Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Jordanians: Proud Geeky-techies, acquiring other skills fast!

Attending any regional conference provides insights into Middle Eastern trends, but one of the most striking facts at ArabNet in Beirut last week was that Jordanians made up 40 percent of attendees - it actually looked like more than that- and made up the majority of start-up entries in the event competitions.

It’s not a surprise to us, but it is indeed another affirmation to the whole region that there’s something special about Jordan. It cannot just be a coincidence that category leading regional arab digital businesses like Maktoob, Jeeran, Info2Cell and so many others happen to come out of Jordan!

People always ask me: “What is it about Jordan that makes it a fertile ground for technology and web entrepreneurs?”

My answer has evolved over the years, and until recently it was the following: “Well, we have a good education system, people have to find ways to ‘make it in life’ and the open market economy atmosphere for several decades has helped!”.

Now, I am adding to it an annex as follows: “Also, the rise of private-public sector initiatives and NGOs to boost entreprenuership, coupled with the efforts of many generous and forward thinking mentors is making Jordan the place to be as an entrepreneur.”

Let’s all thank these organizations (Queen Rania Fund for Entrepreneurship, Endeavor Jordan, PSUT Incubator, YEA and others) and people (Fadi Ghandour, Maher Qadoura, Fawaz AlZoubi and others). The biggest contribution they make is to invest/incubate and provide skill-sets, such as management and marketing support.

On another note, I also feel success can be due to national characteristics and stereo-types which contribute to directions youth take in building businesses.

Our typically ‘serious’, ‘detail oriented’ and ‘stubborn’ characters means we are ideally suited to be ‘geeky techies’; and when our tech-media start-up has the potential for regional success, we usually need the help of our ‘more flexible’ Arab brethren to market it!

These stereo-types are changing, of course, as the region becomes a ‘common market’, and all Arabs are professionally trained to excel in various fields; but don’t underestimate our special talents, coupled with Jordan’s social stability, economic openness and our hunger to succeed.

Some say we’ve got the makings of ‘Silicon Valley Arabia’, I agree but feel we need to do more to truly earn that reputation and hold on to it by ‘breeding’, ‘retaining’ and ‘rewarding’ the talented Jordanians who drive it. Let’s capitalize on this organic success and truly become a powerhouse.


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