Fostering entrepreneurship through technological innovation  

 The 18th Arab Businessmen and Investors Conference (ABIC) and the third edition of the World Entrepreneurs Investment Forum (WEIF 2019) will be hosted by Bahrain from November 11 to 13, under the theme “Forth Industrial Revolution: Shaping the future – Digital disruptions for a better tomorrow”. To be held under the auspices of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, The King of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the event will be organised by Bahrain Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI), with the support of the Union of Arab Chambers, Arab League, The Arab Investment and Export Credit Guarantee Corporation and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO ITPO) Bahrain.    

Mohamed Abduljabbar Mahmood Alkooheji- Second Vice-Chairman, BCCI, talks about the focus areas of the conference and the importance of embracing technological innovation as a means of fostering entrepreneurship and productivity in the region. Excerpts from an interview  

What will be the highlights of the 18th Arab Businessmen and Investors Conference?
The main objective of the conference is to drive impactful investment, entrepreneurship and innovation, aimed at keeping the Arab world abreast of the digital revolution and disruptive innovations which are driving major breakthroughs across industries in the world.

We need to bring a lot of information on the latest developments in this area down to the common people. Therefore, the whole idea of the conference is to bring the international experts to share their insights and experience on the fourth industrial revolution and its impact on economy. With an impressive group of speakers, experts, entrepreneurs, investors, academics, financial institutions and high-level senior officials, the conference promises to empower the audience with the know-how needed to effectively be part of the transformation that Industry 4.0 is bringing.

The conference emphasises the need to embrace technological innovation as a means of fostering entrepreneurship and productivity. It will explore the possibilities, challenges and most efficient ways of adapting this revolution to obtain a dramatically improved future.

How impactful have been the forum in fostering closer partnerships between Arab nations?  And what are your expectations of this year?
Over the past few years, the Arab Businessmen and Investors Conference has played a significant role as an integral Arab platform for Arab businessmen and investors to meet and interact. This year’s conference will highlight the opportunities and challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution to key stakeholders from the private and public sectors, particularly in the Middle East, North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa, in attaining these goals. The conference is expected to attract over 1,500 participants from across the globe

We are bringing key policy decision-makers, regulators, investors, entrepreneurs, and global influencers. Therefore I am confident that this will open doors for further business and foster closer partnerships between Arab nations, as we work towards building an economy based on knowledge and sustainability.

How prepared is the region for the 4th Industrial Revolution? And what will be its impact on economic diversification?
We have to ride this wave, no matter how much prepared we are for this. The 4th Industrial Revolution has made paradigm changes in the way society and businesses have been functioning and is about more than just technology-driven incremental change. It is an opportunity to help varied stakeholders, including leaders, policy-makers and the general population from all-income groups and nations, to harness converging technologies in order to create an inclusive, human-centric future. The real opportunity is to look beyond technology and find ways to enable the greatest number of people to positively impact their families, organisations and communities.

How effective have been Bahrain’s economic diversification initiatives?
Bahrain is the first GCC nation to move away from its dependence on hydrocarbon sectors. As one of the most diversified and sustainable economies in the region as well as a leading financial hub, Bahrain is a leading example of a business-friendly nation with no restrictions, 100 per cent foreign ownership for a majority of activities and low operating costs.

Youngsters and students are going to be the catalyst for the 4th Industrial Revolution. How are you engaging these key stakeholders in the conference?
A key highlight of the 18th ABIC 2019 is the Arab Entrepreneurship Rally, a competition designed to encourage and assist all Arab university students to convert their innovative business ideas into start-up enterprises. The competition will provide students with an opportunity to make a positive impact on society through technological innovation, whilst contributing to their own economic benefit.

Students from the Arab Region will be invited to participate in submitting their innovative business ideas with the opportunity of having them reviewed and recognised by designated experts. Through its sponsors and partners, students will be awarded for their efforts and play an active role in inspiring and unleashing the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. Three winners from the region will be announced at the conference in November 2019 and an impressive cash price will be handed to them to facilitate converting their ideas into action.

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