May 21, 2024

UN Tourism Launches Women in Tech Startup Competition: Middle East

Applications sought from startups

UN Tourism has announced the commencement of the second edition of its groundbreaking Women in Tech Startup Competition: Middle East. This initiative is a beacon for women entrepreneurs revolutionising sustainable tourism and technology throughout the region.

The competition is open to startups led by women and based in the Middle East. These enterprises, regardless of their stage of development, must operate within the tourism sector or related industries and provide sustainable solutions that benefit people, the planet, and prosperity.

UN Tourism seeks applications from startups at any stage of their journey, from early ideas to Series A, across three distinct categories:

  1. People and Skills: This category seeks startups with environmentally conscious and sustainable initiatives in education technology, social connectivity, wellness, or health, offering cross-cutting benefits with tourism.
  2. Green Travel Solutions: For startups employing eco-friendly and sustainable approaches in green technology, green infrastructure, travel and logistics, and urban or rural development, with cross-cutting benefits in tourism.
  3. Market Innovators: Reserved for startups harnessing emergent technologies applied to the tourism industry.

UN Tourism has garnered support from prominent global and regional partners and ecosystem collaborators to bolster the winning startups.

Entities such as Almosafer, Plug and Play, AIM, The Bench, Impulse4Women, and Bilakatu will provide visibility, personalised mentorship, consultancy, and potential investment opportunities for the most promising entrepreneurial solutions.

This year’s applications will be processed through Plug and Play’s open innovation platform, the largest globally. Finally, finalists will be invited to join the esteemed global UN Tourism Innovation Network.

This edition’s launch was unveiled at the AIM Congress, a leading investment platform in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The announcement occurred during a special UN Tourism Investment Forum session on ‘Investing in Innovation and Enabling Women Entrepreneurs.’

Building On Success

This second edition builds upon the resounding success of its predecessor, which saw over 140 startups and SMEs from 11 countries participating.

The inaugural initiative culminated in the recognition of four winners—Fosha (Egypt), Sparkle Haze (UAE), Plastus Biotech (Saudi Arabia), and Xenios Academy (UAE)—during last year’s World Tourism Day celebrations on September 27 in Riyadh.

UN Tourism And Women Empowerment

UN Tourism remains steadfast in its commitment to promoting tourism’s positive impact on women’s lives. By actively supporting women entrepreneurs, the organisation contributes to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5—Gender Equality. The organisation endeavours to propel the tourism sector forward while fostering inclusivity.

Natalia Bayona, Executive Director of UN Tourism, underscored the importance of empowering female entrepreneurs in the Middle East: “It is crucial to empower female entrepreneurs in the Middle East with innovative business proposals that have a component of positive social impact and respect for the environment to support the sustainable development of the growing tourism sector in the region.”

Since 2018, UN Tourism has spearheaded over 25 startup competitions and innovation challenges across more than 150 countries.

With a participant count exceeding 20,000 and over 350 top startups identified, mapping collective funding of $2+ billion, UN Tourism continues to support digitalisation and innovation in advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Tourism remains a powerful tool for catalysing positive transformation and fostering inclusive economic development.

Featured image: Since 2018, UN Tourism has spearheaded over 25 startup competitions and innovation challenges across more than 150 countries. Credit: UN Tourism

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto is an award-winning journalist with wide-ranging Middle East and Asia experience in the tech, aerospace, defence, luxury watchmaking, business, automotive, and fashion verticals. He is passionate about conserving endangered native wildlife globally. Arnold enjoys 4x4 off-roading, camping and exploring global destinations off the beaten track.
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