12th Edition Speakers
MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab
Hala Fadel is the co-founder and managing partner at Leap Ventures, a tech-focused entrepreneur-led venture capital firm that operates in MENA and Europe. Hala has 20 years of experience in finance and entrepreneurship. She has been a portfolio manager for 12 years in European Equities at Comgest, a €20bn growth equity fund focused on investing in growth companies. During her time at Comgest, the fund grew about tenfold becoming a well established outperforming global growth fund. Hala started her career in 1996 at Merril Lynch in London in mergers and acquisition. She is the founder and chair of the MIT Enterprise Forum of the pan-Arab region, an organization that promotes entrepreneurship and organises, among other things, the MIT Arab startup competition since 2006, receiving thousands of applications every year from 20 countries. Hala also sits on the global board of the MIT Enterprise Forum. Hala graduated from HEC in France in 1997, attended the Berkeley Haas School of Business, and holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management.Read less
Director - Machine Learning, Deep Learning Software Engineering
Huma Abidi is the Engineering Director of Deep Learning in the Artificial Intelligence Product Group at Intel Corporation, where she is responsible for Deep Learning framework software optimization for Intel processors. Huma joined Intel as a software engineer and has since worked in a variety of engineering, validation, and management roles in the area of compilers, binary translation, and machine learning and deep learning. She received the Intel Achievement Award for her work in the Software and Services Group and was twice recognized with the Intel Software Quality award. Huma holds a BS in Pre-med and Chemistry and an MS in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts. She has received Executive Training in Fostering Inclusion and Diversity by Yale School of Management.
She is passionate about girls’ education and is involved with several non-profit and philanthropic organizations that educate and support underserved girls in the US and developing countries. She was listed as #2 by AIThority as Women using AI technology to change the world. She enjoys giving talks, podcasts, and presentations at AI conferences, including a keynote at the AI O'Reilly conference held in San Francisco in Sept 2018. She was recently also featured in the Silicon Valley Business Journal for her role in AI leadership.Read less
The World Bank
Vice President, Middle East and North Africa
Ferid Belhaj took up the position of World Bank Group Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa on July 1, 2018. Prior to this, Mr. Belhaj served 15 months as the Chief of Staff of the President of the World Bank Group.
From 2012 to 2017, Mr. Belhaj was World Bank Director for the Middle East, in charge of World Bank work programs in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Iran, based in Beirut, Lebanon. In this capacity, he led the Bank engagement on the Syrian refugee crisis and its impact on the region, including the creation of new financing instruments to help countries hosting forcibly displaced people; the ramping up of the Bank drive towards the reconstruction and recovery of Iraq during and after the ISIS invasion and the scaling up of the Bank's commitments to Lebanon and Jordan.
Before taking up his Mashreq assignment, Mr. Belhaj served as World Bank Director for the Pacific Department (2009-2012), where he developed a regional strategy that scaled up Bank engagement in small and fragile states, and tripled lending operations of the International Development Agency, one of the five institutions under the umbrella of the World Bank Group that provides interest-free loans and grants for Low-Income Countries.
From 2007 to 2010, Mr. Belhaj was the World Bank’s Special Representative to the United Nations in New York, where he engaged with various UN agencies on a range of programs, mainly climate change, the Millennium Development Goals, fragile and post-conflict states, and the global financial and food crises.
Ferid Belhaj served as World Bank Country Manager for Morocco (2002-2007), where he developed a new and multifaceted dialogue with one of the best performing Middle-Income countries.
