DUBAI — Fourteen teams including the brightest entrepreneurial minds in the Middle East are heading to Dubai this month for the final decision-making in the fifth annual Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Enterprise Forum Arab Business Plan Competition, in partnership with Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives (ALJ) and a joint initiative with Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST).
UAE’s Minister of Foreign Trade Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi heads the six-person jury tasked with selecting three winning business plans, which will receive start-up funding including a $50,000 first prize, a $10,000 second prize, and a $5,000 third prize.
A special prize of $15,000 for the Best Woman Entrepreneur will also be presented as part of the final award ceremony in Dubai on 28 June.
Of the fourteen finalist teams selected from more than 4500 applications received, seven are from Egypt, three are from Lebanon, two from Palestine, and one team each hail from Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.
Half of the final business plans include technology or telecommunications start-ups, while media, social networks and agriculture make up the other fledgling business schemes vying for seed capital in the 2012 MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Business Plan Competition.
"The Arab world has a pressing need for innovation and job creation — both of these issues are dynamically addressed by the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Business Plan Competition. The number of applications we have received during the last few years has doubled annually, underscoring the entrepreneurial spirit throughout the Middle East and the platform that we have established to showcase the bright ideas emanating from more than 20 countries in this region," said Hala Fadel, Chair of the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Pan Arab Region.
Joining Lubna on the jury for the fifth annual MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Business Plan Competition are Rashid Al Ballaa, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of National Net Ventures (N2V); Ali Al-Husry, Chairman of Endeavor Jordan; Said Darwazah, Chief Executive Officer of Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC; Ossama Hassanein, Chairman of Techwadi; and Fred Sicre, partner at Abraaj Capital.
The fourteen finalist teams rehearse their new business pitch presentations for a full day on June 27 with Ihab Khalil, Senior Associate and Chady Zein, Principal at Booz & Co. before pitching their business plans in front of the jury on June 28th, with the winners named that evening at an awards ceremony at the Meydan, Dubai. — SG