- The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival is packed full with activities, including 30+ engaging workshops
- 10+ artforms featured to accentuate the role that artistic mediums and creativity play
- 5 dedicated stages for entrepreneurs to associate their passion with
Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival 2022 kicks off this weekend for their 6th edition of the highly anticipated event, as business leaders and entrepreneurial stalwarts from the region and from around the globe start to make their way to Sharjah to share their priceless knowledge, experience and inspiration with all who will be attending.
Hosting over 150 inspirational speakers to lead inspiring conversations and forge authentic connections, SEF 2022 will include 50+ life-changing talks and discussions, and 30 engaging workshops set to empower entrepreneurs from the region.
The festival will feature rich discussions spearheaded by a range of renowned speakers, such as; Mo Gawdat, Author of Solve for Happy; Robert Wolcott, Co-founder and Chairman of The World Innovation Network; Ahmed Al Ghandour, Content Creator; Steven Bartlett, Author and Podcaster; HH Sayyida Basma Al Said, Founder of Whispers of Serenity Clinic; Ali Abdaal, Youtuber and podcaster; Raja Al Mazrouei, Fintech and Transformation Leader; Nelly Attar, Mountaineer; Khawla Bin Thani, holistic wellness expert; Sultan Sooud Al Qasimi, Founder of Barjeel Art Foundation; Abdulrahman Abumalih, Founder and CEO of Thmanya; Khalid Al Ameri, Emirati Influencer; and regional performances by Sons of Yusuf and Quick Style.
The theme of this year’s extravaganza “Where We Belong”, envisions the ease of finding ones business niche, through five dedicated stages for entrepreneurs to associate their passion with, namely Impact Stage, Creative Stage, Tech Stage, Community Stage, and Wellness Stage which has curated an exciting and diverse range of entrepreneurial content for all those attending. The event will feature a range of talks, activities, workshops from the world’s biggest business leaders to cater to all communities of entrepreneurs, creators and changemakers; along with incredible performances by regional artists.
SEF is organised by the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa), an institution that incubates and cultivates future changemakers by fostering a culture of experimentation and critical thought. The institution seeks to contribute to the national efforts on raising entrepreneurship communities in the region and creating a strong and globally-connected ecosystem.
Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sheraa, who will also be initiating proceedings at this year’s event stated, “We at Sheraa are committed to opening doors and minds for all the future business leaders, and the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival is our annual gathering to provide knowledge and inspiration to the aspiring change makers of tomorrow. We look forward to welcoming the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem to Sharjah over the two days, and pushing forward the conversation on sustainable and impactful entrepreneurship.”
With such a massive line-up of talks, workshops and performances, the public can expect to experience a festival that may just be the key to their future success. Here are some highlights to be sure to attend in your respective areas of interest:
The Impact Stage will witness the opening ceremony of SEF 2022 with keynote address from Najla Al Midfa, followed by Mo Gawdat, Author of Solve for Happy, talking about ‘Engineering the Path to Happiness’. The session will be followed by Robert Wolcott, Co-founder and Chairman of The World Innovation Network, providing insights on sustainable innovation under the title ‘Innovation at the Centre of a Sustainable Future’. HH Sayyida Basma Al Said, Founder of Whispers of Serenity Clinic, will speak on ‘Building Psychological Support for Entrepreneurial Journey’ while Youtuber and podcaster Ali Abdaal will share his experiences in ‘Creating the Energy for your Passions’.
Five panel sessions will take place on the first day of SEF 2022 on the Impact Stage. Robert Wolcott, Co-founder and Chairman of The World Innovation Network; HE Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park; Khalid Huraimel, GCEO of Be’eah Group and Tom Selten, VP of Business Development at Lightyear, will lead a discussion titled ‘To Infinity and Beyond: The Case for Sustainable Mobility’.
