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Ever wondered what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

The professional and personal challenges, the high and lows, the failures and the success?

Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs with over 400 past events in 100 countries around the world in 2011.

The non-profit organization is headquartered in Seattle, Washington but Startup Weekend organizers and facilitators can be found in over 200 cities around the world. From Mongolia to South Africa to London to Brazil, people around the globe are coming together for weekend long workshops to pitch ideas, form teams, and start companies.

All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54 hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekends culminate with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback.

Whether entrepreneurs found companies, find a cofounder, meet someone new, or learn a skill far outside their usual 9-to-5, everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of startups. If you want to put yourself in the shoes of an entrepreneur, register now for the best weekend of your life!

Why attend a Startup Weekend event?

Call us biased, but we think that there are dozens of reasons why you should come to a Startup Weekend! Since we know your time is valuable, we’ll only list the top eight:

Startup Weekends are all about learning through the act of creating. Don’t just listen to theory, build your own strategy and test it as you go.

Build your network:
This isn’t just a happy-hour. Startup Weekend attracts your community’s best makers and do-ers. By spending a weekend working to build scalable companies that solve real-world problems, you will build long-lasting relationships and possibly walk away with a job or even an investor.

Co-Founder Dating:
We all know it’s not just about the idea – it’s about the team. Startup Weekend is hands down the best way to find someone you can actually launch a startup with.

Learn a new skill:
Step outside of your comfort zone. With a whole weekend dedicated to letting your creative juices flow, Startup Weekends are perfect opportunities to work on a new platform, learn a new programming language, or just try something different.

Actually launch a business:
Over 36% of Startup Weekend startups are still going strong after 3 months. Roughly 80% of participants plan on continuing working with their team or startup after the weekend.

Get face time with thought leaders:
Local tech and startup leaders participate in Startup Weekends as coaches and judges. Get some one-on-one time with the movers and shakers in your community.

Save money & get stuff:
Startup Weekends typically cost between $75 and $150 (less for students). Your ticket covers seven meals, snack, access to exclusive resources from our sponsors, and of course, all the coffee you can drink.

Join a global community:
Join over 45,000 Startup Weekend alumni, all on a mission to change the world.


The winners will receive valuable prizes, donated by our Sponsors, that will give the startups the boost they need to succeeded! The prizes will include high tech devices, financial and marketing mentorship packages, a social media campaign, hosting services and web development tools!


The Idea Factory in Alserkal Avenue is an innovative platform for crowd-sourcing & product development. It’s main objective is to direct experimenting and build a healthy ecosystem in the creative environment.




Nov 28
  • Registration Starts
  • Dinner & Networking
  • Welcome
  • Pitches Start
  • Attendees vote for the top ideas
  • Teams start forming and discussing ideas
  • Start to formalize teams and take an inventory of skills.


Nov 29
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend
  • Speaker
  • Lunch
  • Call for needs & skills
  • Coaches help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!
  • Dinner
  • Mid weekend check-in, status reports, call for help
  • Finished for the day. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow


Nov 30
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Call for help (this is self motivated, so don’t be shy)
  • Lunch
  • Coaches arrive… ASK QUESTIONS
  • Gut check. Start prepping for presentations
  • Dinner
  • Judging & awards
  • Wrapup
  • Go home!
Platinum Sponsors
Gold Sponsors

Narain Jashanmal

General Manager at Jashanmal National Co.   |   LinkedIn

Narain joined the Jashanmal Group in 2004 and in 2007 he became the General Manager. In 2009 he added the Overseas Courier Services division to his portfolio in addition to heading the Group's Corporate Communications.. In his time with the company Narain has driven substantial growth in the print media sales through both winning business from major new clients such as Dubai Duty Free and ITP Publishing and business model innovation by introduction of a category management service to major retailers such as Spinneys, Carrefour and Kinokuniya. In 2008 he led the negotiations with Lagardere Services to win the regional franchise rights to the RELAY travel retail concept and later that year successfully won a bid to operate 5 RELAY stores at Abu Dhabi International Airport. He has piloted the Group's ecommerce and digital marketing initiatives and is a frequent panelist and public speaker on topics related to retail, technology and the print media sector.

He is also the co-founder and Principal at WNDR Media a new media company based in Dubai that has published a book called the Dubai 50 and a magazine called We Are Here as well as developed several mobile applications.

Narain holds a Bachelor in Fine Arts from New York University.