A Tunisian national, Mr. Belhaj joined the Bank in 1996 as Senior Counsel in the Legal Department, managing a number of legal and judicial reform projects. He also served as Bank Counsel for countries, including Egypt, Morocco, Iran, Algeria, and Thailand.Read less
Stanford University, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Charbel Farhat is the Vivian Church Hoff Professor of Aircraft Structures and the Chairman of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University. He is also Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Professor in the Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering, Director of the Army High Performance Computing Research Center, and Director of the King Abdullah City of Science and Technology Center of Excellence for Aeronautics and Astronautics. He currently serves on the United States Air Force Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), and on the Space Technology Industry-Government-University Roundtable.Read less
Dr. Simon Galpin
Bahrain Economic Development Board
Dr. Simon Galpin was appointed Managing Director of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) in February 2016, where he leads in FDI promotion and business development. The EDB is a dynamic Government agency with overall responsibility for formulating and overseeing the economic development strategy of the Kingdom of Bahrain and for creating the right climate to attract direct investment into the Kingdom.
Previously, as the Director-General of Investment Promotion at Invest Hong Kong, was also actively involved in promoting Hong Kong’s start-up ecosystem. Prior to joining InvestHK, Dr. Galpin spent ten years with Scottish Enterprise – at that time Europe’s largest economic development agency.
Dr. Galpin is a Doctor of Juridical Science and holds in Masters Degrees in Business Administration, Local Economic Development and International Business Law and recently graduated as a Doctor of Juridical Science.Read less
Director of AI
Rob works with partners across academia, government, technology vendors, start-ups, and other key stakeholders, in order to drive innovation within the firm and develop new services for clients. He is an evangelist for responsible technology and promotes awareness of the growing ethical agenda relating to AI. He is an advisory board member of the UK's Parliamentary Group on AI, an adviser to The IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems, a TEDx speaker, and a Fellow of The RSA. Rob is particularly focused upon the issues and policies relating to the impact of automation on the workforce, the future skills agenda, and ensuring that the benefits to be delivered by AI are equitably spread across society.Read less
Senior Partner and Head of Technology and Digital of Asia and Middle East
Shah is a Senior Partner at Roland Berger’s Dubai office and Head of Digital Practice of Asia and Middle East. He joined the firm in 2011, leading the telecommunications business in the Middle East and working with several large telecommunications clients across the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia. Shah is a member of the Investment Committee of the region’s largest venture capital company. Prior to joining Roland Berger, he spent 12 years with a leading consultancy in London and Dubai. He studied Economics at Cambridge in the UK. Kushal Shah is also a Co-founder and board member of Dubai Angel Investors.Read less
Head of Public Policy for the Middle East and North Africa
Nashwa Aly is Facebook’s Head of Public Policy for the Middle East and North Africa, based out of Dubai. She is responsible for representing the company on all issues related to public policy and government affairs in the MENA region. She joined the company in July 2017 and is a member of the senior leadership team in the Dubai office.
Nashwa previously worked in a similar capacity for Google, based out of Cairo, where she focused on policy development, advocacy efforts, economic impact programs and safety online. Prior to that, Nashwa worked for the US Mission in Egypt, in different roles including political advisory on human rights, domestic politics, Middle East Peace Process as well as in roles in consular affairs, and the office of military cooperation.Read less
Women in AI
Co-Founder and Head of Education and Research
Hanan Salam holds a PhD in Artificial Intelligence. She is the co-founder and the head of education and research of Women in AI, a non-profit working to increase female representation and participation in the domain of Artificial Intelligence. A year ago, she co-founded YouPro, a platform dedicated for the education of young professionals. She is also a lecturer at several universities and conducts research in specific areas of applied Artificial Intelligence. She has published several international peer-reviewed conferences and journals on social robotics and intelligent effective computing. Her research interests include Artificial Intelligence, human-computer interaction, social robotics, computer vision, machine learning and effective computing. She is an advocate of technology for common good and is currently investigating how blockchain technology could transform Artificial Intelligence and vice-versa.Read less
