Saeed Al Khotani
RIYADH – Saudi Arabia, one of the region’s most important digital markets, has the highest consumption of YouTube videos per capita in the world, ArabNet CEO Omar Christidis told Saudi Gazette on the sidelines of the two-day ArabNet 2012 conference in Riyadh.
Prince Turki Bin Saud Bin Muhammad, Vice President of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) for Research Institute Affairs, opened Tuesday morning the conference at Riyadh’s Four Seasons Hotel.
More than 500 participants from the Kingdom and GCC states are attending the event.
Participants include young people involved in reinventing how digital media is used through new shows on YouTube and working on the creation of Arabic content for online or mobile devices. Around 55 experts will be addressing the conference, participating in panel discussions and moderating sessions.
Christidis said that the event, organized for the first time in the Kingdom, had the broad objective of contributing to the growth of the mobile industry in the Saudi market by providing platforms for entrepreneurs to get together to connect with investors and discuss cutting-edge trends and opportunities in the sector.
Young Saudi production studios like U-Turn and C3 are revolutionizing media and creating new models for making money out of online videos, he added.
He said Saudi Arabia is the hottest destination for e-commerce today, with companies such as MarkaVIP and Namshi both raising large amounts of finance to expand, while other local companies such as Ecommerce Sea have established a strong presence and are growing rapidly. The Kingdom has a large pool of talent as well as the resources to support young entrepreneurs, he added.
On its first day the ArabNet 2012 conference discussed topics such as the entrepreneurship environment in Saudi Arabia, the role of governments in supporting emerging companies, fashion e-commerce and women entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia.
On its second day it will cover topics including the pioneers of YouTube, the rewards of electronic games, e-marketing strategies and tools, mobile advertising, shifting companies to the digital world, studies in social media, digital advertising and Arab Internet users.
Christidis said in addition to the conference the event will feature two competitions including the Startup Demo and Ideathon contests. “We will choose through a specialist panel the best 10 startups and 10 new ideas from over a hundred applications that we have received to give their owners the opportunity to showcase their innovative ideas and invite promising young companies and entrepreneurs on stage in order to connect them with invaluable sources of funding, mentorship, and exposure, as well as to highlight the hottest emerging digital trends to gathered industry leaders,” he said.