Regional & International Industry Experts
Taking The Stage at STEP2018

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STEP Conference 2018


Osman Sultan

Osman Sultan is the founding CEO of Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company PJSC-du. Having joined the company in January 2006. Today, in less than a decade of operations, du has reported annual revenues exceeding USD 3.4 billion and a market share of 47% under his guidance and leadership.

Sultan has enjoyed a successful career for over 30 years spanning Europe, North America and the MENA region. Prior to joining du, Sultan was the founding CEO of another successful Middle Eastern operator – Mobinil in Egypt he set up in 1998. During his tenure, he achieved his vision of putting ‘a mobile in the hands of everyone.’

A notable public speaker, Sultan often shares his knowledge and experience at industry lectures on the subjects of the digital society, the Internet, telecommunications and information technology. He has also mentored a generation of key telecom sector players, who have gone on to occupy leadership roles, many of them as CEOs across the world.

As one of the most influential figures in the region in the telecommunications field, Sultan’s drive and acute business acumen has earned him several industry accolades, including being selected as one of the most 100 powerful executives in the telecoms industry in the world on GTB Power 100 List in 2010 and 2011. In his free time, Osman Sultan spends quality time with his family – his wife, five children and his parents.

Hyperloop One

Colin Rhys

Colin Rhys’s desire to explore the human experience in relation to environment and creativity launched in 2004, with his role as owner/executive director of the RHYS art gallery. Simultaneously at RHYS’s founding, Colin began his education at Tufts University later earning degrees in Fine Arts and Entrepreneurial Leadership. Nine years, stunning international exhibitions in six different continents & over thirty-two countries later, RHYS was a globally-recognized brand. Ignited by his unequivocal success in fine arts, Colin was driven to the intersections of design and architecture in 2010.

He began building and designing bespoke residences in the greater Los Angeles area for the Xanadu Group, with the purpose to enrich human experience in physical spaces. His Xanadu spaces were more than just homes, with work spanning commercial projects and high profile landscapes. Colin became a master craftsmen of entire environments, capable of creating aesthetic worlds for his clients that held not only innovation, but purpose.

Inspired to adventure not only in his design, Colin founded the Xanadu Explorers Society in 2012. Guided by the pursuit of knowledge and interpersonal connection through the outdoors, the Explorer’s Society knows no bounds. With expedition goals to see all natural seven wonders of the world in seven years — Paricutin volcano, the Aurora Borealis and the Grand Canyon already visited — the journey remains to unfold.

By 2016, after recognized successes on multimillion dollar projects—several of which earned international acclaim, awards and critical acknowledgement, including multiple features on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing – Colin was ready for his next creative evolution. Hyperloop became that visionary opportunity where Colin’s passion of the experiential and his expertise in design intersects with a company whose mission will rewrite our ideas of transportation.

Dentsu Inc.

Kei Shimada

Kei Shimada is a Japanese American entrepreneur from New York. After working for global companies big and small, he successfully established and ran Infinita, one of Japan’s first multinational mobile strategy firms.

Today Kei is Global Director of Innovation and Business Development of Dentsu Inc., Japan’s largest agency. He is responsible for leading a group wide innovation initiative while supporting the growth around 10 core areas of innovative technologies including artificial intelligence, biometrics, drones, fintech, IoT, locational big data, robots, space, VR/AR and wearables.

Kei also works with government ministries and municipal governments on crisis management infrastructures, going beyond the traditional advertising business to cultivate new and sustainable business opportunities. He leads a project team that created Japan's first smart device based evacuation management platform and evacuation shelter database and holds several related patents. The team is the only team in Japan that has won three government awards (each by a different ministry) in this category. He is also the Chief Lab Officer of dmLab, Dentsu’s media innovation lab in South East Asia.

Kei is one of the world’s most prominent speakers. He has delivered keynote presentations and moderated panels on future tech in more than 20 countries around the globe.

Wamda Capital

Fadi Ghandour

Fadi Ghandour is the Executive Chairman of Wamda Capital, a Venture Capital fund that invests in technology-enabled companies in the Arab World, and the Founder & Vice Chairman of Aramex, a global logistics and transportation company.

He is also a member of the Board of Abraaj Capital, the Board of Endeavor Global and the Board of Trustees at the American University of Beirut (AUB). Additionally, he serves on the Advisory Council of the MIT Media Lab.

Fadi is the Founder and Chairman of Ruwwad for Development, a private-sector led community empowerment initiative that helps disadvantaged communities across the region overcome marginalization through activism, civic engagement, education and financial inclusion.

Jabbar Internet Group

Samih Toukan

In the year 2000 Samih founded and became the CEO of the world’s first Arabic email and largest Arab Online community. In 2005 Samih cofounded, the Arab Worlds largest ecommerce site. In 2009 Maktoob was acquired by Yahoo! and in 2017 was acquired by Amazon in the largest technology acquisition deals in the history of the region.

Samih is currently the Chairman of Jabbar Internet Group ( Jabbar today is one of the leading investors in Internet and technology companies in the region.

Samih holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of London and a Masters in Management and International Business from HEC University in France.

On 9/9/2009 Samih received Al Hussein Medal for Distinguished Performance of the First Order from His Majesty King Abdullah II in recognition of his contribution to the IT and Telecommunications sector in Jordan and the region.

On 15/12/2016 Samih received the Social Media Entrepreneurship Award for the private sector from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashed al Maktoom in Dubai.

In 2011 and in 2012 Samih was named by ArabianBusiness magazine as one of the most 500 influential Arabs in the world. In 2014 Samih received the Takreem award for Outstanding Corporate Leadership in the Arab World.

Samih serves on several boards of companies and organizations and this year he was appointed as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Jordan. Between 2003 and 2005 , Samih was appointed by the Jordanian government as a member of the board of the Social Security Investment Fund (a fund of several billion Dollars).

Today Samih is an active investor, investing in many startups in the region and around the world. He also acts as a mentor to many entrepreneurs. Samih is also a founding investor in Oasis500, Jordan’s leading startup incubator.

Furthermore Samih is the Chairman of the board of UnderMyOliveTree, a non profit organization focusing on educational support for the unprivileged, and an investor and member of the board of Ruwwad Micro Venture Fund, which provides grants for entrepreneurs in marginalized communities in Jordan. He is also a cofounder of the RBK bootcamp in Jordan to train and graduate Jordanian and refugee computer programmers.

Ronaldo Mouchawar

Ronaldo Mouchawar holds a Master's degree in Digital Communications and a Bachelor degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Northeastern University in Boston, MA.

He has accumulative 15 years of experience in technology, and business management. He served as a technical and systems consultant with EDS in the US. In 2000, he spearheaded a consulting company that managed numerous, web and e-commerce projects in the Arab world. In 2005, he launched the first auction site for the Arab world.

Today Ronaldo is the co-founder and CEO of ( which has grown to be the largest online shopping mall in the Arab world. provides buyers and sellers with a convenient, competitive and safe shopping experience - with the widest selection of brands and products - anywhere in the region.


Maged Wassim

Maged Wassim is the Vice President for the IBM Cloud Business Unit across Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, including Pakistan and Turkey. His responsibilities include coverage for Cloud Software, Cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS), Cloud Services and Advisory. His mission is driven by Innovation with Cloud which is leveraged through a growing ecosystem of enterprise customers, business partners, entrepreneurs, ISV’s and academia.

Maged joined IBM in 1999. He worked in the Consulting Services business as an Account Manager and acted as the Public Sector leader for Middle East and Africa. In 2010, he became the Integrated Technology Services Executive covering MEA region. In 2012, Maged led the building of IBM’s Business Partner network in GeoExpansion territories including Latin America, Africa, Central Eastern Europe, Russia, Asia Pacific, India, China and Australia.

In 2014, Maged became Vice President, Industry and Value Creation for IBM Middle East & Africa. As such, he was responsible for the strategy and execution of Cloud, Big Data & Analytics, Social and Mobile portfolios as well as other key growth initiatives for IBM globally across the Communication, Financial and Public sectors.

Entrepreneur & Venture Investor

Christopher 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

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.


Christian Eid

Resident crazy, Christian heads up our marketing and finds it difficult to do things by the book. A true people person, he leads a team of equally innovative thinkers and strives to make sure Careem provides the vehicle to take colleagues, captains and customers further than they ever thought possible. Committed to the region, Christian drives our mission to build an institution that harnesses the trailblazing potential of the MENAP region as well as amplify the boldness of our ambitions.


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.


Nadim Ghrayeb

Nadim Ghrayeb, Regional Sales and Marketing Manager for Cadillac Middle East, is responsible for driving all strategies relating to sales operations across the region and the communication of the brand.

His previous position as the Regional Brand Manager for Cadillac Middle East saw him focusing exclusively on achieving long-term marketing objectives and delivering sustainable brand growth solutions.

His previous position as the Regional Brand Manager for Cadillac Middle East saw him focusing exclusively on achieving long-term marketing objectives and delivering sustainable brand growth solutions.

Ghrayeb first joined GM as a Marketing Manager for Cadillac Middle East, a title that saw him spearhead cross-media communications initiatives for the luxury auto brand – spanning myriad product launches – across key markets.

Ghrayeb holds a Bachelor of Science from Beirut’s Lebanese American University.

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.


Jonathan Labin

Jonathan is an experienced and hands on tech and media leader that is passionate about building high performance teams and growing businesses internationally.

He is the head of the Middle East, North Africa & Pakistan at Facebook and leads the regional office in Dubai. As Facebook’s first employee in the Middle East & North Africa, he built the MENA team and business from the ground up and is responsible for growing revenues across Facebook’s family of brands. In September 2016, Jonathan was named media and marketing business leader of the year by Gulf Business.

Prior to Facebook, Jonathan was VP, Head of Ad Sales, Emerging Markets at MTV Networks and tasked with maximizing advertising revenues for brands like MTV, VIVA, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central across all media channels. During his tenure at MTV Networks, he also held the position of Strategy & Business Development Director for Viacom International, and played a key role in strengthening the company’s position across multiple lines of business and regions.

His passion for the technology and startup ecosystem combined with the corporate finance experience he gained as a consultant at Stern Stewart & Co also led him to become an investor and active advisor to a variety of startups in the Middle East.

Jonathan holds an MBA with highest distinction from Columbia Business School in New York and bachelor degrees in International Business from Universidad Pontificia Commillas in Madrid and the European School of Business in Reutlingen.

He speaks 3 languages fluently and has lived in Germany, Spain, Argentina, the US, the UK and the UAE.


Matt Brittin

Matt heads up Google’s business and operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa - helping consumers and businesses make the most of the digital opportunity.

Joining Google in 2007 to help build its business in the UK, he became MD of Google UK two years later. In 2011, he was promoted to VP of Northern and Central Europe, before taking over as President of Business and Operations in EMEA in 2014.

Matt is a non-executive director of Sainsbury’s, and a Trustee of charity The Media Trust. Matt has had a long career in media and marketing, joining Google from the newspaper industry, where he led commercial and digital operations at the biggest UK publisher. He previously worked at management consultancy McKinsey.

He has an MBA from London Business School, an MA from Cambridge and won silver medals for Cambridge in several Boat Races. He was also a member of the British rowing team and has won medals in eights and fours at the World Rowing Championships and represented Great Britain at the Olympics. In 2014, he was appointed a Steward of Henley Royal Regatta and he still rows regularly, though more slowly.

Matt lives in London, near the Thames, with his wife, teenage sons and small dog.


Anthony Le Roux

Anthony joined Uber in December 2013 as General Manager of Cape Town. A year and a half later, he moved to Poland to manage and expand Uber’s Eastern Europe - covering Poland, the Baltics, the Balkans as well as the CIS markets. In mid 2016, he moved back to Cape Town, now overseeing the whole of Uber’s Middle East, Africa and Pakistan (MEA) rides business. In this role, Anthony covers market strategy and operations in the MEA region, and works with expansion teams to identify and manage new market entries.

Having grown up in South Africa, Anthony began his career in investment banking at Standard Bank, providing mergers and acquisitions advice to a broad range of companies in the SSA market. He holds an MBA from INSEAD, an undergraduate degree in Actuarial Science from the University of Cape Town, a Higher Diploma in Taxation Law from the University of the Witwatersrand, and is a CFA Charterholder. Anthony has a passion for technology, entrepreneurship and innovation.


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.

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 (JPL), where he played the lead role in developing the field of space borne imaging radar, and Vice President of California Institute of Technology.

During the late 80's and 90's, as the Director of Space and Earth Science programs, Dr. Elachi was responsible for the development of numerous JPL flight instruments and missions for Solar System Exploration, the Origins program, Earth Observation and Astrophysics.

In the mid to late 90’s, Dr. Elachi chaired a number of national and international committees, which developed NASA roadmaps for the exploration of neighboring Solar Systems, our Solar System, and Mars.

During his 16-year tenure as JPL Director; JPL launched 24 missions. He is a member of the United Arab Emirates Space Agency International Advisory Council, the past chair and member of the Lebanese American University Board of Trustees New York and Beirut, a member of the International Advisory Board of King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in Saudi Arabia, a past member of the International Advisory Council of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia and a member of the International Advisory Board of the University Oman.

Dr. Elachi participated in a number of archeological expeditions in the Egyptian Desert, the Arabian Peninsula and the Western Chinese Desert in search of old trading routes and buried cities using satellite data.


Robert Dearborn

Rob is Head of Elevate Operations for Uber Technologies' Advanced Programs. A group led by Uber's Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden, Advanced Programs focuses on future-forward initiatives to advance Uber's core mission of providing reliable, ubiquitous transportation and making cities more efficient. Elevate is Uber's initiative to accelerate on-demand, urban aviation. With help from a team of industry experts, the Elevate Team recently co-authored a lengthy whitepaper detailing Uber's goal to accelerate the ecosystem for bringing affordable electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) aircraft to market on their platform.

Rob has held roles on Uber's U.S. strategy team, Philadelphia city team, and at the National Football League. He is a native of Massachusetts, an alum of the University of Pennsylvania, and has been an aviation lover and nerd since installing Microsoft Flight Simulator in the 2nd grade.


Evan Burfield

Evan Burfield is the cofounder and CEO of 1776, where he works with startups around the world tackling important challenges in areas like education, health, energy, transportation, and cities. He is a frequent speaker and contributor to publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Huffington Post.

Evan matriculated at St. Catherine’s College at the University of Oxford, where he received a first class bachelor’s degree in triple honors philosophy, politics, and economics. While at Oxford, Evan received the George Webb Medley Prize for most outstanding thesis in economics for his game theoretic analysis of collaboration and organizational design. In parallel to his studies at Oxford, Evan was the Director of Strategy for Oakwood Global Finance in London, where he analyzed market opportunities in asset backed finance in markets across Europe and Asia.

Evan returned to Washington, DC in 2006 to found Synteractive, a consulting form focused on Gov 2.0 solutions. Synteractive designed and built platform that redefined how government can operate, such as for the Obama Administration. Synteractive was acquired by Smartronix in 2011.

Evan currently serves as a Trustee of the Federal City Council in Washington, DC and is on the board of advisors to the Rothermere American Institute in Oxford.

Wamda Capital

Khaled Talhouni

Khaled is Managing Partner at Wamda Capital, a Venture Capital fund investing in technology-enabled companies in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey. He started his career at Dubai International Capital where he supported the development of the MENA region’s first seed capital fund. Since then Khaled assumed a number of venture capital and startup roles including heading investments and strategy at twofour54 in Abu Dhabi. Khaled has centered his career around identifying and investing in disruptive businesses that displace incumbent inefficiencies in traditional sectors of the economy. His areas of interest include ecommerce, Fintech, marketplaces, digital content and enterprise solutions. Through out his career Khaled has focused on building lasting partnerships with the entrepreneurs delivering the region’s digital economy.

