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Zain partners the 14th edition of MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab Startup competition

- Zain believes that today’s innovators are tomorrow’s differentiators
- Registration deadline 15 December 2020, Final award ceremony to be held in March 2021 virtually offering Arab innovators equity-free prizes and in-kind services


MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) Pan Arab kicks-off of the 14th edition of the Arab Startup Competition (ASC), with an online call for applications inviting entrepreneurs from all industries and sectors to apply to the MENA region’s longest-running annual competition designed to support and celebrate innovations emanating from the Arab world. Over the course of 13 years, the competition has awarded over 1.28 million dollars in equity-free prizes to winning entrepreneurs and provided them with an avenue to exhibit and apply their ideas.

The competition is held in partnership with Community Jameel, a global philanthropy that operates a wide range of initiatives that promote and contribute towards positive social change and economic sustainability, and with Zain Group, a leading regional telecom operator as a Strategic Digital Partner.

Registration for the competition opened on 29 September 2020 on the competition’s official website ( The deadline for applications is 15 December 2020. The organizers will be running a series of online roadshows to introduce entrepreneurs to the competition and support them in the application process. Interested candidates can sign up for the upcoming online roadshows once announced.

MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition has evolved into an annual occurrence that is awaited by thousands of young Arab entrepreneurs, who see it as a platform that allows them to showcase, test and develop their creative and innovative ideas. Each year, the competition incorporates three tracks: The Ideas track, the Startups track and the Social Entrepreneurship track, each requiring a set of eligibility criteria. The teams who qualify for the semifinals will participate in a remote preparatory boot camp which includes training and mentorship that are designed and executed by MITEF Pan Arab partners. During the final stages of the competition, the judging committee will select 6 final winners (2 for each of the tracks).

Commenting on the launch of the 14th edition of MITEF’s Arab Startup Competition, Maya Rahal, Managing Director of MITEF Pan Arab said: “We are thrilled to be planning the 14th edition of MITEF Arab Startup Competition as a fully-digital program, designed to attract innovators from across the globe. This year, we are on the lookout for impact-driven entrepreneurs who have built businesses uplifting their surrounding communities and environment. As ecosystem enablers, we are convinced that joining hands with Community Jameel and Zain Group will help us raise awareness to the importance of sustainable innovation and ESG-aware entrepreneurship. The Arab Startup Competition has impacted the regional tech scene in ways that we continue to discover each day. This region has tremendous potential across the board, and today is when we seize the opportunity to rise up to the challenge and lead for a better world.”

Malek Hammoud, Zain Group Chief Investment & Digital Officer, commented, “We have been supporting this competition since 2015 on the firm belief that today’s innovators are tomorrow’s differentiators. Through this partnership we look forward to encouraging opportunities that enhance the power of innovation through building up our future entrepreneurs and making the world a better place. Furthermore, supporting such events perfectly aligns to Zain’s aspirations in becoming a leading digital lifestyle operator.”

Fady Jameel, President, International of Community Jameel commented: “We continue to remain committed to supporting the Arab world entrepreneurial ecosystem, and eager to help our community of entrepreneurs, to get through the pandemic, together with us. The 14th edition of the competition held in a challenging atmosphere in light of the global health crisis, will be definitely great value to be gained as every year. We call every entrepreneur in the Arab world to consider discovering their potential through this platform and bring value to their communities.”

The 14th edition of MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition will culminate with a virtual conference and final award ceremony organized in March 2021 where the winners will be announced in an official awards ceremony.

The impact of the Arab Startup Competition over the past 14 years

  • MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab trained and empowered more than 2,480 Arab entrepreneurs

  • A total of 450 startups were established across the MENA

  • Increase in percentage of submitted applications between 1st and 13th edition:  307%

  • 50% of all the semi-finalists teams had at least 1 female leading member

  • Winners received a sum of USD 1,285,000 in equity-free investment

For more information on this year’s MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition registration process, eligibility, and judging criteria, please visit:


About MITEF Pan Arab: MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) Pan Arab is part of a global network of chapters dedicated to the promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation worldwide. We inform, connect, and coach early-stage technology entrepreneurs—enabling them to rapidly transform ideas into world-changing companies. Founded in 2005 with the goal of promoting and enriching the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Arab World, we aim to celebrate and support all potential startups and entrepreneurs in the Pan Arab Region through our programs.

About Arab Startup Competition: MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition (ASC) is a yearly competition initiated by the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab since 2006. This annual competition is designed to empower entrepreneurs and foster an eco-system of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Arab Region. ASC pits entrepreneurs in three different tracks: Ideas, Startups and Social Entrepreneurship Track. The winning teams are awarded prize money in equity free fund and benefit from a range of other activities including top tier training, mentorship, coaching, media exposure and great networking opportunities.

About Community Jameel:  Driven by a commitment to creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation, and youth, Community Jameel works across six major fields of development: livelihoods, the arts, education, health, climate, and evidence. Community Jameel is active worldwide, by directly implementing programmes and by collaborating with major international institutions and grassroots organisations. Community Jameel was established in 2003 to continue the Jameel family’s tradition of supporting the community, a tradition started in the 1940s by the late Abdul Latif Jameel, founder of the Abdul Latif Jameel business, who throughout his life helped tens of thousands of disadvantaged people improve their lives. The term “Community Jameel” refers broadly to several distinct, separate and independent legal entities. Community Jameel is not itself a corporate entity, association or conglomerate run by an overarching parent company but merely refers to a group of distinct and wholly independent separate legal entities that are collectively referred to as “Community Jameel”.

About Zain: Zain is a leading telecommunications operator across the Middle East and Africa serving 48 million active customers. Zain operates in Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and South Sudan. In Lebanon, the Group manages ‘touch’ on behalf of the government. In Morocco, Zain has a 15.5% stake in ‘INWI’, through a joint venture. Zain is listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange. For more information please visit:;;;;

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