Although COVID-19 sent shockwaves through brick-and-mortar retail businesses and decimated the travel industry, the world’s digital economy actually reaped enormous benefits from lockdowns and reduced movement.
According to newly released data, the digital economies of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries are now estimated to be worth an incredible $400 billion by 2030.
To reach the enormous milestone in under ten years, the entire region’s economy will need to undergo rapid transformation. Sectors including food, travel and bill payment have declined in recent years. However, health and education technology appear to be booming — though predictably, online retail is driving much of the growth, increasing at a rate of 20% per year alone.
According to the report, Generation Z will fuel a great deal of the decade’s growth, and the expansion of EdTech services will require significant skill development, with schools and higher education institutions adding new technology-focused courses to their curriculums.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have already significantly contributed to the region’s global digital expansion. Future growth is anticipated to be more evenly spread among the MENA countries, as the two leading nations currently account for half of the area’s total digital economy.
According to the new survey, the rest of the MENA region is improving in its rate of digital adoption, with the time spent on digital channels now nearing 8 hours per day, which is a figure similar to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
LEAP 2024 Will Shine A Light On Female Innovators In Technology
Women comprise nearly a third of the event’s speaker lineup alongside a dedicated program of high-level content, investment, and mentorship.
LEAP 2024, a premier global technology event, will highlight the achievements of women in the technology sector as it returns for its third edition at the Riyadh Exhibition and Convention Centre in Malham district from March 4 to 7.
Hosted by Tahaluf, a strategic collaboration between Informa PLC, the Events Investment Fund (EIF), and the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones (SAFCSP), LEAP 2024 will feature a dedicated program titled “Women in Tech”. The program will offer enriching content, investment opportunities, networking sessions, mentorship programs, and a special startup award.
The initiative aims to inspire women to actively participate in the technology industry, aligning with broader diversity efforts. Reflecting the Kingdom’s commitment to equality, the focus on “Women in Tech” coincides with the increasing female participation at LEAP events.
Annabelle Mander, Senior Vice President of Tahaluf, emphasized the event’s commitment to gender inclusivity, stating, “Female representation is across all of LEAP’s features and reflects the event’s mission of driving economic diversification and providing market access to international business. Within Tahaluf itself, half of our team members are women, and women make up half of our SMT, too”.
The “Women in Tech” program will feature distinguished speakers including Nadine Hachach Haram, CEO and Founder of Proximie, and Sahar Albanarna from IMPACTIQUE Bahrain, who explained: “Over 26 million women worldwide with professional experience and degrees are not in the global workplace. This demographic includes a huge pool of untapped talent which technology can help unleash to fuel the co-creation of exponential solutions across multiple sectors. To help women access productive employment, we urge industry leaders to support high-impact female entrepreneurs as a means to boost their economies and accelerate the UN’s sustainable development goals by promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth”.
The event will also provide a platform for female-led startups and entrepreneurs to pitch for funding and support through various initiatives such as the Women’s Investor Forum, Entrepreneur Mentorship Scheme, and the Aviatrix Award at the Rocket Fuel pitch competition, offering a prize fund of US$150,000.