On June 22 on the margins of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University hosted a panel event with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East on tech entrepreneurship in the Middle East. This event was part of the Middle East Strategy Task Force (MEST) co-chaired by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former US National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. Director of the Spogli Institute Michael McFaul introduced former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who gave opening remarks. Rice discussed the need for youth in the Middle East to feel like they have a voice in their economies and political spheres. We cannot “wait until the dust settles,” she said.
Stephen Hadley led a moderated conversation with Ala’ Al Sallal, the founder and CEO of Jamalon; Ahmed Alfi, the chairman of Sawari ventures; Ruba Al Hassan, the chairman and cofounder of the Global Youth Empowerment Movement; and author and entrepreneur Christopher Schroeder, who led the MEST Working Group on economic recovery and revitalization. The panelists discussed how entrepreneurship aided by new technologies offers a great deal of hope for improving the situation in the Middle East by giving young people access to jobs and the chance to better their societies. They noted that technology can empower women and ease the flow of information and goods. Though the panelists acknowledged that there is much work to be done, they outlined several ways that governments and the private sector can support innovation and entrepreneurship in the region despite the current challenges.