Lucia Dore with inputs from Muhammed Riyaz who attended the Web Summit.
April 5, 2024

Developments in IT announced at the Web Summit in Qatar

Some 15,453 attendees from 118 countries people attended the Web Summit Qatar which took place in Doha, Qatar’s capital, from February 26-29, 2024 The event focused on providing updates and developments on the IT, artificial intelligence sectors as well as developments in the entertainment, venture capital, and start up sectors. Well-known keynote speakers also addressed attendees.

Opening night

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, addressed the Centre Stage audience on opening night and announced Qatar’s first-ever venture capital Fund of Funds. It will invest USD1 billion in international and regional venture capital funds. Led by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the initiative aims to foster innovation and boost the tech ecosystem in the country.

In addition, Al Thani emphasised that as technological innovations rapidly advance, users and developers must balance innovation with ethical principles for the greater good of everyone.

Web Summit CEO Katherine Maher took to the stage and said: “Over the last few years, we noticed a growing presence from the Middle East at our events. Dynamic founders, investors and entrepreneurs from the region were contributing to our events in such a meaningful way, we knew that it was time for us to bring an event here. Web Summit Qatar represents a brand new opportunity to connect a new generation of entrepreneurs, investors and changemakers.”

Sheikh Jassim bin Mansour bin Jabor Al Thani,director of the Government Communications Office and chairman of the Web Summit Qatar 2024 Organising Committee, said: “Hosting Web Summit Qatar signifies a milestone in our nation’s ongoing journey to forge the future,showcasing Qatar's growing status as a place

where people, ideas and inspiration come together to envision the next digital revolution. The tremendous turnout in attendees and ticket purchases demonstrates the high demand for such events in the region, as well as Qatar's potential as a hub for SMEs and innovators. More so,on its very first day, we set several new records in Web Summit history,including the biggest startup participation in a first-year edition and the largest presence of startups from Africa. With such a strong start, Web Summit Qatar is poised to be the next spot for technological leaps to take place.”

Conference highlights

Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan gave the opening address, with a talk on the growth of artificial intelligence(AI).  Although the latter has grown exponentially in 2023, will it continue? Sachin Dev Duggal of, a next generation software development company, and Mohammed Al-Harden of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) discussed the future of AI. Author and presenter Trevor Noah also made the audience laugh with his humorous speech.

 In a session entitled, “AI and society: transforming how people connect and communicate,” Meta’s vice president of product policy and strategy, Andy O’Connell, took the audience through the new AI tools and products Meta is bringing online in 2024. Meta, Facebook’s parent, has come under fire over the past few months for its handling (or mishandling) of information across its platforms- that is Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, Reality Labs and Quest.

In an article by Nick Clegg, president of Meta’s Global Affairs, he says the company is working with industry partners on common technical standards for identifying AI content, including video and audio, and it also expects to label images that users post to Facebook, Instagram and threads when they are detected to be AI-generated.

During day two, the issue of how to take on Nvidia, the largest chipmaker in the world that powers some of the most important powerful AI machines, was discussed in a session called “How to make AI real”.  Groq CEO Jonathan Ross said he believes that Groq is going to be the infrastructure that most startups are using by the end of 2024. Groq, which was founded in 2016, has a vision to make AI accessible to all.

 AI was discussed further in a session entitled “How to disrupt in the era of GenAI”.  Sprinklr founder and CEO Ragy Thomas gave the audience not only some insights into the future of SaaS aficionados, but he also gave his views on how AI is changing the landscape of SaaS and marketing. It’s vision is to be the world's most loved enterprise software company, ever.

Building on the theme of technology and AI,  Mohammed bin Ali bin Mohammed Al Mannai, Qatar’s minister of communication and information technology, outlined what Qatar's digital innovation plan looks like for the next five years.

Sheikh Mansoor Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, a member of Qatar’s ruling family and chairman and founder of MBK Holding has a vision for gaining talent in the future. Is there a way for countries to move away from what made their economies grow quickly in the first place? What does it mean to invest in a“talent economy”.  He spoke about this in the session entitled: “Building a quality talent-based economy.”

What is in store for the venture capital(VC) market this year? What does this mean for founders? A panel on the firstday comprising Alfred Chuang of Race Capital, Jalak Jobanputra of Future Perfect Ventures and Sharaf El-Badawi of Dubai Future District Fund discussed this topic, talking about how hard the VC market had fallen in 2022, from its high in 2015.

On the second day, there was a focus on Qatar in a speech entitled: “Secrets of the Qatari tech ecosystem”. It asked questions such as “What is life like for a founder raising an early funding round in Qatar?” “Is there room to grow?” “A reregulations founder-friendly?” Will many new unicorns coming out of the country?”.  Hamad Al-Hajri of Snoonu, an online food delivery service in Qatar, and Soumaya Ben Beya Dridje of Rasmal Ventures, took us through the lessons that can be learned from around the world, and explore what is uniquely Qatari.

When it came to entertainment, a session entitled “The artist, the CEO,and the future of music” did just that. It featured Warner Music Group CEO Robert Kyncl, who was joined by newly announced Warner Music Group artist NoraFatehi.

 In a panel discussion entitled: “How to win in the era of live commerce and the creator economy” the participants discussed whether the end of the creator economy was coming to an end and whether brands are ready to make the most of what influencers offer? In this session, Brazilian YouTube star Felipe Neto and 48 Cannes Lions winner, Monique Lima, explored the future of digital sales.   

There were several press conferences throughout the summit. Among them were: Qatar Research Development and Innovation Council (QRDI) Council Secretary General Omar Al-Ansari,and Alchemist Accelerator, founder and CEO Ravi Belani.

 The audience was also updated on several startups. They included:, which empowers users to create their own video games, announced strategic plans for expansion into MENA’s gaming ecosystem; Purple Brains, a digital consultancy,which unveiled Mia personal relations manager, a mobile app designed totransform how professionals manage their contacts and networking efforts; Derubis, a shipyard in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and its plans to expand into Saudi Arabia with its first leisure vessel shipyard and caravan factory.


Photo: Katherine Mayer, CEO, speaking at the Web Summit on the opening night