Hala Badri

Brand and Communication Professional, Du   |   LinkedIn

Having held the reins for du’s Brand Experience and Communications functions since 2006, Executive Vice President Hala Badri is an accomplished individual with far-reaching visions for carrying the brand into the future. Hala’s expert direction has earned several recognitions and awards, both personal and for du. These include being ranked 37th in Forbes Middle East’s 100 Most Powerful Arab Business Women in Listed Companies, and 14th in CommsMEA’s Top 50 Female Telecoms Executives in the Middle East and Africa in 2012. She was also presented with the Patron’s Roll of Honour Award, during the Eighth Emirates Women Awards (EWA) in June 2011, in recognition of her efforts in supporting the mission of the EWA. For du, wins achieved under her guidance include a Bronze Award for the Corporate Campaign ‘Open Your Heart’ in the MENA Telecoms Category 2011 at the GEMAS Effie MENA Award

Ramez Shehadi

Partner Booz & Co & YAL Board Member   |   LinkedIn

Ramez is a partner with Booz & Company and the leader of the firm’s Information Technology practice in the Middle East. He helps corporations and government organizations maximize their leverage of IT, achieve operational efficiencies, and improve governance of IT services. For instance, Ramez has led projects for a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) integrated health network and headed e-government strategy projects for two GCC countries.

Muna Al Gurg

Director of Retail at Al Gurg Group & YAL Board Member   |   LinkedIn

An active member of Dubai’s business and non-profit community, Muna Al Gurg is currently Director of Retail and responsible for strategy and operational development for Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group international and local retail brands. Founding board member of Hub Dubai and judge of “The Entrepreneur” reality show. Al Gurg serves on the board of ESAG Charity Foundation, Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, and ambassador of the UAE’s Pink Caravan’s breast cancer awareness initiative. She holds an MBA from London Business School in the UK and is also a Fellow of the Middle East Leadership Initiative of The Aspen Institute.

Reda Raad

COO, TBWA\RAAD   |   LinkedIn

One of the key architects who started TBWA\RAAD in Dubai 14 years ago, Reda Raad has helped transform the agency from a start-up of four people into one of the leading MENA communications groups and is home to over 1000 employees.
He has been an active member of the Middle Eastern communications industry for 18 years and is currently on the Executive Committee of the International Advertising Association UAE Chapter Board, Chairman of the Syracuse University MENA Alumni Board and a proud member of the Young Arab leaders organization.

Samih Toukan

Chairman Jabbar Internet Group   |   LinkedIn

In the year 2000 Samih founded and became the CEO of the world’s first Arabic email and largest Arab Online community with over 16 million users. Following the acquisition of by Yahoo! Samih became the Chairman and CEO of Jabbar Internet Group ( a group that founded several leading Internet companies including,,,,, and

Today Samih is an active investor, investing in many startups in the region and around the world. He also acts as a mentor to several entrepreneurs. Samih is also a founding investor in Oasis500, Jordan’s leading startup incubator.


Ahmed Shehadah

Consultant & YAL Board Member

Ahmed is currently working at Booz & Company focusing on the technology across industries. He previously worked at the Office of Strategic Affairs of the Crown Prince Court in Abu Dhabi. It is mandated to support HH to look at wide range of socioeconomic and public policy matters that impacts Abu Dhabi and the UAE. In parallel, he also served as the Chairman of the Canadian Business Council of Dubai and Northern Emirates, an organization representing130 Canadian companies operating in the UAE. He also serves on a board of start-up media company. He holds a bachelor of Computer Engineering from McGill University, Montreal, Canada, and MBA from London Business School, London, UK.

Akram Skaik

Regional Manager, CBD & YAL Board Member   |  

Regional Manager at Commercial Bank of Dubai. Skaik is the former head of Private banking at Mashreq Bank. He has been in the banking field for almost 20 years. Akram holds a master degree in finance from Southeastern University, Washington DC, and a BA from Ajman University, as well as an Executive Corporate Finance degree from London Business School. He is the former Chairman of Ajman University’s Alumni Association and is a Member of the Emirates golf Federation.

Ayman Itani

Founder of   |   LinkedIn

Ayman Itani is a forward-thinking Digital Media Strategist who helps clients bridge the gap from established Media to emerging types of Digital and Social Media in the Middle East. He lectures and gives workshops on communication, media, user interaction design, history of technology, Internet architecture, the social web and fully takes advantage of the industry shifts incubated by the Internet, specifically on content generation, consumption, distribution and commercialization. He uses his powerful combination of creative vision and rigorous analysis in the media to help build, restructure, and transform companies.

Christos Mastoras

Director of Business Development – Yahoo! Maktoob   |   LinkedIn

Christos is the Director of Business Development at Yahoo! Maktoob based in Dubai responsible for strategic partnerships for Yahoo! across the Middle East and Africa.