Khaled has invested in and managed over 60 early stage transactions including Careem, Littlebits, Mumzworld, Insider, Modanisa and Luxury Closet and Step Group.

Khaled attended Duke University and graduated with a BA in Economics.


Jose Maria Arrabal

More than fifteen years of experience in sports marketing and sports internalization, helping the NBA and clubs such as Real Madrid and Malaga CF go global among others

He currently heads LaLiga in MENA with a clear vision of leveraging its global reputation and phenomenal audience into partnership and sponsorship agreements.

North Base Media

Marcus Brauchli

Marcus Brauchli is co-founder and a managing partner of North Base Media, a boutique investment firm specializing in media and media-technology companies in growth markets. He serves as an advisor or director of several, including leading news sites in the Philippines and Taiwan, a business-information provider in Africa, and the top digital-content monetization software company.

Before establishing North Base, Mr. Brauchli was a vice president of the Washington Post Co. and executive editor of The Washington Post. During his editorship, the Post won seven Pulitzer Prizes and quadrupled its digital audience. Before joining The Post, Mr. Brauchli was the top editor at The Wall Street Journal, overseeing its print and digital editions, as well as the Dow Jones Industrial Averages and MarketWatch, the financial news website. Mr. Brauchli oversaw the development and launch of the luxury lifestyle magazine, WSJ. He stepped down in April 2008, after News Corp. acquired the Journal’s parent company, Dow Jones.

Mr. Brauchli spent 15 years as a Journal correspondent and bureau chief in Asia and Europe, living in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo and Stockholm. He served as the Journal’s national editor when the paper’s offices were damaged in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and helped to guide its Pulitzer-winning coverage that day.

Mr. Brauchli is a native of Boulder, Colo., and a 1983 graduate of Columbia University. He was a 1991-92 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He has served on the boards of the Overseas Press Club, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong, the Knight-Bagehot Fellowships at Columbia University and the International Center for Journalists. He is chairman of the Arthur F. Burns Fellowship, a U.S.-German exchange program. He is a trustee of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington and on the advisory board of the Prix Pictet in photography. He also is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Washington Economic Club and a past media leader at the World Economic Forum.

Mr. Brauchli is married to Maggie Farley, a journalist. They have two daughters and live in Bethesda, Maryland.


Michel Malkoun

Michel Malkoun is Chief Operating Officer at DMS - the digital media arm of Choueiri Group. No stranger to the media scene, Michel has amassed a notable career, encompassing some of the most prominent regional media groups. He joined Choueiri Group in 2005, five years prior to his current engagement, which he took on in 2010. Prior to this, Michel spent a decade with the region’s top broadcasters (MBC Group). With a solid understanding of integrated media solutions across print, radio, TV and online, Michel’s role is centered on the promotion of next generation digital advertising solutions. Extending the MENA’s region’s largest hub of premium digital publishers to advertisers and brands, Michel’s commitment to harnessing greater innovation and effectiveness is aimed at transforming DMS into a major player on the digital media scene.

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.


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.

Eight Inc.

Tim Kobe

Tim Kobe founded the globally recognized strategic and experience design firm Eight Inc. in 1989. Today, Eight Inc. has offices in San Francisco, New York, Honolulu, Tokyo, London, Singapore, and Dubai and across China and is a leader in innovation and branded experience working with companies such as Apple, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Nike, Lincoln and Citibank. Eight Inc.'s projects have received international design awards and have been published across Asia, Europe, and the United States including Fast Company, Harvard Business Review and Bloomberg. Kobe has spoken globally in large-scale public conferences and events, private organizations and colleges and universities. He is also a trustee at Art Center College of Design and currently serving as Chairman of the Academic Affairs Committee. Kobe also serves on the Board of Directors for the Grabhorn Institute in San Francisco California and divides his time between California and Singapore.


Stefanos Loukakos

Stefanos Loukakos is SMB Director at Facebook based in Dublin. His passion is to assist SMEs on how to use Facebook to grow their businesses. Before joining Facebook, Stefanos was the Country Director of Google Greece. In the past he has been CEO of a broadband operator and an investment banker in Paris, London and New York. He has received an MBA from INSEAD in Paris and also a Master degrees in Engineering from Stanford University and Berkeley in the US. He has two daughters and loves running.


Antoine Drevon

Antoine Drevon joined Orange Jordan family in January 1st 2016 as Value Creation and Customer Base Management Director.

Antoine a great knowledge and expertise in the ICT field, with over 16 years of experience mainly in the Home and Mobile marketing divisions in Orange Jordan and Orange France. He first joined Orange Group in 2002 shortly after graduating from EDHEC Business School, and his first professional experiences were at Reckitt-Benckiser France and Alcatel Mozambique. Before joining Orange Jordan, he worked at Orange Senegal for more than 3 years, initially within the Mass Market Division, where he focused on performance, CBM, and mobile prepaid portfolio, and eventually assuming the responsibility of performance and transformation in the Sales Division.


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.


Hans Christensen

Hans is currently serving as Director of Dtec, the largest technology entrepreneur centre of its kind in the Middle East housing 700 Tech start-ups and incubators, labs and soon also accelerators. He has 20+ years’ experience in building up departments in large organisations and starting small companies in South America, Europe and the UAE.

He has successfully attracted venture capital to several start-ups and held important global positions in large IT and financial institutions. Hans built-up and directed the team of the only technology incubator of Siemens ICN and ICM, successfully spinning off Garderos Software Innovation GmbH, a company specialised in access gateway software and routers for fixed and wireless hotspots.

As the Director of Dtec, Hans’ responsibility is to lead a team that manages a co-working, incubation and growth investment unit supporting start-ups and entrepreneurs from 64 nationalities with running their ventures. Additionally he serves on the board of several start-ups.

Hans is a member of the DSOA Smart City Committee and of the DSOA Dubai Islamic Economy taskforce. The Smart City concept is based on creating a new approach to managing cities of the future. The Islamic Economy initiative targets building a technology centre focusing on start-ups and Muslim consumers using the seven pillars of the Islamic economy as guidance.

Hans, holds a BA in Economics and Finance from Bentley University, and is currently finishing his EMBA at Hult International Business School.


Matteo Penzo

Matteo is an entrepreneur and a technology practice executive at frog, a global design and strategy firm, covering Europe and the Middle East.

With more than 18 years of technology, software design and development experience, Matteo consults top-clients in executing and deploying their product vision across the globe.

In 2005 he founded the internationally successful “Frontiers Conference” event, which brings innovators in business and design together. Most recently, Matteo founded “Talent Garden Milano," the biggest co-working space in Italy, which provides talent, brilliant minds, and startups an environment to connect, grow and blossom.

And he is bald.

MBC Group

Abe Naga

Abe is a Digital Media professional with over 16 years’ experience in online advertising, digital media, and the dot-com space. He started his early digital career at LINKdotNET, working on its vast online portfolio of products including MSN Arabia, Masrawy, Yallakora among others. He later joined MindShare Interaction MENA as Interactive Creative Director, Today Abe is the Head of Digital at MBC group, the first & largest commercial FTA broadcaster in the Arab world. Over the past 8 years, he has been leading for the group’s overall digital strategy and overseeing a variety of online products and services most notably the leading online entertainment portal in the middle east; and SHAHID the no. 1 Arabic premium VOD service in the world.


Antoine de Trogoff

Antoine de Trogoff; Head of Content at UM MENA setup the regions edition of UM’s global content division in 2014. UM Studios is the branded content division that works with all of UM MENA’s clients and supports them with content strategy, creation and distribution. Along with the launch of this division, he has been spearheading all the commercial and creative aspects of client projects by deploying content creation partnerships and fusing marketing strategies to content distribution.

New to Dubai, Antoine moved from Mediacom International in the UK where he ran two major global accounts: Shell and Dassault Systemes and also headed up the Content Partnership division. With over 10 years of experience in the advertising industry, Antoine actually studied Marketing & Finance in Paris and New York and after his first working experience in France; he soon realized that the UK was leading the industry with new and innovative thinking and decided to move to London where he spent the last 7 years.

In addition to his role as head of content, Antoine has been quite active with speaking sessions and contribution of thought leadership pieces. He was a panelist at the inaugural Festival of Media MENA in Dubai and has also been nominated as a thought leadership brand ambassador to represent UM in the MENA region.


Bassel Al Nahlaoui

In the role as VP of Business Development and Government Relations at Careem, Bassel is responsible for three areas globally including strategic marketing partnerships, strategic fleet partnerships, government relations and corporate sales. He brings over ten years of experience in management consulting and investment management having advised and worked with firms across the Middle East and US. Prior to joining Careem, Bassel worked with Alvarez & Marsal on developing and implementing turnaround plans for struggling corporations. Prior to A&M, he worked with the Boston Consulting Group across multiple industries in both the public and private sectors, focusing on growth strategies. Prior to that, he worked with DIFC Investments as a Special Projects Manager where he managed a portfolio of acquired assets and subsidiaries and provided support to Board of Directors on strategy, restructuring and other operational decisions. Bassel started his career with DIFC Authority where he was responsible performing process analysis functions across business units and making best practice recommendations. Bassel received his Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Harvard Business School. He received his Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University, USA. Bassel is fluent in English and Arabic.

Advisor to Businesses & Brands

Ash Banerjee

Management counsel across brand strategy and development, digitally-driven experience innovation, and growth strategy -- directly with established organisations and digital startups, and collaboratively with management consultancies, brand consultancies, experience design and innovation consultancies and communications agencies.


Hashem M. Hamidaddin

Hashem holds a bachelor degree of Business Administration (Marketing) from King Saud university and have over 13 years of experience in retail marketing which includes FMCG, followed by Banking and lastly in Telecom for over 5 years.

Hashem has managed the Postpaid segment revamp that involves launching new packages, redesigning the pricing strategy, and reshaping the value proposition against competition that led to increasing the average monthly acquisition by 8% and 15% of the monthly revenues immediately after the launch.

He’s designed and built an innovative new platform for devices subsidies for the Postpaid segment that was recognized as first-to-market. This was driven by customer insights and evolved around customer experience, and led to growing base penetration by 13%.

And he has championed a new program for managing legacy packages to achieve optimization and enhancement ensuring best customer experience across various touch-points aiming to extend customer lifetime and overall value.

Hopwood Communications

Peter Hopwood

Peter Hopwood is a Presence, Pitch and Public Speaking Coach & Storyteller - Founder of Hopwood Communications.

Essentially, Peter helps people tell stories. Stories with stronger impact. He helps corporates, startups, and entrepreneurs bring more value to their ideas, boost confidence, gain investment and persuade with impact.

From Amsterdam to Shanghai, Berlin to Dubai, Peter’s speaking engagements and coaching skills are in high demand across the global digital, tech and startup scene and also works alongside various accelerators in Europe and the Middle East as a mentor.

Equally, as a Live events MC, Peter has developed an extensive global portfolio of high scale conferences including industries such as digital, retail, media, marketing, fintech, sport and HR. He loves to be kept on his toes as he continues to wear many hats – leader, mentor, coach, investor, conference host and voiceover talent.

Screen Project

Nadia Eliewat

Nadia is a film producer and screenwriter whose passion lies in finding new stories to tell and helping create new voices through education. Through her Jordan based production company (Screen Project), Nadia produces films in the MENA region for the purpose of theatrical release.

In 2012, Nadia Produced the award winning Jordanian feature film When Monaliza Smiled for Fadi G. Haddad, the film had its international premiere at Dubai International Film Festival in 2012 and was theatrically released in Jordan and Morocco.

Nadia co-wrote and produced the Lebanese box office hit MAHBAS (Solitaire) with co-writer/director Sophie Boutros. After the film successful world premiere at Dubai International Film Festival 2016, Mahbas was theatrically released in Lebanon, Jordan, Ramalla, UAE and Kuwait in 2017.

Nadia holds the title of Associate Professor at the American University in Dubai where she has been teaching screenwriting and production since 2010.


Abed Agha

Abed's multi-variant experience spanning different industries and disciplines enabled him to starting Vinelab in 2010, the largest MENA influence network based in Dubai with offices in Beirut. Vinelab delivers celebrity audience to brands through a sophisticated and effective technology-based platform.

Prior to launching Vinelab in 2010, Abed spent 12 years in various industries spanning banking, equity markets, technology and media across the US, South East Asia and the Middle East. Prior to Vinelab, Abed lead Mubasher Financial Group to lead equity trading volumes and market share in the UAE consistently despite the financial crisis of 2008. Prior to that, Abed spent a few years with Standard Chartered Bank across different disciplines and launched Rab3i TV, the first interactive social network on traditional television. Prior to that, Abed spent a few years in the mortgage business in California witnessing the accumulation of debt that eventually lead to the global financial crisis of 2008.


Carlos Domingo

Carlos Domingo is Chief Digital Transformation and Innovation Officer at du where he has a dual role of diversifying du from its core connectivity business through innovative digital services in areas like smart cities, Iot or big data as well as transform its core business through a digital services model and the adoption of digital technologies to interact with its customers and employees.

Before that he was Chief Product and Business Development for Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) where he managed all company product development, digital services, alliances and partnerships and business intelligence and analytic.

Carlos has also spent 8 years at Telefonica where he was the CEO of Telefonica R&D and the CEO for New Business and Innovation for Telefonica Digital.

Carlos holds a MSc in computer science from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, a PhD in computer science from the Polytechnic University in Catalonia and post grad business studies from Stanford Graduate School of Business. With more than 20 years of experience in the IT and telecommunications world, he developed his early career in Japan and USA, being VP of Celartem Technologies and eventually becoming the President & CEO of its subsidiary in Seattle after merging Extensis LizardTech and DiamonSoft.


Paul Papadimitriou

As the founder of Intelligencr, the global innovation scouting firm, Paul flies around the world to witness what technological disruption actually means for the future of our youth, businesses and societies.

With this reality, he advises companies on creative business modeling and speaks to audiences on all continents.

Swiss, Greek and Finn, he lived in Tokyo, Geneva, Manila and now London. He’s an air travel nerd and chocolate lover.


Hayfa Ahmed

Hayfa is managing the Incubation Program at Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) to foster the establishment of tech startups in Qatar. Hayfa enjoys 12 years of experience in management, ICT, and tech-focused entrepreneurship working in QSTP, Qatar Petroleum and Qatar University. She is a board member of Qatar Mobility Innovation Center (QMIC), an innovation center focused on smart mobility systems. She is a business writer and blogger.

Hayfa has a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) and a Bachelor of Computer Sciences from Qatar University. She is a certified Project Management Professional, Business Analyst, and Incubation Manager.

Finalytix Inc.

Omar Rana

Omar has over 19+ years of experience in advising companies, governments and private family groups in areas of strategy, restructuring and operations. He is currently the Co-Founder & Director of Finalytix Inc., a US based FinTech company focused on providing wealth management solutions to select set of clients. Finalytix is part of the new age FinTech players disrupting critical aspects of the delivery value chain of Financial Institutions to various niche set of clients which include UHNWI, Family Offices and Independent Asset Managers. Finalytix is a cloud based stacked solution supporting clients to make better decisions about their portfolios. Finalytix is focused on increasing transparency, reducing fees and benchmarking client portfolios. Omar is currently leading the strategy for the development of the next generation Finalytix platform which will include advanced analytics and algorithms to assist clients with real time solutions to better manage information to preserve and growth their wealth. Omar leads Strategy & Finance at Finalytix

Prior to Finalytix, Mr. Rana has spent a number of years at various Tier 1 Corporate Strategy firms. While at the various Corporate Strategy firms, Omar, has led client engagement strategy teams to advise Fortune 100 companies (Corporate Strategy, Operations), Family Office Groups (restructuring Private Equity portfolios, investment officer) and Governments (privatization efforts in Telecom, Energy, Utilities, Regulatory Policy, Free Zones). Omar has also had diverse geographical experience having led or co-led client engagement teams in various international markets which include Canada/USA, Latin America, Middle East/North Africa and the Far East.

