RIYADH — The highly anticipated 8th edition of Arabnet Riyadh, the Kingdom’s largest technology event, kicked off at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center on Tuesday under the theme of “Connecting the Kingdom”.

Held in strategic partnership with Monsha’at — the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises — Arabnet Riyadh 2019 also features top sponsorship from Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Seera (AlTayyar Group), Mastercard, Saudi Fransi Bank, Digital Marketing Services (Choueiri Group), Riyad Bank, AlKhaleejiah (Saudi Research and Marketing Group), TikTok, SAMBA, Meem Bank, Dawiyat (Saudi Electricity Company), Teads and many more.

Over 6,000 senior government officials, enterprise decision-makers, and 150 investors were in attendance, keen on connecting and exchanging ideas on digital innovation and entrepreneurship as key drivers for the Kingdom’s future economic development, in addition to 300 exhibiting startups in the Kingdom’s largest tech entrepreneurship showcase.

ArabNet Founder and CEO, Omar Christidis, launched the ceremony with his opening speech where he said: “For years, Saudi Arabia has been the region’s largest economy, boasting consumers of the highest purchasing power and a young tech-savvy population; but recent developments make this an especially opportune time to move into the Saudi tech scene. If you’re looking for the emerging hub of digital innovation and entrepreneurship in the MENA region today, you’ll find it in Saudi Arabia.”

The Governor of Monsha’at, Saleh Ibrahim Alrasheed, highlighted Monsha’at’s commitment in supporting current and aspiring entrepreneurs, in offering innovations that contribute to raising the level of services in various fields. Alrasheed added that Monsha’at’s strategic partnership of Arabnet Riyadh, aims to foster the cultural mindset, entrepreneurial spirit, and to encourage and appreciate distinguished and talented innovative entrepreneurs in the scientific, technical and intellectual production fields.

The Inspire Saudi track, sponsored by Monsha’at, focused on startups and investing in tech companies, featuring top global investors from Silicon Valley, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong, France, Austria, Mexico, and around the MENA region.

The opening panel, included stellar speakers, Bader Alzahrani, CEO Cultural Fund, Ministry of Culture; Badr Bin Mohamed Al Rajhi, Managing Director, Rajhi Invest; Bader AlShathry, Vice President and Chief Digital Transformation Officer, Alturki Holding; Othman D. AlDahash, Vice President - Corporate Development, STC Group and moderated by Osama Ashri, Founder, Saudi Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Lab. The panel discussed the key drivers for achieving vision 2030 in the Kingdom from the perspective of entrepreneurship, innovation, and digitization.

Some key speakers also included Andrew Zalasin, General Partner at Valve VC based in the United States; and Carlos Watson, Founder of OZY Media, also based in the United States.

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