The month of July is all about development in the pita-consuming region. Please send your submissions to Nadia at firstname.lastname@example.org. To kick off the discussion of development, PITAPOLICY is revisiting the Technology theme from March in today’s posting. (Apologies for missing the regular Sunday posting.)
Tech Crunch published “The Arab World Has Tech Talent To Sustain It Beyond The Clones” by Mehrunisa Qayyum, founder of PITAPOLICY and Huffington Post Blogger. The discussion is limited to the Arab world, but by no means does that hint that Turkey and Iran are exempt from the innovation and talent growing in the MENA region. Furthermore, the piece does not cover the diaspora community talent that continue to establish successful startups in the United States. The Iranian American community provides several examples: Ebay and awesomize–among others. On that note, don’t forget to check out tech entrepreneurs survey!
Back in March, PITAPOLICY was lucky enough to meet UK Editor of Tech Crunch, Mike Butcher at the WAMDAME tweetup in Beirut Lebanon during the ArabNet Summit. The piece was originally published last Friday and has already been shared on social media networks over 750 times!!!
This is a guest post by Mehrunisa Qayyum, a consultant on the Middle East / North Africa region, founder of PitaPolicy and Huffington Post Blogger.
“Here’s a mobile app that rates the restaurant/bar/club based on the how many attractive women are there,” explained an Arab Net Summit attendee to me in a Hamraa neighborhood hotspot of Beirut. I had to contain myself. Here I was in Lebanon, attending the Arab Net conference, and trying to challenge another blogger’s belief that innovation in Arab countries is limited to localizing the application of existing startups. Clones, in other words. And the conversation had shifted from “who’s hot” rather than “what’s hot”.
In any case, those arguing that the Arab region can’t innovate may have a case, if you believe the reports that is. A 55 country study reviewing technology & innovation released in early March by the Kauffman Foundation of Entrepreneurship did not mention a single Arab country. Only two came from the MENA region: Turkey and Israel.
But let’s put the non-Arab countries in MENA to the side for a moment. Instead, let’s refocus on reviewing the three factors that jumpstart technology entrepreneurship and innovation: 1) talent; 2) people networks, and 3) funding.
Factors #1 & #2: Talent and People
Talent and great people networks exist in many MENA countries, as was evidenced by the debate by Arab Technology CEOs speaking at the Arab Net Conference. Indeed, Arab Net is a real-life example of this. Arab Net Summit, founded by Omar Christidis, holds technology entrepreneur competitions on both the individual and business level. For example, click here for complete article.