Top forums in the MENA region must be visited by startups

24 October, 2022


Startups in the MENA region are less likely to receive large investments, according to the business angel community Wamda. Early-stage startups are now finding it easier to raise funding thanks to small cheques. One way to get investment without the hassle of registering a business is to participate in local startup competitions held during global forums. 

Many of them allow startups to find customers, partners, and investors, gain new hands-on experience and participate in government funding. 


The GITEX GLOBAL international forum is held annually in Dubai and is positioned as a "people's exhibition". All the products that are displayed on the government stand at GITEX will be implemented in the country within the next year. This year it was attended by more than 800 start-ups and over 1000 speakers from all over the world. 

The forum includes 7 industry events focusing on various technologies, Ai Everything, North Star Dubai (the region's largest start-up exhibition), Fintech Surge, Future Blockchain Summit, Marketing Mania, as well as two new events that only launched in 2022: Global DevSlam (bringing together the ecosystem of programmers and developers) and X-VERSE (curated exciting web3.0 journey).

The following forum will take place on 16 – 20 October 2023.

VC Weekend Middle East Unlocked

This year's VC Weekend Middle East Unlocked took place immediately after the GITEX GLOBAL forum.  It was a closed event with a quality selection of participants, with 50 investors from different countries attending. The programme included:

— Step-by-step instructions on how to relocate to the UAE 

— Meetings with local venture capitalists 

— Pitching from startups in the capital-raising phase

— Success stories from investors and founders

— Partnerships, exclusive deals and relevant contacts

STEP Conference 

STEP Conference is a leading tech festival for startups, which has been running for more than 10 years. The programme includes lectures, workshops, meetups, networking with investors and partners, exhibitions, and entertainment. 

Startup Festival at STEP Conference

A startup festival will take place during the forum. Organisers write that 200 startups based in Saudi Arabia and emerging markets will showcase their products and services offline and have the opportunity to gather leads and network with potential customers and partners. Selected startups will receive 2 tickets for the price of 1, a free branded booth for 1 day and priority access to participate in startup events to meet regional and global investors.

A registration form for the Startup Festival must be filled in to participate. 

The next conference will be held on 12-13 December 2022 in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. In 2023, the event will take place in Dubai.

Photo: STEP

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