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STEP2018 Doubles its Speaker Lineup

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STEP2018, the MENA region’s biggest tech festival, is doubling the number of speakers at this year’s conference. Taking place in its new location in Dubai Internet City from 28th to 29th March, and with four new industry-focused stages, STEP2018 will host some of the world’s most sought-after technologists, investors, entrepreneurs and creatives.

This year’s festival will see more than 300 speakers take to its STEP Start, STEP X, STEP Money and STEP Digital stages, many of them respected pioneers in their fields. Attendees can look forward to thought-provoking discussions, inspiring talks and rigorous debate.

“Promoting positive dialogue firmly remains one of our key pillars at STEP Group. Each year we aim to bring speakers who can contribute to and encouragingly disrupt the startup ecosystem. By ensuring that each speaker aligns with our values we can be confident that our audience, particulary the youth, will come away inspired to contribute to their societies, each in their own way. The pioneering startup community in the MENA region has a thirst for innovation, knowledge and guidance and we feel it is our duty to enable their growth. Our new format in our new location means we can host more speakers than in previous years, and bring an even richer festival experience to our attendees,” explains Ray Dargham, CEO, STEP Group.

STEP keynote presentations and discussions taking place on the main stage will include Marc D’arcy: Vice President, Chief Creative Officer at Facebook. He’ll be joined by pioneers of the Arabic calligraphy street art movement and arguably the region’s best known twins, the Ashekman Brothers.

With the UAE Government committed to making the country one of the most innovative nations in the world, the STEP X stage will take a deep look at the technologies that will shape our future cities. Confirmed speakers include Sven Hackmann, from Next Future Transportation and among the topics to be discussed are the future of transport, what a fully autonomous city will look like and how artificial intelligence and the rise of robots are impacting identification and citizenship.

For STEP Digital, Asad Rehman from Unilever will be joined by global influencers in the digital media industry. On the STEP Money stage, Head of regulatory relations for APAC and Middle East at Ripple, Sagar Sarbhai will be joined by Fintech experts like Ola Doudin from Bitoasis to discuss how the tech ecosystem is transitioning to support fintech startups.

More than 250 startups are expected to attend STEP2018 to showcase their grassroots business ideas to some of the world’s top investors as part of Startup Base Camp. For those still refining their ideas the STEP Start program aims to educate and empower the next generation of entreprenuers from the MENA region. Confirmed speakers include motivational speaker and founder of Dubai-based angel investor platform Womena, Elissa Freiha.

The STEP2018 programme concludes on both days with a diverse lineup of musical performances from some of the region’s best talent in the genres of hip-hop, pop, and alternative music. Attendees can also look forward to other festival activities like food trucks, market vendors, street artists, gamers and skaters.

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Events

Acer Launches the EMEA Predator League 2022 eSports Tournament for Rocket League Fans

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Acer has announced the EMEA Predator League 2022, bringing its commitment to grassroots eSports to the next level: a new game, more countries, bigger prize pool. From September to November, teams from the EMEA region, regardless of their skill level, can compete in the high-powered arcade-style soccer and vehicular mayhem game “Rocket League” in the popular 3 vs 3 modes.

In addition to action-packed eSports fun and fantastic prizes, the 2022 edition will also offer exclusive promotions from 15 local retail partners, as well as community giveaways, raffles, and much more. “We are very excited to announce the second season of the EMEA Predator League after its initial season in 2020,” said Hajo Blingen, Vice President Marketing, Acer Europe, Middle East & Africa. “With our World Leading Gaming Portfolio, it is important to always reinvent ourselves. The EMEA Predator League 2022 ties in with our commitment to make eSports accessible for everyone competing in Rocket League. At the same time, fans can look forward to special offers and promotions from our involved retail partners.”

Eligible for the National Qualifier are teams from the following countries and regions:

  1. Europe: Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg), DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Nordics (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden), Spain, Czech Republic, Turkey, Hungary, United Kingdom (UK)
  2. Middle East: Egypt, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia (KSA)
  3. Africa: South Africa

Two out of three players need to be residents of the respective country. The matches on the virtual pitch are played 3 vs 3. In the first stage, teams compete in the National Qualifiers. There are two qualifier rounds per country. The two best teams from each round qualify for the National Finals. The winner of the finals will participate in the EMEA International Final competing against the champions from other countries. The National Finals in the Middle East will be on 12th November and will be broadcasted live on TWITCH with the grand final taking place November 20th on twitch.tv/PredatorGaming

Registration for the Predator League starts on September 26th and runs through October 21st, 2022. All other dates, information, stream, and details can be found at www.predatorleague.gg.

