Touch recognizes 11 teams from Lebanon who qualified for the finals of the 10th edition of the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition

The 11 lebanese teams
  • 74 semi-finalists from 11 Arab countries compete in Bahrain on April 25-27 for cash prizes exceeding $160,000
  • Lebanese teams showcase their startup ideas to Minister of Telecom and media

Beirut, April 4, 2017

touch, the leading mobile telecommunications and data operator in Lebanon, managed by Zain Group, acknowledged the 11 teams from Lebanon who have qualified for the finals of the 10th edition of the MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) Arab Startup Competition in a special gathering at touch Lab in Downtown Beirut. The event was held under the auspices of Lebanon’s Minister of Telecommunications, HE Jamal Al Jarrah. The occasion was inspirational, allowing the teams to network and gain access to some of the most progressive entrepreneurs in Lebanon. The 11 teams were also afforded the opportunity to showcase the ideas that qualified them for the finals of the competition.

Minister of Telecommunication HE Jamal Al Jarrah addressed the 11 Lebanese teams, acknowledging the vital role they and other aspiring entrepreneurs will play in the future prosperity of Lebanon, said, “When I assumed office, the Prime Minister Saad Al Hariri’s shared with me his vision for the telecommunications sector: to focus on and meet the broadband connectivity needs of the Lebanese youth. This includes providing them with fast and reliable internet connection at reasonable prices. By end of April, Lebanon will enjoy 4.5G nationwide experience, and soon after a cost-efficient and high speed DSL network. Our goal at the Ministry of Telecom is to solve all network and cost related issues, creating the environment to bolster the digital innovation ecosystem and support Lebanon’s overall community and business internet needs.”

Al Jarrah also revealed that a special new package catered to the youth and university students will soon be made available at an affordable price. He added that the Ministry is considering ways in which it can level up to the youth, emerging companies and aspiring entrepreneurs to offer its continuous support. This will include trainings, a help desk dedicated especially to them and their projects as well as other support mechanisms. Al Jarrah stated that Lebanon needs economic improvements in which the youth will play a significant role.

In his welcoming speech, touch’s Chief Executive Officer, Emre Gurkan said, “Lebanon has come a long way in the past couple of years, gaining momentum as a telecommunications trendsetter in the region. touch has done an exemplary job of driving the sector forward, and I am pleased to be a part of its exciting journey of digital transformation.”

Addressing the teams, Gurkan commented, “With so many finalists in relation to its relatively small population, Lebanon is the most successful country to participate in the MITEF Arab Startup Competition, which is something to be extremely proud of. The teams from Lebanon represent the country’s wealth of youthful energy and talent. My advice to them would be to take this entrepreneurial spirit with you, long after the competition is over and put it to good use for the benefit of your country.”

Hala Fadel, Chair of the board of MITEF Pan Arab said, “This year, we are celebrating 10 years of entrepreneurial success in the region by bringing together our biggest edition of MITEF Startup Competition to date. We are expecting more technology innovations from the MENA region this year and we aim to take the most innovative of these entrepreneurs

to new heights. We are delighted by the Lebanese representation this year which is very high. 15% of a mind blowing 8,272 applications this year came from Lebanon, a sign of a very healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country.”

Henri Asseily, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Leap Ventures, advised the 11 teams to “Target big markets, work hard, and not take no for an answer.”

The MITEF Arab Startup Competition is organized by the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Pan Arab region, in partnership with Community Jameel, a social enterprise organization that operates a wide range of initiatives promoting a positive society and economic sustainability, as well as Zain Group, a leading telecommunications innovator in eight markets across the Middle East and Africa. This year’s strategic partner to the competition is Tamkeen, a semi-governmental organization in Bahrain that is tasked with making the private sector a key driver of sustainable economic development.

The MITEF Arab Startup Competition will culminate in a four-day event from April 24 to April 27, 2017 in Bahrain, with the announcement of the competition winners set to take place during the final award ceremony. 74 semi-finalists from 11 Arab countries will compete for cash prizes exceeding $160,000.

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