Wamda: the art of the possible
The Celebration of Entrepreneurship as seen from the Wamda Live Stage
Geographically, it was one of the smaller parts of Abraaj Capital’s Celebration of Entrepreneurship, the two-day event designed to consolidate, connect and motivate the region’s entrepreneurial community. But although it only occupied a small triangular stage at the rear entrance to Dubai’s Madina Jumeirah Convention Centre, the spotlit Wamda Live Stage was perhaps the most conspicuous embodiment of the event’s spirit – and underlined the undeniable potential of Wamda.com, the site officially launched on the opening morning.
Developed, designed and delivered by SYNTAX over the previous eight months, Wamda.com combines the content capacity of a business magazine, the community functionality of a social network and the educational resources of an online university. The Wamda Live Stage, where in excess of 50 entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, government officials and SME facilitators were interviewed on camera, provided a realtime billboard for the site’s ability to capture the best regional content.
Representing several nations, a range of ages, both genders and a multitude of disciplines, the parade of guests shared their professional insights and entrepreneurial experiences in highly public interrogations that were either streamed live on Wamda.com or recorded for later uploading. The breadth of topics and the range of expertise will only add to the incredible mine of entrepreneurial stories and resources already available on the site.
Before lunch was taken on the first day, for instance, Tarek Dajani had explained the genesis and expansion of ClearTag, a Beiruti web development and consultancy firm, Pakistani Amir Anzur revealed how his first two ventures failed, the first leaving him with debts of $100,000, before his Webpreneur University finally began to take flight, and Dale Murphy from the Dubai School of Government reported on ongoing attempts to make the UAE legislation much more entrepreneur-friendly. By 6pm on the second day, we’d heard from twentysomething business owners, teenage internet prodigies, budding social entrepreneurs, senior MBA lecturers, leading internet authorities and even august officials from the US State Department. This wasn’t so much an entrepreneurial movement as a stampede.
As one of the interviewers, it was as exhausting as it was exhilarating. But it proved to be a microcosm of the Celebration of Entrepreneurship: energy, enthusiasm and excitement harnessed in bursts of engaging, enlightening discussion – and little of it encumbered by rigid orchestration or scripting. The presence of Pakistani cricketer-turned-social entrepreneur Imran Khan on the stage, and later Aramex founder Fadi Ghandour’s question and answer session with young entrepreneurs, even drew sizeable crowds, proof of the growing connection between the platform and its audience.
Ultimately, the Celebration of Entrepreneurship was about one word: possibility. Ideas turned into actions, connections created communities, meetings evolved into mentorships and principles becoming concrete policies. The Wamda Live Stage captured much of it – a spirit that Wamda.com will now take across the whole region.