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Women in Tech Startup Competition: Middle East Launched by UN Tourism

by Madaline Dunn

UN Tourism has launched the second edition of the Women in Tech Startup Competition: Middle East, which aims to support women entrepreneurs in the sustainable tourism and tech space. 

The edition follows the inaugural initiative, which saw over 140 startups and SMEs apply from 11 countries. 

The four winners were announced last year during the celebrations for World Tourism Day on 27 September in Riyadh, including:

  • Fosha (Egypt),
  • Sparkle Haze (UAE), 
  • Plastus Biotech (Saudi Arabia), and
  • Xenios Academy (UAE).

To be eligible, enterprises must operate within the tourism sector and related industries, and offer sustainable solutions for “people, the planet, and prosperity,” it was shared. 

Their entrepreneurial project must also be at an early stage, idea stage, or Series A stage of their journey. 

The competition has three categories:

  • People and Skills is for startups with environmental and sustainable approaches in education tech, social connectivity, wellness or health, with cross-cutting benefits with tourism
  • Green Travel Solutions is for startups that use environmentally friendly and sustainable approaches in green tech, green infrastructure, travel and logistics, urban development or rural development, with cross-cutting benefits with tourism, and
  • Market Innovator is for startups working with emergent technologies applied to tourism.

Key global and regional partners and ecosystem collaborators will support the winning ‘Women in Tech’ startups. Almosafer, Plug and Play, AIM, The Bench, Impulse4Women and Bilakatu will be providing visibility, personalised mentorship, consultancy and access to potential investment to the best entrepreneurial solutions, it was shared. 

Finalists will also be invited to join the global UN Tourism Innovation Network.

Commenting on the Women in Tech competition, UN Tourism Executive Director Natalia Bayona said: “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 launched more than 25 startup competitions and innovation challenges, covering over 150 countries globally. 

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