6 Saudi teams scale heights as Canadians win Entrepreneurship World Cup

The Entrepreneurship World Cup global finalists at the Misk Global Forum represent the cream of international startup talent. Of the 100 global finalists, six were from Saudi Arabia: Sadeem, Faheem, Cura, Dhad, Red Sea Farms and UnitX. (AN photo by Ziyad Al-Arfaj)
Updated 15 November 2019

6 Saudi teams scale heights as Canadians win Entrepreneurship World Cup

  • Third-ranked Saudi startup Red Sea Farms receives thunderous applause from audience
  • The EWC is the world’s largest startup competition, with over 100,000 applicants

RIYADH: Canadian firm NERv Technology Inc. emerged victorious at the Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC) at the Misk Global Forum (MGF) 2019 in Riyadh on Thursday, with Saudi startup Red Sea Farms coming third.

NERv Technology Inc. was handed a $500,000 prize and the winning trophy, while second-ranked team Koniku Inc. from the US won $250,000.

Red Sea Farms received $150,000, and fourth and fifth-ranked Sumato-ID (of Argentina) and SUN Mobility (India) were handed $50,000 each.

Speaking to Arab News, NERv Technology’s Amr Abdelgawad said: “It’s been a fantastic experience going through the event here over the past few days.

“We have been working really hard for almost five years to make sure we have a device that can actually have an impact on people’s lives and I think we are getting one step closer to that.  

“It was a great experience in terms of the people we met, the people we engaged with, being able to be in the same place with like-minded individuals who understand how difficult it is to start our own business. We helped each other and have great respect for all the finalists, the grand prize to us is just a small part of winning, to be in the final was great.”     

On coming to Riyadh to participate in the EWC, he said: “It was really nice being here, I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, so it is great to come back and see this country the way it is right now, and it is absolutely fantastic to win the EWC here.”




Third-ranked team Red Sea Farms (Saudi Arabia) received a $150,000 cheque. (AN photo by Ziyad Al-Arfaj)

Mark Tester, CEO and founder of Red Sea Farms, told Arab News: “It is a fantastic feeling to come third, to be in this event is fantastic to be honest, I am really proud of representing Saudi Arabia.”

He commended the role played by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) describing it as a “fabulous organization” to work with.

“This is real affirmation of our efforts to build companies and deliver research back to Saudi Arabia,” added Tester. 

Speaking at the final ceremony of the MGF, Commerce and Investment Minister Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi praised the startups at the EWC finals and described the MGF as a “hope forum,” saying it provided a platform for making the Kingdom a land of opportunity.

Shaima Hamidaddin, executive manager of the MGF, thanked all the participants and EWC contestants for “really amazing sessions”.

She also gave a sneak peak of MGF 2020, saying it would be historically important because of the Kingdom hosting G20 Summit next year.

“The EWC global finalists represent the cream of international startup talent. We’re looking forward to seeing the entrepreneurs reach even greater heights thanks to the bootcamp ahead of the finals at the MGF. Our partnership with KAUST is part of our commitment to working with top international leaders in innovation, training, and development to achieve our global mission of empowering young people to thrive in the knowledge economy.”




Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi, commerce and investment minister, left, and Bader Al-Asaker, chairman of MISK initiative center, right, with coo and cofounder of Nerv Technology that emerged victorious at the entrepreneurship World cup under the Misk Global Forum 2019 in Riyadh on Nov. 14, 2019. (AN photo/Ziyad Al-Arfaj)

Red Sea Farms received thunderous applause from the audience as it placed third, with all the successful teams well-received.

Notably, of the 100 global finalists, six were from Saudi Arabia: Sadeem, Faheem, Cura, Dhad, Red Sea Farms and UnitX. All were founded by graduates of KAUST’s entrepreneurship programs.

The contest’s 10 semifinalists were: Bambrew (India), CiDi (China), Corumat Inc. (US), DRD Biotech (Russia), Koniku Inc. (US), NERv Technology Inc. (Canada), Red Sea Farms (Saudi Arabia), SUN Mobility (India), Sumato-ID (Argentina), and Tensortec (China).

