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Arab Mobile App Challenge (AMAC) looks to spur new entrepreneurship wave
Silatech, Applied Innovation Institute, and Ooredoo Launch Contest in Five Countries across the region.
October 23, 2013 3:01 by Amjad Baker
Against the backdrop of a rapidly changing Arab world fuelled by the demands of young people for jobs and economic opportunity, Silatech and the Applied Innovation Institute, in partnership with Ooredoo, have launched the first Arab Mobile App Challenge. Teams of up to six members, under 30 years of age, will work to develop applications (known as “apps”) for mobile phones that address needs in the education, health, entertainment or employability/entrepreneurship sectors. The winning teams will receive prizes of up to $50,000.
The main objectives of the competition are to introduce young Arabs to the concept of entrepreneurship and the path to business start-up, as well as opportunities for enhancing employability skills particularly relevant to the tech space. Teams will go through an acceleration process, opportunities for multiple workshops, and also be assisted by an experienced mentor who will provide coaching and advice in how to turn good ideas into viable businesses. Starting as a pilot challenge this year in Tunisia, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, the intent is to roll the contest out to the entire region in the future.
The global mobile app market is growing at a very high speed and the Middle East mobile apps market is in line with this, especially due to the high regional uptake of mobile phones. Though the region is well placed to benefit from mobile app opportunities, the number of commercially successful Arabic apps has been relatively low. The Arab Mobile App Challenge is a step toward developing the region’s underutilized potential in this regard.
Silatech and the Applied Innovation Institute are the founding partners of the Arab Mobile App Challenge, and Ooredoo has joined forces in the early stages as a Platinum Regional Sponsor supporting this initiative. The Regional Partners include Microsoft, Pearson, Yahoo Maktoob, Tam Projects, Wamda, MIT Enterprise Forum, Potenial, ArabNet, IE Business School, In5, Afkar.me, Integral, and 360 Accelerator. Country hosts are the Queen Rania Centre for Entrepreneurship (Jordan), Sup’Com (Tunisia), International Medical Centre and Saudi Telecom (KSA), The Hub (UAE) and Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar.
In addition to local partners in Qatar, Q Media and www.iloveqatar.net; in Jordan, Zain Jordan and Int@j; in Tunisia, ProInvest, Tunis Ta3mal, Startup Factory – Tunisiana, NXT, Progress Engineering, and Techno Park El-Ghazalah. Also, API partner in Qatar: QatarLiving.com
According to Silatech CEO Dr. Tarik Yousef, “Technology and entrepreneurship are tools which offer enormous potential to empower young people with greater control over their lives and their well-being. The Arab Mobile App Challenge provides an exciting platform that combines these concepts in a fun way, and we look forward to seeing the innovative ideas that emerge from it.”
According to Applied Innovation Institute Board Member Dr. Paris de l’Etraz, “Apps are growing much faster than the Internet ever did, and we need to make sure that the Arab world is ready to take up this challenge, which is bound to change the way we interact with our world in the future. We need more Arabic content and that is a major goal of this Challenge.”
Previously Ooredoo and Silatech collaborated on the development and launch of Tunisiana’s “Najja7ni Employment,” the region’s first career-related mobile service. Ooredoo is now expanding its partnership with Silatech on more mobile-related initiatives aimed at enhancing youth employability.
Dr. Nasser Marafih, Group CEO, Ooredoo, said: “Across the Middle East and North Africa, about half of our customers are young people, and they want to use technology to overcome challenges in their lives and achieve their ambitions. Supporting the Arab Mobile App Challenge and extending our partnership with Silatech demonstrates our commitment to promoting human growth, by encouraging mobile innovation and entrepreneurship. We hope this contest taps into the incredible creativity and imagination that we know the young people of this region have to offer.”
QRCE’s Executive Director Farhan Kalaldeh said that the centre considers support for national and regional Innovation initiatives a top priority and an integral part of its operation, especially those aimed at introducing youth to new trends in Technology Entrepreneurship, opening new horizons for them in various sectors. He added that cooperation with other stakeholders is key to adding value to the country, stressing: “QRCE is keen on partnering with various local and Arab institutions and taking part in such national and regional initiatives”.
