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8 Lebanese Female Entrepreneurs who are Changing the Country, the Region and the World

Jul 20, 2016

Anyone who is familiar with Lebanon will tell you that it is a vibrant, diverse and resilient country. Anyone who has visited or lived there most certainly experienced Lebanon’s distinctive lifestyle and culture— modern yet rooted in tradition.

Anyone who has interacted with the Lebanese people will certainly concede the array of general knowledge they hold, their entrepreneurial spirit and their business acumen.

The Lebanese people are business-savvy and entrepreneurial indeed. While the entrepreneurship scene has been on the rise in the last couple of years, however, it remains largely male-dominated.

Lebanese women still face hurdles to conducting business in the country on an equal basis with men. This is unsurprising, given that Lebanon still scores low in terms of women’s rights and women’s access to equal opportunities.

According to the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Gender Gap Report, Lebanon ranks 138 out of 145 countries.

However, perhaps out of resilience, perhaps out of wanting to do better and more, women entrepreneurs are slowly but surely emerging with innovative concepts, business ideas and successful ventures.

In the hopes of inspiring the many other brilliant women Lebanon holds, here’s a list of notable women entrepreneurs who made it big locally and internationally.

Aya Bdeir – Founder and CEO of littleBits
littleBits is a platform of easy-to-use electronic building blocks that is empowering everyone to create inventions, large and small. Her company is among the leaders in the open source hardware field. An alumna of the MIT Media Lab, Bdeir was listed as one of Business Insider’s 26 Most Powerful Women Engineers and figured in Inc.

Magazine’s 35 Under 35, in NY Business Journal’s Women of Influence, in CNBC Next List and in Entrepreneur’s 10 Leaders to Watch, among others.

Christine Sfeir – CEO of Meeting Point (Dunkin’ Donuts) and Treats Holding (Semsom, Green Falafel).
Sfeir is one of the pioneers of the food franchising business in Lebanon. At the age of 22, she persuaded Dunkin’ Donuts to hand over the company’s Lebanese franchise to her.

“It was a huge risk because I was 22, I was female and the idea of American coffee and doughnuts was the last thing on people’s minds”, says Sfeir. Today, Dunkin’ Donuts has more than 30 branches in Lebanon, and Semsom is established in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, and the US.

Sfeir is an active member of the Lebanese League for Women in Business. She was selected as one of the 19th most powerful Arab women by Forbes. She was also recognized as one of the most 100 powerful women for three consecutive years (2012, 2013 and 2014).

Delphine Edde – Co-founder and publishing director of Diwanee
Diwanee is a digital media company that creates contents and distributes it through its several Arab websites, including 3a2ilati.com, Yasmina.com and Mashaherri.com. Diwanee was featured in Executive Magazine’s Lebanon’s top 20 entrepreneurs 2013.

Hala Labaki – CEO and co-founder of Shahiya
Shahiya is the first cooking website in the Arab world and the largest Arabic language digital library with more than 2 million visitors per month and 15,000 published recipes. Labaki, an AUB and HEC Paris alumna, worked for several years in France in consulting, finance and marketing before launching Shahiya.

Hind Hobeika – Founder of Instabeat
Hobeika is the mastermind behind Instabeat, a pair of goggles that monitors swimmers’ heart rate.

At only 21 years old, Hind won the 3rd prize in the Qatari Reality TV Show ‘Stars of Science’. She also won 1st prize in the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab Business Plan competition, which gathered over 4,500 applicants.

Hobeika was selected as Endeavor Entrepreneur, and Instabeat was rated first in the ranking of the Best of Wearable Technology in 2014. She is currently trying to develop her product in San Francisco.

Louise Doumet is the co-founder of Lebelik,
Lebelik is an online shopping website with the aim of showcasing Lebanese creations and designers to the world. She came up with the Lebelik idea when she was approached by random women in the streets of New York asking her about her clothes and accessories— which happened to be of Lebanese designs. Doumit quickly realized that there was a need to export Lebanese fashion to the world. The website delivers items to the US, Russia and the Middle East.

