Forbes Middle East’s Under 30 Summit in El Gouna—the first event of its kind in the Middle East—came to an end on Saturday after three days of high-energy discussions, networking, and live music. The summit witnessed 28 panel discussions over a two-day period, featuring renowned entrepreneurs, investors, artists, business owners, famous personalities, and both successful and budding young entrepreneurs.
As well as providing young leaders with insight, advice, and new connections, the packed conference highlighted the accomplishments and potential of the Middle East’s most inspiring young achievers from the annual Forbes Middle East 30 Under 30 list.
Supporting entrepreneurial spirit
During the summit, participants discussed success indicators and tips for creating a startup in the current ecosystem, as well as looking at the future, with conversations covering the metaverse, Fintech, and social media, among other trending topics. Actors, athletes, and artists were also invited to share their incredible journeys with attendees.
CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Middle East, Khuloud Al-Omian, was inspired by the event. “I’m so happy and proud of our success in creating such an inspiring and valuable experience that supports entrepreneurship and startups in Egypt and the wider Middle East,” she stated. “The summit created a state of positive interaction between a large group of distinguished entrepreneurs, artists, athletes, celebrities, and elite officials.”
CEO of El Gouna, Mohamed Amer, also expressed his delight at having hosted the summit in El Gouna, noting that the development’s ecosystem combines both lifestyle and business life, making it the perfect place for young talent and entrepreneurial activities. “The success of the summit came to reflect El Gouna’s core in being a fully-integrated sustainable town, which makes it one of the ideal centers for organizing activities and events in Egypt and the Middle East,” he explained.
Packed days of insightful discussions
Hosted at El Gouna Campus, the 28 panels and fireside chats covered a wide range of topics and sectors, including funding, finance, social impact, super apps, media, crypto, e-commerce, education, climate, and technology.
The first day of panel discussions was kicked off on Friday by a fireside chat with Mohamed Amer, CEO of El Gouna, where he spoke about G-Valley—a holistic business hub focused on giving startups a new home—adding that “it is not only young entrepreneurs, but all SMEs, startups, and impact companies—ones that aren’t just profitable but socially and environmentally impactful—are also welcome.”
This was followed by a panel, “Empowering the New Generation of Entrepreneurs,” which saw three successful veteran business leaders—Omar El Hamamsy, Group CEO of Orascom Development Holding;
Mohamed Shelbaya, CEO of PepsiCo Egypt; and Yasser Shaker, CEO of Orange Egypt—reveal how they and their companies are working to encourage and support entrepreneurship in the region.
Attendees were energized by a panel on “The State of Funding and Valuations in a Downturn” moderated by Kyane Kassiri, Partner at RaliCap Ventures and featuring influential investors: George Robson, Partner at Sequoia; Courtney Powell, Chief Operating Officer and Managing Partner at 500 Global; Bassem Raafat, Principal at A15; and Ahmed Gomaa, Chairman and CEO at Egypt Ventures. Speakers revealed the criteria they look for when deciding whether to back a startup and debated the current state of the ecosystem and how it is affecting their investment decisions.
The discussion on “What’s Next for Media & Entertainment?” debated the evolution of the media industry and how digital transformation has impacted its growth. Moderated by Mohamad Hosam, Co-Founder of El-Da7ee7, the speaker lineup featured: Claudius Boller, Managing Director Middle East, North Africa, South Asia excluding India at Spotify; Stefano Fallaha, CEO & Founder of Podeo; Amy Mowafi, Co-Founder & CEO of MO4Network; and Shadman Sakib, Founder & CEO of Vurse.
A Ministry of Planning and Economic Development panel featuring: Nezar Sami from the International Association of Management of Technology; Ghada Khalil, Director of the Rowad 2030 Project; and Suzan Hamdy, Chief Financial Inclusion, Sustainability, and Business Development Officer at Banque Misr; discussed initiatives and steps taken to support entrepreneurs, with further insight from Mina Ghaly, Mina Ghaly, Basma Tawkol, and Mohamed Easily.
The panel “Under 30 Spotlight: Social Impact” brought four 30 Under 30 listers on stage: Muatasam Aulaqi, Cofounder of NomuHub, Ramzi Mallat, Artist, Nouran Gohar, world’s number one squash player; and Nyla Khan, Founder of the Casa Da Louisa Group. They each spoke about pursuing their passion and the impact they hope to have on the world. Other key fireside chats from the day included: Hossam El Gamal, Vice President of Anghami North Africa; Rascha Ragheb, Executive Director of the World Youth Forum; and actresses Dorra Zarrouk and Stephanie Saliba.
The second day featured several tech-focused sessions, including one on “Super Apps—Can MENA Master the Super App Model?” with speakers: Manar Elamin, CEO of Rizek; Mounir Nakhla, Founder of MNT-Halan; and Waleed Sadek, Founder and CEO of PaySky, reviewing the challenges faced by super apps in the region, especially with regards to changing consumer mindset.
Other sessions included “The Rise of the Neobanks and the Future of Banking,” featuring: Ayman Essawy, Cofounder of Lucky App; Ahmed Wadi, Founder and CEO of MoneyFellows; and Anna Hibino, Head of Expansion and Partnerships in the Middle East and Africa at Wise. And “AdTech in a Cookie-less Future,” featuring Hisham El-Nazer, General Manager of Google Egypt; and Tarek Daouk, CEO at dentsu for the Middle East and North Africa, where they forecast what the future of advertising and sponsored media could look like with the end of third-party cookies.
In a fireside chat about “The Untapped Potential of Ultra-Platforms,” Abdullah Abu Al-Sheikh, co-founder and CEO of Astra Tech Group, spoke about his ultra-platform concept and the necessity of creating a super-accurate platform.
The summit concluded with a conversation about “Shining a Light on Women in Tech & Entrepreneurship” between: moderator Manar Elamin, CEO of Rizek; Dina Ayman, Program Manager at Microsoft; Hoda Mansour, General Manager of Intelligent Digital Transformation at SAP for Southern Europe, Middle East, and Africa; and serial entrepreneur Sarah Al Madani.
Exhilarating evenings of music and celebration
The Under 30 Summit also hosted three nights of musical entertainment at Aurora El Gouna, culminating in a high-energy music festival on Saturday night with live performances from Al Walid Hallani, DJ Chloe, and The Homies. Each night witnessed an award ceremony recognizing the Under 30 listers in attendance from the Forbes Middle East Under 30 community.
Forbes Middle East’s inaugural Under 30 Summit was supported by host partner Orascom Development Company El Gouna, platinum partner EFS, real estate partner Miramar, BNPL partner valU, media partner Startup Scene, music partner Anghami, education partner ESLSCA, airline partner Nile Air, PR and communications partner Influence, radio partner Nile FM, and support partners PepsiCo, Rizek, Lucky, and Vurse. It was presented under the auspices of Egypt’s Ministry of Planning and Economic Development.