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The World Entrepreneurs Investment Forum (WEIF 2022) came to a close in Dubai on Wednesday with the adoption by participants of the “UAE Declaration”, which calls for greater collaboration, integration and connectivity across the Arab world and a strong focus on women entrepreneurs to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Youth and Innovation was the highlight of the Forum’s closing ceremony, with the announcement of the three big winners of the “Arab Gathering” for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The entrepreneurship competition for university students from the Arab region was held on the sidelines of WEIF 2022.

Sustainable development through entrepreneurship

The closing day of WEIF 2022 saw participants, partners and co-sponsors, including the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)-ITPO, as well as the Arab League, Arab Chambers of Commerce, Chamber of Trade and Industry of Bahrain and the Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) expresses its strong commitment to achieving the 17 global goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Furthermore, the UAE Declaration stated: “We recognize that entrepreneurship and innovation are the engine for creating jobs, driving economic growth and realizing social gains; We recommend that all efforts be focused on achieving sustainable development through entrepreneurship and innovation that can be achieved through strong, inclusive, sustainable and resilient economic growth.

Summarizing the three-day Forum, Dr. Hashim Hussein, Executive Director of WEIF, said, “This is the closing session. But WEIF never closes. Every WEIF we have a statement to summarize what happened. This year, the declaration is read by an African and Arab entrepreneur because this year, this global forum focuses on the Arab region and Africa.

“We are here connecting minds and brains, under the umbrella of the Arab League.”

Gender parity “a must” for entrepreneurship

Forum participants paid particular attention to empowering women at all economic levels to achieve the SDGs through innovation and entrepreneurship. “We encourage the active participation of women in all sectors through entrepreneurship and innovation,” reads the Declaration.

Emphasis was also placed on the need to develop and implement sound economic policies, legislation and programs as important strategies for sustainable development and to ensure the empowerment of women at the national, regional levels. and global.

The Declaration also highlighted the need to build strong partnerships between entrepreneurs – women and men – to share best practices in linking financial and non-financial services that could improve the challenges of entrepreneurs and strengthen micro-small businesses. and medium enterprises. (MSME).

Addressing the closing session, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary General of the League of Arab States, said that the young men and women of Arab countries, who numbered over 100 million, are the backbone of the Arab region.

He also stressed the importance of providing an environment conducive to the success of young Arabs, “because their success means the success of the Arab nation and society.”

Mr. Gheit detailed three pieces of advice for young people in the Arab region: “First, work until the last moment of your life; second, read until you become blind; and third, have hope that your aspirations will come true.

The way forward and the role of UNIDO

The UAE Declaration also called for exploring and developing new investment sectors, namely “green” and renewable energy, blue economy, “orange” (creative) economy, putting the emphasis on commerce and heritage, special programs and initiatives that economically empower people with disabilities.

Increase synergies between governments, private sector, philanthropists, civil society, financial institutions, think tanks, universities, schools, chambers, non-governmental organizations, media and international organizations to cooperate to facilitate the promotion of resilient entrepreneurs and innovative businesses towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals were also highlighted.

UNIDO’s role in promoting inclusive and sustainable industrial development and the considerable achievements of previous editions of the WEIF were also commended.

UNIDO Director General for Programs and Partnerships Ciyong Zou said, “I am delighted to see this great innovation and breakthrough taking place at WEIF. As you all know, post-COVID events play a crucial role in economic growth and WEIF has seen how we can build resilience to help the global economy grow and thrive. Yet, at the same time, we must work collectively to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Declaration urged the international community, the United Nations, UNIDO and other relevant international and regional organizations, think tanks, civil society, among other stakeholders, to take the recommendations into account when developing their policies and strategies to support entrepreneurship and innovation for sustainable development. development.

Support young entrepreneurs and innovation

The ceremony ended in excitement with the announcement of the winners of the second Arab Rally for Innovation.
The competition targeted university students from the Arab region and involved 20 teams from across the region.
University students and professors have worked hard to find innovative solutions to many of the challenges facing the region, in areas such as water, agriculture, renewable energy, environmental pollution and waste recycling. environmental waste.
The first prize was awarded to a Syrian company called BEVOL, which designed an unprecedented and interactive international social media platform to promote the culture of volunteerism and improve the performance of social responsibility using motivational means.

Second place went to WALTER from Palestine, which is a company providing technological solutions for gray water treatment to reduce water consumption in public and private facilities. The company’s special water treatment system is based on gray water filtration, implicit storage and treatment to be ready for later pumping to the toilet.

The third winner was CLOUD, a company that offers a disposable menstrual pad that respects body, mind and nature, using 100% healthy, organic and biodegradable materials.

The impact of the Forum

Over the years, WEIF has supported these young entrepreneurs on their journey to becoming business leaders.

Addressing the gathering, the winner of last year’s Arab Rally, Wadah Malaeb of Lebanon, said the competition had helped him grow and put him on the world map.

“In 2019, I won the Arab Innovation Rally, which [led to] a decisive change in my career. Since then, we have patented our technology, expanded our team, set up the manufacturing plant for our chips. We have established collaborations with academia, with the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Beirut,” he explained.

He went on to say, “We are now expanding, giving different organ and disease models on our chips to create a human model on which to test drugs. We have entered into conversations with pharmaceutical companies like AstraZeneca to set up studies to introduce our concept into the drug discovery process.

Mr. Malaeb won the top prize for his unique invention: Ductal Organoid-on-a-Chip, based on growing organ chip technology. The chip provides an environment in which cells can grow and reorganize into tissue mimicking the human body, providing the ideal atmosphere for performing drug tests efficiently and saving money and human hardship.

About WEIF

The World Entrepreneurs Investment Forum (WEIF), through its secretariat at UNIDO ITPO/AICEI Bahrain and various partners, has successfully positioned itself as a leading knowledge pavilion on entrepreneurship, innovation and high impact investments.

During the previous editions of the Forum in 2015, 2017 and 2019, WEIF was able to achieve significant milestones and become the main dedicated Entrepreneurs Investment Forum by the United Nations system.

WEIF’s main theme Achieving the SDGs through entrepreneurship, innovation and investment has been a crucial factor in its success.

WEIF 2022, which opened at the Expo Pavilion in Dubai on Monday, March 28, focused on what is needed at the level of governments, multinational organizations and the private sector to achieve entrepreneurial resilience and economy after COVID-19 in the Arab region, Africa and the world.

Sharon D. Cole