GITEX Day 3: Gen Z experts shine light on the digital future, tech CEO's share success stories


Marketing supremo Bozoma Saint John shares her story and passions

Considered a force in the marketing industry, Bozoma Saint John, the Chief Marketing Officer of Endeavor spilled the secrets of her success at a Keynotes stage session during GITEX Technology Week. From being VP of Marketing at Pepsi, where she worked with Beyoncé, to Head of Global Marketing at iTunes and Apple Music, and CBO at Uber, Bozoma has gone from strength to strength in the marketing world and is soon set to star in her own TV show.

“Part of my success is that I am forever curious about people; I am always inquisitive to find out why people act in a particular manner or why they do things in a certain way,” she said. “We often bucket people into groups and dismiss them with general statistics – whether it is through gender or their place of origin, but we often forget that there is a beauty in their differences. Even customer data will tell you to go deeper and find out about the inconsistencies.”

A topic Saint John was also particularly passionate about is the diversification of boardrooms, saying, “Women leave corporate environments at a much faster rate because of micro-aggressions such as ‘my voice won’t be heard’ or ‘I won’t be given bigger position or assignment’ -which companies need to rectify. If you are a company that wants to see better results in sales, make more money or simply succeed, or if you are 21st century company that wants to stay around for a long time, you need to figure out how to be more inclusive and diverse with your workforce.”


Department of Health Abu Dhabi hosts Healthcare Competition

The Department of Health - Abu Dhabi hosted its Healthcare Competition at the GITEX 10X stage, which saw 13 finalists from around the world pitch onsite to be crowned winners.

The competition was won by Korean firm Smartsound Corporation, which has won investment from Samsung to develop its sound processing technology, and hybrid healthcare platform for women Nabta, which allows women manage their health using personalised care pathways powered by machine learning.

Sophie Smith, co-founder and CEO, Nabta Health, said, “Our first care pathway focuses on the diagnosis of infertility due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is thought to affect 320 million women worldwide. Our aim is to reduce the average time taken to diagnose PCOS from 2.5 years and 3 doctors to 3 months and 1 doctor.”

Jungho Lee, CEO Smartsound Corporation, said, “GITEX Future Stars and the healthcare competition provides great exposure for startups. It’s more than companies just coming to present their products, they also have to pitch why their solutions and products are different. Startups here are very energetic and the competition is a great way for companies to appeal to a huge range of audiences. By being part of GITEX, we hope to find partners in the UAE that support our goal in enhancing the overall wellbeing of the society.”

Both companies were awarded with licensing at Abu Dhabi Global Market, free incubation for two years with co-working space and coaching in the marketing entry planning and product. With a prominent presence at GITEX Technology Week and GITEX Future Stars, the Department of Health - Abu Dhabi also showcased a number of its latest technology and artificial intelligence projects that promote community health in the emirate.

In a briefing session surrounding its current initiatives to enhance the wellbeing of patients, while maintaining the highest level of quality, Dr. Asmaa Ibrahim Al Mannaei, Director, Healthcare Quality Division, Department of Healthcare Abu Dhabi, highlighted the importance of innovation in the healthcare sector and the efforts they are taking in creating an enabling environment for startups in healthcare that can enhance the healthcare environment overall. Dr. Al Mannaei made it clear that she is a strong believer in startups and the innovations they bring to the local healthcare sector.

Meanwhile, as part of the briefing, Babak Ahmadzadeh, Director and Co-Founderat Plug and Play, said, “Together, we need to build an ecosystem with key stakeholders including healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies, startups and investors to construct and centralise innovation here MENA-region and to grow the local healthcare sector.”


“We had to do less to truly grow”: CEO

Ronaldo Mouchawar, Co-Founder and CEO of, was a major highlight on the GITEX Brick-&-Mortar and Beyond stage on Day 3 of the 39th edition of GITEX Technology Week.

Mouchawar discussed the ‘magic’ behind Amazon’s famed acquisition of Souq, culture change and how the integration with the tech giant has impacted the business. “At Amazon, there is an exercise you do when you are thinking of innovation – you write a press release, imagining that your customer is going to read it, so you write it by keeping them in mind. It’s a one-page narrative explaining your vision using customer-centric language, so it helps identify what they really want and address their pain points,” he said.

He added that Souq made mistakes in its journey of tremendous growth. “We had a lot of sections at the start on; for instance a car section, a real estate section. And over time we realised that to be known for something particular we needed to do less in order to grow, so we retired our auction site, and then our car section. This is what you learn in journeys like these,” he said. “Our real drivers were taking customer insights backwards and making sure we are solving them.”

On a parting note, Mouchawar shared his tips with budding entrepreneurs in the region. “Entrepreneurs need to focus on what customers want and that should be the key driver to take important decisions among other things. Focus drives depth and depth drives innovation,” he said.


Dubai’s smart city initiatives to lead to AED 900 million annual saving

H.E. Dr. Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, Director General of Smart Dubai, kicked off proceedings at the Smart Cities stand at the 39th GITEX Technology Week in Dubai. Dubai’s paperless strategy is set to not only create new efficiencies for government services but will also lead to the emergence of sustainable solutions to challenges we face today.