Maya Karanouh – CEO and co-founder of TAGbrands
TAGbrands is a branding agency that aligns business strategies to communication objectives. TAGbrands clients include Bank Audi, L’Oréal, British Council and the World Sports Group among others. TAGbrands’ work is not limited to Lebanon; it is also present in the Gulf countries.

Karanouh has won several awards and distinctions; she was selected as the “Rising Talent” by the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society in France, and was part of the World Business Magazine‘s “35 under 35 Global Women Entrepreneurs”. She is also the founding member of the Lebanese League for Women in Business.

Rana Chmaitelly – Founder of The Little Engineer
The Little Engineer was launched by Chmaitelly in 2009 as a company that enables youth to engage in science through workshops. Today, she has centers in Lebanon, Qatar and Libya. Chmaitelly was selected as one of the most promising entrepreneurs by the MIT in 2009.

In 2010, she won the ‘Coup de Coeur Femme’ by Medventures for the Mediterranean in 2010. She was also awarded the Cartier prize for best pioneer woman in 2011 and the Green Mind Award in 2012.

 

Leading the way in Lebanon, one woman at a time

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth story in a six-week series focused on women and work in patriarchal nations in the Middle East. Read other stories in the series.

Before recipe website, Shahiya, was snapped up by Japanese site, Cookpad, for $13.5m in 2014, the Beirut-based start-up had to explain itself over and over again. The mostly male investors needed to be swayed on more than just the usual.

They needed to be convinced there was value in funding a company mainly used by housewives.

We had the challenge of perception,” said Shahiya CEO and co-founder Hala Labaki.

“The decision-makers didn’t cook, even the few women (venture capitalists) didn’t, so they couldn’t relate. For some, the idea of food culture is that it’s for women, and you’re put into a category.”

Hind Hobeika faced issues being female and young. (Credit: Courtesy Hind Hobeika)

In the Middle East, Hind Hobeika faces the challenge of both being female and being young. (Credit: Courtesy Hind Hobeika)

Labaki said the fact that her two business partners are men probably went a long way towards convincing investors since men tend to be taken more seriously in the Middle East then women in business.

Shahiya is a success story for a woman-led business in the Middle East.

Its user base now has 3.5 million unique visitors per month, 40% of which are from Saudi Arabia. There are 15,000 published recipes, making it the largest Arabic language digital library for recipes.

Lebanon’s relatively open society and economy mean women have had more opportunities here than elsewhere in the region.

But, growing a business in the Middle East is never easy, particularly for women. Those who do succeed must meet the challenges of expanding their companies in to socially conservative countries — a step before expanding internationally — seek funding from largely male firms who are sometimes averse to dealing with women and find ways to make sure they are taken seriously by male colleagues.

Connections, rather than creativity, smarts and technical skills, can make the difference between success and failure, with networking a key ingredient to growing a business, says Dima Dabbous, Beirut-based consultant on media and gender at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

But that can be a challenge. Even in Lebanon women are often part of a small minority at their firms and like elsewhere in the world may not be invited to casual social functions outside of work. The few women’s networking groups that exist tend to be poorly-developed and not very active, Dabbous said.

“Men already have the structure in place. Men meet outside of working hours, which automatically excludes women from deals struck outside of work. [With women] there’s too much weight put on individual effort,” said Dabbous.

“I don’t think men make it on their own, so why should women do it on their own?”

Hala Labaki is a success story in the Middle East. (Credit: Courtesy Hala Labaki)

Hala Labaki is a success story in the Middle East. (Credit: Courtesy Hala Labaki)

Behind the scenes

Five years ago, Hind Hobeika invented a pair of goggles that measured a swimmer’s heart rate and presented her invention on reality TV show, Stars of Science in Doha.