Head of Business Support Unit for Startup
Amira Mourad is a dynamic multi-disciplined government official with extensive experience in Financial Management, Budgeting and Startup consulting and mentorship. She is currently the Head of “BSU” (Business Support Unit for Startups) at The Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL), Presidency of Council of Ministers where she has worked with more than 90 startups across various industries. Amira has also coordinated support services, training and consultations for more than 420 Lebanese entrepreneurs throughout her tenure. After a successful track record in the private sector, Amira Joined IDAL in May 2007 and instantly emerged as a strong reliable executive bringing much-needed leadership skills and solid professional expertise to IDAL Team.Amira Graduated from Saint Joseph University with a Bachelor of Business administration. She also received a MS in Management from the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik in 2012 and completed her executive education in “Leadership for the future: The Arab Region In A Changing World” at Harvard Kennedy School - Executive Education.Read less
Dr. Teresa Escrig
Dr. Escrig is an AI expert with over 25 years of distinguished accomplishments in the field. She is an AI Global lead at Accenture, has been founder and CEO of two startups, lead creator of four products from concept to delivery, head of a research group, author of 100+ peer-reviewed research articles, 4 books, and several awards, including the National Prize on Science and Technology. Dr. Escrig has been a professor on AI-related topics at several universities in Europe and the U.S. for almost 20 years. A visionary, out-of-the-box thinker, passionate and effective leader and speaker, Dr. Escrig mission is to make sure that we develop transparent, unbiased, safe and responsible AI.Read less
MENA Research Partners
Chief Executive Officer
Anthony heads MENA Research Partners (“MRP”), a research and consulting outsourcing company offering customized economic, sector, market and financial research in areas like financial modelling, valuations, equity and fixed income research, business plans, feasibility studies and review of feasibilities, investment memos, debt/equity/bank loan documentation, sector assessments & prioritization, competition mapping, market surveys, white labeling of publications, database building, among others. Prior to MRP, Anthony spent his career within research, consulting and strategy across MENA, having worked within the banking sector and wider financial & investment industry. His regional positioning exposed him to many of MENA’s economic and financial cycles. He is a graduate of the prestigious Paris-Dauphine University in France.Read less
Dr. Sana Farid
Munfarid Consulting Co.
X-Reality and Ai Strategist
Dr. Sana Farid is a Pioneer X Reality and Ai Strategist, an avid researcher determined to use future tech solutions for societal well-being. Her ongoing research with NGOs seeking to counter malnutrition and neonatal diseases in 3rd world countries, assisting them to develop awareness through immersive technologies and artificial intelligence.
A qualified surgeon, education futurist, distinguished ambassador to women empowerment programs, representing VRAR Association MENA chapter, and Ambassador to Women of Wearables Association in MENA. Predominantly supporting government and non-governmental initiatives leading them to envision, strategize and streamline Ai/AR/VR based programs and is playing a vital role to highlight needs of implementation framework. Dr. Sana is heading a consortium called “Munfarid” funded by government and tech giants in the region with a mission to bring these programs to mainstream and encourage self-reliance programs.Read less
Prof. Bernard Ghanem
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering, Visual Computing Center
Bernard Ghanem is currently an Associate Professor in the CEMSE division and a theme leader at the Visual Computing Center at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia. Before that, he was a Senior Research Scientist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in Singapore. His research interests lie in computer vision, machine learning, and optimization geared towards real-world applications. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the American University of Beirut (AUB) in 2005 and his MS/Ph.D. in from UIUC in 2010. His work has received several awards and honors, including the Henderson Graduate Award from UIUC, CSE fellowship awards from UIUC, two Best Paper Awards (CVPRW 2013 and ECCVW 2018), a two-year KAUST Seed Fund, and a Google Faculty Research Award in 2015 (still the only one from Saudi Arabia). He has co-authored more than 75 peer-reviewed conference and journal papers in his field as well as two issued patents.Read less
Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder
Ayman is the Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder at NymCard, where he is leading the product, marketing and overseeing Product Management, Design and Data Science functions. Ayman joined in 2014 where he was instrumental in creating the product vision and for driving early business growth.
