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The Middle East Startup Awards (MESA) 2022-23, a pivotal regional round of the Global Startup Awards, recently concluded, spotlighting the most dynamic startups from eight countries in the Middle East region. Hosted by the prestigious American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK), this two-day conference and exhibition recognised outstanding innovation and tech-driven startups and entrepreneurs. Let’s dive into the details of this inspiring event, its impact, and the remarkable winners driving innovation in the Middle East.
Honoring Excellence in Innovation and Entrepreneurship
The Middle East Startup Awards, an integral part of the Global Startup Awards, is a platform designed to honor and celebrate exceptional achievements in innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on startups and entrepreneurs from the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Jordan. This regional recognition is a testament to the growing significance of startups in the Middle East.
The Distinguished Guest of Honour
The event’s opening session was graced by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Kayed Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Department of Economic Development, Ras Al Khaimah. His presence underscored the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation in driving economic development in the region.
Inspiring Young Minds: The Youth Innovation Challenge
In a bid to nurture and showcase young talent, the Middle East Startup Awards also featured the Youth Innovation Challenge. Young minds were invited to present their innovative projects before a distinguished panel. Mohamed Ali Musabbeh Al Nuaimi, Chairman of the RAK Chamber of Commerce, presided over this inspiring showcase of youthful ingenuity.
AURAK: The Epicenter of Innovation
The American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) was pivotal in hosting this groundbreaking event. AURAK’s campus provided the ideal setting to unite experts from across the globe and the region, investors, and industry leaders. This convergence celebrated the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship.
A Glimpse Into the Event
Keynote Speeches: A Source of Inspiration
The Middle East Startup Awards 2022-23 featured a series of captivating keynote speeches. These thought-provoking talks offered insights into startups, innovation, and technology. Dr. David A. Schmidt, President of AURAK, delivered a powerful keynote address emphasizing the role of universities in fostering entrepreneurship.
Panel Discussions: Strategies for Success
The event hosted engaging panel discussions that delved into the strategies for launching, expanding, and scaling startups. Industry experts and successful entrepreneurs shared their wisdom, providing valuable guidance to aspiring startup founders.
Networking Sessions: Building Connections
Networking is a cornerstone of the startup ecosystem. The event provided ample opportunities for participants to connect with like-minded individuals, potential investors, and industry leaders. Building these connections is crucial for the growth of startups.
Academic Participation: Fostering Collaboration
More than ten universities participated in the event, highlighting the importance of collaboration between academia and the startup world. This collaboration can lead to innovative solutions and technology transfer from research to commercialization.
Dr. David A. Schmidt’s Vision
In his keynote address, Dr. David A. Schmidt, President of AURAK, expressed his pride in hosting the Middle East Startup Awards. He noted that AURAK’s entrepreneurship center is vital in supporting aspiring entrepreneurs. The center fosters an ecosystem that connects startups with mentors, investors, and industry experts. Additionally, universities like AURAK facilitate technology transfer, promoting industry partnerships and spin-off companies.
Sagarika Sahoo’s Insights
Sagarika Sahoo, Co-Founder of Middle East Startup Awards, shared her perspective on the event’s success. The second edition of these awards garnered over 3,500 nominations and culminated in selecting 12 deserving winners from various categories. The event’s success was attributed to the presence of industry leaders, investors, startup founders, and fellow entrepreneurs. This response is a testament to the vibrancy of the region’s startup ecosystem.
Meet the Winners
Let’s take a closer look at the remarkable winners of the Middle East Startup Awards 2022-23:
- Startup of the Year: Reachware, Saudi Arabia
- Best Newcomer of the Year: Zabonex, Oman
- Founder of the Year: Ms. Altaf AlThekair, Circle, Kuwait
- Best Family Office: Al Zarooni Emirates Investments, UAE
- VC of the Year: Pioneer Investors, Oman
- Best Co-working Space: Astro Labs LLC, UAE
- Best Accelerator / Incubator Program: Misk Foundation Entrepreneurship, Saudi Arabia
- Ecosystem Hero of the Year: Mr. Hamid Alibeiki, Oman
- Best Green Tech Startup of the Year: Ion Microsystems, Jordan
- Best Health Tech Startup of the Year: Dudi Sports Technologies, UAE
- Best Web 3.0 and AI Startup of the Year: Paybybit Payment Services Provider Co. LLC, UAE
- Diversity Role Model of the Year: Ms. Seham Yateem, Bahrain
- People’s Choice Award: Paybybit Payment Services Provider Co. LLC, UAE
These winners represent the pinnacle of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Middle East, making significant contributions to the regional and national economies.
The Global Startup Awards Ecosystem
The Middle East Startup Awards is integral to the Global Startup Awards, operated by Commerce Connect Events Exhibition & Management (CCEEM). These awards are a global celebration of outstanding ideas and innovations. The selection process involves a comprehensive network of local ambassadors, country partners, national and international jury members, and key advisors, including prominent investors, political stakeholders, founders, and community builders.
The Middle East Startup Awards (MESA) 2022-23 stands as a testament to the Middle East’s vibrant and thriving startup ecosystem. It recognises exceptional achievements and inspires aspiring entrepreneurs to embark on their startup journeys. The event, hosted by AURAK, brought together the brightest minds, fostering collaboration and innovation. As the startup landscape in the Middle East continues to evolve, events like MESA will play a pivotal role in shaping its future.