Qatar is better known as an affluent energy state, but a fledgling IT and entrepreneur scene is now blossoming in the country. But until Hobeika won third place, the male hosts didn’t seem to want to appear on camera with her.

“[They] weren’t enthusiastic to talk to me,” she said, recalling that for most of the show the hosts preferred speaking with the male contestants on camera rather than her “It was lonely.”

In Hobeika’s case, her youthfulness also worked to her disadvantage. “People tend to take you less seriously when you’re young and a woman, especially the combination of the two,” said Hobeika, now 26.

She currently splits her time between her native Beirut and the San Francisco area in the US developing her product and business. And she’s learning the nuances of running a business in the West versus the Middle East.

“Learning to manage people has been the most difficult experience for me. I had never done it before. It was difficult to find a balance and deal with people without offending them,” she said. “In the Arab world, people aren’t used to getting feedback from someone much younger.”

Proving your worth

For Beirut-based Maya Karanouh, CEO and co-founder of branding agency, TAGbrands, the most difficult aspects of growing her business when she launched it 15 years ago had little to do with being a woman. Instead, weak infrastructure in Lebanon and generally low levels of entrepreneurship in the Middle East were her biggest challenges.

When she did expand her business into the Gulf nations, including Saudi Arabia, eight years ago, she actively took into account the cultural norms for women in these countries. She often jokes that wearing the abaya (full black covering that most Saudi women wear) made her lose her fashion sense for a few weeks.

“I’m a feminist, but I’m also a business woman. I have to navigate around regulations,” she said. For the Saudis with whom she was doing business, being a woman didn’t matter, so long as her team got the job done. That might have been because she was an outsider; however, gains in the professional realm for the Kingdom’s female citizens remain slow.

Karanouh said she does her own part to advance women in the region, making an effort to hire mothers and give them flexible working hours, acknowledging that not having a family of her own has been an advantage for her.

“Work-life balance is a major issue [here],” for employees, she said. “I’m a special case because I don’t have kids and I’m not married.”

Moral support

Lebanese entrepreneur Rana Chmaitelly launched The Little Engineer, workshops to engage young people in science, in 2009. She now has operations in Lebanon, Qatar and Libya.

She’d like to expand to the West, starting with the UK. Early on, one of her biggest challenges was getting her employees, a mix of men and women, to support her decision to grow.

“Even if you take a decision, if you’re a women, they think you’re not right. It happens all the time. Maybe it’s the culture, but we can change it,” she said in a Skype interview at an airport during a layover in Chicago.

There is still not much built-in support for women in business, but in recent years a handful of professional organisations have emerged, although they’re not yet very active.

Even so, 35% of IT entrepreneurs in the Middle East are women, compared with 10% on a global scale, according to the data analytics benchmark website Startup Compass, a sign that women in the region are making inroads in traditionally male-dominated fields here.

“Some people don’t accept change. But as an entrepreneur you can’t stagnate,” said Chmeitelly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Beirut promised to become a Tech Hub?

As my flight out of Beirut reached cruising altitude, and the seat buckle lights flickered off, I leant back in my chair and wondered if I had left the country just in time.

Admittedly, it wasn’t quite an ‘Argo-esue’ escape from another Middle Eastern country: labelling a controversial government minister on a conference stage as an “idiot” maybe wasn’t the wisest of moves. Beirut is not a town known for its placid history, after all.

My comment had made the front page of the Beirut Daily Star the next day. Perhaps it was just as well that I left the next day.

Beirut’s Bright Future As A Tech Hub For MENA, If Its Politicians Will Allow It

But the trip was worth it. Beirut is rapidly shaping up to be a powerhouse for startups in the Middle East.

It has many of the key elements:

1. a highly entrepreneurial culture;

2.  incubators and accelerators;

3. venture capital;

4. some gradually favourable government policy and access to growth funding.

The exits and the ‘PayPal mafias’ may be a ways off but its a beginning. In part because it is the most liberal state in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa)region, and has a western-style banking system bequeathed to it by the French a long time ago.