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Events

Meta Connect 2022 Date Announced

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Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and Founder of Meta announced on his Facebook account the official October 11 event date for Meta Connect 2022. In the same post, the CEO also added a new image of Project: Cambria, the long-awaited follow-up to the Meta Quest.

Meta Connect, formally Facebook Connect, is an annual online showcase event highlighting the firm’s technology updates and roadmaps. Last year’s event was exceedingly notable because the Menlo Park-based firm publicly rebranded itself as Meta for the first time.

The event also saw Meta refocusing away from its social media foundations, moving the firm towards immersive Web3 technology and software. The Menlo Park-based firm set out its goals to create new XR technology and claim a foothold on the Metaverse.

The popularity of Metaverse technology has sky-rocketed thanks to last year’s Connect event. During the showcase, the firm introduced its vision of the Metaverse as an immersive social space where users can work and socialise.

Since the event, the firm has debuted its Horizons Metaverse globally. The Menlo Park-based also uses the fledging service as a testbed where budding immersive developers can design and distribute Metaverse content. The firm also supports Horizon developers with a series of XR funds and boot camps.

Meta Connect, formally Facebook Connect, is an annual online showcase event highlighting the firm’s technology updates and roadmaps. Last year’s event was exceedingly notable because the Menlo Park-based firm publicly rebranded itself as Meta for the first time.

The event also saw Meta refocusing away from its social media foundations, moving the firm towards immersive Web3 technology and software. The Menlo Park-based firm set out its goals to create new XR technology and claim a foothold on the Metaverse.

The popularity of Metaverse technology has sky-rocketed thanks to last year’s Connect event. During the showcase, the firm introduced its vision of the Metaverse as an immersive social space where users can work and socialise. Since the event, the firm has debuted its Horizons Metaverse globally. The Menlo Park-based also uses the fledging service as a testbed where budding immersive developers can design and distribute Metaverse content. The firm also supports Horizon developers with a series of XR funds and boot camps.

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Cool Stuff

Pop Culture Show Popcon Middle East Comes to Dubai in November 2022

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Dubai will be hosting its first edition of PopCon Middle East (PopConME) from the 10th  – 13th  November 2022. Promising the ultimate weekend, PopConME will showcase the best in Movies, TV, comics, graphic novels, anime, cosplay, and much more. In partnership with Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), Speedy Comics, and Alanza Trading, PopConME will take place at the Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC), Expo City Dubai, featuring exclusive workshops, movie screenings, Cosplay gaming competitions, and much more.

PopConME will be running as part of Dubai Esports Festival (DEF 2022) taking place from the 9th – 20th November 2022, the most exciting esports and gaming event in the Middle East, and a trend-setter for the region’s gaming industry which is set to cement Dubai’s position as a year-round global hub for esports and gaming.

“We are excited to introduce PopConME to Dubai. I have been a fan of comic books since I was a child and have been entrenched in the community from an early age. This is a dream come true for a true geek like me. I want this convention to have everything and more my geek heart desires.” said Amer Rashed Al Farooq, Deputy CEO, Speedy Comics Group, the region’s number one destination for vintage comics and pop culture collectibles.

This festival will give fans the opportunity to celebrate their favourite celebrities, meet like-minded people, and indulge in the world of fantasy all under one roof. Comic book geeks will get the opportunity to meet and greet their favourite talents up close, attend exclusive workshops and buy one-of-a-kind merchandise at the Artist Alley. Packed with interactive zones and activations PopConME will host its own People’s Choice Cosplay, Dungeons & Dragons, Pokémon/Yu-Gi-Oh Card Competitions.

Featuring a line-up of some of the biggest international talents, PopConME has already confirmed the attendance of Nightmare on Elm Street actress Katie Cassidy, who is also known for her portrayal of the demon Ruby in the fantasy horror series, Supernatural and Black Canary in Arrow. Also confirmed to attend are CW Supernatural Kevin Tran and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency actor, Osric Chau, and voice actor Ray Porter best known for his portrayal of DC Comics Villain, Darkseid in Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

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