GITEX Global 2023 – Dubai World Trade Centre

Report on Gitex Global, Dubai World Trade Centre 2023

By Patrick Kedziora, Sophia Business Angels (Nice, France) Board Member and Deal Flow Director

If you’ve ever seen pictures of the Dubai skyline or a picture of the Burj Khalifa (the world’s largest building), being there in person is the difference between looking at a picture of a chocolate mousse and actually tasting it. It’s absolutely fantastic.

A contingent of SBA members were recently invited to attend Expand North Star (the biggest startup event I’ve ever seen) and GITEX( The world’s largest tech show) in Dubai.

Our focus was on Expand North Star as this is a global meetup for startups from around the world – not just the MENA region. And, wow, there were 1,000s of startups spread over 9 very large tents. I did manage to do all the tents, but I focused on tents 1-6 which were early-stage companies. There were some hiccups in setting up meetings with startups that interested us (something I hope will be fixed next year) but that didn’t stop me from literally going up and down the aisles looking for something of interest. I spoke to over 30 startups from Sri Lanka, Australia, the US, Iran, UAE, Tunisia, Turkiye (the new name for Turkey, in case you missed the announcement), and many others. As with most events like these, it’s about panning for gold but in several days you can quickly identify the few that merit following up with.

I also went to GITEX and what can I say? It was overwhelming! There were so many vendors with each trying to outdo the other in the sheer pizazz of their extra-extra-large booths. These were the big tech players in the world where all the startups hope to one day be.

The entire thing was a mix of east, west, north, and south all meeting each other. The most memorable thing I saw was a woman wearing a niqab doing a demo of a tech product to a man dressed in a white thawb – and he was paying attention and they were having a real dialogue. Times have indeed changed.

We also got lots of chances to network with investors from around the world in the Investor’s Lounge and were treated to some spectacular events like a ride on a yacht which gave us great views of the skyline and we were treated to a pool party on the top floor of one of the hotels which has breathtaking views of Dubai.

Certainly, the Sophia Business Angels dinner on the last night overlooking the Burj Khalifa was a high point.

I hope to attend again next year as this truly is an opportunity to help grow the global entrepreneurial ecosystem and to find those nuggets that might turn into unicorns.

See you all in 2024!




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