ADMS 2014: Middle East leading the way as most connected region on the planet

19 Nov 2014

Connectivity key to shift from oil-based to knowledge economy

The second day of Abu Dhabi Media Summit 2014 kicked off with a presentation by Nicola Mendelsohn, Vice President – Europe, Middle East and Africa, Facebook, who predicted that once the 4.5 billion people currently cut off from the global knowledge economy are properly connected, the developing world would be the engine of economic growth.

Ms Mendelsohn also cited polls that showed more than 70% of end users wish to be connected to the internet 24 hours a day, commenting that tomorrow’s mobile technology must be increasingly people-centred to meet this demand for uninterrupted access.

Mendelsohn said: “Our future will be built on connected devices, and the Middle East is leading the way as the most connected region on the planet.”

Driven by end users’ growing needs, Facebook was leading the way in streaming tailored content to meet end users’ needs in different regions.

“Facebook is looking to grow its ecosystem by enhancing consumers’ connectivity and crafting ‘beautifully simple’ advertising content to maximise opportunities for business”, Mendelsohn said.

Panel: Wired Women

An inspiring group of “Wired Women” discussed how connectivity had changed their lives and has the potential to empower women around the world. With more and more women seeking to realise their aspirations, new technologies offered a gateway to a whole new world of education and career development opportunities.

The panel agreed that the internet and other new media had raised awareness and changed lives. Princess Ameera Al Taweel, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Time Entertainment, said: “Social media has provided a platform for the young to unlock their potential.”

Now that so many women have found their voice, the challenge now was to ensure that women used this to the benefit of societies everywhere. Dalya Al Mutahnna, President and Chief Executive Officer, GE Gulf, said: “The next generation needs to play a part in the diversification of local economies from an oil-based to a knowledge-based model.”

“For women around the world, inspiration is the source of change in their lives. We need to keep inspiring each other by sharing our achievements and challenges”, said Zainab Salbi of Women for Women International and Nida’a Productions.

Highlights of the programme for Thursday, the final day of the Summit include:

  • Keynote speech by H.E Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim, Director General, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority on Investment Strategies for the Middle East
  • Panel: The Future of Tech Investment – A Digital Feeding Frenzy. This panel of expert venture capitalists discuss how the ecosystem is evolving and where the smart money is going.
    • Ahmed El Alfi, Founder, Sawari Ventures
    • Khaldoon Tabaza, Founder and Managing Director, iMENA Holdings
    • Chris Rogers, General Partner, Lumia Capital
    • Omar Al Mahmoud, CEO, ICT Fund
    • Walid Hanna, Managing Partner, Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP)
    • John Defterios, Emerging Markets Editor, CNN (Moderator)
  • Panel: A Race for the Exits: The Rebound in IPOs and Dealmaking. While exits still remain a challenge for the MENA region, exits are now everywhere, whether by IPO or by strategic sale. Panelists will handicap obstacles to exiting and the way out.
    • Imad Ghandour, Co-founder & Managing Director, CedarBridge
    • Mona DeFrawi, Founder & Managing Partner, IPOQuest Partners
    • Malak Fares, Business Presenter, Sky News Arabia
  • Panel: Accelerating Start-Ups. Panelists explore the lessons learned in the West that could accelerate similar efforts to innovate in the markets of the Middle East
    • Majed Al Suwaidi, Managing Director, Dubai Internet City and Dubai Outsource Zone
    • Nina Curley, Managing Director, Flat6Labs Abu Dhabi
    • Ramesh Jagannathan, Research Professor, Associate Dean of Engineering, NYU Abu Dhabi
    • Tom Urquhart, Presenter, Dubai One (Moderator)
  • From Global to Local – A Start-up Battle. Two companies in the same space, one global and one local, share how they approached launching their business in the Middle East
    • Magnus Olsson, Founder and MD, Careem
    • Jambu Palaniappan, Regional General Manager, Middle East & Africa, Uber
    • Issa Aghabi, Head of Investments, twofour54 (Moderator)
  • Financing the New Wave of Innovation
    • Badr Jafar, CEO, Crescent Enterprises
    • Fadi Ghandour, Founder and Vice Chairman, Aramex
  • Closing Keynote by H.E. Noura Al Kaabi, CEO, twofour54

This year, Abu Dhabi Media Summit is open to the public on days 2 and 3 to help foster local interest in the industry and inspire future media talent. Attendees are encouraged to use #InAbuDhabi to share the experiences of the Summit and promote the Capital’s role in growing the media industry in MENA and beyond.

The full programme and list of speakers can be found on the ADMS 2014 website:

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