Before Yahoo, Christos held roles at Booz & Company, Upstream, a mobile content & applications start-up, and, a New York-based internet start-up with $60M in funding from KKR and Mayfield. An entrepreneurship enthusiast, he is an avid participant in a range of activities in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. He is a judge and mentor for The MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab Region Start-up Competition, the ArabNet Digital Summit and Wamda’s Mix n’ Mentor, and more broadly an advisor to a number of entrepreneurs and start-ups. In addition, he is Ambassador of the MIT G-Lab Program in the Middle East, co-founder of Mobile Mondays Dubai, and a member of Young Arab Leaders (YAL). Christos has participated in, a film about the rise and fall of an internet start-up in Silicon Alley in 2000, and was also a guest expert on Stars of Science, Qatar Foundation’s pan-Arab reality-TV program dedicated to innovation and next generation of young innovators..

Louis Lebbos

Founding Partner, AstroLabs   |   LinkedIn

Before starting Astrolabs, Louis co-founded Namshi where he led the marketing, content, and human resources teams. He also spearheaded initiatives to create a positive, values-driven and mentorship-focused culture.
Before Namshi, Louis was a consultant at the Dubai office of McKinsey & Company, focusing on growth strategy projects in the telecom, banking and healthcare sectors in the Middle East. Previously, Louis was part of a general management development program at a US Fortune 200 multinational rotating between roles in operations excellence, supply chain management, sales and product management.
Louis studied for his electrical engineering degree at North Carolina State University where he was president of the University Entrepreneurs Network and participated in the Engineering Entrepreneurs Program.Louis received his MBA from Harvard Business School where he was part of the Social Enterprise Club.

Michael Hasbani

Partner at Earnst and Young & Board Member of YAL   |   LinkedIn

Michael is a partner based in Ernst & Young, Dubai office. Michael has over 20 years of advisory and management experience with renowned global organizations including Arthur Andersen and Deloitte. During his career, Michael has managed numerous projects in a diverse variety of industries and has been instrumental in the restructuring and re-engineering of many Government and State-Owned- Enterprises (SOE) Australia and the Middle East. Michael holds a Masters in Commerce from Macquaire University (Australia) and a Bachelor of Commerce.

Najla Al Midfa

Sr. Manager of Entrepreneurship Development, Khalifa Fund & YAL Board Member   |  

Ms. Al Midfa was elected to the Board of Directors of United Arab Bank at the 2012 Annual General Meeting and was appointed as Member of the Board Executive Committee. She is an Aspen Institute Fellow and is the first woman ever to serve as member on the Board of a bank in the United Arab Emirates. She is also a Founding Member of the Women Corporate Directors (GCC chapter), and a member of the Board of Sharjah Businesswomen Council. Holder of an M.B.A. from Stanford University, she occupies currently the role of Senior Manager of Entrepreneurship Development at the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development in Abu Dhabi. Prior to joining Khalifa Fund, Najla was a Senior Associate at McKinsey and Company’s New York office.

Rama Chakaki

Founder, Baraka Bits   |   LinkedIn

Ms. Chakaki has 22 years of experience in management, strategic planning and communications. In 2007 Rama setup Baraka Ventures investing in social enterprise. The company spun off three businesses successfully. In 2012, Rama established Dubai-based B Street Advisors, a digital communications agency rooted in the region’s culture and values and aiming to socialize business. The agency supports NGOs, the private sector and Social Entrepreneurs in engaging stakeholders. In 2013, Rama co-founded BarakaBits, a new media venture delivering Good News from The Middle East. Among her other activities, Rama runs women and youth leadership, entrepreneurship and civic engagement workshops, advised regional government and large enterprise on social investments in youth and women led social enterprise, and incubated sustainable social ventures and web technologies.

Samer Choucair

COO, Groupon   |   LinkedIn

Currently serving as the COO of Groupon Middle-East, Samer’s 12 year career started while still in college and has been built around identifying and developing opportunities into businesses. With his own ventures, he has worked through the start-up, growth, and acquisition phases of companies in several industries including music, restaurant, ecommerce, media, and medical ventures. Samer has first-hand experience in raising capital, investing in new start-ups, and negotiating exits as well as successfully setting up and operating new businesses in both developed and emerging markets. He has experience working in Canada, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Singapore. In addition to earning a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McGill University, Samer also holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from INSEAD.

Tarek Ghoul

Director & General Manager – Gulf, Levant and Pakistan   |   LinkedIn

Tarek joined Cisco in 2004, and is currently leading the strategic direction, investment and overall execution of Cisco’s total business in the region. Over the past 9 years he spearhead establishing Cisco presence in the region by investing in people, offices, legal entities and developing relationships with governments, service providers and large enterprises. Prior to Cisco, Tarek had a career with Schlumberger and 3Com. Tarek is a member of Young Arab Leaders.