Lebanon is uniquely poised to generate startups which aim both at the Arab world and the wider world at large.

Last week a new $71 million MENA-focused VC fund was announced by Leap Ventures, based out of Beirut.

And the Lebanon Central Bank “Circular 331” initiative promises to put up to $400 million into the local startup economy.

In addition, this year, the UK government is supporting a scheme to bring Lebanese startups to the UK and to the attention of London-based investors.

Late last year the country saw the launch of its very own Disrupt-style startup-focused conference.

Banque du Liban Accelerate wasn’t the first conference about technology in Lebanon, but it was the first to focus exclusively on startups, and specifically, the Beirut tech startup ecosystem.

It therefore benefitted from that far more laser-like focus, and even managed to attract over 50 international speakers from over 20 countries and 1,000 attendees (Video of the event here). Given that a civil war in Syria is raging on the border, this was no mean feat.

Some parts of Beirut are awash with Syrian refugees, and yet delegates were treated to a startup conference close to any other they might encounter in the US or Europe.

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 16.32.46

One of the attractions of the tech scene in Beirut is the city itself. The city’s restaurants, bars and nightclubs, equal anything you might find in San Francisco, New York or London.

The safe areas of Beirut are well documented and patrolled by armed soldiers. Personally, I have never felt in danger in Beirut.

The conference was also a leap of faith. Banque du Liban Governor Riad Salameh green-lit the sizeable event, while director Marianne Hoayek put the project into gear. She in turn brought in Samer Karam, who was previously involved in Beirut’s first attempt to create a Valley-style accelerator.

The conference was also attended by some heavy hitters from the financial and political world including Marianne Hoayek, Director of the Executive Office at Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh, Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, Francois Bassil, Chairman of the Association of Banks in Lebanon, Mohamed Choucair, Chairman of the Federation of the Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Lebanon, and Tom Fletcher, Ambassador of the United Kingdom in Lebanon.

But one heavy hitter that didn’t attend was Abdel Menhem Youssef. And perhaps it’s best that he stayed away. Let me explain.

Unfortunately, it’s his policies which stand in the way of Beirut motoring ahead.

The current average Internet speed in Lebanon is 3.11 Mbps, far lower than the Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates, which enjoys an average 27.9 Mbps.

It’s been estimated that doubling Lebanon’s bandwidth could improve GDP by 0.6 percent. That’s a healthy amount for an emerging market economy which currently has a war on its doorstep and a refugee crisis.

To improve the speed, in 2011 the country was connected to the India-Middle East-Western Europe (IMEWE) maritime cable. But while an improvement was felt., Lebanon still sits at 177th out of 200 countries on the Ookla list for Internet speed.

The reasons for this are simple. It’s entirely due to local politics.

Youssef, the head of the public-private organisation (OGERO, set up by the late Rafik Hariri) has blocked the utilisation and distribution of the IMEWE and other cables that have been hooked up.

As of today, less than 10% of the available capacity of the already operational Internet cables is made available to the market. It’s scandal which ought to have those at the highest levels of government fuming with anger.

Even former Telecommunications Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui estimates it would take only a year to organise fibre to the Home to every Lebanese citizen. If they could just connect up the IMEWE.

The finger has therefore been pointed at Ogero, run by Youssef.

The company is responsible for distributing the boosted Internet capacity enjoyed from the IMEWE to different Internet service providers as well as building the network. It also sells internet access direct to consumers. But, in a bizarre twist, Ogero’s chairman is not only the state regulator of the telecommunication industry, but also in charge of Ogero itself.

So the body charged with widen gin broadband internet, is directly hindering the development of Lebanon’s internet economy and ultimately the development of the country.

Indeed, Marwan Kheireddine, the chairman and general manager of Al-Mawarid Bank, has been quoted as saying that there is a conflict of interest within the Telecommunications Ministry, given that the general director is also the chairman of Ogero. “That doesn’t work. It is designed to fail,” he recently told The Beirut Daily Star.

