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Web Summit Qatar reflects growing strength of country’s tech sector

The summit's second day focused on ultra apps, AI for climate change, and Qatar's tech future.

Web Summit Qatar reflects growing strength of country’s tech sector
[Source photo: Web Summit Qatar | Pankaj Kirdatt/Fast Company Middle East]

Web Summit Qatar has been abuzz with discussions about artificial intelligence and startups. Panelists and speakers continued these conversations on Wednesday, delving into strategies for leveraging technological advancements to drive Qatar’s landscape forward.

Ultra apps have indeed been gaining momentum in the region. Recently, Qatari startup Snoonu announced its expansion into the ultra app realm. With this move, the app now offers a comprehensive range of 11 services under one umbrella, catering to various needs such as F&B orders, courier services, pharmacy, and grocery deliveries.

Humza Abid Khan, Chief Strategy and Business Officer at Snoonu emphasized their focus on penetrating and growing in the Qatar market before expanding to multiple use cases and fulfilling customer needs. He expressed their intention to go regional once they establish a strong presence in Qatar.

During a panel discussion on the technology and startup ecosystem in Qatar, Snoonu’s Founder and CEO, Hamad Mubarak Al-Hajri, mentioned that the company is the first startup in the Gulf state to close series A and series B funding rounds, with ambitions to move on to series C.

“The next six years will be exciting for Qatar, especially moving from a traditional economy to a knowledge-based economy. To be successful, we need an innovation-based economy. I believe now is a big chance for all the entrepreneurs and startups worldwide to advocate here in Qatar,” said Al-Hajri.

He added that the recently announced $1 billion VC fund, along with an advanced education system and the tax-free status of three out of five legal frameworks in Qatar, are among the incentives for businesses and startups to kickstart their journeys in the country.

Similarly, Abdallah Abu-Sheikh, CEO of Botim and AstraTech, speaking on a panel focused on ultra apps in the region, said, “The region has come a long way in the past 5 years, the contribution of technology to the region’s GDP, along with the amount of talent and innovations has increased tremendously.”

“While many startups may not have ultimately succeeded, they have contributed to building a better ecosystem,” he noted. “As long as you’re solving a problem for users, you’re making an impact,” he added.

Web Summit Qatar acknowledged the pressing challenges of climate change, emphasizing the need for greater efforts in addressing environmental concerns. Leveraging the power of technology emerges as a key solution in striving towards a greener future.

During a press conference, HRH Princess Lamia bint Majid Al Saud, Secretary General of Alwaleed Philanthropies, unveiled Atlai, a public artificial intelligence reporter. Atlai is designed to monitor and report global deforestation.  Atlai utilizes satellite imagery and large language processing models to track environmental changes with unprecedented accuracy and detail.

“Deforestation is a global problem requiring a human solution that empowers local communities. The tool is not only for combating deforestation. It’s also for promoting reforestation in alignment with our Vision 2030, which is committed to planting 10 billion trees in Saudi Arabia,” said Princess Lamia.

The Innovation By Design Summit is in Doha on April 24. Attendance at the summit is by invitation only. Delegates can register here to receive their exclusive invite.

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