Tarek has been voted twice (2011, 2012) as the top Networking and Communication Executive in MENA and MENA’s 6th most powerful technology executive.

Walid Khoury

Director at GE Water and Process Technologies   |   LinkedIn

Walid brings fifteen years of wide experience in Water Treatment Industry sales and leadership within the Middle East and Africa. He started his career in Nalco in Kuwait. Then moved to GE in 2005 where he held multiple roles across functions and geographies. Walid is currently the General Manager for GE Water & Process Technologies for the Middle East and North Africa commuting between Dubai in UAE and Dammam in Saudi Arabia.Walid has a Master’s degree in Management from Harvard University, a master’s degree in Water Sciences, and a bachelor degree of Water & Environment Engineering from St Joseph University. He has earned a wide range of awards related to Water Treatment studies from the Ministry of Environment & the United Nations Development Program, and in his time with GE he was the recipient of the Sales Excellence Eagle Award for 2009, Management Award in 2008 and Diamond Award in 2007.

Fady Kassatly

Principal, Booz & Company   |   LinkedIn

Fady Kassatly is a Principal with Booz & Company and a senior leader within the firm’s digital business & technology practice in the Middle East. He has over 18 years of strategy and business experience acquired through various consulting engagements in North America, Europe, and the Middle East.

Mr. Kassatly’s role involves advising top government leaders and senior business executives on a variety of topics. In this capacity, he has led major engagements in the areas of strategy and business planning, revolving around e-government and ICT. He also contributes to projects focusing on strategy execution and monitoring, new operating models and governance, organization design and restructuring, shared services design and implementation, performance and risk management, HR transformation, PMO institutionalization and management, customer strategy, customer engagement, customer relationship management (CRM), social media, loyalty management and change management across various sectors with special focus on the public sector. Mr. Kassatly holds an MSc in Management Science from HEC Montréal and a BComm in Management from McGill University.

Adel Shehadeh

Product Manager, Yahoo!   |   LinkedIn

Adel is a Product Manager at Yahoo!. He works with a small team of engineers and designers to build Arabic Mobile Apps. Previously, Adel worked as a researcher at KAADB and a test automation engineer at Integrant Inc. His interests include Agile methodologies, human computer interaction, mobile applications and rapid prototyping. Adel is a graduate of Electronics Engineering from the University of Yarmouk in Jordan.

Chris Thomas

CEO & co-founder of Eureeca   |   LinkedIn

Chris began his career in 2001 in London, working for an Investment Bank. Moving quickly up the firm’s ranks, he advanced within two years to Vice President Sales & Marketing Middle East, responsible for 10 representative offices in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Chris has over 10 years experience in setting up and running businesses. In 2005, Chris’ entrepreneurial ambitions led him to establish an FSA regulated financial markets brokerage company delivering a quality tier of service to the retail FX and CFD market in the Middle East. The latest venture in Chris’ portfolio of entrepreneurial ventures is Eureeca, the brainchild of Chris and his business partner and former investment banker Sam Quawasmi. Eureeca provides an online platform for small & medium enterprises (SMEs) to raise funding from the crowd in exchange for equity. A Law LLB (Hons) graduate from Brunel University, Chris also holds financial industry international qualifications from FSA Securities, Derivatives and Regulations and the Chartered Institute of Insurers.

Alessandro Casuccio

Business Intelligence Team Lead at   |   LinkedIn

Alessandro joined Namshi in 2012, and is currently leading the BI team. Before moving to the U.A.E., he worked one year in Australia for Rocket Internet contributing to creation and launch of several successful startups (among others, and Alessandro has experience in business intelligence & predictive analytics, online marketing, business planning and financial reporting within early stage ventures and fast growing ecommerce companies.
Prior to Namshi and Rocket Internet, Alessandro was full time analyst at Unicredit Corporate & Investment Bank. He obtained a MSc in Finance and a Bachelor in International Economics & Management from Bocconi University in Milan. He served as board member and Head of Careers for Green Light for Business. Alessandro is an active member at the Arabian peninsula’s Bocconi Alumni chapter and recently started as author at YoungsDay.

