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Press Release

As you might already know by now, The ongoing pandemic has caused a paradigm shift on a number of fronts. Forcing businesses of all sizes to shut down, airports to close, and having entrepreneurs face the inevitable challenges. Regional and global growth rates are expected to be dramatically low and the world economy is on the verge of a recession.

Many economists and policymakers are warning to ‘fasten the seatbelt’ as the impact of the disease exacerbates with no vaccine on the horizon and oil prices lower than ever, leading to the loss of millions in GDP and income per capita. 

Namely, the region has lost nearly $11 billion in net oil revenues from January to mid-March 2020. Between January and midMarch 2020, businesses in the region lost a massive $420 billion in market capital. Also, it has been estimated that the region would lose at least 1.7 million jobs in 2020, a 1.2% increase from last year

The COVID-19 pandemic had leaders around the world realizing how broken and debilitating the status quo around capitalism, society, and the economy had been on the environment and our long-term livelihood

With that said, MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab is proud to announce the launch of its first season of The Boardroom, a webinar series that is rethinking the way everything is done.

The webinars series will give attendees the opportunity to meet and learn from some of MENA’s most thought-provoking entrepreneurs and investors. ‘The Boardroom’ will feature veteran innovators from various industries to discuss the opportunities created by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and how businesses around the world are adapting to the new norm. 

In specific, The Boardroom isn’t about finding answers or solutions, instead, it aims to address the issue, debate unanswered ideas, and rhetorically ‘throw the cards up the air’. The webinar series will bring an engaging discussion to the table, where attendees will participate in a Q&A session, offering various points of view on contemporary startup-related issues. 

Below you will find the schedule and registration for our upcoming webinars:

Ethics and Entrepreneurship: Facing the Crisis with Principles

Sunday, May 31, 05:00 PM (Beirut time)

SpeakerAyman Ismail, Founding Director, AUC Venture Lab @American University in Cairo. Ayman Ismail is an international expert in entrepreneurship and economic development. He is currently the Abdul Latif Jameel Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship and Associate Professor at AUC School of Business and the founding director of AUC Venture Lab and AUC Angels. He is a co-founder, angel investor, or board member of several fast-growing startups in fintech, microfinance, and logistics. Previously, he was a research fellow at Harvard Kennedy School, a consultant in McKinsey & Company’s New York office, and a co-founder and managing partner at Enovio Consulting. In 2012, he was selected as a Young Global Leader (YGL) by the World Economic Forum (WEF). He received his Ph.D. in International Economic Development from MIT.

Session ModeratorPakiza Abdulrahman, Head of Startups, Bahrain Economic Development Board. 

About the webinar: With big pharma companies racing to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, many questions are being raised about the ethical implications that come from selling it for profit. The discussion will engage the attendees in an intriguing discussion to set an ethical framework for startup founders. So how could startup founders ensure that their ethics and values are set right from the start? And what type of due diligence could be done so that a startup’s mission and vision match those of the investors, consumers, and employees? When hard times strike, founders need to know that the work they’re doing really matters.

Questions and discussion points to be covered (Main takeaways):

  • Startups’ social responsibility during times of crises
  • Values, principles, and culture acting as a company’s moral compass and decision-making process
  • How to convince investors of the importance of ethics and impact, besides term sheets and revenue numbers
  • Healthtech startups in MENA should find ways to collaborate and create lanes of cooperation beyond competing
  • University accelerators’ role in educating early-stage student entrepreneurs for ethical businesses 


HealthTech and Healthcare: What the future looks like

Thursday, June 4, 05:00 PM (Beirut time) 

SpeakerDr. Khalil Ramadi is the Regional Director for MIT Hacking Medicine (HM), a group dedicated to teaching healthcare entrepreneurship and creating novel solutions to pressing healthcare problems. MIT HM programs have spawned 50+ companies worldwide collectively raising $250M+ in funding. Dr. Ramadi served as Director of HM 2016-2017 and founded its Research Division. Dr. Ramadi is involved in various entrepreneurship initiatives and serves as Faculty Mentor of the MIT IDEA2 incubator and Sandbox innovation programs.

Session ModeratorRami Deeb, Communications and Community Coordinator at MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab

About the webinar: The ongoing pandemic has led to increased excitement and interest in healthcare technologies. Emerging fields including IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) devices, artificial intelligence, digital health, and telemedicine are poised to revolutionize health systems. This webinar will discuss the nature and role of healthcare innovations, and present a framework for healthcare entrepreneurs to follow in their quest to improve care for patients across the world.

