SHARJAH, 17th December, 2022 (WAM) — Bodour Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa), kicked off the highly anticipated 6th edition of the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF) on Saturday, bringing together a stellar lineup of over 150 changemakers, and youth leaders, in addition to artists, academics, experts, and influencers to lead vibrant discussions and activities designed to empower entrepreneurs in the region.
The opening ceremony also saw the presence of Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, Head of the Department of Government Relations, Sheikh Saud bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Digital Office, Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, and Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sheraa, in addition to various UAE government and private institutions. Over this weekend, SEF 2022 will be home to more than 50 life-changing talks and discussions, led by a galaxy of distinguished local and international guests who will share their expertise and inspiring journeys, in addition to deliberating vital topics on entrepreneurship and establishing internationally competitive businesses and strengthening the innovation culture.
New opportunities for innovation
In her keynote speech, Al Midfa shared with the fully-packed audience a personal experience through which she came to believe that failure will always hurt. But fear of failure is far worse, especially in an era focused on ambition, knowledge, creativity and imagination to achieve the best possible outcomes and goals.
She said, “I can say for certain that every moment we have on earth is an opportunity to innovate and create something amazing that brings meaning to our lives and follow our ambitions to be part of the change. SEF wants to assert this through amazing sessions that shine light on diverse and inspiring journeys that will serve as a source of inspiration to us all.”
The inaugural SEF session was led by Mo Gawdat, Author of Solve for Happy, who, in an inspiring moment he experienced, helped over a billion individuals to become happier. “Happiness is inside you and not exactly related to the external events that occur in life. We constantly replay our experiences, which is what leads to the burst of emotions. Often, it is the meeting or missing of expectations that stirs inside us,” he said.
He added that “unhappiness is a fire alarm that needs to be addressed”. “It’s really simple. When a fire alarm is on, we take action, check if everything is fine and act accordingly, and that is the same approach on the path to happiness. The question to ask is if the trigger of emotions is true and what one can do about it,” said Gawdat.
In a second session, Robert Wolcott, Co-founder and Chairman, World Innovation Network, shed light on how the concept of proximity is changing the global business scene. “Digital technologies are pushing the production and provision of value closer to the moment of demand. It is this unified theory of technology and markets that we call proximity. Today, we have a global supply chain optimised for scale manufacturing at a distance. Over the next 30 years, the global supply chain will be hybridised.”
A panel discussion titled To infinity and beyond: The case for solar powered vehicles, brought together Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO, SRTIP; Khalid Huraimel, Group CEO, Be’eah Group; and Tom Selten, VP Business Development, Lightyear. Moderated by Wolcott, the third session on the opening day addressed various elements in optimising green technologies to achieve a more sustainable planet.
Al Mahmoudi said, “At SRTIP, we are constantly seeking out and discussing innovative ideas, particularly from academia, with the goal of commercialising new technologies. We have ongoing research projects, such as developing suspended trains as a potential future transportation method in Sharjah and converting petrol vehicles to electric ones. Our collaboration with universities and students, in addition to the generous support from the UAE leaders and government, makes the SRTIP a hub for innovative thinking that can be transformed into advanced technologies.”
Huraimel said, “I am proud to see the progress we are making in the development and deployment of hydrogen fuel technology in the transportation sector. Our commitment to sustainability and innovation is driving us forward as we work to create a cleaner, more efficient future for all. Through our partnerships and initiatives, we are leading the charge in the hydrogen car revolution and are dedicated to creating a more sustainable and prosperous world for generations to come. We align ourselves to the goal of the UAE leadership’s 2050 vision of net zero.”
Selten said, “We are committed to driving the future of transportation towards a more sustainable and renewable future. Our team is constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the world of solar-powered vehicles, and we are excited to see where our innovation and dedication will take us. We believe that solar cars have the potential to revolutionise the way we think about transportation and are committed to bringing this technology to the forefront of the automotive industry.”
During the opening ceremony of SEF 2022, organised by Sheraa under the theme ‘Where We Belong’, Bodour Al Qasimi witnessed the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Awards ceremony, which honoured; Sharjah Technology and Innovation Research Park (STIRP); Arada Group; Sharjah Sustainable City; Sharjah Media City (Shams); Sharjah Business Women Council; Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority; Emirates Development Bank; Crescent Enterprises; Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah); Green House by Chalhoub; Sharjah Foundation to Support Pioneering Entrepreneurs (Ruwad); And National Network Communications (NNC).
Al Qasimi, along with high-ranking UAE officials, toured the SEF 2022 that adorns five dedicated zones for entrepreneurs to associate their passion with, namely Impact Stage, Creative Stage, Tech Stage, Community Stage, and Wellness Stage.
The theme of this year’s extravaganza, “Where We Belong”, envisions the ease of finding one’s business niche by curating an exciting and diverse range of entrepreneurial content for all those attending. The event will feature a range of talks, activities, and workshops from the world’s most prominent business leaders to cater to all communities of entrepreneurs, creators and changemakers, along with incredible performances by regional artists.
Through the 2-day extravaganza, visitors will have a unique opportunity to attend more than 30 interactive workshops that will shine light on various topics, including best international practices, secrets of successful investments, and a myriad of discussions and inspiring speeches by creatives, entrepreneurs, and experts.
SEF will be organising 10 incredible performances by regional artists to highlight the role of arts and the unique opportunities it offers for young entrepreneurs to seize and launch their projects that can benefit from the accelerating growth in the creative industries. It also aims to shine light on the importance of arts in unleashing creativity and imagination that is sought in the entrepreneurial sector.
Proceeds from this year’s festival will be donated to The Big Heart Foundation, a UAE-based nonprofit that has provided health, education and emergency aid services, among others, to more than 4.5 million refugees in over 29 countries.