World Economic Forum opens applications for 100 Arab Start-ups

Programme run in collaboration with Bahrain Economic Development Board

People set up the main stage at the congress center where the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum 2019, WEF, take place in Davos, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
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Online applications have opened for the World Economic Forum’s 100 Arab Start-ups programme, which seeks to identify the start-ups shaping the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ in 2019.

The fourth industrial revolution is the name used to describe the current economic and social environment in which advancing technologies are changing the way we live and work.

The WEF initiative – run in collaboration with Bahrain Economic Development Board, the Arabian Gulf state’s investment agency – aims to select 100 start-ups to benefit from a tailored programme with industry and government leaders to discuss the future of their industries.

The selection committee comprises some of the Middle East and North Africa’s most successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, including Khaled Talhouni, managing partner at Wamda Capital, Ahmed El Alfi, founder and chairman of Sawari Ventures, Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, chief executive and managing director at Saudi Technology Ventures, Hala Fadel, co-founder and managing partner at Leap Ventures, Amir Farha, co-founder of Beco Capital, and Areije Al Shakar, director and Fund Manager, Al Waha Venture Capital Fund, and senior vice-president of Bahrain Development Bank.

Mirek Dusek, deputy head of the Centre for Regional and Geopolitical Affairs and head of the Mena region at WEF, is also on the selection committee.

“A wave of young companies and entrepreneurs are changing the economic landscape of the Arab world,” he said. “By championing innovative and pragmatic solutions, start-ups are improving people’s everyday lives and drive new forms of regional cooperation.”

The deadline for applications is March 13 and the promising entrepreneurs will be invited to participate in the WEF conference at the Dead Sea, Jordan on 6-7 April.

To be eligible, companies should have received at least one round of funding from outside investors, and, if early stage, be generating revenues with demonstrable early success or a working prototype that is ready to launch.

If the applicant is a late-stage start-up that has concluded more than two rounds of funding, they must be considered a leader or high-potential company in their field, according to WEF.

They must also demonstrate a commitment to making a substantial long-term impact on Arab business and society, and not be a subsidiary or joint venture.