Another panel session ‘Sustainable Innovation in Corporates: How Large Organisations are Innovating’ will see the presence of Beau Sell, VP of Innovation, Strategy and Technology, MN Custom Homes; Stephen Kruger, Chief Technology Officer of Careem; and, Fintech and Transformation Leader Raja Al Mazrouei.
In a third panel session, Farida F. El Agamy, Co-founder and CEO of Kyma; Ali Sajwani, Managing Director of Damac Properties;Abeer Al Shaali, Executive Management Officer of Gulf Craft; Haleema Al Owais, CEO of Sultan bin Ali Al Owais Real Estate; and, Adil Al Zarooni, CEO of Alzarooni Emirates Investments, will discuss ‘Business through the Ages: Taking over the Family Business’.
A session titled ‘VCs and the Startup Ecosystem: Bracing for Headwinds’ will hear insights from Eddy Farhat, partner at e& Capital; Mahmoud Adi, Founding Partner or Shorooq Partners; Tala Al Jabri, Venture Partner of HOF Capital; and, Basil Moftah, General Partner of Nclude.
In the final panel session on day one, ‘Marhaba: Welcome to Sharjah’, Broadcast Journalist Abdul Karim Hanif, Mohammed Musharrakh, CEO of Invest in Sharjah; Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, Group CEO of Arada; Kareem Al Jisr, Chief Sustainability Officer at Diamond Developers; Khaled Al Midfa, Chairman at SCTDA; and, Maryam Bin Al Shaikh, Director of Sharjah Business Women Council will talk about the potential of boosting and investing in the emirate.
The second day will have an exciting start with speakers Caroline Faraj, Dubai Chief Operations Director CNN; Sultan Sooud Al Qasimi, Founder of Barjeel Art Foundation; Dr Khalid Al Midfa, CEO of Sharjah Media City (Shams); and Abdulsalam Haykal, CEO of Haykal Media, share their valuable insights on ‘The Power of Media in Shaping Cultural Identity’ .
Wissam Breidy, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Disruptive Knowledge, will lead a session titled ‘Branching Out and Expanding Your Horizon while April Rhine, Author of Flux: 8 Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change, will speak on ‘Belonging in a World of Flux’ and content creator Ahmed Al Ghandour (Daheeh) will tell the audience why ‘Finance Is not Funny’. Author and Podcaster Steven Bartlett will speak on ‘Tuning In to Your Instincts: The Makings of an Impactful Entrepreneur’ with moderator Sally Mousa.
In a second panel session, panellists Nick Fisher, COO of The Giving Movement; Mariam Farag, Founder and Managing Director of Humanising Brands; Adrienne Doolan, CEO of Green Touches; Farida El Agamy, Co-founder and CEO of Kyma; Lamia AlHashimy, Co-founder of Palmade Biodegradable Cutlery; and, Khairunnisa Suhail, Head of Design of The Giving Movement, will speak on ‘The Ethos of Giving Back’.
The Impact Stage will also be the venue for the closing ceremony of SEF 2022.
Launching the venue with Spoken Word Poetry by writer and poet Maryam Al Shehhi, the Stage will see performances and talks by artists Big Hass, Abdullah Alshamsi, Jindi and the Quick Style dance group. Artist Maimouna Youssef will share her thoughts on ‘Making it Big in the Music Industry’ while Adwa Al Dakheel, Founder and CEO of Falak Investment Hub will share her insights on ‘Get Ready: Why it’s imperative to be Multi-Skilled in a Post-Covid World’.
Panel session at the Creative Stage will see artist Abdulla Al Nuaimi, director and producer Nahla Al Fahad, poet, artist and filmmaker Nujoom Al Ghanem, executive director of The Post Office Mohammed Rasheedy, and founding partner and executive producer of The Post Office Mohammed Hossam, come together to discuss ‘Producing the Next Arab Blockbuster’.
In another panel session, Alia Al Fasi, founder of Alia Gallery and Abdulla Al Nuaimi will speak on ‘The Challenges and Opportunities of Running one of the Gulf’s Largest Galleries’.
