April 13, 2024

AN, LAHORE: Pakistan’s largest tech conference and expo, Future Fest, kicked off on Friday, with a range of Saudi startups present at the event to explore opportunities for collaboration and expansion.
Themed #SaveTheFuture, Future Fest 2023 is a three-day expo bringing together 50,000 participants, representatives of 500 startups and 200 exhibitors from more than 30 countries.
After premiering in Islamabad last year, the expo’s second edition is held in Lahore in partnership with the administration of Punjab province and the Punjab Information Technology Board.
The Saudi delegation taking part in the event includes senior representatives from the Riyadh-based Digital Cooperation Organization and Invest Saudi, the investment attraction and promotion brand under the Kingdom’s Ministry of Investment.
“I’m hoping we come out of this event with some MoUs and deals signed, (and) potentially new hires being done in Pakistan as part of this event,” DCO director Abdul Karim Samakie told the audience during Friday’s panel session titled “Saudi ecosystem and expansion opportunities.”
Rizwan Saeed Sheikh, Pakistan’s additional foreign secretary for the Middle East, who was part of the panel, said that there were vast opportunities for collaboration, especially as Pakistan had human capital and a vast network of IT professionals who could join the Kingdom’s digital job market and ecosystem.
“With proximity to the Middle East, with a history and tradition of fraternal relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, Pakistan certainly offers technical power and prowess,” he said.
Another cooperation enabler is the fact that both Pakistani and Saudi societies are dominated by young people. “Pakistan and Saudi Arabia both have young populations,” said journalist Raza Rumi, also a panel member.
“Young people in both countries want to join the civil services, the government.
“I can tell you Pakistan has a role to play in human capital and supply chains,” added Faisal Sultan, vice president and managing director for the Middle East of electric vehicle manufacturer Lucid Motors.
“We see a lot of that at Lucid.”
Last week, ahead of the tech conference, Future Fest CEO Arzish Azam said that the event aims to provide a “platform for greater collaboration and growth, and indeed a new dimension to what is an already historic relationship between Pakistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“The Saudi tech ecosystem is growing very fast. In Pakistan we have the talent and startups that can support this growth,” he said.
Among the business representatives from the Kingdom attending Future Fest 2023 are educational and learning platforms AlGooru, Classera, financial and insurance services Hala, Derayah Financial, Moyasar, and Takadao, transport monitoring service Tracking, e-commerce companies Salla, Diggipacks, Salasa, and Nana, software developers Squadio, Qoyod, digital solutions firm Elm and AI technology developer Mozn.
They are accompanied by organizations supporting startup development in Saudi Arabia, including Merak Capital, Nama Ventures, Khwarizmi Ventures and the Misk Foundation.

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