Judges at the event included Kevin O’Leary, chairman of O’Shares Investments, Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, CEO and managing director of STV, Christine Tsai, CEO of 500 Startups and Aneel Ranadive, managing partner at Soma Capital.

Earlier over the course of the forum, the 100 startups drawn from national and regional finals around the world were whittled down to a final top 10.

KAUST hosted the EWC finalists between Nov. 8 and Nov. 11 at its entrepreneurship bootcamp in partnership with the MGF, at its campus in Thuwal near Jeddah.

The EWC is the world’s largest startup competition, with over 100,000 applicants.

Saudi Arabia presents an extraordinary opportunity for startups interested in accessing the MENA market and tapping into KAUST’s unique ecosystem, focused on finding solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges in food, water, energy and the environment.

The KAUST-Misk partnership aims to advance Saudi Arabia’s ambitious economic transformation goals by attracting cutting-edge, impactful startups and top entrepreneurial talent to the Kingdom.

The EWC was conducted by the MGF in partnership with the Global Entrepreneurship Network, alongside local and regional partners.


196 Saudis stranded in Bahrain over virus pandemic return home

Updated 30 min 16 sec ago

196 Saudis stranded in Bahrain over virus pandemic return home

  • The returning Saudis received medical checks before entering the Kingdom and were placed in specified hotels for quarantine upon arrival
  • The returnees formed the first of four parties of a total 790 Saudi nationals due to be bussed back to the Kingdom

RIYADH: A group of 196 Saudis left stranded in Bahrain due to travel restrictions introduced over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have been transported home via the King Fahd Causeway connecting the two countries.

The returnees formed the first of four parties of a total 790 Saudi nationals due to be bussed back to the Kingdom after becoming trapped in Bahrain by the spread of the virus, according to the Saudi Press Agency. 

In a tweet, the Saudi Ambassador to Bahrain Prince Sultan bin Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz, said: “In compliance with the directives of King Salman and the crown prince (Mohammed bin Salman) to facilitate the procedures for the return of stranded citizens, the embassy, in cooperation with the concerned authorities of the two brotherly kingdoms, begins today — for a period of four days — sending buses scheduled to transport citizens to the Eastern Province via King Fahd Causeway.”

The returning Saudis received medical checks before entering the Kingdom and were placed in specified hotels for quarantine upon arrival.

Similar COVID-19 tests and procedures will apply for other groups of Saudi citizens being repatriated from countries around the globe, including those returning on flights.

Electronic Saudi news outlet, Ajel, reported that 29,000 Saudis had registered on the e-government Yusr platform within 24 hours of its launch.

In a video posted on the embassy’s official Twitter account on March 27, Saudi envoy to the UK, Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan, said: “We all need to stand together as a barrier to halt the virus from spreading. For that, the return of 20,000 or 30,000 citizens all at once is not logical and not safe for you and your country.”

The Saudi Ministry of Education was also coordinating with its 31 cultural bureaus on the health and safety of 124,228 Saudis currently abroad as part of government scholarship programs — 79,113 of them students with 45,115 accompanying family members.

Saudi Minister of Transport Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, who is also chairman of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), said airport terminals were being readied for the arrival of Saudi nationals from abroad.

“GACA has harnessed all its efforts and capabilities to receive the citizens wishing to return to the Kingdom. It has prepared terminals in the Kingdom’s international airports — King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah and King Fahd International Airport in Dammam,” he added.

An announcement is expected soon on which country the next group of Saudi nationals will be returned from.

Saudis given priority to return on the first flights back include those coming from countries worst affected by the virus, elderly citizens, those with expired passports or where flights have been cancelled, pregnant women, people with special needs, and humanitarian cases.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Arab News that it was not yet clear how many Saudis had registered to come home but those wishing to could apply at http://www.mofa.gov.sa/es.