Omar is also a serial investor in early stage companies and is also the Co-Founder of which is an emerging markets virtual accelerator out of Singapore. Omar has assisted several entrepreneurs via seminars and with preparing Pitch Books, Valuation Models, Term Sheets, Performance Metrics etc and assisting them to target capital from institutional investors, UHNWIs and Family Offices.


Waseem Afzal

From marketing strategy to ad technology and measurement, Waseem has demonstrated a strong track record in transforming the approach of brands towards multi-channel marketing mix through the use of robust tech integration, harmonization of data and powerful measurement frameworks.

With +13 years of marketing experience in the MENA region across multiple sectors including FMCG, ecommerce, travel/aviation, telecommunications, automotive, financial, retail, luxury, entertainment, Waseem brings in a very unique experience of making data actionable and translating it into industry-leading analytical solutions to help create impactful and actionable insights-driven marketing strategies

Waseem champions the overall product strategy for Data & Analytics vertical and is responsible for guiding the agency and its clients on how to best leverage data stemming from an increasingly digital world so that it can be applied through the entire marketing process, from influencing strategy development, informing placements & buys to measuring and optimizing ROI.


Ramzi Moutran

Ramzi hails from the Middle East’s party capital, Beirut. Educated in England, he fell in love with advertising whilst living and working in London, Beirut and Cape Town.

He is currently the Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy Dubai, where he oversees an incredibly talented team, building brands like Coca-Cola, Volkswagen, Google, UNWomen, Nestle, Dove, IKEA, Al Jazeera English, Dubai Tourisms and IBM.

Over the years Ramzi has won at all the major shows, D&AD, Cannes, One Show, Clio, LIA and NY Festival. Major highlights include taking home the first Titanium Lion in the Middle East, being the number one Creative Director at The One Show in 2014 and Ogilvy Dubai being named the Best Creative Agency in the Middle East at many of the global award shows, several years in a row.

Ramzi judged at LIA in 2014 and the Film category at Cannes in 2015. He will also be a jury for D&AD and Clio.

He is about to finish his eMBA at the Berlin School of Creative Leadership and whenever possible you’ll find him on the racetrack driving in endurance races. Together with his teammates, he’s won two World Championships in the FIA 24 Hour Endurance Series.

He stands by his philosophy that ‘if you love the job you do, you’ll never work a day in your life’.

500 Startups

Hasan Haider

Hasan Haider is a Partner at 500 Startups, the most active Venture Capital firm in the world, based in Silicon Valley, with 1,800+ investments in 50+ countries and $330m in AuM. Hasan heads up the firms practice in the MENA region, with the Arabic speaking market being a core area of focus. 500 Startups has invested in close to 40 startups in the region over the course of the last 3 years, including Wuzzuf, Jamalon and fetchr. Hasan is also the CEO and founder of Tenmou, the first business angel’s organization in Bahrain and one of the first in the MENA region, and a founding member of the MENA Angel Investors Network (MAIN), an association of all the active angel investment groups in the region. Hasan’s work in developing angel investment in emerging markets through Tenmou has been picked up as a case study by the World Bank and is taught to Entrepreneurship Policy makers at Babson College.

Dubai Holding

Noor Sweid

Noor Sweid is the Chief Investment Officer at DHX, an arm of Dubai Holding that focuses on investing in technology and innovation, while fostering the development of Dubai as an innovation hub. Prior to this position, Noor was a Managing Partner at Leap Ventures, a growth-stage venture capital firm based out of Dubai and Beirut.

With experience as a biotechnology and pharmaceutical strategy consultant in the US, and moving back to the MENA region in 2005, Noor joined her family business, Depa. Implementing best-practice corporate governance and enabling the scaling of the business tenfold in three years, Noor then led the US$1 billion IPO for the company in 2008, on the NASDAQ Dubai and the London Stock Exchange. In her eight year tenure at Depa, Noor’s involvement ranged from strategy, growth planning and execution, to the implementation of corporate governance, the completion of a private placement and an IPO, cross-border acquisitions, regulatory compliance, and investor relations.

During this time, Noor also founded the largest chain of wellness studios in the Middle East, which she exited ZenYoga in early 2014 through sale to a private equity firm.

Noor has been named in the Arabian Business 100 Most Powerful Arab Women list three times.

Noor holds bachelors’ degrees in Finance and Economics from Boston College as well as an MBA from MIT Sloan.

Dubai Film Market

Ayesha Chagla

Ayesha Chagla manages the Dubai Film Market (DFM) which is the business counterpart of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF). Launched in 2007, the DFM comprises several initiatives which aim to develop, support and promote Arab filmmakers. These include a highly successful co-production market, the Dubai Film Connection; Enjaaz a production and post-production fund; Cinetech a digital sales and acquisitions platform, the Dubai Distribution Programme and the Forum. The DFM is now considered the leading industry platform in the region and the gateway to one of the fastest growing film and TV markets in the world.

Prior to joining the festival, Ayesha worked in film production and development as well as in broadcast journalism. She holds a BA in psychology and sociology from the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

The Dubai Film Market runs concurrently with DIFF from the 6-13th of December 2017.

Mindshare MENA

Ravi Rao

Ravi has a track record of having been in marketing, account management and media.

A management graduate with a career of 25+ years in advertising & media for Unilever, PepsiCo, P&G, Henkel, Mars, Wrigley, FedEx, Dubai Holding, he comes back for a second stint in the MENA region. He was earlier with Mindshare India managing South Asia and is now the CEO for Mindshare MENA.

He loves to paint, yearns to be an archaeologist in the far future, but continues to be fascinated with developments in new media.


Raed Kuhail

Raed Kuhail is Executive Director, Information Technology at Dubai’s Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing – the body responsible for the branding, promotion and marketing of the Emirate of Dubai.

Working towards Dubai’s Tourism Vision to attract 20 million visitors per year by 2020, the Department is dedicated to working with private and public sector tourism and commerce partners to promote Dubai’s position as a leading international business and leisure destination around the world.

Raed oversees the technology department as a strategic technology executive, ensuring alignment with DTCM’s business strategy, owning critical disciplines such as Information Security, Business Intelligence and IT PMO, Service Delivery, Governance and IT Strategy. He is also involved in Dubai Smart City initiatives including Dubai Data.

Prior to joining DTCM in November 2014, Raed held several executive positions within Al Hilal Bank in Abu Dhabi as Vice President, Applications and Business Solutions, Vice President of Infrastructure, Operations & Technical Support and Head of Enterprise Project Management Office, managing all aspects of technology planning, design, architecture, operations, software engineering, system development, quality control, business solutions and production support for complex banking systems.

Raed also has professional experience with Emirates Airline, working as Senior Project manager in the carrier’s Technology Centre in Dubai, and spent almost ten years working in the United States, where he graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in Engineering Science.


Sarah Jones

A true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer’. chief Sarah Jones is living proof of this. Bitten by the bug at just 14, Sarah set up a profitable eBay business importing items from across the globe and selling in the UK, igniting a love for e-commerce and developing an acute business mind in the process.

Four years later, a degree in Economics at Edinburgh University beckoned, which not only heightened Sarah’s financial acumen, but also her highly competitive nature! Her placement at Deloitte London in the retail M&A team led to an international secondment in the Middle East just a few years later.

Which is where the story really begins, and to a point, where Sarah the CEO figure emerges. Described by her friends, as “a relentless enterprise of fresh ideas and innovations” she’s never lost the thirst for clinching a business deal first hand and is a self- confessed workaholic. Her phone is never off, her mind is always active and her passion to drive the business forward is unrivaled.

Spotting a gap in the e-commerce market on arrival, Sarah secured funding for her start-up in a matter of months, growing it rapidly into the lifestyle hub for the every-women that it is today.


Nagham Akileh

Nagham is Director of Social Media at OMD UAE, with over a decade of marketing experience across various industries, including FMCG and eCommerce. She currently leads the PepsiCo MENA social media account. She is passionate about technology, analytics and creativity, often interweaving all three in her work, some of which has been awarded at industry festivals. When she's not blogging or tweeting her thoughts, you can find her following TV shows or expanding her shoe collection as part of her ongoing eCommerce “research”.


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.

GE Digital

Kristen Kutz

Kirsten Kutz is Communications Manager for GE Digital in the Middle East, North Africa & Turkey. She is responsible for shaping reputation, thought leadership positioning, and brand awareness for GE Digital in the region, based on key business priorities. She leads all integrated PR, internal, customer, and digital communications, as well as events and developer ecosystem outreach, with the goal of creating demand, fostering market growth, and strengthening relationships with key stakeholders.

Prior to her current role, Kirsten was Innovation Communications Manager for GE in MENAT. Her work focused on advanced manufacturing, the industrial internet, and open innovation. Her responsibilities included leading GE’s support of the entrepreneurship, creating and activating customer experiences at the region’s GE Innovation Centers, leading communications around innovation challenges, and running programming for the GE’s advanced manufacturing initiatives in the region.

Kirsten joined GE in 2010 as part of the Corporate Communications team. Her first position was leading internal and executive leadership communications for the regional CEO. Prior to joining GE, Kirsten worked for global PR agency Burson-Marsteller in their Brand Marketing practice in Los Angeles, California.

Kirsten holds a BA in International Studies – Linguistics and Chinese Studies – from the University of California, San Diego. She is based in Dubai, UAE.


Shant Oknayan

Shant Oknayan is the Head of e-Commerce, Retail, Online Services & Media at Facebook in the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan, where he leads efforts to enable businesses in the region to scale growth and engage with consumers on Facebook. Shant has over 15 years of experience in leading strategy & business development, with subject-matter expertise in digital and investment strategies for governments and corporations, having most recently headed up Google’s market development for small & medium businesses in the Middle East and North Africa.

Shant’s understanding of the start-up space saw him co-found GlamBox, the first and leading beauty e-commerce company in the MENA region with venture backing from STC, MBC and others, and nominated a “Most Promising Start-up in the UAE” by Forbes Middle East in 2015 and 2016.

Shant was also Google’s Head of Strategy & Operations in the Middle East and North Africa, and prior to that spent 8 years as a management consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton and Strategy&, leading business technology and digital strategy projects for governments, large organizations, and investment firms both in the Middle East and Europe.

Nominated a “Top 50 SME Executive” in 2013 by Start-Up Arabian Business, Shant holds an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management and a Masters with honors in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Imperial College London.


Aya Sadder

Aya Sadder is the Incubator manager of Intelak, the first Travel & Aviation Incubator in the region; it is a partnership between The Emirates Group, GE and Etisalat. In this role, she delivers the Incubator’s strategy of supporting the UAE's ambitious plans for the future, and to ensure that the country sets the highest global standards for services, systems, and experiences in aviation. She is developing Intelak into a hub that will seek to develop teams, comprised of early-stage entrepreneurs or students, to become part of the conversation in travel and aviation. This includes managing the four phases of the incubator, sourcing through universities and start-up ecosystem, organizing and conducting a bootcamp,implementing a four month incubation program and graduating the teams into funded independent start-ups.

Sadder has worked with some of the most significant organizations in the start-up ecosystem. She has worked with Impact Hub Dubai and The Sustainability Platform. She helped both organizations with developing their business strategies and managing their corporate programs. Sadder was also the lead organizer for Startup Weekend Dubai working under the umbrella of Techstars and Google. Sadder is also an active mentor and speaker on different programs most recently working with Women in STEM.

Prior to her start-up ecosystem experience, Sadder started her career with Estee Lauder Companies in both Dubai and New York where she was working with both the marketing and demand planning divisions.

Sadder graduated from Babson College with a dual concentration in Strategic Management and Marketing with an Honors degree.


Fadi Naoum

Fadi Naoum is Development Senior Vice President for Sports and Entertainment, the 25th industry at SAP. His key responsibility is the development of flexible and innovative end-to-end-solutions that help sports and entertainment organizations improve their processes and maximize achievement. Its customers include the German Football Association (DFB), San Jose Sharks, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, SAP Arena, Bayern München and several others. The product portfolio of sports and entertainment comprises e.g. Team Management & Team Performance, Ticketing- & Point of Sale innovations. Mr. Naoum has been in global leading SAP positions for more than 15 years. He began his IT career at Lufthansa AG in 1989, where he was project manager on the implementation of SAP software. Fadi holds a Master degree in Economic Data Processing from the Cologne University, Germany.

Dubai Future Foundation

Noah Raford

Dr. Raford is an advisor at the Prime Minister’s Office and has played a role in the establishment of the UAE’s first national foresight unit, the Dubai Future Foundation and the Museum of the Future. He is also involved in a team that looks into future opportunities, strategic partnerships and initiatives for the Government of Dubai.


Anthony Butler

Anthony Butler is CTO for IBM Cloud in Middle East and Africa; providing technical leadership across IBM’s cloud services and software portfolio and focusing on helping clients unlock new sources of value through the use of cloud-based technologies, such as blockchain and cognitive computing.

Prior to this, he was Chief Architect, IBM Global Technology Services for Middle East and Africa, where he was responsible for leading complex services solutions for clients across the region. Before relocating to the UAE, he was based in Australia, and held a global role as Chief Architect leading a multi-year IT transformation for one of IBM’s largest clients. He is a member of IBM’s Academy of Technology and has numerous patent filings in the fields of cloud, blockchain, analytics, and security technologies.

He holds a Masters of Engineering from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

Inc. Magazine

Christine Grové

Christine is a journalist from South Africa, who has lived and worked in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, covering everything from hard news to lifestyle to business & tech. Having been bitten by the travel bug as an infant, Christine finds it fairly easy to uproot herself in search of new adventures and stories. With degrees in both fine arts and journalism, she’s equally interested in visual storytelling as well as the written word. Having been part of three launch teams of three different media startups in her lifetime, she’s intimately familiar with what it takes to get a publication off the ground. Last year Christine helped to launch the Inc. brand in the Middle East, and as the senior reporter for Inc. Arabia, she's chasing down the stories of the entrepreneurs and innovation mavericks from the region.

Thomson Reuters

Tina Ghanem

Tina Ghanem is the Head of Accelerate SME at Thomson Reuters based out of Dubai, UAE. She joined Thomson Reuters in 2010 as a content manager at Zawya, before moving on to lead the content operations at Zawya. Tina was part of the Zawya leadership team during the Zawya acquisition by Thomson Reuters in 2012.

Prior to joining Thomson Reuters, she held positions Booz Allen Hamilton, ACE Life Middle East and MEERAS Capital.

Tina holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the American University of Beirut, a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the University of Reading in the UK and an executive MBA from IE Business School in Spain.

Publicis Communication

Samer Shoueiry

With 18+ years of academic and professional experience across business, design and innovation, I currently act as Publicis Communication MEA's Executive Head of Digital and Social Marketing, evolving the new capabilities we and our clients need to succeed in the Connected Age. Over 6 years at Leo Burnett MENA, I established the LB MENA network Social and Digital design practice, founded and championed our Social Content Lab, Experience Design and Experience Strategy disciplines, expanded our regional and global client portfolio as Regional Digital Director, and cultivated native digital design thinking to generate groundbreaking brand experiences as the first Digital Director for Innovation and Strategy. With Publicis Communications MEA, I have a new regional remit across Leo Burnett, Saatchi and Publicis, driving the development and integration of offices and capabilities all-through MENA, especially at the intersection of Business Transformation and Innovation. In addition to working with some of the world’s largest and most innovative companies, I have the privilege to mentor agile Internet of Things (IoT) start-ups via the Publicis 90 Accelerator.

