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2018 has proven to be quite the year, it was a busy one but its outcomes were beyond amazing. As we near the end of 2018, we decided to look back and remember those moments that made 2018 StartUp Bahrain’s most memorable year yet.

Read on for a compilation of this year’s biggest moments within the StartUp Bahrain ecosystem.

  1. It was a year of growth for Bahraini startups with Malaeb expanding to the UAE, GetBaqala expanding to Saudi Arabia, and Skiplino securing its first round of investment.
  2. StartUp Bahrain and the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) along with Tamkeen, came together to create one of the region’s most unexpected startup events, StartUp Bahrain Week. The action-packed six days featured five exciting events, four different competitions, and over thirty speakers. It was an unforgettable week, enough said. Click here for some of weeks best highlights.
  3. During StartUp Bahrain Week, Bahrain hosted the first ever unbound innovation festival in the MENA region – unbound Bahrain. The 2-day event took place in the Bahrain International Circuit with over 50 local, regional and international startups exhibiting such as Careem, WNNA, Widebot, Univize, Dawsat, lululittle, Baseetah, Cambassy, DailyMealz, Adawati, and Alrawi to name a few.
  4. As part of unbound Bahrain, American Express Middle East along with AngelHack organized HACK @ THE TRACK, an exciting hackathon that challenged contestants to build solutions that encouraged digital payments. PaySync won the grand prize of $20,000 for their funds’ transfer solution based on the Blockchain Technology, while the second prize of $10,000 went to Stipeno, an app which allows parents to monitor their children’s spending habits. The final prize of $5,000 went to Varo, a blockchain-enabled solution to help companies verify the identity of customers.
  5. The highly anticipated FACE-OFF pitch competition was back for the second time! FACE OFF On The Track, which was also held at unbound Bahrain saw Bahraini startup Inagrab, founded by Hussain Haji and Mustafa Marhama, take home the Scale-Up Stage grand prize of $25,000 from Tamkeen, while Egyptian-based startup Widebot won the Seed Stage grand prize of $25,000 from Tamkeen.
  6. 2018 welcomed three major accelerators to the ecosystem: Brinc – a Hong Kong-based accelerator that specializes in the Internet of Things (IoT), Flat6Labs the leading startup accelerator in the MENA region, and Nest – a corporate accelerator also based in Hong Kong.
  7. The largest FinTech hub in the region opened up in Bahrain. Located in Bahrain Bay, Bahrain Fintech Bay is the place for startups to incubate and scale up with the support of fantastic FinTech initiatives, innovation labs, programs and much more. Residents include Benefit, American Express, Beehive, Belfrics, Finocracy among others.

  8. Bahrain held its first ever Women Power Summit; it was also the biggest Women Summit in the region. The two-day summit with over 500 attendees, celebrated women from all walks of life and featured 50 women leaders from various industries, with females from the startup community taking center stage, including Hadyah Fathalla, Executive Director of C5 Accelerate, Areije Al Shakar, Senior Vice President – Head of Development Services Division at Bahrain Development Bank, Hala Sulaiman Co-Founder of Alrawi, and Saba Saleem, Founder and CEO of Stories Studio (who also won the Power Pitch competition!).
  9. Out of 5,300 applications worldwide, two Bahrain-based startups Glare and DualNetworks got shortlisted for the MITEF Arab Startup Competition’s semifinals – with Glare being one of the top 26 semifinalists in its track and DualNetworks being in the top 34 startups.
  10. #TECHWeekBH came back for the second time this year and what an exciting week it was. Featuring events by tech industry titans such as Amazon Web Services, MIT, Huawei and more. Bahrain Technology Week showcased numerous opportunities for the advancement and development of Bahrain’s flourishing technology sector, rising technological trends that are going to revolutionize GCC industries, and the roles startups have to play in igniting innovation. Read more on what happened here.
  11. ONEGCC and Alrawi made us proud by being crowned the victors of the first edition of Pitch@Palace GCC, which was held at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Alrawi was awarded the Global People’s Choice Award, while ONEGCC scored top honor and first place, which granted them the opportunity to represent the Kingdom of Bahrain in the final competition in London. During the final stage at Pitch@Palace Global Edition 3.0, Alrawi once again won the Global People’s Choice Award.
  12. Web Summit landed in Bahrain for it’s MENA debut with Runway to Web Summit, and what a nail-biting event it was. UAE-based Smart Crowd was the startup of the night as and scored a trip to Lisbon to exhibit to the 70,000 attendees of the actual Web Summit.
  13. In addition to attending and showcasing at local events, StartUp Bahrain went global! From GITEX in Dubai to the RISE 2018 in Hong Kong, ArabNet in Kuwait, World Economic Forum’s Summer Davos in Tianjin, and Web Summit at Lisbon. This year has proven to be quite the year for events.
  14. MIT Enterprise Forum Pan-Arab Region along with Tamkeen and support from TechWadi organized a trip to Silicon Valley for the StartUp Bahrain community. The weeklong trip saw the startups go on a tour of global giants Uber, Salesforce, and Google, as well as be mentored by industry leaders and experts.
  15. Eat, Malaeb, Inagrab, WNNA, The Experience Accelerator, Nakheel, and Nabdaa from the StartUp Bahrain community got the chance to go to Silicon Valley and spend time with the tech giants. Here are 99 things we learnt from the trip. They also got the fantastic opportunity to attend and present in TechCrunch’s Disrupt SF, the mother of all startup events in the world and participate in uplifting and inspiring talks from experts as well as network with a wide range of investors.

  16. The Bahraini parliament issued a new Personal Data Protection Law, making it the first in the GCC to establish an independent Data Protection authority. The law is going to promote and encourage startups to thrive and scale up locally and regionally, while of course keeping data safe.
  17. A Bankruptcy Law was also introduced to Bahrain – encouraging startups to take more risks while being experimental and innovative. With the new law, startups don’t have to worry about being punished for failing, rather it decriminalizes failures and allows them to bounce back stronger. Hosted by the EDB and Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Tourism (MoICT), the session held during #TechWeekBH, discussed the new Bankruptcy Law and its implications on the startup ecosystem. Here are 20 highlights of #TechWeekBH.
  18. TechStars Startup Weekend came back for the 7th time, and this time collaborated with Bahrain FinTech Bay and none other than StartUp Bahrain to organize the spectacular 54-hour “Build a Startup” event. The event saw the birth of Supplify, a platform which allows restaurants to streamline their workflow with suppliers, who took home first place in Bahrain and were the regional winners! Here is why people keep going back year after year.

There you have it, 18 moments that made 2018 the most epic yet for StartUp Bahrain. 2018 you’ve been amazing, but we’re very much looking forward to 2019 (#sorrynotsorry). Thank you, next.

We hope you had a good read and would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a Happy New Year!

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