From Worst Internet Speed in the World to Capital of Creativity: Lebanon’s Leap Towards Digital Development
Lebanon, a country that suffered the indignity of being ranked ‘worst internet speed in the world’ in 2011, has spent the past year focusing its energy on digital initiatives that aim to transform the nation into a vibrant technological hub for businesses in the Middle East. Through the efforts of some of the country’s biggest companies and digital advocates, Lebanon is gradually emerging as a thriving capital for young entrepreneurs, innovators and creative professionals in the region.
Among the initiatives aimed at attracting local and international Information and Communication Technology businesses and entrepreneurs to Lebanon, two that stand out are the Beirut Digital District (BDD) and Cloud 5.
Beirut Digital District is a public-private initiative led by the Lebanese Ministry of Telecommunications in collaboration with incubator Berytech and real estate development company ZRE. BDD will be a fibre-optic wired and 4G-enabled district spread over 15,000 square meters. Its Berytech Park, scheduled to lauch this year, aims to house 100 small and medium enterprises, with the ambition of generating over 1000 jobs in the next four to six years. ZRE’s General Manager, Mouhamad Rabah says that BDD provides “the right ecosystem; a community of experts that will help digital startups, answer all their needs, and connect them with established companies and industry decision makers.”
Across the highway, Solidere’s Cloud 5, a technology park in the heart of the Beirut Central District, boasts a cutting-edge 500 square meter space dedicated to boosting small and medium sized ICT companies. Offering facilities for up to 60 entrepreneurs, it builds on the work of incubators and accelerators to provide startups with a pioneering work environment at minimum cost. As Richard Azoury, Head of Business Development at Solidere, explains, Cloud 5 “is not a place for established companies to carry on their business as usual but an arena in which new companies can launch their next killer application.”
From March 20 – 22, these digital pioneers, along with over 600 web and mobile professionals and entrepreneurs, will take part in ArabNet Beirut 2013, the largest regional event for the digital creative sectors. Held under the High Patronage of H.E. President General Michel Sleiman, in Collaboration with the Central Bank of Lebanon, and in Strategic Partnership with Bank Audi, ArabNet Beirut demonstrates the enormous steps that Lebanon has taken to become a central gathering place for leading tech enthusiasts to share their ideas. Kicking off with a Design+Code Day, centred around building better web and mobile products, the event also offers two Forum Days that explore online advertising and social media, music and video, food and beverage, gaming, e-retail, and entrepreneurship.
To find out more, or to take part in ArabNet Beirut, visit www.arabnet.me