Sky News Arabia

Jessy El Murr

Jessy El Murr is a multimedia journalist, writer and moderator with a special interest in social media and Arab youth.

El Murr currently produces and presents Sky News Arabia’s daily segment Taghreedat Al Sabah, which highlights the online work and successes of Arab youth.

With over 15 years of media experience, El Murr is a Lebanese-American journalist who has reported for several international TV networks including BBC and Al Jazeera before moving to UAE in 2012.

From Washington DC to NY, Geneva, Istanbul, and Beirut, El Murr covered major political, economic and military news stories including U.S presidential elections and the international coalition airstrikes on ISIS.

In September 2014 Jessy boarded aircraft carrier USS George H.W Bush to cover the international coalition strikes on ISIS locations in Syria and Iraq. Jessy witnessed and reported the US Navy F18 fighter jets leading the airstrikes, thus delivering insight into both the military and logistical challenges facing the mission.

In 2012, she was the first Arab female reporter to complete an embed with US Army Troops in Kandahar, Afghanistan reporting on the NATO troops withdrawal for SKY News Arabia.


Xavi Anglada

Extensive experience as an advisor to top executives of leading telecom and media groups across multiple domains including corporate and commercial strategy, business and operational transformation, consumer analytics and organizational development.

Currently leading Cash Credit, an innovative FinTech company, and stepping up into the Sport-tech world with Valorafutbol.

Writer & Film Director

Darine Hotait

Darine Hotait is a Lebanese American writer and film director. She wrote and directed a number of short films that went on to screen at prestigious festivals such as 34th Outfest by HBO and receive numerous Best Short Fiction awards as well as distribution and broadcast on platforms such as AMC Networks, Sundance Channel, BBC Channel, Shorts International & The Journal of Short Films.

Aside from film, Darine is a published science fiction playwright and short story writer. Her work appeared in various publications in print and online and took part in art exhibitions.

She is the founder of Cinephilia Productions in New York City, an incubator for the development of MENA region filmmakers through various initiatives that occupy the space between ideation and production.

She holds an MFA in Screenwriting and directing from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

Darine has mentored numerous workshops on screenwriting and directing at literary and film institutions and served as a jury member on short film competitions at international film festivals around the world.

She resides in New York City.

MAD Talks

Tariq Qureishy

Tariq is currently the Founder and CEO of MAD Talks, an integrated digital storytelling platform and media brand for the emerging world. This platform captures stories shaping the future, of leadership & innovation, entrepreneurship and breakthrough thinking, in video and audio digital platforms and packages them for distribution through various digital and traditional channels.

Tariq’s media and broadcasting experience includes being a keynote motivational speaker, panelist, chairing and moderating global conferences, radio and television. He specializes in talks about the future, breakthrough thinking, the brain, innovation and creativity, moon-shot thinking, always with practical business solutions that can be applied immediately in your environment.

Tariq has presented keynotes to global and regional summits ( eg KPMG, DP World, Telenor, Harvard Business School – Crossroads, Telenor, Oman Oil, to name a few), and worked with BBC World, Dubai Eye, Dubai TV & has appeared in international broadcast & print media.

Tariq has presented keynotes to global and regional summits ( eg KPMG, DP World, Telenor, Harvard Business School – Crossroads, Telenor, Oman Oil, to name a few), and worked with BBC World, Dubai Eye, Dubai TV & has appeared in international broadcast & print media.

Entrepreneur Middle East

Tamara Pupic

Tamara Pupic is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Middle East. She has been a long-time active reporter on the goings-on of MENA start-ups and SMEs, insisting that a good business story can always be written about new ventures, even those still at an idea stage. In addition, she has put the spotlight on the inside world of more established GCC-based businesses by analysing the business acumen and stamina of some the region’s most successful entrepreneurs.

Prior to starting her career in journalism in 2012, Tamara worked in the international trade policy development field, especially focusing on World Trade Organisation (WTO) law. She holds a master’s degree in international law and economics (MILE 8) from the World Trade Institute in Bern, Switzerland.


Omer Unsal

Omer started his investment banking career working for Citibank/Salomon Smith Barney and UBS Warburg investment banking divisions in New York City between the years 1999 and 2003. During his tenor in New York, Omer concentrated on M&A and leveraged finance advisory transactions in general industrials, healthcare, and technology industries in the U.S., Europe and Japan. Omer then moved to Istanbul in 2004 where he worked as a Vice President in HC Istanbul Securities’ –an independent investment banking boutique focusing on Turkish M&A advisory services, between the years 2004 and 2005, before founding Odin Financial Advisors in March 2006. Today, Odin Financial Advisors is one of the leading independent investment banking services firms in Turkey having completed US$3.5 bn in transaction volume.

Since 2012, Omer concentrates majority of his time in technology deal making. As a result, Odin Financial Advisors, as of 3Q 2016, became the No. 1 technology investment banking advisory services firm in Turkey. Odin’s success in technology deal making created Aventio MB in December 2016. Aventio MB is the first emerging markets focused technology merchant banking advisory services firm operating with offices in London, Istanbul and Dubai.

Omer spends majority of his time at Aventio today focusing on emerging market technology deal making as well as serving as the Chairman of Odin Financial Advisors. Omer is also a member of Endeavor, the leading high-impact entrepreneurship movement around the world, and part of the Endeavor mentorship program in Istanbul and Dubai. Omer is also an Associate Member of Invest Europe.

Omer has B.A. dual degree in Political Science and Economics from Connecticut College in the U.S. Omer received an award of excellent for his outstanding achievements by the Political Science Association of the U.S. in 1999.


Ziad Khammar

Ziad’s association with digital media dates back to 1999, when he helped launch a friend’s e-commerce supermarket website. In 2000, he was appointed as General Manager of “eworks” - Publicis’ dedicated digital agency - where he furthered digital marketing initiatives for world-class advertisers, including Nestle, British Airways and HP. In 2007, EMAP’s $24 million acquisition of “AME Info” witnessed Ziad joining the portal as their General Manager, overseeing operations, editorials, sales, marketing and web development. By 2010, Ziad ventured out once again to launch “Madison Digital”, an independent digital agency focused on delivering consultancy services. Ziad’s fourteen plus years of intensive experience across the digital media scene led him to his current role at DMS - the digital media arm of Choueiri Group - where he serves as Strategy and Development Director.

Entrepreneur Middle East

Aby Sam Thomas

Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East, a business magazine catering to the region's entrepreneurs and business-minded readership. In this role, Aby heads a team that builds Entrepreneur Middle East's monthly print publications, as well as its website. As a proponent for the MENA entrepreneurial ecosystem, Aby is especially interested in stories on startups and the enterprising people behind them.

Before working in the media sector, Aby was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York. He can be contacted on Twitter at @thisisaby.


Damien Drap

Damien holds a MS in Industrial Engineering from École Centrale de Paris. He started his career in strategy consulting, spending a few years at Oliver Wyman where he advised leaders of the largest Retail and CPG actors in Europe and the US.

Damien joined Uber in its early days in France in 2013, where he started as one of the first Operations Managers, building what is one of the largest markets for the company today. In 2015, he moved to a regional role, serving as Strategy & Planning manager for Western Europe, before moving to Amsterdam in 2016 to lead the S&P team for the entire EMEA region in 2016.

Since December 2016, Damien leads the UberEATS business in the United Arab Emirates.


Omar Tawakol

Omar Tawakol is the Chief Executive Officer of Workfit, and has a passion for helping people become more productive.

Prior to Workfit, Omar Tawakol was the founder and CEO of BlueKai which was the leading Data Management Platform company in the advertising industry. Oracle acquired BlueKai and at Oracle, Omar was the SVP & GM of the Oracle Data Cloud (ODC). Through organic growth and acquisition, the ODC became the largest Data-as-a-Service business in the marketing industry serving 97 of the top 100 US digital marketers.

He earned an MS in computer science from Stanford University and a BS in engineering from MIT.

Zawya Cinema

Youssef Shazli

Born and raised in Cairo, Youssef Shazli studied International Development at McGill University. He joined Misr International Films (MIF) working on the Panorama of the European Film, currently in its ninth run. In 2014, he launched Zawya Cinema, one of Egypt's first arthouse cinemas, and most recently Zawya Distribution, an initiative to promote Egyptian arthouse films locally and abroad.


Imad Sarrouf

Imad a seasoned digital media and marketing expert with over eleven years of experience in the MENA region. He has been directing the development and application of digital media since the early days of the Internet, with a career centered on digital media planning and buying, ad technology and product formation. His role at DMS is focused on developing and reinforcing the company's vision, values and commercial policies, while aligning the latest digital media and advertising solutions with the needs of leading brands and industry trends. Imad also oversees the commercial aspect of the business by analyzing commercial data from various sources.


Raouf Ketani

Raouf has over 15 years of experience in web and digital media, spanning across ad agencies, web publishers and ad technology providers. Throughout his career, he has delivered large-scale web advertising projects for clients in various sectors, directed global data platforms, led ad operations and analyst teams, and championed digital operations across 30 markets globally. His strength lies in his ability to gain an in-depth understanding of advertisers’ brands and products, identifying their best performing channels to develop successful revenue-generating data strategies. In 2016, he joined Omnicom Media Group MENA as head of Annalect MENA to elevate the role of analytics in data-driven marketing and develop bespoke data and tech solutions for the Group’s clients.

Publicis Media

Nael Halabi

Nael Halabi attributes his growing success in the field of media to a collective team spirit and strong belief in ‘the power of we’. Halabi first joined Publicis Media 16 years ago, during which he worked on a stellar roster of clients spanning various industries including telecommunication, FMCG, hospitality, investment, banking and real estate, to name a few. Halabi, who obtained a BS in Business Management with a Minor in Business Marketing from the Lebanese American University (LAU), cites setting up the Kuwait network in 2002 as his biggest career milestone – a hefty endeavor which quickly saw the company acquire an undisputed leading regional position.

Halabi’s deep knowledge of Middle Eastern markets stems from his upbringing; born and raised in Kuwait, he has managed to establish an extensive network of contacts both locally and regionally throughout the years. Not one to revel in his achievements, Halabi emphasizes the importance of the role of his team as a whole in spearheading Publicis Media Kuwait’s market dominance year on year.

Orient Planet Group

Nidal Abou Zaki

Nidal Abou Zaki is the founder of Orient Planet Group (OPG) and several companies in the Middle East engaged in marketing and communications, public relations, business consulting, media, and digital technology, serving across the Gulf region, Levant, Egypt and North Africa. With over 23 years of experience in the industry, Nidal Abou Zaki’s entrepreneurial drive led to the growth of OPG which now consists of Orient Planet Marketing & Communications, Orient Planet Social, Orient Planet Academy, Orient Planet RASD and Orient Planet Research. His latest venture,, is the region’s first online marketplace that connects businesses with creative companies and professionals.


Omar Abou Faraj

Omar is the CEO and Co-Founder of DUBZ, a tech-startup designed to relieve travelers from the hassle of handling their luggage on their day of travel. DUBZ soft- launched in November 2016 and was one of four winners at Intelak, a travel-focused startup incubator founded by the Emirates Group, GE, and Etisalat.

Omar has 9+ years of management consulting and tech experience having worked at A.T. Kearny and Oracle. He holds a Bachelors of Engineering from the American University of Beirut and an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), with special emphasis on Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He is very passionate about technology and entrepreneurship and has witnessed how technology can have a transformational impact on people in developing areas. Omar loves to travel and explore new countries, a passion that played a primary role in the establishment of DUBZ. He is also an avid football fan and enjoys hiking, playing squash, and playing motor sports.

MAU Games Studio

Eman Battour

Eman has over 6 years of experience in digital and mobile app marketing and served as the marketing consultant for several tech startups in USA and Switzerland. Her career further flourished by joining MAU Games Studio and being in charge of delivering high-quality mobile games to the market.


TJ Lightwala

TJ began her role at Mindshare in 2013, and is responsible for leading the digital platforms, developing new and relevant product streams, planning and overseeing full end-to-end digital performance growth of clients and internal teams across the MENA region. She brings in depth digital and product perspective, having worked in the US and the Middle East on both the agency and client sides across many industries. In previous role, she led digital business for Staples USA, Canada, and international businesses at Aegis Media in Boston. She holds her bachelors, from American University in Dubai and Masters in Science, from DePaul University, Chicago. She currently leads Mindshare’s regional performance business and GroupM’s regional programmatic business.


Amon Ghaiumy

Amon Ghaiumy is the Director of EMEA at Moat, an analytics and intelligence company focused on digital advertising. Moat develops technologies to help brand advertisers and publishers evaluate, optimize, and transact in digital advertising by measuring attention. In his role, Amon cultivates partnerships across the digital advertising ecosystem in European, Middle Eastern and Asian markets. By collaborating with executives at agencies, leading global brands, premium online publishers, and many of the world's leading platforms, Amon delivers technology that enables his partners to build programs that drive brand-safe messaging and effectively capture attention online. Prior to Moat, Amon held positions at Deutsche Bank and KPMG. Amon is based in London, United Kingdom and has a B.A. in Economics from Brown University.

Delta Partners

Borja Lopez

Successful investor in the digital arena, currently holding equity and advising boards of 6 digital companies. 15+ years experience in strategy advisory and PE in Telecom and digital industries. Strong experience across Africa, North America, CIS, Middle East and Europe

Currently a partner at Sports & Entertainment Practice in Delta Partners.


Leena Khalil

Leena Khalil is the co-founder of Mumzworld, responsible for the developmental strategy and growth of the business in the GCC. Leena felt compelled to join the founding team of Mumzworld, in establishing a comprehensive bilingual online shopping and information portal dedicated to everything mother, baby and child that will empower mothers in the region.

Leena, a UK national who relocated to Riyadh in 2009, previously worked for Liberata, a leading business process outsourcer. Leena started her career in investment banking at San Francisco investment bank focused on the technology sector. She brings a wealth of experience to her role, combining strong analytical and financial skills with the ability to develop technology driven processes that increase access, reduce costs and improve quality. Her experience also extends to the listing of a number of Europe’s leading internet and technology firms during her time at Citigroup and Robertson Stephens International.

Leena holds a BA in Electrical Engineering from Cambridge University.

Leena is also kept busy by running a rich schedule for her children Hana, Ahmad and Jude.

Alfan Group

Mohammad Fattal

Mohammad Fattal is the CEO and Founder of Alfan Group, a next-generation digital media company with over 800 million monthly viewers and 250 unique channels across its Multi-Platform Network. Starting off in 2010 by creating his own content Mohammad quickly saw the opportunity and began building his digital channel network. With a degree in economics and a Masters in Entrepreneurship, Mohammad built Alfan during his academic career and started focusing full time on Alfan in late 2014. Currently, Alfan has operations in Toronto, Abu Dhabi and Dubai with a vision of developing and creating content locally to reach a global audience.


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.


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.


Sofiane Haddadi

Sofiane is responsible for the offline/online media buying and planning for the 20+ brands that constitute the L’Oréal portfolio. He is a qualified marketing consultant with track record of successfully leading complex enterprise-level projects. Sofiane has over 10+ years’ experience in digital marketing roles internationally (France, UK, UAE) for major global brands (Dubai Tourism, Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot, etc.) with a focus in creating seamless customer journeys.


Mohammed Awaad

Digital content expert with a strong background in digital media and journalism. Football influencer with more than a million followers on social media.

Currently Digital Director of Sport360, where he’s helping create the most complete and creative sports destination in GCC, setting the vision and overseeing production and digital marketing.


