IGF 2018 WS #268 Enabling Digital Opportunities in the Middle East

Organizer 1: Layal Jebran, Internet Society

Speaker 1: Layal Jebran, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Nibal Edlebi, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Nidal Bitar, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group


Layal Jebran

Online Moderator

Tariq Al Olaimy


Nadira Al Arraj


Other - 90 Min Format description: Workshop


Miss Layal Jebran, the speaker, is someone who's worked with disadvantaged youth in her country & refugees, as well as initiated a platform to teach programming online for free using the spoken Arabic language. She will bring into this session a multitude of experiences and relevant views of what she had interacted with during fellowships and events that are relevant to these matters. Miss Layal is a natural leader with the ability to motivate both individuals and teams and has extensive experience in handling people with considerable empathy. She is passionate about innovations and sustainable projects that can make a difference to the world and enable other people to a better quality of life with better solutions. She actively supports entrepreneurship and women in business. Her passions towards the causes she's worked on will be included int he session as part of her question answering and interact with the attendees; she will provide ample knowledge that she is always very keen on sharing with everyone. Dr. Nibal Idlebi leads the activities of the Innovation Section at UN-ESCWA. She is working on innovation policy, strategies, and eco-system for building the knowledge-based economy; and on promoting innovation in a public and private sector to enhance productivity and improve efficiency. She is leading regional initiatives in the Arab region in selected areas related to the knowledge society, and currently, she is leading a local project on "Promoting Open Government for enhancing effectiveness, responsiveness, transparency, and participation in the public sector in the Arab region." Dr. Idlebi will provide her knowledge to the attendees and contribute immensely to the workshop with her experience and repertoire. Mr. Nidal is a senior executive with 25+ years of experience in information technology, human capital development and workplace performance, strategy execution, project management, and new media services. In addition to that, Mr. Nidal has been involved in improving the legislation and the environment that stimulates investment and leadership through committees in both “INT@J” and the Young Entrepreneurs Association (YEA) in which he was the vice-chairman. Being an electrical engineer, Mr. Nidal will add his valuable technical knowledge into the interactions with the attendees and input towards the workshop.


The workshop reflects on the issue of Digital inclusion for everyone in the Middle East. As many studies have shown, gender bias is an issue in the Middle East Region, and women are the least of the participants. Whether it is technological adoption or technical education, the workshop discusses all problems from many sides of the pond, showing adoption rates within women in the startup ecosystem as well as connectivity, education in STEM, careers in STEM, and local stakeholders and their effects on engaging everyone.

- Digital Economy a pre-phase - Middle East case studies (Such as Souq & Careem) - Entrepreneurship and Startups - Women and Youth - Access and Readiness - Trust - Infrastructure and Access - ICT & Education (Policy & Vision, Inclusion, Capacity, & Content Delivery) - Education and the future of work - Local content and connectivity - Recommendations

The session will be arranged as follows: - Introductions and workshop initiation (5 minutes) - Workshop taking place (35 Minutes) - Questions from on the ground and online attendees (45 minutes) - Wrap up (5 minutes)

This workshop, entitled “Enabling Digital Opportunities in the Middle East,” features research conducted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Wamda and the Internet Society. It looks at both the opportunities and threats that are specific to the Middle East in building a digital economy, and offers recommendations and practical steps that can be taken to create a digital future in the Middle East, by that providing equal opportunities to everyone. The digital economy as defined by the report includes everything from small businesses improving their supply chain and entrepreneurs creating mobile apps, to governments deploying large-scale e-government solutions and global Internet platforms such as Facebook or regional ones such as Souq.com. In order for everyone to benefit from digital opportunities, the Internet must be widely deployed throughout the economy – not just in large companies or high tech firms. The report reveals that businesses and governments throughout the region have not fully adapted to digital with relatively low numbers of businesses and new digital start-ups created. However according to UN ESCWA, several countries including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are actively encouraging the growth of an entrepreneurship ecosystem. They are supporting local entrepreneurs with business support schemes such as incubators, accelerators, funding agencies, training and targeted initiatives at universities.

Online Participation

Open opportunities for people attending online to contribute to questions will be open. The number of questions will be divided equally between on-site attendees as well as online attendees. The onsite moderatior will coordinate along with the online moderator to navigate the process; one question from the online audience, then another one from the floor, as much as the session time limit can allow beyond the workshop. The opportunity will be opened via broadcasting channels such as zoom, a tool that enables the raising of hands feature to contribute to an intervention, & live facebook feed which the online moderator will be maintaining and navigating questions from there. We are committed to giving everyone a chance to contribute with questions or ideas and will do our utmost best to accommodate them within our time limit.