Mahmoud Tawfik

Entrepreneur , IT Security Consultant   |   LinkedIn

Mahmoud Tawfik has a great passion for technology innovation management. Mahmoud is a technology entrepreneur, open source addict with a solid technical background in Linux, software engineering, information security, cloud computing, vulnerability assessment and penetration testing. Mahmoud founded Fixed Solutions as an IT Solutions company in 2007. Prior to this he co-founded in 2006 providing world-class hosting, server management and security services and rapidly acquired strong customer base of the top websites by traffic in the Arab world. Mahmoud is providing security services and consultancy to banks and financial services companies.

Ibrahim Tadros

Head of Sales & Business Development at Eureeca   |   LinkedIn

A Computer Science & Engineering graduate from MIT, Ibrahim is currently the Head of Sales & Business Development at Eureeca, a crowdinvesting platform in MENA. Ibrahim is very passionate about entrepreneurship and supporting SMEs, and therefore his current role enables him to support the growth of SMES in the region working in an entrepreneurial environment. Ibrahim started his career as an Analyst at Gotham Consulting Partners located in New York City. In 2007, Ibrahim moved to the UAE to join Booz & Co. He then joined the Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority, were he worked on setting up New York University Abu Dhabi. Ibrahim then joined the Abu Dhabi General Secretariat of the Executive Council as a Project Manager, where he was focused on strategic projects in government efficiency and strategic planning. On a personal level, Ibrahim sits on the Young Professional’s Board of PACES, A UK-based charity aimed at providing healthy, structured after-school sports programs for Palestinian girls and boys. He also supports NGOs in the UAE focusing on animal welfare. He is currently the Curator of the Global Shapers – Dubai Hub.

Marc Choufani

Turnkey delivery, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi   |   LinkedIn

Within his current portfolio, Marc is responsible for the turnkey delivery of the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, a 490 bed tertiary/quaternary care hospital which when operational will be managed by the Cleveland Clinic from Ohio, US. Marc is also responsible for standing up a telemedicine center being brought online in Abu Dhabi. Before joining Mubadala Healthcare, Marc worked with Booz&Co. in Dubai where he leveraged his deep functional expertise in Information Technology (IT) to support GCC Governments with their eGovernment initiatives. Prior to Booz&Co., Marc spent 10 years working in the US, first in San Francisco as a founding member of a technology startup and then in Washington D.C. where he successfully combined his IT, project management and entrepreneurial skills to deliver innovative IT based business transformation solutions to US Federal Government clients cutting across several industries, including healthcare.

Eamon Sallam

Co-founder and COO, Elevision Media

As Chief Operating Officer at Elevision Media, Eamon has helped launch, build and develop Elevision into one of the region's premier media properties. With a background that includes finance and accounting along with video production, Eamon brings a variety of skills and perspective to his entrepreneurial ventures.

Prior to 2011 Eamon worked as Business Development Manager for northstudio360 in Vancouver, Canada. Upon the successful sale and acquisition of ns360, Eamon joined his brother Niall in Dubai to launch Elevision Media. Over the last two years Elevision has partnered with the region's most iconic developments, including the DIFC and JBR, to deliver a unique media experience to both viewers and clients. With 700% network growth in the last 12 months, Elevision has positioned itself as a leader in the region's digital out-of-home media market.

Kamal Hassan

CEO at Innovation 360   |   LinkedIn

Kamal Hassan is a 20-year veteran of the business world and an expert in managing the deployment of innovation programs that enhance value creation through innovative products, services and business models. Under his leadership, Innovation 360 has become one of the most recognized and respected consultancies in the region, known for its dedication to furthering innovation awareness and competency and fostering entrepreneurship.

Kamal leverages his real-world experience to advise Innovation 360′s enterprise-level and government clients on business and innovation transformation, innovation strategy to execution, and sustaining innovation gains. He is also an active supporter of regional SMEs and startups, helping them become more competitive using business model innovation, and contributing time and financial support to local educational programs including recent launch of

Rima Al Sheikh

Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer,    |   LinkedIn

Rima Al Sheikh is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of the Middle East’s first virtual skills marketplace, Nabbesh. Al Sheikh is one of the leading technology architects shaping the emerging landscape of Middle East tech-based companies, providing technological expertise and advising for dozens of emerging regional start-ups. She actively mentors engineers and digital product designers. Her passion is employing and expanding technology’s capabilities to solve complex economic and social policy problems. Al Sheikh started her first digital business during her teenage years in Syria.
Al Sheikh played key roles in developing and leading technology products for some of the most successful websites in the Middle East. She served as Head of Development at ITP, one of the Middle East’s largest commercial publishers. Prior to ITP, Al Sheikh was at the core of the technology team responsible for building Dubizzle, one of the Middle East’s online success stories.  She currently resides in Dubai.