Medea Nocentini

Medea Nocentini is Senior Vice President Strategy at OSN, the leading Pay TV platform in the MENA region, where she is responsible for strategy planning and management, as well as market and consumer intelligence. While at OSN, Medea founded Consult and Coach for a Cause (C3), a UAE-based social enterprise fostering the social enterprise ecosystem in the MENA region by mobilizing corporate professionals to support emerging social entrepreneurs on a volunteer basis. Before joining OSN, she worked in Business Development at McGraw-Hill and prior to that she spent several years at Booz & Co developing strategies for media, consumer, and social sector’s clients across Europe, the United States, and Middle East. She holds an MBA from Columbia Business School (New York, USA), a BA in mechanical engineering from Politecnico di Torino (Italy) and an engineering diploma from Ecole Centrale Paris (France).

Actor, Comedian, Writer

Hisham Fageeh

Fageeh is the co-producer and star of Saudi Arabia’s submission to the Oscars for 2016’s Best Foreign Film, “Barakah Meets Barakah”.

Most-known for his 2013 viral video "No Woman, No Drive", Hisham started performing stand-up while working on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

During his Master’s at Columbia University, he studied improvisational comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (UCBT). Also while procrastinating; he started a web series (اسبوعیات هشام) which propelled him into an Arabic stand-up scene in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia- where he now resides.

Follow him all over that social medias @HishamFageeh, please.

Reetu Kainulainen

Reetu Kainulainen is the CEO and co-founder of, an artificial intelligence company using deep learning to automate customer service operations. Reetu is on a mission to outsource tedious work to machines and enable humans to focus on more creative and challenging tasks. His background is in Knowledge management and he is passionate about exploring ways humans and machines could collaborate and communicate. Reetu believes language understanding is one of the key areas in artificial intelligence development that will lead to truly revolutionary innovations. is a deep tech company building the next generation customer service automation platform using state of the art deep learning algorithms. We digest customer service chat logs and train a deep neural network that can handle the most common customer service questions automatically. Current clients include large banks, insurance companies, airlines and telcos. As an example was deployed inside one of the largest insurance companies in Finland to support hundreds of sales reps by providing detailed answers about their insurance products. works 24/7 without a break and can potentially generate over 50% savings in customer service operations. works alongside humans learning from them and getting better each day.


Nooruldeen Agha

Nooruldeen is a 30 year old entrepreneur who founded and running three operating companies in the United Arab Emirates. The Founder and CEO of a comprehensive online fashion fashion retailer and, a fashion brand, and the Founder of, a leading branding and advertising agency in the Middle East.

Noor had started his career in corporates business environment of oil and gas as a field engineer and grew internally to lead marketing communications department for one of the largest oilfield service companies in the region. With entrepreneurial spirit, Noor decided to step out of the secure employment frame to start Elephant Nation in 2013, an advertising agency that could inspire and enable the establishment of, as customizable fashion brand which was the first ecommerce in the region that caters to high-end customized designed fashion products. In March 2016, Nooruldeen established which was officially launched in Sep 2016 with the objective to build the biggest fashion-focused online marketplace in the region. Today, is a company that accommodates more than 150 brands and over 15000 products of the terendiest fashion fashion product Noor holds a degree in computer science from American university of Sharjah, and graduated in 2010.

Film Producer

Wafa Tajdin

Wafa Tajdin was born and brought up in one of Africa’s busiest city’s, Nairobi as well as Dubai, UAE. She is no stranger to the patchwork of experiences that are part and parcel of growing up in a 21st century metropolis. A sentiment that has contributed immensely to her choice of academic pursuits – an undergraduate degree in economics and a masters degree in media studies from the Rhodes School of Journalism in South Africa. A passion for journalism and telling the stories that matter led Wafa onto the path of flmmaking specifcally with respect to producing human-interest stories from angles that are innovative, interesting and relevant to the Middle East & Africa in particular.

Creative Documentary Platform

Reem Bader

Reem Bader is the Founding Director of the Creative Documentary Platform- Jordan and its Minaa Scheme. She is additionally a consultant on various film programs in Jordan such as the Karama Human Rights Film Festival- Jordan. Earlier on, she managed diverse educational film programs through the Royal Film Commission- Jordan like the Rawi Screenwriters’ Lab further to founding and directing the Med Film Factory. She was guest and speaker at diverse film venues: jury member at Dox Box Residency Scheme- 2017, the Documentary Film Award through the Antalya Film Forum- 2016, Jury at Shasha Scriptwriting Competition- 2010.

Being a visual artist herself, Bader is an advocate for inventive arts and film and their ability to endure not only individuals’ but also collective progressive impact to the world we live in.

SnapChat Influencer

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.


Omar Zuhair

Omar Zuhair Also known as "Spooki" is a Bahrani YouTuber who aims to mix comedy with everything he does such as gaming and challenges. With over 1.2 Million subscribers and 90 Million views he is considered as one of the biggest YouTube channels in the middle east.


Perihan AbouZeid

Perihan is the founder and CEO of MoviePigs, a VOD platform for Arab cinema in North America. She also co-founded and QabilaTV. Previously, she worked with Google, the Canadian Embassy in Cairo, and Egypt's leading Internet service provider. She holds an MBA from MIT Sloan, and a BBA from The American University in Cairo. In 2012, she was received the Best Female Entrepreneur award from MIT Enterprise Forum.


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.

Bahrain Economic Development Board

Simon Galpin

Dr. Simon Galpin was appointed Managing Director of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) in February 2016.

Previously, Dr Galpin was the Director-General of Investment Promotion at Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK), the Government Department responsible for attracting and facilitating foreign direct investment into Hong Kong, and helped establish the Department as one of the world's leading investment promotion agencies.

With senior management experience in both the private and public sectors, Dr. Galpin was also actively involved in promoting Hong Kong’s expanding start-up ecosystem. Prior to joining InvestHK, Dr. Galpin spent ten years with Scottish Enterprise – at that time Europe’s largest economic development agency. He was initially posted to Hong Kong in 1992 but also worked in Glasgow, Taipei, Sydney and London.

Dr. Galpin holds Masters degrees in Business Administration, Local Economic Development and International Business Law and recently graduated as a Doctor of Juridical Science.


Hadi Kabalan

Hadi Kabalan is a managing director at Otonomos, a fintech and legaltech company which puts private companies on blockchain. Otonomos enables entrepreneurs to easily form their companies online and fund and govern them digitally, with all actions legally valid in the jurisdictions in which Otonomos is present. Currently Otonomos is in Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Cayman Islands, BVI, and soon Delaware in the USA.

Prior to joining Otonomos Hadi spent 18 years in finance, investing in and advising technology companies, including 12 years at Goldman Sachs Asset Management where he managed the Global Technology Fund.

Hadi has a Bsc Hons in Banking and International Finance from CASS Business School, a Certificate in Fintech Future Commerce from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a CFA Charterholder.

Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority

Sirine Fadoul

Sirine Fadoul is Incubation Manager at DTEC Tech Startup Incubator, looking after the investment selection process, the incubation program as well as securing follow-on funding for the incubated startups. She is also a member of the investment selection team screening seed and growth stage ventures. DSOA's portfolio includes ShortPoint, Wrappup, Melltoo, Clip The Deal, 360VUZ, Compareit4me, Step Group, Nabbesh and more.

Sirine was awarded Mentor of the Year 2016 by Arabian Business Awards. She sits on the advisory board of several tech startups in MENA, Europe and the US.

She is a founding member of Girls in Tech Middle East and a Mentor and Coach for The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s Mentoring Women Program.

Sirine holds a Master in Marketing from University Paris XII and a Performance Management degree from Harvard University.

Send her your pitch deck and follow her @SirineFad

Rocket Internet MENA

Eyad Alkassar

Eyad grew up in Germany, where he earned a Ph.D. Summa Cum Laude in Computer Science. During his studies he was a fellow of the German National Academic Foundation. Since he joined Rocket Internet as Managing Director of The Middle East, Eyad co-founded and run over a dozen of companies which raised hundreds of millions of dollars in funding. Amongst others Eyad was a Co-founder of and in the fall of 2013, he became the Founder of the Middle East Internet Group


Jad Hindy

Seasoned marketing executive with more than 20 years of experience in marketing, communication and brand building across the Middle East and North Africa region.

One of the first digital and social marketers in the region and an active speaker and mentor on the topics of digital communications and social media. In his previous roles, he was the Founder of Engaged Brands, Founder and CEO of Netizency, Regional Director of Innovation and Digital Strategy at Leo Burnett, Head of Brand and Innovation at Virgin Mobile Qatar, Vice President of Marketing Communications at du and General Manager at Leo Burnett Kuwait. Jad is also a director and board member at TiE.


Jowe Harfouche

Jowe Harfouche is the Executive Director of the Network of Arab Alternative Screens (NAAS), a growing constellation of non-governmental cinema spaces presenting visionary film programs that engage and challenge audiences across the Arab region. He is also a filmmaker. With Ginger Beirut, he produced feature films for the likes of Ghassan Salhab, Nadine Labaki, Simon El Haber, Vatché Boulghourjian, Rabih Mroué, Alia Farid, and Mark Lewis, working in various roles ranging from line producer and assistant director to post-producer and editor. As an independent filmmaker, he edited the feature film 28 Nights and a Poem by Akram Zaatari, directed music videos for Mashrou’ Leila and Aziza, and developed his first feature documentary Making Sex within the framework of the Documentary Campus and Berlinale Talents. He has also directed viral video campaigns for local and regional NGO’s such as the Migrant Workers’ Task Force, Lebanese School for the Blind and Deaf, and SADA for Contemporary Art Education in Baghdad. In addition to his work in cinema and film, he serves as President of Masrah Ensemble, a nonprofit theatre organization that aims to reconfigure audiences and to encourage transcendent, riveting theatre. Born and raised in Lebanon, and with degrees in animation, film, and television production from Notre Dame University (Lebanon) and Trebas (Montreal, Quebec), Harfouche lives in Beirut.


Mai Medhat

Mai Medhat is the CEO and co-founder of Eventtus; an events engagement platform and the leading event app provider in the Middle East. Mai is an Egyptian tech entrepreneur holds a Computer Engineering degree from Ain Shams University. She co-founded Eventtus in 2012 with a mission to mobilize events and help attendees make the most of events. The company served 9,000 events and 150,000 attendees since then and growing into 15+ countries.

Mai has been recognized by the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 as one of the most promising entrepreneurs and was invited to represent Middle East startups in an iconic panel with Former President Barak Obama and Mark Zuckerberg, Founder of Facebook.

Art Critic

Mahnaz Fancy

Mahnaz Fancy is a Dubai-based art critic and arts & culture advisor with a 15-year career in leading independent arts organizations in New York. After pursuing a PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago and an early career in publishing, she dedicated herself to exploring the role of the arts in our increasingly transnational world by launching not-for-profit initiatives and public awareness campaigns focusing on contemporary creative communities from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. These efforts have produced exhibitions, festivals, and conferences as well as informal networking opportunities that have, in turn, led to wider engagement with the international cultural philanthropy community in the development of infrastructure in these emerging arts sectors. Based on strategic partnerships and communications, these efforts have not only raised public awareness of contemporary arts from the MENASA region but also paved the way for expanded international arts exchange for a new generation of artists. Prior to moving to Dubai, Mahnaz served as a board member and then the Executive Director of ArteEast, the leading US arts organization for supporting individual artists and the development of the arts ecosystem in the Middle East and North Africa.

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.


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.

Saudi Gamer

Mashhoor Aldubayan

Mashhoor is a Saudi entrepenuer with a development/UX background, and a passion for video games since he was a kid.

He is the founder of Saudi Gamer, the leading gaming media outlet in the Arab world. Saudi Gamer started in 2009 as hobby project, with a simple weekly podcast. Saudi Gamer started to slowly evolve and show its business potential, until Mashhoor decided to quit his full-time job in 2013 as User Experience Specialist, to focus on growing Saudi Gamer's team and business.

Four years later, Saudi Gamer has millions of followers and viewers across its channels, and ventured into mobile game development to utilize its long expertise in this field.

Kanwal Sarfraz

Kanwal Sarfraz is co-founder and chief operating officer at Middle East’s go-to online marketplace, Prior to joining Wadi, Kanwal worked at McKinsey and Company, where she served leading GCC enterprises on strategy, operations and customer experience topics. Kanwal has worked for global firms Unilever and Gallup in Pakistan, as well as trying her hand at teaching which she still enjoys immensely. Kanwal holds an MPhil in Economics from Clare College, Cambridge University (UK) and an undergraduate degree in Economics from LUMS (Pakistan). Kanwal is a Commonwealth and Noon scholar.


Leena Kewlani

With over 18 years of media experience across MENA, Leena has worked across a multitude of multinational clients such as Nestle Middle East, Ford, Land Rover Jaguar, Fiat Chrysler, Emirates NBD, Sony Mobiles, Harry Winston, Cleartrip, Qatar Airways and the Singapore Tourism Board. She was responsible for creating branded content from ideation to execution across all platforms. Before joining DMS, Leena headed up MEC Access (Branded Content, Sponsorship, and Activation) at MEC MENA for seven years. She currently leads on Branded Content at DMS, crafting and creating Branded Content opportunities and solutions for clients, ensuring seamless delivery across DMS’ platforms. Leena is an Abstract Impressionism artist and travels avidly around the world, photographing nature. Her photography serves to inspire the creation of her oil paintings and charcoal sketches.


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.


Talal Bayaa

Talal Bayaa is the CEO and co-founder of Bayzat, a UAE-based technology start-up that empowers businesses with smart and effective insurance & HR solutions.

Launched officially in April 2013, the platform is the first one-stop-shop to offer a real-time comparison of health insurance rates in UAE and much more. The company has recently introduced HR Administration services that help companies automate all their admin work from data entry to managing employee records.

Prior to setting up his own company, Talal worked for a private equity & corporate finance firm, followed by two years at an investment bank.

After sensing an opportunity in the financial products market, Talal started Bayzat with his school friend and now co-founder Brian Habibi. The duo led Bayzat to where it is today, and is now known widely as the company that provides insurance and smart HR solutions that simplify and empower lives with using world-class technology.

Talal studied bioengineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA. He is a CFA Charter holder as well as finance, investment and banking expert.

Front Row Filmed Entertainment

Gianluca Chakra

Gianluca Chakra is the Managing Partner and founder of Front Row Filmed Entertainment, one of the leading independent film distribution companies across the Middle East and North Africa. Gianluca is also responsible for all acquisitions which often happen on a script stage. He is also responsible for the company’s distribution strategy across the MENA. Front Row deals on an all rights basis acquiring between 90-110 titles on a yearly basis. They have struck an output deal with BEIN Media to provide the network with over 400 titles for their Pay TV Channels. They are also the sole aggregators for iTunes and GooglePlay in the region. Just lately, Netflix assigned Front Row to be their Middle East aggregator.

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.


David Llorente

David is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for disruptive innovation and technology. Following these principles David founded Narrativa in 2015. Narrativa’s technology extracts insights from data and automatically transforms them into natural language narratives using Artificial Intelligence.

As an entrepreneur David previously founded 4 startups including one successful exit.

Before starting his entrepreneurial carrier, David held executive positions in Business and Strategy Development for leading companies in the fast growing online gaming industry in Europe, USA and Latin America. In the first years of his professional career David worked as a researcher specializing in Artificial Intelligence.

David studied Physics at Autónoma University of Madrid and Computer Engineering at Rey Juan Carlos University also in Madrid. He also completed entrepreneurial studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

David is originally from Spain and for the last 15 years has lived in Italy, France, USA, Estonia and Germany.