Questions and discussion points to be covered (Main takeaways):

  • How pandemics re-focus interest on healthtech
  • How emerging technologies play a role in the evolution of health care
  • Everybody is a patient: Crowd-sourcing healthcare innovations


How Startup Builders Safeguard the Ecosystem from the Next Global Pandemic

Wednesday, June 10, 05:00 PM (Beirut time)

SpeakerAlper Celen. Alper Celen is the founder of ENHANCE, a venture builder specializing in online vertical marketplaces that improve lifestyles in the Middle East and Africa. Enhance wholly owns, the leading online gifting platform in the Middle East. Previous to Enhance, Alper was the founder of online food ordering service in Saudi Arabia (acquired by DeliveryHero in 2015). Alper is an active investor and advisor in the Middle East high-tech ecosystem.

Session ModeratorAmal Dokhan, CEO Global Entrepreneurship Network GEN 

About the Webinar: As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the global economy and human lives, several ad hoc measures were taken to curb its spread and ensure the survivability of businesses. The webinar will address the importance of designing and implementing resilience and mitigation measures on all levels of the pyramid, in preparation for the next global pandemic (basically, to have a plan in place). Also, the webinar will highlight the role of ‘collective intelligence’, particularly when considering the role of governments, startups, and the public (example: how Google and Apple are collaborating on developing a solution to track social distancing efforts in the USA) 

Questions and discussion points to be covered (Main takeaways):

  • Startup enablers’ role in creating a resilient ecosystem and a hospitable business environment that’s built on all-digital infrastructure
  • What efforts could be done now
  • Data and policy for a fully-digital future


Adapting your Startup to a post-COVID-19 World: It’s Not Business as Usual

Wednesday, June 17, 06:30 PM (Beirut time)

Speaker: Nagi Salloum, CEO & founder at Nagi Salloum is an entrepreneur and a Silicon Valley growth expert from Silicon Valley where he coached, mentored, and advised 300+ startups and 12,000+ entrepreneurs and business owners globally. He is a Global Full-Stack Growth Mentor for 500 Startups, an ex-Googler, and a serial entrepreneur having launched and sold several startups. His clients have exited or raised an estimated $90M+ in capital.

Session moderatorCatherina Ballout, Strategy & Growth Operations at

About the Webinar: Covid19 has impacted businesses of all sizes and stages. Layoffs are sweeping the world of tech (albeit less so than other sectors that have been more severely impacted). The world has changed and inevitably so, along with it, the business world too. As an entrepreneur and business owner, my focus is how to adapt to this new world that is yet to be defined, to mine whatever data is available to anticipate the new reality ahead of others, how to conform with the new ways of doing business without facetime, how to cope with longer lead times to close deals, how to manage cash flow intelligently to navigate through this transition from Before COVID (BC) to After COVID (AC), a transition that will most likely spread few years.

In a nutshell, the webinar will address how founders adapt, launch, and grow a startup within the confines of an AC world. This topic encompasses all aspects of running a business, from hiring people who are not much more risk-averse, to tapping into a global pool of talent, to marketing online, to managing monetization due to major slowdown in VC funding, to identifying opportunities and silver linings in the midst of COVID chaos, to re-aligning the business and business model in light of the new priorities set upon the world, and to summoning every day the mental energy required to maintain a positive mindset in the midst of never-ending negative energy surrounding us.

Questions and discussion points to be covered (Main takeaways):

  • Launching a startup after the pandemic, what has changed?
  • Adapting to a slowdown in VC funding
  • How innovation will be affected in a post-COVID-19 world


Is the COVID-19 Outbreak a Black Swan, or the New Normal?

Monday, June 29, 03:00 PM (Beirut time)

SpeakerDr. Steve Griffiths, Senior Vice President, Research and Development Professor of Practice. Dr. Steven Griffiths is Senior Vice President for Research and Development and Professor of Practice at the Khalifa University of Science and Technology. At Khalifa University, his responsibilities include the development and implementation of the university’s research strategy, management of the university’s research institutes and centers, and management of the departments that are accountable for research partnerships, research services, technology management and innovation, research computing and research laboratories.

Session Moderator: TBD

About the Webinar: In a recent article published by MIT Sloan Management Review, the writer argues that the short term changes we are currently having to face point towards (much needed) long-term adjustments across the board. The ongoing pandemic is a wakeup call for all of us. It made companies and businesses around the world realize the planetary limitations while understanding the impact of a globalized economy and supply chain. The ongoing pandemic is forcing many businesses to adopt a ‘people first’ approach to many of its operations, highlighting the need for businesses to actively rethink their ‘mode d’operation’ on all levels.

Questions and discussion points to be covered (Main takeaways):

  • Managing expectations: Will multinational companies go back to business as usual once the COVID-19 pandemic is over? Or is there really hope for long-term changes 
  • What role do startups play in creating this ‘bottom-up’ movement 
  • Climate change and its link to disease and peril: What will it take for us to learn the connection between the two? (Especially now that we have hard data-backed evidence)