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What Is #SharjahEF?

This festival will bring together the best and brightest of the entrepreneurial ecosystem,
the hustlers who stay awake every night to turn dreams into reality,
so we can celebrate the power of entrepreneurship and inspire further innovation.

What is Happening at #SharjahEF?

pitch competition Stage talks
and panels

Regional and international speakers take the stage for inspirational conversations that bring you up-to-speed with everything going on in the startup world.

Workshop
sessions

Intimate sessions for deep-diving in industry topics, stories, and tools as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Startup
Town

Over 60 startups showcasing, entering pitch competition for a chance to win up to $40,000, and meeting one-on-one with mentors who are startup founders and industry experts.

food and entertainment

Food trucks and music all happening in the two day festival celebrating Sharjah’s artistic and cultural heritage

Startup Showcase

Over 60 startups showcasing their products and services to social, creative and technology industry leaders and experts. If you are selected to showcase, you will get your free branded booth, 2 Regular tickets, and access to Meet Your Mentor program, and you will be shortlisted to participate in the Pitch Competition.

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Speakers

Mohamed Alabbar

Chairman, Emaar Properties

Mohamed Alabbar

A global entrepreneur with active interests in high-value property development, retail, luxury hospitality, mining and commodities, Mohamed Alabbar is the founder and chairman of Emaar Properties PJSC. Ranked second in the list of the ‘World’s 100 Most Powerful Arabs – Leaders’ 2014 by Arabian Business, the leading regional business magazine, Mr. Alabbar is well-known for his pioneering role in positioning Dubai as a world-class city. He spearheads the growth strategy of Emaar, which has a presence in over 18 countries, with a focus on developing prime real estate, shopping mall and hospitality and leisure assets. Mr. Alabbar heads Emaar’s joint venture with Giorgio Armani to set up the Armani-branded luxury hotel and resort chain in key international destinations. He is also the Founder and Chairman of Africa Middle East Resources (AMER), which unlocks the value of natural resource opportunities in Africa and links them with large consumer markets in Asia. He is a board member of Eagle Hills, an Abu Dhabi-based investment and real estate development company that funds and develops large-scale projects in high-growth international markets. Mr. Alabbar is the Chairman of Tradewinds Corporation, a premier leisure and hospitality owner-operator in Malaysia, focused on developing world-class real estate developments in the country and Southeast Asia. He is also the founder and major shareholder of RSH, the leading Singapore-based pan-Asian marketer, distributor and retailer of some 60 international fashion and lifestyle brands through more than 70 outlets in over 20 countries. Mr. Alabbar sits on the board of Noor Investment Group, an affiliate of Dubai Group, the leading diversified financial company of Dubai Holding. He is also a member of the Dubai World Expo 2020 Preparatory Committee. He was the founding Director General of the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED), and served as a member of the Dubai Executive Council and Dubai Economic Council. A graduate in Finance and Business Administration from the Seattle University in the US, Mr. Alabbar also holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University, and serves on its Board of Trustees. A keen sportsman, Mr Alabbar is an active member of the UAE’s endurance horse racing community.

Arif Naqvi

The Abraaj Group

Arif Naqvi

Arif Naqvi established The Abraaj Group in 2002 and has served as its Group Chief Executive since inception, building it into one of the leading private equity firms in the world. He is the Chair of the Global Investment Committee at the Firm. Abraaj is widely recognized as a pioneer of growth markets investing with over 17 offices including five regional hubs in Dubai, Istanbul, Mexico City, Nairobi and Singapore. Mr. Naqvi has over three decades of experience of investing in public and private companies and has led the Group’s investment strategy, resulting in some of the most notable private equity transactions across growth markets over the last decade. Mr. Naqvi is a Trustee of the Interpol Foundation, Board Member of the United Nations Global Compact, B Team Global Business Leader and Founding Commissioner at the Business and Sustainable Development Commission. He is a member of the International Advisory Board of Allianz SE, Columbia Global Leadership Council, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Art in London. Mr. Naqvi has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Oslo Business for Peace Award, the highest form of recognition given to individual private sector leaders for fostering peace and stability through business, and the Sitara-i-Imtiaz, a prominent civilian honor awarded by the Government of Pakistan. In 2011, Private Equity International named him as one of the 50 most influential people in the global private equity industry. In 2008, Mr. Naqvi and his family established the Aman Foundation, the largest private social sector enterprise in Pakistan, which supports sustainable development in healthcare, nutrition and education. Mr. Naqvi is a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Fadi Ghandour

