• 44 semifinalist teams of MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition underwent a final round of judging remotely, which determined 6 final winners (2 from each track of the competition)
  • MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition is held in partnership with Main Partner Community Jameel, Strategic Digital Partner Zain Group
  • The conference and awards ceremony were held virtually, which attracted over 500 stakeholders from over 50 countries globally

On March 25, MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab alongside its partners Community Jameel (Main Partner) and Zain Group (Strategic Digital Partner) announced the 6 winners of the 14th edition of MIT Enterprise Forum’s Arab Startup Competition. 44 semifinalist teams from 11 countries faced the judges of experts and investors remotely, where the founders had to pitch their businesses and highlight various elements like their business model, digital transformation capabilities, resiliency measures, and team culture.

The 44 semifinalist teams have already applied to compete per tracks: Startups Track, Ideas Track, and Social Entrepreneurship Track.

Before facing the judges remotely, all semifinalist teams received an intensive training program that was organized and executed in close collaboration with the team at Microsoft for Startups Middle East (Technology Partner), Oracle Middle East (Technology Partner), Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (Accelerator Partner), Roland Berger (Knowledge Partner), and GrowIN Portugal (Prize Partner). The remotely-held training offered an opportunity for the semifinalist teams to meet each other and realize their own resiliency towards adverse situations.

Afterward, all semifinalist teams pitched to a different set of judges, depending on track and relevancy. The judges reviewed each application beforehand and asked founders, about fundraising, growth strategies, exit strategies, and more. Also, the judges evaluated the startups based on MIT Enterprise Forum’s long-standing judging criteria: team, innovation, scalability, and financial sustainability. Among the judges were Dr. May Taibah (Senior General Manager at Nafisa Shams Academy), Malek Hammoud (Chief Investment and Digital Officer at Zain Group), Sofana Dahlan (Lawyer and Social Entrepreneur), Leena Al Olaimi (Founder & CEO of Trillion Tree Fund), Hasan Haider (Managing Partner at Plus VC), Lucy Chow (Executive, Investment Committee at WBAF Angel Investment Fund), Hasan Zainal (Managing Partner at Arzan Venture Capital), Hussam Mohsineh (Program Manager at Microsoft Reactor Abu Dhabi), and Shaker Zainal (Head of Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund).

After the remote pitches, the judges deliberated internally and carefully discussed each application’s potential to grow.

The organizers ensured that attendees would benefit from a digitally-immersive experience that closely emulates attending a real-life event. The virtual conference was attended by 500 attendees from 50 countries globally, who have all come to network, connect, and learn from the world’s most renowned tech speakers.

The conference agenda included a keynote address, fireside chat, and a discussion panel:

  • Keynote address ‘Sustainable Innovation and ESG Reporting’: Alain Daou, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the American University of Beirut Olayan School of Business
  • Fireside chat ‘The Future of the Global Innovation Economy: Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable?’: Fiona E. Murray, Associate Dean for Innovation and Inclusion at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and Dina Sherif (Executive Director of the MIT Legatum Center)
  • Discussion Panel ‘5G and the Real-time Economy’: Malek Hammoud, Zain Group Chief Investment and Digital Officer, Hesham Al Ghamdi, Group Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Abdul Latif Jameel, Jawad Abbasi (Head of MENA - GSMA)


The conference culminated with the announcement of the 6 winners, each going home with a monetary prize and endless opportunities for growth. MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab is excited to add a new cohort of innovators and brilliant entrepreneurs to its global network of alumni (MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab’s directory of alumni could be viewed here)

TO WATCH THE VIRTUAL CONFERENCE AND AWARDS CEREMONY CLICK HERE

The winners of the 14th edition of MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition are:

  • Startups Track:

Winner: Speetra Design Studio (France/Lebanon)

1st Runner Up: Valify (Egypt)

  • Ideas Track:

Winner: uMore (UAE)

1st Runner Up: Genomez (KSA)

  • Social Entrepreneurship Track:

Winner: Agrona (Egypt)

1st Runner Up: Green Fashion (Egypt)

This year’s MITEF Arab Startup Startup Competition winners benefit from a bundle of cash and in-kind services - learn about them here.

Commenting on the announcement of the winners, Maya Rahal (Managing Director at MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab) said: “We are glad to welcome to our growing network of alumni 44 semifinalists from 12 different countries this year. We are very impressed and proud of the quality of work achieved by our startup founders especially within the current unstable global situation. The impact that our MITEF Pan Arab alumni have been creating is impressive: 15,500 jobs in the technology sector, with average investment tickets reaching $420,000 upon graduation.

We would like to thank all our partners, for their continuous support, and promise our community that we will keep multiplying our efforts to enable our entrepreneurs to Lead for a Better World.”

Also, Hussein Jameel, Director, Community Jameel stated: “The Arab Startup Competition is more than just an annual competition; it is a platform to meet and celebrate entrepreneurs in the region and their success. The participants of this competition are a perfect example of the inspirations, ambitions, and excellence that we seek to establish and achieve in order to become a culture rooted in youth and talents in the Arab world.”

Additionally, Zain Group’s Chief Investment and Digital Officer Malek Hamoud said: “We have the firm belief that today’s innovators are tomorrow’s differentiators. We are keen on encouraging opportunities that enhance the power of innovation through building up our future entrepreneurs and making the world a better place. Partnering with such events perfectly aligns with Zain’s Corporate Sustainability agenda and the company’s aspirations in becoming a leading digital lifestyle operator."

With this, MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab wraps up yet another successful Arab Startup Competition, alongside its partners that have long believed in the impact and importance of such initiatives in actively enabling the Arab entrepreneurship and digital technology ecosystem.

MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab thanks, once again, all its partners as follows: Main Partner Community Jameel, Strategic Digital Partner Zain Group, Acceleration Partner Flat6Labs, and Knowledge Partner Roland Berger.

Stay tuned for future news and announcements #ASC2021 #MITEFArab


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