Alessandro Nadalin

VP Technology, Namshi   |   LinkedIn

Alessandro, VP Technology at Namshi, is a seasoned technical leader who pays a lot of attention to enterprise patterns, methodologies, communities and (everyone's) personal development: he heavily focused his attention to agile practices, patterns of enterprise application architecture and leading mid/big-sized development teams.

He's currently in Dubai, trying to help Namshi and push the tech team towards enterprise applications development and new practices: a big supporter of Service Oriented Architectures, the REST architectural styl and asynchronous messaging systems, he's used to work with some practices of extreme programming (and agile development, in general) like TDD, pair-programming and so on.

With more than 20 talks given across 8 countries he is a frequent speaker at international tech conferences, result of his firm belief in the value of evangelization and the community as the de-facto most efficient way to help people develop themselves into better professionals.

He has been involved in projects for governments, Samsung, Nissan, ENI and pioneered the e-commerce ecosystem in the Middle East: when not working, you can find him speaking at some conference around the world, riding my motorcycle, blogging or eating some indonesian food in the old side of Dubai.

Hisham Al Gurg

CEO, Seed Group   |   LinkedIn

With over 18 years of experience in setting up and running new ventures in the MENA region, Mr. Algurg is a pioneer for his visionary approach, high profile networking, and for concluding and managing large regional projects and investments worth more than 1.06 Billion USD.

Presently he is managing the private investments
and strategic partnerships activities of Sheikh Saeed
Al Maktoum. He is also the CEO of Al Fajer
Investments & Development, an investment
division of Al Fajer Enterprises, a holding group of companies owned by His Highness Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum. Both Sheikhs are members of the royal family of Dubai.

As a CEO of Seed Group, he is managing 8 growing companies in 6 diversified industries. Seed group core activities are Telecom Services, Media Production, Legal Services, Real Estate Investment and Management, General Trading, Business Services, and Interior & Architecture Design.

Tanuj Damani

Chief Innovation Officer, Managing Director & Co-Founder at The Basement Project LLC   |   LinkedIn

Since the age of 13, Tanuj Damani has reveled in building and developing websites and applications. It is a passion that has flourished into a career, playing a major part in his role as co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer at The Basement Project. He has helped create many apps and was recently part of a team which placed second in the Midnight Developers competition held throughout the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan.

Tanuj’s enthusiasm for technology and the latest trends, combined with a truly international upbringing, has helped bring expertise and perspective to many of The Basement Project’s pioneers. As a young entrepreneur himself, he intimately understands the difficulties faced by the UAE’s treps and aims to bring the best solutions to the table.

Salwa Katkhuda

Investment Manager, Oasis 500   |   LinkedIn

Salwa holds the position of Investment Manager at Oasis 500 where she helps in the screening, selection, investment, and mentorship of early stage technology startups. Salwa also trains entrepreneurs in financial modeling and acts as an in house coach for companies during their acceleration at Oasis 500.

Since 2010, Salwa trained more than 1,200 entrepreneurs and worked with her team on investing in 60 startups that are now part of the Oasis 500 portfolio.

Salwa’s role also includes raising funds for Oasis 500’s investment arm.

Before joining Oasis 500 Salwa joined Al-Arabi Investment Group, the Investment Arm of the Arab Bank as a Senior Associate in their Corporate Finance and Investment Banking department. Salwa also worked in management consulting at Deloitte Management Consulting Ltd. in London where she worked as a Financial Analyst in their Strategy Consulting department for two years.

Shant Oknayan

Co-founder and Managing Director, GlamBox Middle East   |   LinkedIn

Shant Oknayan is a co-founder and Managing Director of GlamBox Middle East, the premier online regional beauty hub where consumers can try, learn and buy the latest and greatest in beauty and personal care brands. Launched in January 2012, GlamBox came 2nd place at the ArabNect Start-up Finals 2012 and was voted a “2013 Top 10 UAE Start-up to Watch” by Gulf Business. GlamBox recently closed its Series A funding, raising $1.36m from MBC Ventures, STC Ventures and R&R Ventures.

Prior to launching GlamBox, Shant was Head of Operations at Google for the MENA region. Before Google, Shant was a Senior Associate (Engagement Manager) at Booz & Company for 8 years, leading Business Technology, Business Incubation and Digital Strategy projects for governments, large organizations, and investment firms both in the Middle East and Europe.