Tala Samman

Born in Chicago, originally Syrian and having grown up in Dubai, the London College of Fashion graduate in Fashion Media and Communications launched her style blog, in 2009

having worked at Tom Ford, Halston, and as a Fashion Editor of Condé Nast’s first fashion title in the Middle has been nominated in Ahlan! Magazine’s Best at the Dubai awards, as well as at the Marie Claire, UK Blog, and Twitter awards.Tala was also named one of Dubai’s Hot 100 in 2011.

Tala has also hosted and styled for numerous events between Dubai, London, and Doha, collaborated with names such as Jimmy Choo for their stylemakers campaign,Tod’s, and Gucci to name a few, and has been featured in publications such as The Guardian, Grazia UK, Grazia Middle East, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, and Marie Claire Middle East.Tala is also a Huffington Post contributor and has interviewed the likes of Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera, and Nicole Richie. As an avid Fitness practitioner,Tala is the ambassador for Flywheel Sports from NYC in Dubai and gives Style & Crafts workshops at apple seeds daycare in Dubai for young girls.

Mindshare MENA

Victoria Loesch

A regional director with a track record of leading successful regional & international media campaigns, from strategy through to execution. Victoria’s career spans from being within a full-service agency, publisher side & then currently at media independent, Mindshare. Luckily, she loves change – she started her career in her home country, South Africa, in 2002 moved to Dubai, and since then had a 3 year stay in Cairo. But more importantly she is curious, about media, about categories, about consumers. Her favourite campaign in her portfolio is the team effort which built content so rich in local insights it drove consumers not only to social media but to the stores too.

Earlybird Venture Capital

Cem Sertoglu

Cem Sertoglu is an entrepreneur and venture capital investor, focused on technology ventures in Turkey and CEE since 2006. He is currently a Partner at Earlybird Digital East Fund in Istanbul. His investment highlights include YemekSepeti and GittiGidiyor, the two largest exits in Turkish internet, as well as, Hazelcast, PropertyFinder, and Wikimart.

Previously, Cem was the Founder & CEO of SelectMinds (now a part of Oracle) in New York, the global leader in social talent management software. One of the social software pioneers, the company’s solutions enable the human capital management programs at some of the world’s largest companies. Prior to founding SelectMinds in 1999, Cem worked as a Strategy Consultant in New York for six years.

Cem holds a BA in Economics from The University of Texas at Austin.


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.

STEP Group

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.


Serag Meneassy

Serag Meneassy is the Co Founder of the MENA regions first A.I. platform focused on building chatbots that redefine customer experience across messaging platforms. He and his team are pioneering the A.I. industry in the region and are looking to establish Dubai as a major player in the future of A.I. He has previously worked at Groupon, Deloitte and Rocket Internet.


Elissa Freiha

Elissa Freiha is one of the region's most active angel investors and the co-founder of WOMENA, a UAE-based angel investment platform for that encourages women to invest in tech startups. Since launch in December 2014, WOMENA has empowered and educated women to invest over 1.8 million AED in MENA startups, with their unique model and educational workshops. She has received multiple awards for her work, including being named by Forbes Middle East as one of the Most Inspiring Business Leaders in the UAE, and in Arabian Business’ 100 Most Powerful Arab women and Arabian Business’ 100 Most Influential Arabs under 40.

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).

Dvl Station

Alaa Ebrahim

Alaa Ebrahim is a social media influencer with 1.8 million followers on his YouTube Channel. Alaa Focuses in his Channel about Gaming and Entertainment. After many years with working with different brands around the world, Alaa has established two companies. One for Advertising and one is an e-commerce website. Cazasouq online retailer is one of the biggest online retailers for gaming enthusiast.


Jon Richards

Jon is the CEO and founder of the Middle East’s leading finance comparison site, With 10 years of digital marketing experience in the UK and the UAE, Jon first immersed himself in the Middle East's digital start-up ecosystem with Jon founded in August 2011 and moved into a full-time role as CEO of the company in 2014. His passion for innovative technology and industry disruption has led to him continually pushing to expand the compareit4me brand and its offering. The company has so far raised almost $6 million from some of the region’s leading VCs, employs around 50 people, and operates across nine countries. A year after launching the UAE’s first fully transactional car insurance comparison portal in 2016, compareit4me recently unveiled the UAE’s first automated online health insurance comparison platform.


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 in Egypt to become one of top 30 most visited sites and number one e-commerce site in Egypt.

Prior to Omar co-founded 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.

Hassala Film Collective

Hala Lotfy

An Egyptian director, producer, and the founder of Hassala Film collective. She studied filmmaking at the Cairo Film School and graduated with honors in 1999. Made many documentaries including: Images of Water and Earth 2001, Feeling Cold 2005, Lost in Costa Rica 2006

In 2011, she received the Katrin Cartlige Award, given to a new cinematic voice

Her feature debut "Coming Forth by day" was premiered in Abu Dhabi FF in 2012, and then in the Berlinale- Forum 2013. Scooped many awards, and joined the "Greatest 100 Arab Films" list made by Dubai IFF after less than one year of its production.

She is preparing her second feature "The Bridge" to be shot by the end of 2017.

Deutsche Welle (DW)

Jaafar Abdul-Karim

Jaafar Abdul Karim is an award wining journalist and host of the interactive talkshow “ShababTalk” at Deutsche Welle. “ShababTalk” critically confronts socially charged topics, such as politics, religion, human rights and sexuality. The show was named “Best Arabic Talk Show” by Arab State Broadcasting Union in Tunisia in 2015. In 2016, it was named “Best Youth Arab Talk Show” at the Al Haitham Media Awards in Amman, Jordan.

Jaafar writes a trilingual column for ZEIT ONLINE, and produces a video blog for SPIGEL ONLINE. Since 2015, Jaafar has been touring the Arab region with his talk show, he has hosted debates in Baghdad, Tunis, Rabat, Cairo, Beirut, Amman, Doha, Sulaymanyah with many more cities planned in 2017.

In addition to his work for “ShababTalk”, Jaafar has reported extensively for Deutsche Welle from conflict areas in the Middle East. His recent reporting has focused on the refugee crisis, among many others. He has visited refugee camps in Gaziantep, Turkey, Lesbos, Greece, Bar Elais, Lebanon and Zaatari, Jordan.

Jaafar was named Germany’s “Reporter of the Year” by mediummagazine for 2016. Born in Liberia and raised in Switzerland, Jaafar studied communications and computer science at TU Dresden and INSA Lyon. He has also completed a directing course at the London Film Academy. He holds a Masters in Communication and Leadership from Quadriga University in Berlin. He is based in Berlin.

SAE Institute Dubai

Yazan Al Ghazzawi

Yazan is a film industry professional with over 10 years of experience in the field within the Middle East. Having obtained a Master’s Degree in Cinematic Arts, he has excelled throughout his career in various roles within the film industry, specifically within screenwriting. Yazan has written two feature films, and contributed to the development of scripts for several other successful regional short films, most notably through mentoring students of the Arab Film Studio as well as the Sharjah Arts Foundation. He has also served as script consultant for various short films as well as the popular Arab comedy series “Bath Bayakha”.

Yazan also brings with him a breadth of film knowledge, having created Jordan’s first art house theatre as well as worked in various capacities on both local and international short and feature films. He is currently the Head of the Film Department at SAE Institute in Dubai.


Ali Mostafa

Ali F. Mostafa is one of the pioneering Emirati filmmakers. Growing up in the UAE, Ali pursued his goal in 2003 when he enrolled at the London Film School to obtain an M.A. of practical training in film. He set up his own production company, AFM Films in 2007, producing feature films, short films, documentaries, TV commercials, and corporate films. Ali's short graduation film 'Under the Sun' has been officially selected and nominated for best Foreign Film in various international festivals across the world. It also won 'Best Emirates Film 2006' In the Emirates Film Competition held in the countries Capital, Abu Dhabi. Ali's work gained him recognition as 'Best Emirati Filmmaker' by the Dubai International Film Festival in 2007. Digital Studio magazine awarded him '2010 Young Filmmaker of the Year' with Ali's, and the UAE's biggest achievement in film, his feature debut City of Life. His sophomore film, From A to B, was the first Emirati film to open the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. His latest feature, produced by Imagenation Abu Dhabi, is the Arab worlds first post-apocalyptic thriller and titled The Worthy. Ali was awarded Man of The Year in 2014 by Esquire magazine's Man At His Best Awards for his achievements in helping build a UAE film industry.

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.

Babil Games

MJ Fahmi

Before founding BabilGames in 2012, MJ spent 2 years at Peak Games –as business development manager of MENA Region, Responsible for business development with new and existing partners and finding new potential projects, and other tasks that focused on developing the MENA gaming market.

Prior to Peak, MJ worked as business development manager for SOULIT, in which capacity he oversaw the company’s global relations and research & development. During his 2 years career at SOULIT, MJ helped develop and scale the company’s leading global game franchises and brands, including the release of call of dragon web game into Arabic language.

MJ worked on several IT projects after his graduation including e-commerce websites, vpn’s and security gateway solutions for local companies in MENA.

MJ got several awards for his work over the years including his work on localizing and distributing of ERP systems to the Arabic language.

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, 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.


Tanaz Dizadji

As the Founder and CEO of insydo, Tanaz has used her background in marketing, finance and tech to build an undercover city guide to Dubai. This search-centric product provides people with curated recommendations and has gained a following of over 300,000 unique visitors per month since its launch in January 2016. In April 2017, Tanaz will launch her second company, Brand Ripplr, an influencer-marketing platform that is set to stir the region’s advertising sector.

Graduating with a BSc in Accounting and Finance from the University of Warwick, Tanaz started her career as a chartered accountant in investment management at PwC in London.

Before delving into the world of technology, Tanaz was the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for Omnicom Media Group and led philanthropic and artistic projects for the Elephant Parade and START.

When she’s not fusing the world of coding and content, Tanaz blogs on LinkedIn and shares the journey of her digital start-up.

Tanaz was recognized as one of the UAE’s 50 Most Influential Brits.

Artist and Filmmaker

Amirah Tajdin

Amirah Tajdin, Amirah Tajdin, 30, is an artist and filmmaker. She graduated from Rhodes University with a Bachelor of Fine Art (Photography) in South Africa, was born and brought up in Nairobi and spent her teenage years in Dubai. She has since written & directed two short films, Fluorescent Sin (2011) and His To Keep (2013) both of which have played at over twenty film festivals around the world with Fluorescent Sin garnering Jury Special Mention awards at the Zanzibar International Film Festival and Film Africa London. Her most recent co-directed short, Marea de Tierra (2015) premiered at the Cannes Director's Fortnight as part of the Chile Factory Residency. The film is also part of Sundance Film Festival in 2016 under the International Shorts Program and has played at numerous other prestigious film festivals the world over. She currently splits her time between Africa and the Middle East balancing commercial work and writing her first feature film, Hawa Hawaii set in the Arab Swahili community of Mombasa, Kenya


Kinda Ibrahim

Kinda Ibrahim is the Director of Media Partnerships for Twitter in the Middle East and North Africa. Her team focuses on accelerating Twitter's push for content partnerships across the news, sports, TV and entertainment verticals by working with key publishers to prioritize Twitter as their first and immediate platform to reach, delight and engage with their audience across Twitter's live, public platforms, including Twitter and Periscope.

Kinda has over 12 years of international experience in digital media, marketing and analytics acquired in both the Middle East and North America. She joins Twitter from Microsoft where she was the Editor-in-Chief of English MSN Arabia. Prior to that, she led the media operations division at Yahoo Maktoob. Previously, she played an instrumental role in shaping the digital and data strategy at companies such as EMAP Middle East, the Yellow Pages group and the National Bank of Canada.

Kinda holds an MBA in marketing and finance from Concordia University in Canada and a BSc in Computer Science from the American University of Beirut.


Ken Ripley

Kenneth “Ken” Ripley is VP of sales for AnchorFree and their wildly popular internet safety and security product Hotspot Shield, the largest VPN in the world, reaching over 30% of all internet users in MENA.

Most recently, at Al Jazeera America, Ken positioned AJAM as the first national cable TV network to make its entire inventory available in the Programmatic TV and Digital marketplaces.

Ken has always stayed ahead of the media/marketing curve. At the birth of Interactive Advertising, he launched and managed market leader TiVo’s partnership group.

Additionally Ken has launched and run sales divisions for Columbia TriStar Television Ad Sales, Sony’s Game Show Network, Discovery Communications Digital Networks Sales Team and Discovery’s Sales Development Group, DirecTV’s Ad Sales Company, Al Jazeera America’s Sales Team and IGA Worldwide’s Sales and Partnership Group (In Game Advertising),

Ken lives in Darien, Connecticut USA, has three children and looks forward to the day when college payments are a distant memory.


Craig Moore

As Founder and CEO, Craig is responsible for overseeing the overall strategic direction and managing the day-to-day operations of Beehive. Before founding Beehive, Craig was a Founder & COO of Butterfly Software, a UK based data analytics and migration software company, acquired by IBM in September 2012. Prior to Butterfly his experience includes sales, consulting and finance roles at various multinational companies such as Dell, EMC, Hitachi and HSBC with an emphasis on shaping effective go to market and value propositions.

Beehive, the first peer to peer (P2P) lending platform in the UAE, is emerging as a leading disruptor in the fintech industry, providing an alternative finance solution. Launched in 2014 with the support Rick Pudner, former Group CEO of Emirates NBD, Beehive is an online lending platform that directly connects businesses looking for finance with investors that can invest and support their growth. The Beehive platform applies the innovative technology of crowdfunding, connecting a business with a crowd of investors, to eliminate the cost and complexity of conventional finance. The result is a more efficient, streamlined process that gives UAE businesses faster access to lower cost loans and investors attractive returns on their money.

Since launch, Beehive has registered almost 4500 investors and successfully facilitated funding of more than AED 75 million to around 150 business funding requests.


Elias Mouawad

Started his career as a publisher in 1992 in Lebanon where he published two monthly tabloids, “Echo” and “Bizutt”, targeting university students.

Moved to the GCC in 1999 to join Choueiri Group – one the largest media representation agencies in the region – as an account director.

In 2006 he joined Zee Network as Territory Head for Middle East North Africa and Pakistan. During his tenure, he significantly contributed to the restructuring of all operations that resulted in a turnaround in the network profits from the region and played a key role in launching Zee Aflam – a new channel for the network – and positioning it in the top 20 Arabic channels 6 months after launch.

After his tenure with Zee network he launched a media consultancy boutique where he played an integral role in the operations, development, launch and successful establishment of the company. He contributed to the success of several media businesses he consulted for and still maintains a role as a board member in some of them.

Elias joined Kharabeesh in December 2105 as Chief Growth officer. He currently heads the content and commercial divisions.

Build | Brand | Experience

Jos Dirkx

Jos Dirkx is an award-winning media and communications professional, a two-time TedX speaker, and a Women Deliver Young Leader. She is the MD of a creative communications consultancy based out of Dubai.

She founded an award-winning NGO, Girls & Football South Africa, which received recognition from First Lady Michelle Obama. She co-launched a mobile health app, mGirls, which delivers free, daily health care information to 65,000 girls in South Africa via text.

Her upbringing in 12 countries and travel through 95 different countries fuels her passion for cross-cultural communications and is inspiration for her next venture, the DxBAcademy, which focuses on re-inspiring creativity for professional success.

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.

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


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 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.


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.

B&Y Venture Partners

Fadi Bizri

Fadi is a Partner at B&Y Venture Partners, a $46M venture capital fund based in Beirut, focused on investing in high-potential technology startups, with a global mandate. BYVP focuses on seed-stage startups in MENA, and on growth-stage startups internationally.