HE Manal Ataya, Director-General of Sharjah Museums Authority, Alia Al Shamsi, Programming Manager, Louvre Abu Dhabi, and Sumayyah Al Suwaidi, Community Programmes Head, Department of Culture and Tourism, will lead a panel session on ‘What Art Institutions Look for in the Next Great Arab Artists’.
Abdulrahman Abumalih, Founder and CEO of Thmanyah, and Iman Ben Chaibah, Founder of Sail Magazine, will share their experiences on the topic ‘From Building A Popular Podcast to Selling a Multi-Million Dollar Media Company’.
Multidisciplinary Creative and Acting Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic Al Arabiya Magazine Hussain Al Moosawi and Sumayya Al Suwaidi will speak on ‘The Role of Photography in Documenting Modern Architecture. Emirati Influencer Khalid Al Ameri will take a masterclass on ‘How to Build a Career from Vlogging’. Speaking on the topic ‘Reimagining the Future of Advertising’ will be Mustafa Sharara, Founder of Excuse My Content and Sync School’.
The stage will also witness performances from Dina Stars, Sons of Yusuf, Ghaliaa and SQ and Tbazz on the second day.
An innovative panel session await attendees at the tech stage beginning with the session ‘Web3.0 and the Tech Ecosystem’ with panellists Mashal Waqar, COO of VenturePunk; Azeem Khan, Fundraising and Partnerships Lead at Gitcoin; Ola Lind, CEO and Director of FTFT Capital; and Jamil Abu-Wardeh, Director and Co-founder or METKAF.com.
Sharad Agarwal, Chief Metaverse Officer of Cyber Gear; Pallavi Dean, Founder and Creative Director of Roar; Kristel Bechara, NFT artist; Amin Al Zarouni, CEO of Bedu; and Ahmed Tameemi, Managing Director of Holofair; will exchange thoughts on ‘Metaverse and NFTs 101: Magic or Madness?’. In yet another panel session ‘Founders Circle: Nailing the Customer Journey’, Shereen Abdulla, producer and presenter of Spark! Studios, Marwan Char, Co-CEO of GCC at Kavak, and Abdulaziz Al Loughani, Chairman and CEO of Floward, will share their expertise. The session titled ‘Mena to Y Combinator’, will see Roberto Croci, Partner and Chief Investment Officer of Elysium Ventures; Nuha Hashem, Co-founder of Zywa, Fisal Toukan, Co-founder and CEO of Ziina; and Hesham Ghandour, Co-founder of Dapi, narrate their viewpoints.
Ferakh Lekhany, Co-founder of Arabee; Muhammad Najee-Ullah, CEO and Founder of FullBlast STEAM Edutainment; Maram Ayman, Chief of Staff of RiseUp; and Raya Bidshahri, Founder and CEO of School of Humanity, will come together for a session titled ‘Preparing Skills for a Dynamic Future’. Omar Chihane, Founder and CEO of Englease, will talk about the future of Edtech while Yi-Wei Ang, Chief Product Officer of Talabat, will spell out the basics of ‘Product-driven Entrepreneurship: How to Build a Company Culture Oriented on Customer Obsession’. A startup pitching competition will also be held at the tech Stage on the first day of SEF 2022.
Numerous sessions will lead the second day of SEF 2022 starting with ‘Gaming Empires: A Multi-Billion Dollar Growing Industry’ session with panellists Fagr Kassim-Ali, Director of Media Sector Development, Sharjah Media City (Shams); Aziza Al Ahmadim CEO of Boss Bunny Games; and Tarek Fouad, Head of Growth of Shorooq Partners.