Certainly the implication is that Youssef is either incompetent (hence my ‘idiot’ remark) or worse.

All this, despite a law drafted in 2001 which recommended that Lebanon fully privatize its telecoms industry.

But this never happened. It never happened because the government at the time completely destroyed the telecom infrastructure in the hope of privatising it cheaply to cronies, and then reaping the benefits a couple of years down the line.

For example, DSL deployment in Lebanon was actively stalled until 2006 in the hope that this privatisation would occur. This would partly explain why Ogero behaves in the way it does.

NEW INITIATIVES

However, there is light on the horizon for Lebanon’s emergent tech ecosystem.

The current UK Ambassador to Lebanon and former Private Secretary for Foreign Affairs to the Prime Minister, Tom Fletcher, is powering a new initiative – a UK Lebanon “Tech Hub” would be formed to bridge the startup communities between Lebanon and the UK.

The private sector initiative begins this year, with the support of Lebanon’s Central Bank. As the ambassador says, the idea is to bring “British expertise and investment and connect them with Lebanon startups.”

But time is a-wasting. Lebanese startups need access to regional and international markets, as their success depended largely on their ability to sell products and services abroad.

In that respect their fate matches many other smaller Middle Eastern countries. On Lebanon’s side however is it’s relatively liberal culture, it’s multi-language society and its reputation as a cultural engine of the Middle East.

INVESTORS

Lebanon’s investment scene remains small, but shows promise.

So far 3 venture capital firms have established funds that have raised decent amounts of money. Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), Berytech Fund and LEAP Ventures have each raised at least $50 million.

MEVP has $75 Million in capital and is growing.

So far it’s invested mainly in Lebanon-based startups, but also in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Egypt.

One of the first VC firm across the Arab World, it’s been investing since 2010, putting between $200,000 up to $5M per startup. In addition, Wamda Capital (recently spun out of a company best known as a media site, Wamda Platform) has also built a $55m fund. A newer player is Y Venture Partners (YVP), a new, early stage investment and advisory firm created by brothers Abdallah and Ghaith Yafi, who founded Lebanese ecommerce site ScoopCity as well as Canadian ecommerce site TheVolts.

Henri Asseily (above), managing partner at Leap Ventures, a growth fund, is amongst the biggest supporters of the Lebanon tech scene and a former founder of Shopzilla which was sold for $500m. (He also happens to be a cousin of Alexander Asseily the co-founder of Jawbone).

And these investors have been boosted by Circular No. 331. This announcement was issued by Lebaon’s Central Bank in August 2013, and it encourages commercial banks to invest in startups.

The Central Bank now guarantees up to 75% of the value of a commercial bank’s investments into a startup. That move opened up a potential of $400 million that could be invested into venture capital funds or directly into startups. Over 15 Lebanese banks have already taken part in the scheme.

One of the first startups to benefit from this scheme is Presella, founded by Walid Singer and Louay Al Kadri, which is aiming to become the “Eventbrite for the Middle East”. Presella has so far raised in the region of $400,000 and expanded out of Lebanon into Dubai, and is rapidly growing its user-based across the Middle East.

Angel investors are thin on the ground, but are gradually being herded by Beirut Angels (an initiative by Samer Karam and Ex-Minister of Telecom Nicolas Sehnaoui).

In addition there are two large organisations of the considerable Lebanese diaspora in the US who are starting to impact the eco-system.

There is Lebnet (based in the Bay Area). And then there Daher Capital, a Lebanon-based family office that only invests in the US market and has had a few successful exits and IPOs.

There’s also LISA (the brainchild of Mark Haidar) and TheList (Lebanese entrepreneurs and investors network).

Other players include Hala Fadel, chair of the MIT EF Arab, also angel investor; Fadi Ghandour, Founder of Aramex and chair of wamda Capital, also angel investor.

