Web Summit CEO lauds exceptional organisation of global event’s debut in Qatar

4 March 2024

Web Summit CEO Katherine Maher highlighted the success of the global tech event’s debut in the Middle East and Africa, which Qatar hosted over four days at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center. Maher said that Web Summit Qatar 2024 achieved several feats and records as evident in the groundbreaking number of participating startups and the attendees’ high engagement with established tech leaders and rising startups alike.

The curtains fell on the event on Thursday, 29 February, after it succeeded in attracting thousands of entrepreneurs, investors and industry leaders from around the world. The summit also hosted the signing ceremonies of 24 agreements between Qatari entities and prominent tech giants.

Among its achievements, Web Summit Qatar 2024 brought together 1,043 startups from 81 countries, ten percent of which hail from Qatar and around 50 percent from the wider region. In tandem, the event’s inaugural edition celebrated the rising role and presence of women in tech, who represented 37 percent of the attendees, 30 percent of the speakers and 31 percent of the startups taking part.

Commenting on the occasion, the Web Summit CEO said: “I could not be more pleased with how Web Summit Qatar came off in our first year. The numbers were incredible. The energy and buzz on the floor were out of this world,” noting that the worldwide media attention and high levels of engagement in conversations around the event instantly solidified Qatar’s status as a prime destination for major global events.

She added: “I got to meet so many incredible founders, entrepreneurs, young people and corporate partners from all over the globe–from Central Asia, from Africa, from South Asia, from the US, from Latin America. I mean, it was just an amazing event and just so excited that it went so well.”

Maher was also pleased with the hospitality experienced at the event by international startups and attendees from all over the world.

“What stood out the most for me for Web Summit Qatar was the remarkable way in which we were welcomed by Doha and also from around the region. There’s a tremendous appetite, clearly, for this kind of event at this moment in time and going forward. I felt the hospitality was remarkable and I think that everybody who attended the event from overseas felt that too,” she said.

During its four-day run, representatives of global tech giants and rising startups took part in the event, including Microsoft, Meta, TikTok, Snapchat, Amazon, Shell, Huawei, Cisco and Palo Alto Networks, among others. The event was also home to a long lineup of panel discussions, speakers’ sessions, specialised workshops, masterclasses and a rich range of networking activities which connected attendees and startups with thought leaders within the industry.

The Web Summit CEO noted that it was the perfect timing for the international conference’s debut in the Middle East and the wider region, which she said is poised for major growth and innovation in the tech sector.

“For the past decade, there’s always been entrepreneurial activity, but the infrastructure wasn’t always there to support it. Now, what we’re really seeing is that maturation of the moment and of the opportunity. And so, Web Summit is here, marking this moment in transformation, where we start to see the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem in Qatar and beyond become truly mature and really exciting,” she said.

According to Maher, all signs point to Web Summit Qatar catalysing the next era of technological innovation in the Middle East, Africa and beyond.

In its first year, Web Summit Qatar welcomed 15,453 tech enthusiasts from 118 countries, including 401 investors, 148 partners and 380 speakers. The record-breaking event garnered worldwide attention across channels and platforms, with around 900 journalists and media representatives covering the summit.

Hosting Web Summit for five consecutive years 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 build ICT capacity-building toward supporting economic diversification and realising the Qatar National Vision 2030.