Fadi co-founded and is currently a board director at Speed, Lebanon’s only early-stage tech startup accelerator, which invests in highly scalable Lebanese companies with global ambitions. Previously, he had co-founded Seeqnce, the first accelerator in Lebanon. Featured in The Economist and The Wall Street Journal among others, Seeqnce resulted in the creation of several successful local startups that target international markets.

He also co-founded SE Factory, a coding bootcamp for low-income youth. SE Factory helps talented students train on the necessary practical programming skills as well as soft skills that are required by the job market, subsequently providing access to top software development jobs.

Previously, he led Bader Young Entrepreneurs Program, a leading Lebanese entrepreneurship support organization, and one of the first points of entry for most early-stage Lebanese tech startups seeking investment, mentorship and training.

Fadi is a mentor and board member at a number of startups and advises organizations such as the World Bank, academic institutions and Lebanese government ministries on entrepreneurship policy and initiatives.

Alfan Group

Mohammad Fattal

Mohammad Fattal is the CEO and Founder of Alfan Group, a next-generation digital media company with over 800 million monthly viewers and 250 unique channels across its Multi-Platform Network. Starting off in 2010 by creating his own content Mohammad quickly saw the opportunity and began building his digital channel network. With a degree in economics and a Masters in Entrepreneurship, Mohammad built Alfan during his academic career and started focusing full time on Alfan in late 2014. Currently, Alfan has operations in Toronto, Abu Dhabi and Dubai with a vision of developing and creating content locally to reach a global audience.


Mayada Samy

Mayada grew up as a third culture kid with a goal of showcasing the beauty of Middle Eastern society to the rest of the world. Just as her organization ‘trivago’ advocates, she believes in the value of diversity and in how essential it is for the success of any business. Mayada was born and raised in Abu Dhabi, completed her BSc in Marketing and International Business in Cairo & moved to Germany in 2014 where she launched the first trivago platform catering to the MENA region. Overseeing various strategic, product and marketing activities, she has grown the trivago brand and expanded it to the rest of the Arabic speaking markets in less than a year’s time. When she's not at trivago, she is hanging out with underground musicians and obsessing about capturing every moment on her Instagram feed.

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.


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.


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.


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.

Investor, Mentor, Commentator

Prashant Gulati

Prashant K. Gulati (PK), is a technology innovator, angel investor, mentor, idea accelerator, and commentator with interests in innovation, startups, entrepreneurship, technology, mobility, wireless, intelligent buildings, online media and more.

PK has served in numerous leadership capacities including as Trustee on the Global Board of TiE, President of TiE Dubai, Founder of The Assembly, Founder of SmartStart Fund, Senior Advisor to Dubai Future Foundation, CEO of Optimistix Ventures, Steering Committee Member of in5 Innovation Hub, Honorary Secretary General of Indian Business & Professional Council-Dubai, Member of the Board of Dubai Enterprise Centre, Chairman of Gulfcom Group, Chairman of Prokraft Group-India and Board Member for Indian Documentary Foundation, Dubai Enterprise Centre etc.

Prashant is an active Angel and Early Stage investor in startups, younger companies and fresh ideas. With a portfolio of ventures in India, Middle East and US, he is actively involved in providing mentorship, guidance and advice to such companies at various levels. He has been associated with a large number of successful startups and has an active portfolio in the US, Middle East and India.

A Post Graduate with Honours in Computer Science and Management, PK resides in Dubai for the last two decades and is very closely connected with the latest in technology and innovation around the world, with very close association with innovation powerhouses like MIT Media Labs, Silicon Valley giants, TED, Leading Venture Firms and Technology Clusters around the world.


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

Jumeirah Group

Yousef Tuqan

Yousef Tuqan Tuqan is one of the MENA region’s most experienced marketing leaders, with a diverse career in the UAE that spans over 20 years. Throughout this time Yousef has led the digital strategy and delivery of some of the Middle East’s most iconic brands.

He is currently the Group Vice President of Brand Marketing & Loyalty at Jumeirah Group.

He was formerly the CEO of Flip Media (a digital agency that was acquired by Leo Burnett), the Chief Innovation Officer of Leo Burnett/Publicis Group MENA, and the Vice President for Marketing & Analytics at app-based car booking service Careem, the fastest-growing tech company in the MENA region

Yousef is the most outspoken and visible evangelist for the role of digital marketing in the region. Yousef has also taken an active role in the MENA tech scene, serving as a mentor & advisory board member to the next generation of Arab technology entrepreneurs.

Yousef is a Board Member of the International Advertising Association's UAE Chapter.


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.

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.


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.


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.


Sara Hamdan

Sara writes for Google, NYTIMES, CNN and more. She is an editor of Think with Google MENA, a blog at Google that's all about embracing the digital transformation. She also has a travel and style blog called Holidays in Heels. Formerly, she was the main writer for The International New York Times in Dubai on business and culture for six years.

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 ( 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.


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.

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.

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.

Dentsu Aegis Network

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.


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.


Mostafa Faramawy

If i'm not on a movie set or a commercial, I make my own set: mobile camera, a gopro with a candle, an old Cannon with a 50mm cracked lens, it's all about the idea.

I teach myself a new thing almost everyday. Last week I learnt how to make homemade wine, it was an epic fail.

Stay updated or stay home, that's what I think a producer should do, with all the new apps, drones, 3D printers, cameras, post production software. You need to know and master everything and master. Digital is not the future, digital is the present, virtual reality is the near future.

I believe I was lucky enough to work on different projects, from a 10 K no models set to a 20 million dollar, 250 man crew Tom Hanks set.

Sitting on a desk reading articles or applying for online diplomas could be useful, but the real knowledge is out there in the street, my friends call me "the social guru" , leave me in a bar alone for 15 minutes and i will be friends with at least 3 people. Nothing is not doable, everything is doable, but everything needs planning, scheduling and following up. I love media, films, brainstorming sessions, PPM fights, clients requirements, offline sessions, crazy CGI deadlines. i enjoy it.

Let's talk business now.

I have over 10 years of experience as a producer and director in commercial, feature, program, and music videos in South Africa and the Middle East. Credits include: ExxonMobil, Mcdonald's, General Motors, Xerox, British Airways, Vodafone Egypt, Etisalat Egypt, Pepsi, Coca Cola Egypt , MTN Sudan, Panasonic, MTV India, UNDP, MBC 1, MBC action, Al jazeera Documentaries, and AXE Middle East. Feature Film and TV series : Fair Game, Cairo Time, Ehky ya shahrazad , Genenet el asmak, Ayza Atgawez, Al Araaf, A Hologram for a king, The Ferry, The Night Manager… Yes I'm Famous.

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”.

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.


Roozbeh Ali Kafi

Inspired by his older brother, Roozbeh earned his BA in filmmaking from Sooreh University in Tehran. After completing his MFA in Directing, Roozbeh set off his academic career in Amman, where he launched the first MFA documentary film program in the MENA region at The Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts (RSICA).

In his capacity as independent filmmaker, Roozbeh has made films in 5 countries that brought him a number of international awards.

“Collective Creativity” is the source of inspiration for him, in both teaching and filmmaking. Roozbeh is currently Assistant Professor of Digital Production and Storytelling at the American University in Dubai.


Philip Bahoshy

Philip Bahoshy is the founder and CEO of MAGNiTT, largest startup platform that connects MENA entrepreneurs with stakeholders across the MENA ecosystem. Raised in the UK with Iraqi origins, Philip obtained an MBA from INSEAD in 2013 and a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics. During his time in Dubai, Philip worked at Oliver Wyman in the Financial Services practice for three years, followed by nearly three years at Barclays Wealth working as Chief of Staff to the CEO advising on strategic initiatives. Philip has lived in the UAE for more than eight years and is passionate about developing the MENA startup ecosystem through transparency and data reporting.

More to be announced soon

STEP Music 2018


Oussama Rahbani

Producer and composer Oussama Rahbani was born in Lebanon in 1965. As the son of the legendary composer and poet Mansour Rahbani, Oussama grew up in a family where music was a huge influence, which allowed him to acquire a rich background and experience. Along with his studies at Berklee College of Music, that experience helped him create a genre of his own. He has contributed to many of his father’s works, as composer, orchestrator and artistic consultant. But Oussama has also created, produced, composed and orchestrated several musical plays of his own. He is one of the most respected producers and composers in the Middle East. Along with many successful songs, albums, music videos and concerts, Oussama has mentored and introduced to the music scene many famous singer, including Hiba Tawaji, Carole Samaha, Rudy Dagher, Wadih Abi Raad, Youssef el Khal, Lorette Helou, and many more.


Ramy Essam

Ramy Essam became an overnight sensation during the Egyptian revolution, when the songs he performed in Tahrir Square became the anthems of a whole generation of young Egyptians struggling for a better future. International media attention quickly followed, and before long Ramy’s name was known far beyond Egypt. His song “Irhal” (“Leave”) was ranked Number Three in Time Out London’s ‘100 Songs That Changed History’.

In October 2014, Ramy was offered safe city residence in Malmö, Sweden, where he has been working on new material, creating an album where heavy rock riffs join forces with infectious Oriental beats and political street poetry demanding social justice, gender equality and human rights.

Ramy is an artist of, and for, the people. Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello, who signed Ramy to his Firebrand Records label, has described Ramy as the “hard-rock Bob Dylan of the Middle East”.

Mashrou' Leila

Hamed Sinno

Hamed Sinno is the frontman of acclaimed Lebanese alternative rock band Mashrou’ Leila, who have established themselves as the world’s biggest Arabic-language band over the past decade. Sinno and his bandmates have consistently fought to prove there is an audience for Arabic music that doesn’t fit the established commercial template – their sound is sensual and rich, celebratory and melancholy. Sinno’s distinctive vocals, his smart, evocative lyrics, and his charismatic stage presence have all been major factors in Mashrou’ Leila’s continuing success.


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.

Universal Music MENA

Patrick Boulos

Patrick Boulos is Universal Music's CEO for the Middle East and North Africa. In this capacity, he is in charge of the Group's strategy and growth in this region, which holds great promise for the development of cultural exchanges. He builds strategic partnerships and develops innovative services and tools to promote the diverse musical offering of Universal's labels. He also works to expand this catalogue by discovering local talent. Patrick’s connection with music started at a very early age; since his childhood he was surrounded by a strong musical influence and environment as his mother was a piano instructor, and he enrolled in music classes himself. A lot of his leisure time was spent listening to records, and reading about new musical trends and developments and the music makers on the scene. Attending live shows was always his passion, and his first was at the age of 11. His journey with Universal Music Group started in 2001 in Paris, France, after multiple years of advertising experience with multinational ad agencies. He moved to the Middle East in 2010 to establish the operation of the company in Dubai and to found Universal Music MENA to look after the multiple markets of this region.

JMR Productions

Jean-Marie Riachi

Jean-Marie Riachi is a multi-award-winning Lebanese arranger, composer and record producer. The first record he produced was Elissa’s Baddi Doub, which catapulted them both to stardom. In 2001, he founded the acclaimed JMR Studios in Rabieh. In 2002, he created his own label, Oriental Music Publishing.

Jean-Marie has produced songs for numerous advertisements and films throughout his career, including “Nour El Shams”, the theme tune for the 2001 movie Spy Game, starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt.

In 2006, he arranged and mixed "Light the Way", performed by José Carreras and Majida El Roumi at the opening ceremony of the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar. He also composed “La Ma Kholssit Lehkayi”, the all-star tribute to ex-Lebanese prime minister Rafik El Hariri, which has since become a local political anthem. In 2009, Jean-Marie teamed up with several prominent Lebanese pop singers, including Ramy Ayach and Yara, to produce the multilingual Belaaks, which presented a unique fusion between ethnic oriental instruments and an acoustic jazz band. The platinum-certified album was followed by an equally successful sequel, Belaaks 2, in 2015, which showcased unique collaborations with John Legend and Julio Iglesias.

He is currently the musical director and producer of the Arabic edition of The Voice, rated the most popular TV show in the Arab world. Jean-Marie continues to produce dozens of best-selling albums and countless hits for the biggest Arabic pop singers. He has also branched out into more alternative music genres, developing grassroots musical concepts such as "Laylet Tarab" with a selection of The Voice finalists, and producing Lebanese indie band Adonis’s latest album.

The Wanton Bishops

Nader Mansour

Nader Mansour is the man behind Lebanese rock & roll outfit The Wanton Bishops. Born and raised somewhere between the Lebanese mountains and Beirut, Nader left his country in 2005 to pursue financial engineering studies in Paris, France. It wasn't long before music hijacked his soul, making everything else seem like a faint hint of life.

Nader first started playing harmonica in Parisian Jazz and Blues clubs, but it was his love of rock & roll, classical oriental music, and Beirut that sent him straight back home to form what has become the adventure of his life, The Wanton Bishops. A self-released debut EP, Bad Rhyme, in 2013, followed by a highly acclaimed full length album Sleep With The Lights On, established The Wanton Bishops as a leading force in Lebanon and the Middle East and opened the doors wide for the band to start touring.

A couple of years later, having toured from Europe to the US, Africa to India, headlining festivals, supporting prestigious names (The Who, Guns N' Roses, Lana Del Rey, Sting), Nader and his band have performed at Glastonbury, SXSW, Montreal International Jazz Festival, Rocking The Daisies and more, establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with on the global musical spectrum. In 2016, the band released their second EP, Nowhere Everywhere, making a shift from raw blues rock to a mix of ethnic-electronic psychedelic rock & roll that Nader calls “Lebanese Rock & Roll”. Nader arrives in Dubai on a short detour from the band’s current intensive European tour.


Hamza Hawsawi

Hamza Hawsawi, also known as Ayzee, is a prolific singer-songwriter hailing from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He is best known for winning The X Factor Arabia in 2015. Hamza’s work is inspired by R&B, soul and pop music. Hamza is currently working on his debut album – recorded and produced in London, Dubai and Los Angeles – and says he can't wait to share it all with his loving and supportive fans. Although he was signed to Sony Music after winning The X Factor Arabia, he is releasing his album independently. The first single from the album, “Love A Little”, was released in January.



Narcy, formerly known as The Narcicyst, is the artist name of Yassin Alsalman, a musician, actor, professor and multimedia artist based out of Montreal, Canada. Being a pioneer of the Arab hip-hop movement through his Iraqi trio Euphrates in the early 2000s, Narcy was a seminal part of a growing voice in the public sphere.

Currently teaching one of Canada's only hip-hop courses, at Concordia University in Montreal, Narcy’s ethos has been to blend performance with education, media with literacy, and creativity with cultural heritage. Narcy also currently heads WeAreTheMedium, an international family of independent creatives that come together for curation, performance, consultation and product-based creation.

Narcy has successfully partnered with several multinational brands throughout his career.

Glava Holdings

Ghassan Chartouni

Ghassan Chartouni, is a strategic planner and a key social contact to reach all individuals in the entertainment business. During his 25-years career in the music industry, Ghassan has implemented and managed media stations, organized music production, advocated management in the entertainment field and handled music publishing. He started his career as the General Manager of Ciel Fm/Sawt al Ghad, expanding its reach from Lebanon-only to Pan-Arab. Later on, Ghassan headed Music Master International, the appointed licensee company for Warner Music, Universal Music and many other labels in the Middle East. He is currently the CEO of Glava Holding, which includes artist management company Music Is My Life, music marketing enterprise Deepiu, digital labels Watary and Ghannili, production house Flava Production, and publishing company Middle East Copyrights. Ghassan has accumulated extensive knowledge – and built a solid reputation – in creative strategy¸ marketing and brand building.

