HE Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs inaugurates Web Summit Qatar 2024

26 February 2024

HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, inaugurated Web Summit Qatar 2024, the Middle East’s debut of the world’s largest technology event. The event will run for four days at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center (DECC).

The opening ceremony was attended by a number of ministers, senior officials and dignitaries from Qatar and the region, alongside representatives of local and international enterprises and startups, in addition to thousands of entrepreneurs, investors and tech leaders from around the world.

During his opening speech, HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that hosting Web Summit in Qatar represents another historic event in the Middle East, adding to the nation’s track record of hosting major global events.

In addition, HE announced a USD 1 billion investment by the Qatar Investment Authority in venture capital funds to support local and regional entrepreneurs, under the directive of HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar. The investment is Qatar’s first VC ‘Fund of Funds’ strategic investment program aimed at fostering innovation and technological advancement.

In tandem, the Prime Minister underscored Invest Qatar’s recent launch of ‘Startup Qatar’, a one-stop online platform for information, support and opportunities offered to startups. The program provides startups with a single portal to access funding support services, incubation programs, government grants and networking events.

“We are standing at the threshold of a new era, not just of technological advancement, but of human achievement,” HE said, adding that this recent shift is eliminating barriers to entry and participation, weaving a new world of possibilities and no longer making the achievement of grand visions bottlenecked by access, privilege or ability.

“As emerging technologies continue opening new doors for us, we recognise that innovation is not just about creating new tools, but about re-imagining the possibilities of what we can achieve with those tools. Because in a future where everything is possible, ethical responsibility and consideration are paramount and it is our duty to ensure that our technological advancements serve the greater good, balancing progress with principle,” said HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Speaking on Qatar’s hosting of the renowned event, HE pointed out that Web Summit Qatar 2024 serves as a milestone in the country’s journey of technological evolution, adding: “It is more than just a gathering. It is a melting pot of the brightest minds in our world today, coming together to forge the future in a region with unlocked potential.”

HE also highlighted Qatar’s competitive advantages as a launchpad for tech innovation, including access to USD 8.5 trillion in combined GDP within a 2,000-mile radius, 80 percent of the world’s population being within a six-hour flight, as well as Qatar’s regional leadership in entrepreneurship, 5G and digital infrastructure.

“As we forge ahead, let us carry forward the spirit of innovation and collaboration that brought us together today. Let us draw on our diverse strengths and perspectives to drive meaningful progress,” HE concluded.

For her part, Katherine Maher reaffirmed Web Summit’s mission as a force for positive innovation that connects people who are reshaping the world, stating that in its very first year hosting the summit, Qatar is already making Web Summit history with the largest-ever gathering of international startups in an inaugural edition.

“I hope to hear that the connections that people made in this room, out on the floor, over dinner or at the Night Summit, are ultimately going to lead to some of the greatest collaborations and innovation for humanity’s future,” she said.

Nearly 200 startups from Africa are taking part in the event, which is a new record for a Web Summit event. Participants represent 118 countries, with an outstanding number of female entrepreneurs and attendees, who make up nearly one-third of the total attendees.

The event’s opening night featured discussion sessions with startups from Qatar, the Middle East and Africa, including Replit Cofounder and CEO, Amjad Masad, and award-winning presenter Trevor Noah.

Alongside the Opening Night at DECC, the first day of the conference’s Night Summit took place at Barahat Msheireb, where attendees connected and networked in a contemporary setting.

The four-day event will feature discussion panels, hands-on workshops, educational masterclasses, pitch competitions and a wide range of networking activities featuring a long lineup of international tech giants such as Microsoft, Meta, TikTok, Snapchat, Amazon, Shell, Huawei, Cisco, Palo Alto Networks and others.

The summit will also feature the signing of several memorandums of understandings with international tech giants, which are set to boost Qatar’s profile as a leading centre for technology and the creator economy in the region, as well as highlight the Qatari national identity on the global stage.

Over 12,000 people will be attending Web Summit Qatar 2024, including 500 investors, 200 speakers, 100 partners, and more than 1,000 startups from 80 countries, out of which 100 hail from Qatar. In addition, 500 media entities from around the globe will cover the event.

Among the local startups taking part are Avey, which specialises in health-tech, Zakey e-commerce platform, EMMA Systems, an AI-powered airport management systems developer, Wqtah tourism and booking app, Muallemi educational platform and Urban Point, which offers discounts on dining and entertainment.

One of the event’s highlights is the significant participation of female entrepreneurs, with over 30% of startups taking part being women-founded. By the same token, tickets for the summit’s Women in Tech initiative sold out, highlighting the growing role of women in the industry across Qatar, the Middle East and beyond.

Qatar-based partners for the summit’s Middle East debut include the Qatar Investment Authority, Media City Qatar, Qatar Science and Technology Park, Ooredoo, Qatar Development Bank, Qatar Research, Development and Innovation Council and Startup Qatar, an initiative led by Invest Qatar.

Hosting Web Summit comes in line with Qatar’s Third National Development Strategy 2024-2030, which aims to launch initiatives to boost the country’s tech and business ecosystems, incentivise innovation and boost ICT capacity-building toward supporting economic diversification and realising the Qatar National Vision 2030.

Interested parties can view the Web Summit Qatar 2024 agenda, speakers list and key discussion topics at: https://qatar.websummit.com.