On the debt side, Lebanon is home to more than 50 retail banks with $140 Billion US (three times its GDP) in deposits.

The reputation of Beirut being the Switzerland of the Middle East is well-earned. These banks are fueling debt financing to tech companies through a subsidised government loan program named Kafalat – a very innovative public sector initiative. Circular 331 has of course taken that up a notch by encouraging venture financing.

CLUSTERS

As well as being spaced around the city, Beirut’s tech clusters include the “Beirut Digital District”.

This is not state sponsored, but rather is afforded benefits like cheaper internet connectivity, and some favourable legislation around company formation. Unfortunately, most of these are not operational as the politicians that supported the creation of the BDD are now no longer in power. In addition the rental prices remain too high for the average startup.

But office space is far cheaper in Beirut than in Dubai, where sales, marketing and business development offices are often put.

TALENT

Lebanon has one of the best educational sectors (and engineers) in the Arab World. Beirut has more than 18 universities/tech campuses. It is places like this which are fuelling the rise of the startup ecosystem.

ENTREPRENEURS

Lebanon is also producing a number of successful entrepreneurs.

Force of nature entrepreneur Hind Hobeika created the Instabeat health tracking hardware and app for swimmers which was a smash hit on Kickstarter.

Elie Habib is the founder of Anghami — the first to start a music streaming platform in the MENA region which now has over 11 million users.

Paul Salameh created Pou, a game making millions on the app store.

Ayah Bdeir founded LittleBits, an award-winning library of Electronics dubbed “LEGOs for the iPad generation.”

Karim Safiedine founded Cinemoz, which is aiming to become the Hulu for the Middle East.

And Lebanon is also sending entrepreneurs to the Valley.

Elie Khoury founded Woopra, but has since relocated to San Francisco.

As has Paul Saber who founded Etobb, a Q&A platform to allow doctors to meet patients virtually in the MENA region. Then there is Roadie, the automatic guitar tuner and app featured on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt New York last year, and created by Bassam Jalgha and Hassane Slaibi.

NEW BLOOD

Beirut is also producing new startups at a lively rate. These include Ki an enterprise mobile app that eliminates the need for usernames and passwords.

Zoomaal is also quickly becoming the Arab region’s main-kickstarter-style startup. Sohati, a content website and interaction platform providing health information and services to patients across the Arab world

Feedeed, a marketplace for services that give talented people the opportunity to transform their skills & services into a viable business.

And Saily a second-hand local marketplace. There is even an app for real-time traffic conditions, not unlike Waze, called Tari’ak.

OTHER PLAYERS

The wider ecosystem is also buzzing with accelerators and events.

These include Co-Working 961 (Co-Working); Startup Bootcamp (Pre-Accelerator bootcamp); Startup Megaphone (International promoter of Lebanon startups); SETT (a think tank based out of Beirut that is working on a 20 year plan for Lebanon’s startup ecosystem); Speed Lebanon (a community accelerator); LFE (NGO); and ArabNet (a large regional digital and tech conference).

There’s also the Bader Young Entrepreneurs Program run by Fadi Bizri. And Altcity, the co-working and startup hub started by David Munir Nabti has also made waves as an enthusiastic supporter of the scene.

Lebanon is also host to many startup events.

These include BeryTech’s YallaStartup Weekend; Bader’s Networking 961 event; and the MixNMentor events put on by Wamda Platform, which also has an accelerator, combined with consulting and research arms). The MIT Enterprise Forum also organises a huge event for their award ceremony.

BUILDING BLOCKS

So the building blocks are all there. Beirut is using its culture of freedom, its diversity, its low-cost high fun living standards and its location to its advantage in the Arab region.

Hopefully its politicians will begin to realise that its emerging Internet startups need and require decent internet access. (And, that I’ll sail through immigration next time).

Patsy Z shared this link on FB

“Beirut is rapidly shaping up to be a powerhouse for startups in the Middle East. It has many of the key elements: a highly entrepreneurial culture; incubators and accelerators; venture capital; some gradually favourable government policy and access to growth funding.”