Walied Albasheer

CEO , Inbound   |   LinkedIn

Walied is an entrepreneur, started in 1995 when he was advised by a colleague to check the internet. He then co-founded City Cyber Cafe in Pune, India in 1996.
In 1998 he joined the founders of which was the first listing directory in GCC starting from Oman. He then joined the founding team for a major government online initiative in UAE to promote commerce & tourism, he was also a founding member of committee to establish

In 2003 he joined of the founding team for Emirates Investment Group a group turned 8 billion dirham multi activities business. In 2004 he Founded Techoz Ltd as international business company in Seychelles enabling knowledge transfer to East African countries.
In 2006 he co-founded Formula World Sport as the first sport marketing agency in the region, taking it to global success by acquiring the exclusive world promoter-ship for UIM F2 World Cup Powerboats championship. In 2007 he co-found (now an Interactive Data Company) proving real time market data feed from stock exchanges.In 2008 he joined the advisory board for Emirates Investment Group providing corporate strategy & business performance consultancy to subsidiaries such as Enshaa PJSC, Capital Club, Palazzo Versace, and Emirates Financial Tower.

In 2011 he founded Inbound LLC in Dubai to bring latest innovation in digital sphere to the region

Simon Hudson

CEO, Brndstr Inc.

Simon is the CEO and founder of Having recently closed a large funding - Simon is well experienced in the journey that lies ahead of any startup. Previously he has worked as marketing director for Trump Towers in Miami and more recently as a senior figure at Groupon Middle-East. Over the past 2 years he has been busy helping to grow, build and develop the Startup circuit in Dubai. As the founder of, ex-Chapter Director for, moderator of the previous Young Arab Leader event, as well as writing the monthly Entrepreneur column with friend Leith Matthews for newspaper - Simon is well positioned to offer help and advice to any budding Entrepreneur.

Leith Matthews

Co - Founder and

A passionate young businessperson with a drive for creating, launching and operating innovative startups, spaces and projects. In 2011, Leith launched the Middles East’s first dedicated entrepreneurial coworking space – MAKE business hub. After a successful exit and sale of MAKE, Leith founded, a social dining platform that connects people over dinners at the city's best restaurants and hidden gems. He is also co-founder of Snapp, a digital loyalty application that offers cool, fun and engaging loyalty collection and rewards for its users and a sophisticated loyalty program for its merchants.

Patrick Crosbie

Commercial and Operations Director

20 years ago, Patrick jumped from a traditional digital imaging and printing services background to run and set-up a diverse range of successful and innovative digital marketing and technology businesses. In the process he built a track record of success internationally and acquired skills in different business disciplines, from technical development, sales & marketing to operational management and board level consulting. As Head of Innovation and Partnerships at Nightfly (2001-2003, London), a wholly owned subsidiary of Diageo plc, he pioneered the use of SMS as a marketing communications tool. Following the sale of Redeemit (2007), Patrick moved to the Middle East as General Manager at EnQii Holdings plc (2007 -2008). In an attempt to build a more agile way to capitalize on the region’s opportunities in digital media, data and technology, he then set up Evolved Digital Media (2008), a design and software consultancy, specialising in digital platforms such as web, mobile and out of home media, which was acquired by Virtuzone in 2012.

Abdulsalam Haykal

Founder & CEO of Haykal Media   |   LinkedInGoogle+

Abdulsalam Haykal is the founder of Transtek Systems, TMS Mobile Services, and Haykal Media, publisher of Arabic news portal Haykal serves on the Board of Trustees of the American University of Beirut, and of University of Kalamoon in Syria, and on the President's Advisory Board of the EARTH University in Costa Rica. In 2009, Haykal was named a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum, the first Syrian to receive this recognition. Haykal is the co-founder and president of the Syrian Young Entrepreneurs Association, and the founder of other NGOs focusing on education and youth empowerment. He holds a BA in Political Science from the American University of Beirut and an MA in International Relations from SOAS/University of London, and has completed an executive leadership module at Harvard University.

Dany El Eid

Founder & Digital Evangelist - pixelbug   |   LinkedInGoogle+

A technology savvy entrepreneur, Dany pioneers in fusing online and offline technologies that create buzz and drive sales. This has been true ever since his marketing role with PUMA early in 2007, where he devised premier social media strategies to generate positive word-of-mouth about the brand and its offline activities. Since then, Dany's creativity and lateral thinking attracted the attention of several entrepreneurial outfits seeking his skills to get crucial input into generating sales through innovative digital strategy and tactics. Today, he continues to drive pixelbug as an innovation powerhouse and with the help of his international team of experts, he's established pixelbug as a leading marketing technology partner to blue chip multinationals across the MENA region.

