occupation of the federal wildlife reserve in Oregon and the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Internationally, Dena notably covered Europe’s refugee crisis, embedding with refugees and crossing borders with them while also broadcasting live on Facebook. She also reported from the West Bank during intensified tensions in the fall of 2015.

Prior to AJ+, Dena was a producer and host at Huffpost Live. Before that, she produced Al Jazeera Arabic’s flagship news program out of the U.S. called “Min (from) Washington. You can follow her on Twitter @Dena.

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.

MITEF

Hala Fadel

Hala has co-founded Leap Ventures in 2014, a venture capital firm focusing on series B investment in startups in the MENA region.

Hala has 20 years of experience in finance and entrepreneurship. She has been a portfolio manager for 12 years in European Equities at Comgest, a €20bn growth equity fund. Prior to that, she started Booleo, a telecom software business, later acquired as an internal solution by a client. Hala started her career in 1996 at Merril Lynch in London in mergers and acquisition. She is the founder and chair of the MIT Enterprise Forum of the pan-Arab region, an organization that promotes entrepreneurship and organises, among other things, the MIT Arab start-up competition since 2006. Hala also sits on the global board of the MIT Enterprise Forum and chairs the Arab Edition of the MIT technology review magazine. She is also an angel investor in start-up companies in the Middle East and Europe, and has launched a co-working space in Beirut called Coworking+961. Hala graduated from HEC in France in 1997 with a Masters in Financial Economics and attended the Berkeley Haas School of Business, she holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

TNW

Patrick de Laive

Patrick de Laive (36) is co-founder of TNW, the most influential tech media entity with a global audience which is not based in the US (The Netherlands actually). He is one of the young leaders under 40 of the European tech scene. Patrick is a frequently asked speaker at international tech events (Slush -Helsinki-, Launch.co -SF-, ARABSmiss -Dubai-, 4YFN – Barcelona, IDCEE -Kiev-, The South Summit -Madrid- and many more), but as he just entered the ‘fatherhood’ he is limiting the number of speaking engagements.

In the past year he has been secretly working on a big data project, recently launched as Index.co. Index provides insights in private tech companies by turning unstructured content into structured intelligence on over 100k private tech companies.

JWT

Ramsey Naja

Ramsey Naja is a Chief Creative Officer at J. Walter Thompson Middle East Africa.

Former pirate radio DJ, theatre director, and TV news anchorman, Ramsey Naja moved to the UK in 1985, collected an MA in Drama from Hull University, and joined J. Walter Thompson in 1994.

Under Naja’s stewardship, J. Walter Thompson MENA became one of the region’s most awarded networks, with first-time and regular international recognition in Dubai Lynx, D&AD, One Show, IPG, London International Awards, New York Festivals and Cannes Lions amongst others. The MENA network was voted network of the year twice and most effective network in 2014. It also won the first Gold Cannes Lion for Egypt in 2013 and the first Titanium Lion for Egypt in 2015.

Naja was appointed Chief Creative Officer for Middle East and Africa in 2012.

Ramsey is a member of J. Walter Thompson’s Worldwide Creative Council and a columnist in Campaign Middle East magazine. He is obsessive about comic books and skiing, but mostly about his wife Marianne and their children Emily, Sophie and Mark.

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