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| 16 March, 2017

'Influential' Lebanese across the arab world urged to connect with resurgent Lebanon on innovation

Dubai, UAE; 16 March 2017: A Lebanese Diaspora summit which took place on 12th March 2017 in Dubai has examined on how Lebanon’s over 200,000 citizens living across the Arab world can help and benefit from unlocking the innovation potential of a prospering homeland.

'Influential' Lebanese across the arab world urged to connect with resurgent Lebanon on innovation

Dubai, UAE; 16 March 2017: A Lebanese Diaspora summit which took place on 12th March 2017 in Dubai has examined on how Lebanon’s over 200,000 citizens living across the Arab world can help and benefit from unlocking the innovation potential of a prospering homeland.

Under the patronage of H.E. Consul General of Lebanon Sami Nmeir, and supported by Lebanon’s central bank Banque Du Liban (BDL), the UK Lebanon Tech Hub hosted the summit ‘Releasing Lebanese Innovation Potential’ at the General Consulate of Lebanon in Dubai. The aim of the summit was to explore and engage with Lebanon's diaspora, the resources, the means and the opportunities for them to be a part of this renaissance, which has been largely fueled in the last few years by BDL’s landmark Circular 331 initiative.

With over 80,000 Lebanese living in the UAE alone, Dubai was ascertained as the natural place to host this summit. Speakers at the Dubai summit include H.E. Marwan Kheireddine, former Lebanese Minister and Board Member of the UK Lebanon Tech Hub; Mr Osman Sultan, CEO of leading UAE telecom operator du; and a host of leading Lebanese knowledge economy investors as well as tech start-ups that are going global with their businesses.

A recent report from the UK Lebanon Tech Hub highlighted that Lebanon was poised to create 25,000 ICT jobs by 2025. The report also acknowledges Banque Du Liban’s (BDL) considerable funding and support, particularly through its 331 initiative, which has made available $400 million for investment in the knowledge economy directly by banks or through venture capital funds. Under the scheme, the Lebanese Central Bank offers commercial banks a 75% capital guarantee on their investments into technology startups, incubators, accelerators and venture capital firms.

This initiative, amongst others, has boosted Lebanon’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, demonstrated by the country’s ICT sector growing by eight per cent annually over the last five years. Today, there are 300 companies in ICT related activities in Lebanon, with 11,200 IT employees, contributing over $400 million to Lebanon, making it the 3rd largest contributor to the economy after financial services and remittances.

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In parallel to developments in the homeland, Lebanon’s diaspora continues to grow in influence abroad. 66% per cent of Lebanese around 12 million people - live abroad and they sent USD 7.7 billion back home in 2014 alone. There are 81 Lebanese in the list of the top 500 Arab influencers in the world - mostly concentrated in the UAE, Europe and the US Marwan Kheireddine, said:

“The surge in development of the technology ecosystem in Lebanon opens the door for the Lebanese diaspora to join hands with Lebanon’s innovative and highly resourceful entrepreneurs to satisfy the rising demands for high tech solutions in the MENA market.” 

As part of the UK Lebanon Tech Hub’s development, last month, British Ambassador to Lebanon H.E. Hugo Shorter announced £2.5 million ($3 million) in support of the creation of a new International Research Centre (IRC) in Lebanon. The Center aims to bridge the abundant knowledge capability in Lebanese universities with the global tech industry. The first collaboration is between the Lebanese University and the Geneva-based CERN European Laboratory for Particle Physics, amongst others, to produce the world’s first Fiber Optic Sensors System for agricultural irrigation.

This has created another opportunity for the diaspora to consider outsourcing some R&D and technology projects to Lebanon.

Meanwhile, the UK Lebanon Tech Hub has been helping Lebanese tech start-ups acquire knowledge and connections in Dubai through an accelerator programme. This ensures they gain access to global markets and are able to take the benefits back home to strengthen their operations in Lebanon.

The home grown Lebanese tech companies exhibiting at the Dubai summit include Kamkalima a new web-based platform for K-12 schools that helps teachers create engaging writing based assignments in Arabic for their students, Riego a solar powered, agricultural irrigation control device helping farmers to optimize water consumption through monitoring the weather and other growing variables, and Artscoops an online art auction site revolutionising the art world by bringing together virtually artists, galleries and buyers. The other start ups exhibiting are EasyCat, Bluering, Bimpos, Scriptr, Netix, PMY, MakerBrane, and Smarke.

UK Lebanon Tech Hub is a joint initiative by Banque du Liban, Lebanon’s Central Bank, and the UK government through the British Embassy in Beirut.  It aims to support the growth of the knowledge economy in Lebanon through the development of tech companies in the country and create opportunities for the brightest Lebanese talent to access international markets. More information can be found at:http://bit.ly/2lAumgb  

UKLTH’s core programme is the International Research Center (IRC). The purpose of the IRC is to develop the applied research industry in Lebanon through international collaborations between internationally recognized universities/R&D centers and Lebanese universities. UKLTH leads these collaborations by providing the funding and the management over three years with a view to transfer the technology to the market after this period ends.

The International Research Centre is a key recommendation of the recent flagship report by the UK Lebanon Tech Hub, which outlines a plan to create 25,000 jobs by 2025. The report’s findings followed the examination of Lebanon’s knowledge economy, mapping its strengths and weaknesses, assessing global trends, and comparing its ecosystem development experiences with countries of a similar profile.

 © Press Release 2017