AI takes cen­tre stage as Web Sum­mit kicks off in Qatar

Doha, Qatar – Under blocks of flashing lights, entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders converged in central Doha on Monday as Web Summit, one of the world’s biggest tech conferences, opened in Qatar’s capital.


The event, held in the Middle East for the first time, brings together participants from dozens of countries who, over four days, will be hoping to establish new connections, share insights and secure funds.

Kicking off proceedings, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani announced that the Gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund would invest more than $1bn in international and regional venture capital funds.


Dubbed “Fund of Funds”, the programme aims to foster innovation by attracting top international venture capital funds and entrepreneurs both to Qatar and the wider Gulf region.


The commitment to boost the start-up sector builds on Qatar’s aspiration to be a regional IT hub.

With “entrepreneurship leadership across the Middle East”, Qatar is “the perfect backdrop for Web Summit with its commitments to technological advancement, and its vibrant community of thinkers and creators”, Al Thani said at the conference.

The topic of artificial intelligence (AI) headlines this year’s forum, which marks the largest gathering of international start-ups in the Middle East at a time when the region reels from the spillover of Israel’s war on Gaza.


Both are topics that Amjad Masad, founder of Replit, an online programming community, feels passionate about.

I’m a technologist at heart,” the Jordanian-American CEO, who has a Palestinian refugee father, said at the summit.


“And I think technology can be used for a force of good, but the situation in Gaza has nothing to do with technology – you can’t eat AI,” he added to roaring applause.


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