Sony Music Entertainment

Arun Sajjan

Arun heads the Digital Business and Marketing for Sony Music Entertainment in the Middle East region. Arun has more than 14 years experience in the music and entertainment business. He joined Sony Music in 2011 and has since been part of the ever-growing business of digital music. Since moving to Dubai with Sony Music, Arun has seen digital music develop rapidly in the region with the launch of services like Anghami, Apple Music and Deezer. Arun has worked extensively in the Indian subcontinent and Middle East region, and being part of a global company like Sony Music he gets to experience learnings from all over the world. Apart from heading the Digital Business arm, Arun has also been active in A&R, having signed Dubai-based acts including Clarita De Quiroz and Two Tone, as well as Bollywood projects, to Sony Music’s local roster. Prior to working with Sony Music, Arun worked at two of the biggest mobile Value Added Services platform companies – OnMobile and Buongiorno – working on the entertainment side of the business. Arun holds a Management degree in International Business and Marketing.

OUTLAW Productions

DJ Outlaw

DJ Outlaw (Mohammed Al Mohri) was born and raised in Bahrain, and is the founding member of Outlaw Productions creative studio. His DJ career started in 1997, but it was 2009 before he released his debut studio album History in the Making, featuring many local and international artists. It was the first Bahraini hip-hop album to be distributed in musical outlets across the country as well as being sold on digital distribution platforms including iTunes and Amazon. His annual mixtape series “The Middle East Invasion” (which is currently on volume six) presents Arab artitsts handpicked by Outlaw so that the world can experience what Arabian hip-hop has to offer. Most recently Outlaw joined Radio Bahrain 96.5FM in October of 2016 and is now hosting his own Hiphop/RnB drive time show every Friday.

Outlaw has been producing music since 2003. “Bahrain Unite” and 2011’s “Arab World Unite” were two of his biggest projects so far – the latter, featuring seven artists from around the Arab world, was released on Saudi hip-hop artist Qusai’s album, and both tracks garnered international media attention. In 2014, the hit single “Samboosa” – produced by Outlaw and performed by Kuwaiti Outlaw Productions artist, Daffy – quickly went viral, bagging 100,000 views on YouTube within a week of the video release. In July 2016, 9ARAT, a collaborative album between Outlaw Productions artists Flipperachi and Daffy produced by DJ Outlaw, was released, claiming the Number One spot on the iTunes MENA charts. The video for one of the album’s singles “EE LAA” was released in July 2016, and now has over 10 million YouTube views. The single also reached Number One on the iTunes MENA general and hip-hop charts.

Outlaw has also worked with artists including G-unit, DJ Lord Sear, MC Lyte, Jaz O, The Outlawz, TQ, Ace Hood, Freeway, Mad Skillz, Fatman Scoop and actor Orlando Jones. He has shared a stage with DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Tony Touch, Junior Jack, Yves Larock, Fatman Scoop, DJ KOOL, Shortie Blitz, Just Blaze, Tabu of the Black Eyed Peas, and most recently, DMC of RUN DMC.


Rami H. Mustafa

Rami H. Mustafa is best known as the guitarist of the hugely successful Dubai-based extreme metal band, Nervecell – the Middle East’s biggest-selling metal act, hailed as one of the “50 Heroes of the New Metal Revolution” by Metal Hammer magazine. He is also an entrepreneur: He’s the owner of Shredder’s Planet Musical Instruments and Studio, and managing partner of coffee franchise Icons Coffee Couture. Being a passionate, self-taught musician and an MBA graduate, Rami has used his talent and skills in both music and in business. Rami and Nervecell have toured around the world and shared the stage with Metallica, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Decapitated, Suffocation and many more. Rami is sponsored by Ibanez Guitars, ENGL Amplifiers, EMG Pickups, GHS Strings and others.


Rami Zeidan

Rami started his 17-year career in music, media, marketing and technology as a DJ at a leading radio station in Lebanon. After graduating with a computer science degree, Rami discovered his love for communication and worked in media, consulting for global brands including PepsiCo, Visa, and McDonald's. Today, and with an MBA in marketing, Rami leads the marketing of Anghami, the region’s fastest-growing music platform with the mission to connect musicians, fans, and brands.


Elie Abou Saleh

Elie has been working in the media and entertainment industry for eight years all the way from hosting TV shows to content production and finally creative online solutions. Over the past six years, he has helped set up digital monetization strategies for leading entertainment platforms. Currently acting as the Commercial Director at Anghami, the largest music streaming service in MENA offering unique and creative advertising solutions.


Habib Rahal

Habib Rahal is the executive manager of marketing and sponsorship at Rotana – the Arab world’s largest entertainment network. As such, he holds ultimate responsibility for the organisation’s marketing activities and oversees the development and delivery of a fully integrated marketing strategy for the both the Marketing & Sponsorship department - including campaigns, events, digital marketing, and PR. He has over 14 years experience in the music and entertainment industry, working closely with Rotana’s roster of Arabic stars.

Beggars Group

Simon Wheeler

Previously a musician, engineer, producer, remixer and promoter, Simon Wheeler has been with the hugely influential group of independent record labels, Beggars Group, since 1990. Starting work with online distribution in 1997 - licensing the group’s catalogue for download sales - Simon has since worked with almost every significant entity in digital media. He has spoken at most music conferences around the world on digital music and media strategy, made statements to the UK parliament on DRM and has testified at the USA's CRB webcasting proceedings. He is also a director and board member of Video Performance Ltd (VPL) and Consolidated Independent (CI), but the most important role is keeping the Beggars Group of labels at the forefront of all new technologies to deliver its award-winning roster of artists to the widest possible audience. The Beggars Group represents 4AD, Matador, Rough Trade, XL Recordings and Young Turks.

Musician / Multimedia Artist

Zahed Sultan

Zahed Sultan is a multimedia artist, social entrepreneur, culture producer and filmmaker from Kuwait. He is the founder of El Boutique Creative Group (EBCG), a multi-disciplinary organization devoted to social impact and arts & culture. EBCG’s platforms serve to invigorate society with creative energy via conscious thought. His music has been licensed for television, film and music compilations. Zahed has been featured on renowned media platforms as an emerging artist and tours internationally with a live audio-visual experience.


Hana Malhas

Hana Malhas is a Jordanian singer-songwriter, and the founder and host of BalaFeesh, a concert series that promotes independent artists in the Arab world. Over the past three years BalaFeesh has grown to represent an intimate listening experience, and a platform that supports several online and offline initiatives in the Arab indie music scene. Hana combines a unique blend of music and business perspectives, with experiences ranging from performance to songwriting and composition; and from artist management to financial consulting and strategy planning within the entrepreneurial environment of the online media and music industries. On stage, Hana is a storyteller with an expressive vocal delivery; her voice is at times haunting, and hard-hitting at others. She performs with her band The Overthinkers, engaging audiences with an indie folk-pop sound. Her 2012 EP release Hana Malhas & The Overthinkers features the song “How We Love”, which was nominated for the 12th annual Independent Music Awards in the Folk/Singer-songwriter Song Category. JO Magazine’s Nick Seeley described Hana as “a songstress with a 10,000-watt voice… it’s as if the music is taking over her body, channeling through her lungs in a sort of velvet explosion…she has an infectious smile, and a playful way of grooving onstage, performing with either piano or guitar.” This year, Hana is working on multiple music projects, including producing new initiatives under the BalaFeesh umbrella, as well as spending time in the studio for 2017 releases.


Olly Wood

Oliver (Olly) Wood is widely known as one half of the multi-award-winning electronic music duo Hollaphonic, the first ever dance music duo to be signed to a major label (Universal) in the Middle East. His vast experience in the music industry has seen him work on promoter, label and artist sides, starting his growth from a business perspective working for EMI Records UK on high-profile releases from such artists as Kylie Minogue, Coldplay, Paul McCartney and Robbie Williams. During that time, Wood revolutionized the way many labels engage within universities and venues on-ground through playbacks and club launch nights. Finally back in his preferred position as a recording artist alongside best friend Greg Stainer, Hollaphonic have gone from strength to strength since their 2013 inception with a Number One debut album, multiple Number One singles across more than eight countries, cross-platform brand partnerships with the likes of adidas, Red Bull, Rolls Royce, Neff, Toyota, Emirates Airlines and Jumeirah, airplay on international radio and a Number Three globally trending Shazam track – the highly successful “Dangerous”. Things are looking good for a band and brand that epitomize the exciting evolution of the regional music industry.

Spoken Word Poet

Afra Atiq

Afra started talking at eight months old, and, as her mother puts it, she was never quiet again. She has performed her spoken-word poetry (and slammed) on local and international stages. She was named Best Performer for 2015-16 by Abu Dhabi-based open-mic event Rooftop Rhythms and, most recently, became the first Emirati to ever perform at the legendary Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe in New York. In addition, Afra is the only Emirati to perform at the Bowery Poetry Club and win the PoetNY poetry slam at the same venue.

She enjoys giving back to the community through workshops and mentorships. She has been a featured performer/speaker at platforms like the Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, TedxAUS, NYUAD, Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival, and Sheraa Sharjah.

Afra holds a master’s degree in international relations and diplomacy (specializing in Middle Eastern politics, gender policies, and power dynamics) and is currently pursuing her PhD at UAE University. Performing takes centre stage in her life, though. Afra performs both serious and comedic pieces in a contemporary fusion of English and Arabic.

Laish Hip-Hop

Big Hass

Hassane Dennaoui , a.k.a "Big Hass" is the host of Saudi’s first & only FM hip-hop radio show Laish Hip-Hop? and the founder of Re-Volt Blog which focuses on underground artists and Re-Volt Magazine which is a bi-monthly online magazine dedicated to hip-hop and Arab culture. He believes in music liberation and supporting local and regional artists. His passion is all about being true to hip-hop culture and its essence. In 2013, he founded "THE BEAT" – a series of events aimed at supporting local artists by having them perform live. Hass has interviewed the likes of LL Cool J, Russell Simmons, K'naan, DMC, Shadia Mansour, Lowkey, Dj Premier, Dj Kool Herc, Omar Offendum, The Narcicyst, Outlandish, el Seed and many other regional talents. Hass recently relocated from Jeddah to Dubai.

Music Producer

Ayham Homsi

Music producer and songwriter Ayham Homsi (aka A Y) is renowned for using his ambition to push the indie music scene forward while discovering and developing upcoming talent from the region, such as 2016 X Factor winner Hamza Hausawi.Refusing to conform, Ayham has always been motivated to break away from the region's mould and industry standards. He has encouraged all artists he has worked with to express themselves honestly, regardless of society’s norms and language barriers. Following his beliefs, he founded The Harmony (HRMNY) along with his brother, Moh Flow. HRMNY is a creative collective whose aim is to push the quality of independent music in the region to an international level. He executively produced Moh Flow’s debut album This is Yo(u) which earned them features on iTunes Middle East and France, in addition to securing their first Soundcloud worldwide Top 10. He is currently working on fellow HRMNY artist Majeed’s new project that is slated for release early in 2017. Internationally, Ayham has been working closely with songwriters in the UK and USA to place music with reputable artists and his first major song with an international artist is also scheduled for a 2017 release.



Since arriving in the UAE in 2011, award-winning English singer-songwriter Abbo has been at the forefront of Dubai's booming underground acoustic music scene. He’s a popular performer in his own right, reaching the finals of Rolling Stone Middle East's 'Street To Stage' competition and releasing his debut EP, 2013's The Lend, as well as being the frontman of DaVinci Park, whose debut album, 2016’s Overlooking Florence, reached Number One on the UAE iTunes chart. But he's also developed several open-mic nights, under his 'GoPlayTheWorld' brand, where many of the city's best young performers have honed their craft – something Abbo also helps with in one-to-one mentoring sessions for up-and-coming artists. In 2016, Abbo funded and oversaw the production of GoPlayTheWorld: Volume One, a collection of original tracks from UAE musicians which also reached Number One on iTunes UAE. He's currently making plans for Volume Two.


Basem Abuarab

Basem Abuarab is the manager of Almoharek, a music booking agency focused on the Arab region. Since 2009, Almoharek has represented more than 35 artists regionally and internationally, and helped shed early light on many of today's most popular Arab artists and bands. Almoharek is part of eka3, an independent organisation dedicated to creating and empowering the market infrastructure necessary for quality Arabic music to grow. Basem has been involved in the local music scene since 2006 as a performer, writer and professional


Ali Al Saeed

Ali Al Saeed is an award-winning author and music entrepenuer from Bahrain who founded indie label Museland Records in 2013. Ali also launched Museland Festival – an event featuring international and regional independent artists – in Bahrain in 2014. Under the label, bands including Belly of Paris and The Relocators have released records and toured the region and Museland has issued four compilations. Apart from his music-related interests, Ali has also written four books, established a grassroots arts movement in Bahrain titled Elham (which ran from 2006-2014), and currently works in Dubai as Associate Creative Director at Digital Ape, an online branded content creation company that also works with creative artists and social media influencers.

Talent Manager

Elia Mssawir

Elia Mssawir is a bassist, developer and booker from Beirut, Lebanon. He has worked with several major names in the music industry – including Snoop Dogg, Serj Tankian, Engelbert Humperdinck, and Tiny Tempah – and has helped develop many regional artists; he is currently the manager of Dubai-based funk-pop band Carl & The Reda Mafia. In 2009, Elia established the underground music platform ‘’, which became one of the main references – and champions – for underground music in the Middle East. In 2014, Elia he co-founded the UK-based Omerta Management, where he booked tours and festivals for bands from around the Middle East.

Desmo Records

Adriano Konialidis

Musician and record producer Adriano Konialidis founded Desmo Records in 2012. It is defined by the principles of great music, eclecticism and entrepreneurship. With a Uruguayan upbringing, Greek parentage and Swiss schooling, Adriano’s perspective is a global one. A musician by heritage, he first began to play the piano at the age of three before moving on to drums and keyboards, performing with various bands across Uruguay and the UK. He is also a DJ and vinyl head. Adriano also spent several years working in the marketing industry. Music production has always been part of his life but did not take centre stage until Adriano’s last few years in London. After moving to Dubai in 2008 and exploring the local music scene, he produced his first album, A L.A.S, after meeting Trio de Cajon. Since then he has been releasing new music and working on new productions, with new releases and collaborations expected in 2017, including two full albums.

Third Eye Agency

Dania Ismail

Dania Ismail is the Founder of Third Eye Agency, a music events production and consulting agency based in Dubai and the creator of Electric Days and The Other Side, both alternative music event concepts that showcase local and regional musical talents in electronic, live, and various alternative music genres. She is also the Co-Founder of Jusoor, an NGO created to harness the potential of Syria’s youth through Education, Career Development, Entrepreneurship and Community Engagement, and the Founder and Director of the Jusoor Entrepreneurship Program.

Previously, Dania served as Strategy and Business Development Manager for nine years with MBC Group, the largest Broadcast/Media company in the Middle East, where she launched MBC Ventures, the corporate venture capital fund for MBC Group, and managed the fund’s investments and portfolio companies.


Adam Grundey

Adam is a journalist based in Dubai. For the past seven years, he has been heavily involved in covering the music scene in the Middle East. From its launch in 2010 until it closed in 2014, Adam was editor of Rolling Stone Middle East. There, he interviewed many alternative and mainstream artists from the Arab world, including Mashrou’ Leila, Kadim Al Sahir, Zeid Hamdan, Cairokee, Ramy Ayach, Nawal Al Zoghbi, The Wanton Bishops, Autostrad, Cairokee, and more. From 2014 until October 2016, Adam was editor of – a website dedicated to independent and alternative pop culture in the Arab world, heavily focused on music – from almost-unknown bedroom artists to the biggest names in the Middle East’s alternative music scene. Currently, Adam is freelancing. He writes regularly for Red Bull’s website about alternative musicians from the Arab world. He also helped to curate STEP Music.

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