Inaugural edition of Web Summit Qatar closes with a flourish

Inaugural edition of Web Summit Qatar closes with a flourish

QLNews
By QLNews

The inaugural edition of Web Summit Qatar 2024, the first foray of the world’s largest tech event to the Middle East and North Africa region, concluded on a high note on Thursday.

The final day witnessed a huge turnout from international tech giants, start-ups, industry experts, and tech enthusiasts from all across the world.

The first Web Summit Qatar threw up some very interesting numbers. Over four days, the event at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center hosted 15,453 attendees from 118 countries.

They witnessed 1,043 tech innovations from 81 nations, 10% of which were from Qatar and 20% from Africa. The event’s international attendance featured 401 investors, 148 partners, and 380 speakers.

The record-breaking event garnered worldwide attention across different platforms, with around 900 tech journalists and media representatives covering the summit.

“We’re proud of Qatar’s achievements across all domains. The exceptional organisation of such a celebrated global event and the huge turnout for a first-year edition showcases our country’s capacity to further its role as a leading destination for technology and innovation in the region, and in launching initiatives that advance the digital and IT sector in Qatar and beyond,” said Government Communications Office (GCO) Director Sheikh Jassim bin Mansour bin Jabor Al Thani.

“We worked tirelessly to bring to our audience a distinguished line-up of sessions, activities, and engagements that built on Qatar’s track record of hosting major global events. We welcomed thousands of start-ups, investors, and tech leaders, while opening the doors to networking and growth opportunities for young and aspiring entrepreneurs in Qatar and the region.

“With AI and other emerging technologies and business development trends dominating discussions at the summit, the event instantly proved its ability to serve as a platform that contributes to Qatar’s digital transformation and accelerate the establishment of a knowledge-based economy,” said Sheikh Jassim, who is also Chairman of the Web Summit Qatar 2024 Organising Committee.

Web Summit CEO Katherine Maher highlighted the event’s record-breaking numbers.

“This was an incredible event. We’d record number of people attending. It was the most international event ever in the region in terms of start-ups. I’m so excited to be able to come back year after year,” Maher said.

“We want more people to come, more international start-ups, more connections to the region. We want the Qatari ecosystem to grow with more startups located here,” she said.

On its final day, Web Summit Qatar 2024 hosted a plethora of panel discussions, partnership agreements, and presentations by the world’s most prominent tech companies.

Qatar’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohammed bin Ali Al Mannai spoke exhaustively about ‘Qatar’s plan for a digital future.’ He gave the audience an overview of the Digital Agenda 2030, which was launched during the Web Summit week.

The minister explained the agenda’s six strategic pillars — Digital Infrastructure, Digital Government, Digital Technologies, Digital Innovation, Digital Economy and Digital Society.

“The digital economy, on its own, isn’t for the government to drive. It’s mainly for the private sector to drive. So, our relationship is built around cooperating with the private sector. With the national digital agenda, we give them direction about where we’re going so they can support us on delivering that,” he said.

Highlighting the recently signed agreement between the Qatar Research, Development and Innovation (QRDI) Council and Alchemist Accelerator to launch Alchemist Doha, QRDI Council Secretary General Eng Omar Al Ansari said: “We aim to leverage Alchemist Doha to attract some of the best regional and global B2B start-ups to Qatar, under a high criterion. The region has many start-ups that are in a scaling and growth stage that we would be very interested in recruiting into Qatar. Once here, we plan to deploy other programs to integrate these start-ups into the wider economy to ensure they’re also benefiting from doing collaborative work with our large enterprises.”

Generation Amazing Foundation Executive Director Nasser Al Khori and football legend Claude Makelele addressed how sports and community-based organisations can foster partnerships that power social change.

“We’re the legacy of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It’s the foundation, it’s all these programs that we’ve. We’re in 75 countries and counting. We’re also looking at the next biggest sporting event, but not just football. Now we’re expanding to other sports. That’s the idea, the legacy, that it doesn’t stop, you pay it forward, just like our motto — pass it on,” Al Khori said.

The summit also featured the signing of 24 MoUs between Qatari institutions and prominent tech ventures toward boosting the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems in Qatar and beyond.

Several agreements were signed on the closing day, including one between Qatar National Bank and Web Summit to announce QNB’s sponsorship of Web Summit Qatar for the next four years.

On the final day, attendees flocked to the main stage where the pitch competition finalists shared the stories behind their start-ups and their vision for the future.

The three finalists were Rhazes AI, an end-to-end AI assistant for doctors, IMAN, a super-app for halal finance, and Breshna.io, a no-code game-builder, with the latter winning Qatar’s inaugural summit pitch competition.

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