Nima Adelkhani

Founder of PITME

Nima is the founder of PITME(Progress in Technology Middle East or Peace in the Middle East) and organization that aims to turbo-charge the startup eco-system in the MENA region. As part of the is effort PITME Labs will bring select growth stage startups from the region to Silicon Valley for a month long accelerator program supported by over 100 top mentors. Nima is also the host of "Technology in a Tent" an interview series that call be described as Larry King meets Khan Academy, and has interview over 125 top thought leaders including Steve Blank, Vivek Wadhwa, Naval Ravikant and many more. The theme of the show is lessons through stories and focuses on adding a human element to building a company. In his former role, Nima was head of Business Development at Founder Institute, during which time he helped launch over 400 startups in over 15 cities.

Mack Kolarich

Startup Weekend Facilitator & CEO of SceneSquid   |   LinkedIn

Mack Kolarich is the Cofounder and CEO of SceneSquid, a platform for event syndication and promotion based in Washingotn, DC. In addition to SceneSquid, he is in charge of Experience Design for -- a global platform to bring new angels into the market, and active angels into new markets.

Mack is also an active startup community builder -- he is a Cofounder of StartupJackpot, a Global Facilitator with Startup Weekend, and he co-created UP Global's Corporate Innovation program -- having since led intrapreneurship workshops at global brands such as Coca Cola and the World Bank.

Tarik Qahawish

Director of Marketing and Digital, AIMA   |   LinkedIn

Tarik Qahawish is the Director of Marketing and Digital at Aimia Middle East, a global leader in loyalty management that also runs Air Miles Middle East. Tarik has over 15 years of experience in the digital field starting with one of the first eCommerce food startups in Canada,, back in 1997. He then joined Netvention, a search and text-mining startup in 2000 that targeted telcos & database firms which was later acquired by Dow Jones in 2008. Tarik joins the region after a 7 year stint at Aeroplan Canada where he launched several eCommerce products including an online affiliate shopping mall and since 2010 he has been primarily focused on defining and setting up the digital strategy and building up the internal digital communication capabilities for the program.

Eduardo Ortega


Eduardo has dedicated more than 15 years working with Microsoft Technologies and he is specialized on Mobile Solutions including platforms like Windows 8, Windows Phone, Windows Mobile and Windows CE.

Currently working at Microsoft Gulf he is developing some roles like Technical Evangelist on Windows 8 and Phone technologies and is also the Windows Apps Lead for Gulf region.
He assisted on the review of books and manuals about Windows Mobile development and he delivered around 400 offline/online events for developer communities and IT professionals. He had the honor of be named MVP in Device Application Development for 3 years due to the work of evangelization and community support on Microsoft technologies, and nowadays he continues these activities from Microsoft Gulf as a Technical Evangelist.

Mohammed Fares Al Jendi

Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development

Mohammed Fares Al Jendi is currently working as a business counselor at Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development where he supports the progress of over 80 SMEs through analyzing their current operations and providing them with turnaround action plans to foster their growth and help them overcome current challenges. Prior to joining Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, Mr. Al Jendi worked in the Business Performance Services practice at KPMG, specializing in preparing restructuring and growth plans for leading government and private entities. Mr. Al Jendi holds Bachelors in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting from the American University of Dubai.

Yousef Hamza

Director at Envestors

Yousef is an associate with Envestors and has advised over 1,000 entrepreneurs, assisting in legal, strategic and local aspects and as a key liaison within the firm. Envestors is a regional Business Angel Network which has advised and raised finance for 7 start-up/growth companies for just over $10 Million, with a further $6 Million offered to four additional companies in the last 6 months alone.

Yousef was educated in Kuwait and the U.A.E, followed by a law degree from the University of Cardiff in the U.K. He worked for one of the top 3 local law firms with a 40 year history in Abu Dhabi, where he helped further develop Sukuk structures, assisted companies in gaining the Sheikh Khalifa Excellence Award and as part of a team within the firm gave strategic advice on weathering the current financial crisis from a business development and strategy angle.

Raed Daoudi

Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development

Over 10 years of private and government sector experience in Learning and Development in UAE. Focused experience on SME sector. Currently performing the role of Learning & Development Manager at Khalifa Fund focusing on training & developing UAE Nationals through providing a large scale of training courses and development programs.

Before that Raed Daoudi was managing the Nationals Learning & Development Unit at Mashreq Bank and also worked at Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders (Dubai SME).

Salma Kayali
Shaima BinTaliah
Shaima Ghafoor


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Thanks to everyone who made this event a success! Here is a list of the winning teams and their prizes: […]

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The Startup Weekend judging criteria is broken up into three sections. Teams are judged according to the following 4 criteria […]

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We have an awesome app developed for you and are under the process of getting it uploaded on the Google […]

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Team 1: 1 Wamda card, TBWA/RAAD marketing package at a value of AED 150k, Trade License at a value of […]

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