Nader Amiri, Founder and COO of El Grocer, Elie Habib, Co-founder and CTO of Anghami; and, entrepreneur, investor and podcast host Loulou Khazen Baz will shed light on Retaining the Entrepreneurial Spirit At Scale. The session titled ‘Future Proofing Your Venture: Digitally Empowering Your SME’ will see speakers Sanad Yaghi, Co-founder of Dukkantec, Dr. Abdullah Al Shimmari, CVO and Co-founder of RestHero, and Zohare Haider, Co-founder of Jalebi.io, discuss the subject.
‘Getting Things Right for Women Founders’ session will be headed by all-women panellists Juman Darwish, Serial Entrepreneur and Web3 enthusiast, Jen Blandos, CEO of Female Fusion, Nida Sumar, Founder of 60DayStartups, and Julie Nguyen, Co-founder of Crunchmoms. Mounira Jamjoom, Co-founder and CEO of Anaab, Emilie Thomas, Founder and CEO of Oktopi, and Fadi Khalek, Senior EdTech Advisor of Global Ventures, will speak at the panel session ‘Imagination and Curiosity — Foundations of Edtech Growth’.
In yet another exciting session ‘How Can Entrepreneurs Attract the Attention of Venture Capitalists’, Faris Nesmar, CEO and Managing Partner of Hatch&Boost, Sherif El Badawi, CEO of Dubai Future District Fund, and Alper Celen, Founding Partner of Enhance Ventures, will share their expertise. ‘Female Investors and their Impact on the Industry’ panel will have on the speaker list Sheikha Al Mheiri, Founder of MAD Investments, Olga Fleming, Investor and serial entrepreneur, Ghada Abdelkader, Senior VP of CE Ventures, and Heather Henyon, Founding Partner of Mindshift Capital.
Ahmad Al Naqbi, CEO of Emirates Development Bank, will speak on ‘How Startups and SMEs can Become More Bankable’. ‘Innovating for Food Security’ will be discussed by Dr Saeed Al Khazraji, Founder of Manshat, Nabil Hamade, Founder of Hawa Water LLC, Sorqya Hosni, CEO of Clever Harvest and Aphisith Phongsavanh, Founder of Wurzig and Nova.
In the final panel session, Abdulla Snobar, Executive Director and CEO, DMZ &DMZ Ventures, Padmini Gupta, CEO of Xare, and Pablo Langa, Founder and Managing Partner of EDT Partners, will speak on the topic ‘Scaling Beyond Borders: A Growth Story’.
In an exclusive session ‘How to Make Your First Investment, Latifa Bin Haider, CEO of Baytuki, will fill the audience with ways to overcome fear while investing their hard-earned wealth.
Najla Al Ansari, Founder of Not A Space; Hind Bin Dhaher, Founder of Menagerie Eatery; Nawal Al Nuaimi, Founder of PaperFig Restaurants and Desserts; Noor Abbasi, Founder of Fifth Flavor; Salim Busamnouh, Founder of Gnad Cafe; and Ibrahim Al Malouhi, Founder or The Expresso Lab; will share their versions during the panel session ‘ A Melting Pot: The Business of F&B in UAE.
In a second panel session on ‘Community Building: The Responsibility of a Business to Strengthen the Wellbeing of our Societies’, Najla Al Ansari, Iman Ben Chibah, Founder of Sail Magazine and Maissa Al Khafaly, Founder if Therapie.ae, will share their experiences on finding their niches in the UAE.
While drag racer Hamda Taryam and architect Reema Al Mheiri will shed light on ‘Creating Trends from the UAE’, mountaineers Nayla Nasir, Nelly Attar and Saeed Al Mameri will speak at a session titled ‘ An Adventure Fuelled by Purpose’.
The Community Stage will begin its second day with ‘All That Glitters is More Than Gold’ session, with Yara Bin Shakar, Co-founder of Yara Bin Shakar Design and Latifa al Gurg from Twisted Roots on the panel.
The ‘Connection through Expression: Building Community through Creativity’ will see the presence of speakers Noura Bin Kalban, Managing Director and Co-founder of Medaf Studio, Sara Al Shirouqi, Founder of Conclusive Consulting, and, Deenah Al Hashemi, Founder of Sxill.
