All Lebanese businesses must seek regional expansion — or so it is drilled into the heads of local entrepreneurs. A typical Lebanese business model is to test a product in Lebanon before scaling to the region. This reflects at once the limits of the very small Lebanese market, but also the increasing nature of seeking solutions that cover the entire Arab world.
Besides catering to the region, Lebanese companies are increasingly drawn to Dubai, an important regional hub for big businesses and the Middle Eastern capital of marketing and advertising. The move is a logical expansion for a Lebanese company — some relocating their businesses there altogether.
Likewise, ArabNet — a hub and conference organizer for digital entrepreneurs and professionals in the Arab world — expanded from its birthplace in Beirut to Dubai. The move was very successful: its Dubai event is now larger the original Beirut conference. This is due partly because of the political situation in Lebanon and partly because Dubai, being the business hub that it is today, is an attractive destination for regional companies to mingle. When Executive caught up with ArabNet founder Omar Christidis before March’s ArabNet Beirut, he explained that while the Lebanon event focused on the local Levantine market as a production hub for the region, the Dubai event would be more focused on big business.
Indeed, the conference will highlight many aspects of big businesses — the latest trends in e-commerce, marketing and advertising from industry leaders. But entrepreneurs also have a selection of talks to choose from for promoting startup ecosystems in the region — with the government-owned tech park Dubai Silicon Oasis, local i360 accelerator’s space The Cribb and the digital startup incubator Afkar among others represented.
Exhibitions and a digital showcase will highlight businesses big and small, creating opportunities for the two to liaise. Larger companies such as transportation and logistics company Aramex, market research company IPSOS and online payment gateway Gate2Play will be represented alongside smaller ones. Some of these smaller businesses were present at the Beirut event, such as animation company Wezank and social media topic analyzer tool Crowd Analyzer — which made the list of Executive’s favorite startups from ArabNet Beirut.
The combination of panels where industry leaders share best practices and startups showcase the newest technological innovations makes ArabNet the epicenter of tech and entrepreneurship in the region for the next three days. Stay tuned for Executive’s coverage of ArabNet Digital Summit Dubai.