Beirut is rapidly shaping up to be a powerhouse for startups in the Middle East.
tcrn.ch

 

3 Lebanese Women Make it to BBC’s 100 Women List: Who They Are

It’s almost painful to see 3 out of the 100 women on BBC’s 100 Women are Lebanese, when Lebanon ranked among the worst countries in terms of gender equality (135/142), check out BlogBaladi for more information on that report.

But, it’s also amazing that 3% of the BBC’s 100 Women list of 2014, are Lebanese. It’s also doubly amazing because one of them is a scientist, and a good friend, Hind Hobeika!

Hind Hobeika

hind_hobeika2I remember when Hind pitched her idea of goggles with sensors in them to monitor heart rate and other realtime data (as if you were on a treadmill) for the Stars of Science show on TV.

I remember how we all voted for her. I also remember a year later, sitting in a restaurant in San Francisco’s Market Street with another amazing Lebanese woman, Jessica Semaan, and finding out how Hind’s invention was ready to go into mass-production.

Now, Hind’s Instabeat goggles are poised to go on sale in 53 different countries around the world.

Proud of you Hind, words cannot begin to explain. Here’s a TED talk by Hind

Bahia Shehab

3723b538f9d86a88e9e5636d982ac6176622c879_254x191Bahia changed the entire meaning of the word “No” in Arabic, “لا”. No, and a thousand times no.

No is a very important word for an Arab in the past few years.

No to dictators. No to oppression. No to inequality. No to sexism. No to extremism.

Bahia’s work manifested itself on the walls of Cairo, and the series of “No”s became a regular fixture in Tahrir Square and other notable public spaces where they embodied the many horrifying incidents in Egypt’s tumultuous revolution and post-revolution troubles.

Remember the blue bra? Watch Bahia’s awesome TED talk to jog your memory.

Wall.JPG.scaled500

Bushra El Turk

Tala_Bushra_154nI adore classical music, especially ones with a twist. Bushra’s masterpieces are a trip in themselves, and while writing this, I’m listening to her website’s streaming music.

Often, my preoccupation with science and technology makes me forget for a second how important and powerful art can be, and for this Lebanese-Egyptian, it sounds pretty darn good.

Check out Bushra’s website to know more, and here’s a video of her work behind the scenes

Arab Women Taking Over The International Tech Scene

Mark Khairallah shared this post by Zeina Tabbara

Zeina Tabbara posted on May 16, 2013: “3 Arab Women Taking Over The International Tech Scene

May 2013 has been a great month for three Arab women: littleBits founder Ayah Bdeir, Wixel Studios partner Reine Abbas and Instabeat founder Hind Hobeika. Internationally, they’re shifting perceptions of women in the startup tech industry.

1. Ayah Bdeir ranked 33 in Fast Company’s list of the “100 Most Creative People In Business 2013” by way of littleBits, the lego-like circuit boards that are a fast-growing phenomena for adults and children alike.

Ayah Bdeir in Fast Company

2. Reine Abbas is one of the five women in Inc. magazine’s recent article, “Meet the 5 Most Powerful Women in Gaming.”

With her partners at the Lebanon-based gaming company Wixel Studios, they are pioneering the creation of highly imaginative, Arabized games such as their recently launched title Survival Race: Life or Power Plants.

Reine Abbas in inc. magazine

3. Hind Hobeika’s swimming device Instabeat attaches to the side of goggles and keeps track of such metrics as heart rate, number of laps and calories.

Two years in the making, Hobeika is revolutionizing the swimming industry and is near to reaching her goal of raising $35,000 via her Indiegogo campaign. TechCrunch’s Editor-At-Large Mike Butcher featured Hind Hobeika and Instabeat in today’s article: “Instabeat Is Revolutionary HUD For Swimming Goggles You Can Back On Indiegogo.”


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