The ‘Cafe Edition: Corner Cafes and Cosy Food Stops Taking Over the F&B Scene’ session will see startup founders Ali Al Bastaki, Founder of Rocks Cafe; Sherina Al Sowaidi, Owner of Ritual Cafe and Studio and Shezeen Jamil, Co-founder of Slippy, share their business experiences.
Alia al Ali, Co-founder of Startlings, will lead a session ‘From Student to Startup’ while Emirati Film Director Abdulla Al Kaabi will lead another exciting session titled ‘Find a Problem and Be the Solution’.
Transformational Coach Silfath Pinto will speak under the title ‘Strong Communities are Built by Radiant Hearts: Discover Your Unique Contribution’. Go With the Flow yoga session by Uform will follow ‘Sound Healing’ by Barakah Yoga Studio.
Silfath Pinto will lead another session to ‘Envision and Manifest a Stellar 2023’ followed by holistic wellness expert Khawla Bin Thani speaking on ‘Pathways to Peace’. Alya al Shamsi will give tips at the ‘Health Status of an Entrepreneur’ session while Noof Aljunaibi will tell the audience how to tackle things ‘When We Don’t Get What We Want’. ‘Emotional Intelligence in the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’ will be highlighted during a session led by Farhan Al Bastaki.
Souq workshops on the first day include Calligraphy Painting on Glass; Glassware, Coffee Cupping, Chocolate Tasting, Latte Art for Beginners. a Barista Latte Art Competition will also be held. Day two souq workshops will include sessions in Al Misnad Fonts, Sea Treasure, Al Hurufia, Gilding, Leading in Business and calligraphy.
Startup workshops will be conducted across two venues and workshops include Getting Started with TikTok conducted by their official team; Startup Resilience: Adapting to Changing Regulations by Hisham Farouk; Data Strategy and POS for Startups by Saleh Al Nuaimi; Sustainability for Safe and Creative Environments Presentation by Dr Suaad Al Shamsi, Go-to-Market Strategy for Tech Scale-Ups by Christian Frost Jensen; Commercialising Educational Research by Christian Frost Jensen; Startup Growth: Attracting and Retaining Talents by Abdul-Rahman Risilian Changing Mindsets: Metaverse, Beyond the Hype by Sharad Agarwal; and finally, Bringing Your Brand Soul to Life by The Hanging House.
Day two Startup workshops will include Colour Therapy and Art Foundation by Razan AlSalloum; Design Psychology: Attracting More Customers by Sherine Sarieh; Define and Implement Your Personal Style in Your Living Space and Business by DFYN Design; Money Talk by Baytuki; Empowering Creativity Through Repurposing Waste by Paltic; and, From Prototype to Market-Ready Product by Christian Frost Jenson.
Another dedicated area visitors should be sure to visit during the two-day entrepreneurial festival this weekend is the ‘Sustainability Stage’ where budding business enthusiasts will be able to soak in a plethora of knowledge, insight and advice on how to make their ideas and companies stand the test of time. Sustainability is at the core of creating a thriving company and the educational resources provided here will empower and inspire all that attend
The ‘Sustainability Stage’ is hosted by Sharjah Sustainable City and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Yousif Al-Mutawa had this to say about their presence at SEF this year: “It gives us great pleasure to be supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in Sharjah by powering eight start-ups at the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival this year. As a working model for smart and sustainable cities implementing the latest technologies and environmental best practices in real estate, Sharjah Sustainable City is fully committed to fostering a green economy in the United Arab Emirates. Through our sponsorship of the festival’s Sustainability Stage, we are strengthening the message of sustainable development and a circular economy in Sharjah and the entire UAE.”
This is just a taste of what to expect from Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival and for all those interested in attending the two-day extravaganza and finding where they belong in their respective industries, they should be sure to register and secure their ticket at https://sharjahef.com/ before it is sold out.