Smart Dubai continues to make steady progress on delivering Dubai’s smart city ambitions strategy, which is set to save 125 million hours for citizens and residents, 130,000 trees per year, and unlock savings of AED 900 million for the emirate.

Committed to elevating the happiness of residents and visitors, Smart Dubai has redesigned the delivery model of government services, now offering 88 services from over 30 government and private sector entities. This has been made possible through the use of one single application Dubai Now, which creates an integrated and seamless experience for people in the city.

“By December 2021, Dubai Now will host approximately 750 government-to-consumer services, completely digitising interaction between the city’s residents and visitors and Dubai Government,” said H.E. Dr. Bin Bishr.


Digital inclusion and customer centricity must be at the heart of city services: smart city leaders at GITEX technology week

A power packed panel, gathering Smart City leaders from Dubai, Atlanta, Amsterdam, Markham (Canada) and Moscow came together to discuss opportunities and challenges for the implementation of smart solutions and creating vibrant digital cities.

Speaking on the panel, H.E. Wesam Lootah, CEO, Smart Dubai Government said that smart city services in Dubai are anchored on people’s happiness as outlined by the vision of the emirate’s leadership. He said that Smart Dubai is designing services around customer needs and building agile teams that can work with government entities to ensure swift transformation to digital services.

Aik van Eemeren, CTO Innovation team, Lead Public Tech, City of Amsterdam recalled how the city’s authorities took a leadership position to define rules for electric scooter companies and home rental businesses. He said that it is imperative for big companies and cities to work together to find solutions and define policies for the future.

Meanwhile, Gary Brantley, CIO, City of Atlanta highlighted the need for digital inclusion at every stage, sharing how the city has now activated traffic sensors, number plate readers and are now working towards the creation of affordable smart homes. He called on the audience to focus on inclusivity if cities need to reach operation efficiencies, which will ultimately lead to high standards of livability.


Unicorns unite: Careem, Deezer and Zoom take to the stage at GITEX

In a keynote session titled ‘Perseverance is key: Building your startup to a $3.1 billion valuation’, Magnus Olsson, Co-founder and CXO at Careem, spoke to the audience about startup growth, his journey and growing opportunities in the region.

“The purpose of creating Careem was to simplify and improve the lives of people, and build a great organisation that inspires,” he said.

Magnus highlighted the ample opportunities for entrepreneurs in the MENA region, mentioning that there are a lot of people below the age of 25 years. The young population is connected and willing to adapt quickly to change, and this, paired with high consumer spending, represents significant promise, he said.

Yet Olsson admitted that not everything was rosy for Careem in the region: “There were a lot of challenges that Careem had to face, like setting up in different countries, funding, infrastructure as well as changing mindsets,” he said.

“Careem’s secret sauce is to be motivated by purpose, focus on local problems, be obsessed with customers, being open to partnerships and be crazy about speed – doing all of this, but being empowered by people – hiring missionaries, not employees.”

Olsson also spoke briefly about Careem’s acquisition by Uber and future plans to create mass transportation through ride hailing, Careem NOW – a food app, Careem PAY and the Careem Super App – an app that integrates all their different offerings.

In the highly competitive global music industry, Deezer has made a name for itself as one of the major streaming players in recent years. Speaking at the GITEX Technology Week Growth Game stage, the CEO of Deezer, Hans-Holger Albrecht addressed a full-house of attendees.

Albrecht said that in every market the brand enters, growth starts with free users who join first. The MENA region, being a small market with high mobile penetration, gives Deezer a lot to be positive about, he said.

Albrecht made useful recommendations for a growing start-ups, starting by running it “from the ground up”. His advice for entrepreneurs touched on the importance of managing and controlling the financials of the company, evolving its strategy, nurturing its culture, and recruiting the right talent in order to “grow smart”.  He reminded the audience that authenticity is today’s currency and companies need to stay human and genuine.

He also shared Deezer’s plans to grow its market share while competing with the likes of Spotify. A top-5 global streaming player, Deezer has strategically partnered with Rotana in 2018 for exclusive Arabic content which uniquely provided a significant steppingstone to grow its share in the MENA region.


No talent, no innovation, says Amy Golding

Amy Golding, the youngest female CEO of $100 million company, Opus Talent Solutions, took to the GITEX Growth Game stage to talk about business growth, investments into technology and the need for a diverse and skilled workforce.

“If you are not innovating in today’s world, you are going backwards, and if you are truly innovating, where are the people coming from? Where are the skills coming from? The reality is that the competition for talent is almost more pronounced than the competition for customers. Each person can only really work for one company, whereas in theory, a customer can use all of you,” the Cambridge University alumni said.

Golding acknowledged that there is a global technology skills shortage. If at least 55% of the world’s 8 billion people have access to the internet, that is still over 4 billion potential customers and yet only 0.25% of them have technology and digital skills that businesses need, she said.

Golding said it was important to start focusing on talent, not on revenue; to be an “economic warrior” and a go-getter.