From his end, the CEO of the ICT Association of Jordan — int@j, Mr. Abdelmajeed Shamlawi added: “It is essential in such times to find ways to channel the potentials of the people and especially the youth in this region towards more productive initiatives that encourage their contribution to the economy, int@j is a strong believer of our human capability and that it is the main asset for our development, this is why we find our partnership with Silatech complementing our services and endeavours aimed at human resources development through entrepreneurship and enabling better employability mechanisms in the area of technology. This contest is also expected to make our human talents more visible and better recognized on regional and international levels.”
For his part Mr. Ahmad Hanandeh — CEO of Zain Jordan commented: “That the rapid growth in the information and communication technology sector along with the increasing on the dependence of customers on smartphones, contributed to the radical changes in the telecommunications industry, where the most prominent of these changes is making an innovation in mobile phone applications industry, which encouraged Zain to launch a wide base of creative applications that mimic the daily life of the customers and enable them to get different services in all aspects of life, assuring that Zain’s support to this competition comes in line with the company’s belief in the importance of its role in supporting entrepreneurship, and the adoption of the pioneers in this field an essential anchor for the advancement of the information communication technology sector to the global competitive levels.”
Each participating country will host a local “Mobile App Challenge,” with three finalist teams from each country participating in the regional finals, to be hosted in Qatar in February 2014. One team from each of the five countries will then be selected in Qatar, allowing five regional teams to compete against other international teams at the annual international Mobile World Congress finals held in Barcelona on February 24-27, 2014.
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For more information about the Arab Mobile App Challenge, see www.arabmobilechallenge.com.
Silatech is a regional social initiative that works to create jobs and expand economic opportunities for young people throughout the Arab world. The organization promotes large-scale job creation, entrepreneurship, access to capital and markets, and the participation and engagement of young people in economic and social development. Founded in 2008 by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Silatech finds innovative solutions to challenging problems, working with a wide spectrum of development organizations, governments and the private sector to foster sustainable, positive change for Arab youth. For more information, please visit: http://www.silatech.com
About the Applied Innovation Institute
The Applied Innovation Institute (AII) is a non-profit California institution dedicated to providing world class academic programs that deliver excellence in innovation and entrepreneurship around the globe. It is made up primarily of leading faculty from the top engineering schools in the world, and meets regularly to discuss and develop world class academic curriculum in innovation and entrepreneurship education. Since 2011, it has annually developed and conducted the University Mobile Challenge, which involves over 70 universities internationally competing for the development of the best mobile apps and culminates in a grand final in Barcelona that coincides with the world GSMA conference. AII is now beginning to conduct, with regional partners, Mobile App Challenges in different regions of the world, starting in 2013 with the AMAC with Silatech.
Ooredoo is a leading international communications company delivering mobile, fixed, broadband internet and corporate managed services tailored to the needs of consumers and businesses across markets in the Middle East, North Africa and South-East Asia. As a community-focused company, Ooredoo is guided by its vision of enriching people’s lives and its belief that it can stimulate human growth by leveraging communications to help people achieve their full potential. Ooredoo has a presence in markets such as Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Algeria, Tunisia, Iraq, Palestine, the Maldives and Indonesia. The company reported revenues of $9.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2012 and had a consolidated global customer base of more than 92.9 million people as of 31 December 2012. Ooredoo’s shares are listed on the Qatar Exchange and the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange.
About Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship
QRCE was established in 2004 to help develop Technology Entrepreneurship in Jordan. The Center is hosted by El Hassan Science City and an integral part of iPARK, playing the role of a national Center of Excellence for Entrepreneurship. As part of QRCE strategic plan, the Center is implementing a national initiative supported by The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), Intel Corporation and Arab Potash Company, focusing on Networking, Recognition & Awareness, Capacity Building and Support in various Governorates. For more information please visit: www.qrce.org.