Executive Chairman, Wamda Capital

Fadi Ghandour

Fadi Ghandour is the Executive Chairman of Wamda Group, a Venture Capital fund and a platform that helps nurture and build entrepreneurship eco-systems in the MENA region. Fadi is also the Founder and a Board Member of Aramex, one of the leading global logistics and transportation companies. Fadi is a member of the Board of Abraaj Capital, the Board of Endeavor Global and the Board of Trustees at the American University of Beirut (AUB). Additionally, he serves on the Advisory Council of the MIT Media Lab. Passionate about social entrepreneurship, Fadi is the Founder and Chairman of Ruwwad for Development, a private‐sector led community empowerment initiative that helps disadvantaged communities across the region overcome marginalization through activism, civic engagement, education and financial inclusion.

Alex Hunter

Digital Brand and Loyalty Expert

Alex Hunter

Alex Hunter is a digital brand and loyalty expert who worked as Head of Digital for the Virgin Group. He’s also an investor in and advisor to start-ups, and is the creator of the online travel show Attaché. Recently Alex served as CEO of a venture-backed digital music company, with investment from the backers of Twitter, Tumblr, Medium, and Kickstarter. He steered the company through initial financing, a successful international M&A deal, and multi-national growth in under a year. He is on the Board of Trustees for the non-profit Drinkaware. He has also served as an advisor to the Prince of Wales’ Rainforest Trust, specifically around the use of social media and engagement to propagate the Trusts’ message.

Najla Al Midfa

Sheraa

Najla Al Midfa

Najla Al-Midfa is General Manager of Sheraa - Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center - a government entity that aims to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and provide startups with a launchpad for growth and success. Launched in January 2016, under the chairmanship of HE Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, Sheraa has grown to become an integral part of Sharjah’s startup ecosystem, with a community of over a thousand aspiring entrepreneurs and an inaugural cohort of ten ventures graduating in February 2017. Najla is also Founder of Khayarat, a platform that empowers young, high-potential Emiratis to make informed career choices, and enables them to succeed in the private sector. In her previous role, as Senior Manager at Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, Najla led a team of business counselors through the due diligence process of selecting ventures for financing. She also set up and operated the Northern Emirate branch of Khalifa Fund, covering Ajman, Dubai, and Sharjah.   Prior to joining Khalifa Fund, Najla was a senior associate at McKinsey and Company‘s New York office, primarily serving clients across the financial institutions sector. Her experience also includes roles within PricewaterhouseCoopers and Shell. Najla is a board member of United Arab Bank, where she also chairs the Board Audit Committee and is a member of the Board Risk Committee. She is Vice-Chairperson of Young Arab Leaders, and a fellow of the Aspen Institute’s Middle East Leadership Initiative. Najla holds an MBA from Stanford University.

Dana Farouki

Abraaj Group Art Prize

Dana Farouki

Dana Farouki is a Palestinian-American independent curator and collector of international contemporary art, based between Dubai and New York. Farouki was the first member of the Guggenheim Museum Abu Dhabi curatorial staff, serving as Assistant Curator until June 2010. She received her bachelor’s degree in History of Art and Architecture from Brown University in 2003, and completed her master’s degree in the History and Theory of the Art Museum at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London in 2005. She also held a one-year fellowship at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. She is currently a Trustee of MoMA PS1, the leading New York museum committed to emerging art and artists and Creative Time, NYC’s foremost public arts projects organization. She is the founding Chair of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s Middle East Circle and sits on the board of Bidoun Projects. A great advocate of Middle East cultural initiatives, she has been on the Board of Patrons for Art Dubai since the fair’s inception and has been the Chairperson for the Abraaj Group Art Prize since 2015. Farouki is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Bilbareed, an online platform for Arabic and English digital invitations and greetings designed by the Arab world’s most creative talent. Bilbareed was launched in 2017.

Badr Jafar

Crescent Enterprises

Badr Jafar

Badr Jafar is CEO of Crescent Enterprises, a multinational company headquartered in the UAE, with diversified global businesses across six core sectors. He is also President of Crescent Petroleum, the region’s first independent and privately-owned petroleum company in the Middle East.

Khalid Al Ameri

Emirati Social Commentator

Khalid Al Ameri

Khalid Al Ameri is an Emirati opinion writer and social commentator with The National on issues such as employment, entrepreneurship, and social development in the Arab region. Khalid co-founded a food and beverage startup Slices based in Abu Dhabi. Khalid has recently returned from completing his MBA at Stanford University, and is currently working with youth on education and employment readiness, as well as continuing his work on highlighting social issues we face in our day-to-day lives through his column with The National newspaper.

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