A leading entrepreneur, whose mission is to build bridges between Silicon Valley and the Arab World, recently delivered an inspirational address at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q), a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF).
Dr. Ossama Hassanein, the founder and chairman of TechWadi, an organization he set up to support his mission, gave a lecture entitled “TechWadi: Building Bridges to Accelerate Entrepreneurship.” The lecture was sponsored by the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), also part of QF.
Dr Hassanein identified some specific challenges faced by the Middle East in re-creating a business environment similar to Silicon Valley. He pointed out that “cultural perspectives often discourage risky attempts at entrepreneurship, while the lack of training, support, and basic resources make the road more difficult for those who try” and outlined ways to meet those challenges, including the creation of an ‘incubator’ to accelerate innovation by mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs.
According to Dr Hassanein, Qatar, and QF in particular, can lead the way in pioneering entrepreneurial programs across the Arab World. He said, “Driven by the passion of Arab technology entrepreneurs to improve the lives of the Arab people, a partnership between TechWadi and Qatar Foundation could play a significant role in the acceleration of economic development in the region.”
From its early beginnings as a gathering of Arab-American technology professionals in Silicon Valley, TechWadi has evolved into a powerful not-for profit global platform, encouraging cooperation and collaboration between the U.S.A and the Middle East.
Dr. Ahmed K. Elmagarmid, QCRI Executive Director stated, "At Qatar Computing Research Institute, we conduct basic and applied research with the aim of creating knowledge locally and supporting innovation aligned with Qatar's national priorities. Thus, our mission includes the generation of intellectual property alongside entrepreneurial activities. We are in the process of fostering such a creative environment in our institute. And, for this, we invited Dr. Hassanein to be with us for two days so that we can learn from TechWadi's experience.”
Following the lecture, Assistant Dean for Research at CMU-Q, Majd Sakr, observed, "Dr. Hassanein's talk was inspiring, his efforts to educate on, and develop, the level of entrepreneurship in the Arab region are critically important at this stage. The entrepreneurship process is not straightforward. Without proper training, mentorship and support, innovative ideas will remain just that - ideas. We ought to engage with organizations such as TechWadi and develop more entrepreneurship programs in Qatar so that we can compete in transforming innovation to economic benefit on a worldwide scale. At CMU-Q, we consider ourselves active partners in this endeavor; we have the expertise and experience in establishing technology companies and training people on how to do so effectively."