Before joining NymCard he co-founded a mobile startup focusing on augmented and virtual reality and prior to entering the startup scene, Ayman was based in London and led Nokia’s mobile music service across the Middle East, Africa and in the emerging markets of India, China, Russia and Brazil.
Ayman is a graduate of the American University of Beirut with a Bachelor in Electrical Engineering, lived in four different countries and worked on businesses covering diverse multicultural regions of the world.Read less
Founder and CEO
Mirna Sleiman is the founder and CEO of Fintech Galaxy, a global crowdsourcing platform that connects the fintech ecosystem. A senior executive with 15+ years of experience in government relations, business strategy, digital communications and journalism, mostly within the MENA region.
Driven by passion for innovation and positive impact, Mirna has a track record in leading digital transformation projects, marketing comms strategies and global partnerships with public and private entities, focusing on knowledge economy development, regulatory infrastructure and financial markets.
Managed public sector business for Thomson Reuters across MENA and partnered with international organizations to promote innovation and social change. Sits on the advisory board of the Union of Arab Banks and MENA Research Partners.
Spent more than 10 years as a financial journalist with Reuters, Dow Jones, The Wall Street Journal and Zawya. Awarded three EMEA Dow Jones awards and received a Global William Clabby Award in investigative reporting, Thomson Reuters Over And Above award for strategic relations and the IPRA trophy for the impact on the region's corporate world.
Certified from MIT university in Fintech and e- commerce, certified from Columbia University in Digital Marketing and Communications, and an Executive MBA candidate with City University of London (Strategy - Digital Transformation).Read less
Fintech Lead for Visa CEMEA
Sirine leads Visa’s Fintech strategy and engagements across CEMEA working closely with key partners and innovative fintechs leveraging Visa’s digital capabilities and network. Prior to joining Visa, Sirine managed DTEC’s (Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, Government of Dubai) Tech Incubator investing in and managing a portfolio of tech startups including Wrappup, 360VUZ, ShortPoint, Melltoo, Clip The Deal and others. Sirine was awarded Mentor of the Year by Arabian Business Magazine.Read less
Co-founder and CEO
More than fifteen years of professional experience in the field of private equity, investments, corporate finance, strategic planning and business development, accompanied by a strong educational background, from prominent local and international institutions.
Rami cofounded Pride Capital to utilize his long experience in financial services and investments and passion to technology, and recently launched a fintech accelerator with Startupbootcamp in Cairo – the program is supported by Alex Bank, Visa, IFC, GIZ, Pharos Holding, Ayady & Exprot Development Bank of Egypt.
Recently, as well, Rami is a Board member of BM Lease– subsidiary to Banque Misr, and an Investment committee member of the VC program of the Social Development Fund (in cooperation with the World Bank), where he approved several investments in debt and equity with multiple start-ups and accelerators like Cairo based Flat6Labs, as well a former Investment Committee member of the Insurance Holding Co.
His last post was VP at Al-Ahly Capital Holding – the investment arm of the National Bank of Egypt, During his post, he joined the Board of Directors of one of the leading oil refineries in Alexandria – Alexandria Mineral Oils Co.- worth of USD 600MM. Before that, Rami worked in HC investment banking, Etisalat Misr, LINKdotNET, and MIBank.
Rami Holds an M.Sc. From Wales University & B.Sc. From Cairo University. Rami’s passion for FinTech is continuing to grow, now he is enrolled in the Oxford 10-weeks FinTech Program.Read less
Founder and CEO
Philip Bahoshy is the founder and CEO of MAGNiTT, is the largest investment data platform for the MENA startup ecosystem, be investors, entrepreneurs, and corporates. Raised in the UK with Iraqi origins, Philip obtained an MBA from INSEAD in 2013 and a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics. During his time in Dubai, Philip worked at Oliver Wyman in the Financial Services practice for three years, followed by nearly three years at Barclays Wealth working as Chief of Staff to the CEO advising on strategic initiatives. Philip has lived in the UAE for more than eleven years and is passionate about developing the MENA startup ecosystem.Read less