Economy & Business Middle East
empowerME Conversations October 5, 2021

Democratizing commerce

By Atlantic Council

In Season 2, Episode 2 of empowerME Conversations podcast, host and Atlantic Council empowerME Director Amjad Ahmad speaks with Facebook Managing Director for the Middle East and North Africa Ramez Shehadi on digitization, the future of e-commerce, supporting SMEs, and changes needed to improve the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

If we want to evolve the general wellness and well-being of communities in our part of the world, we must significantly invest in enabling, equipping, and supporting micro, small, and medium enterprises.

Ramez Shehadi, Facebook Managing Director, Middle East and North Africa

Key Takeaways

0:00 Intro
1:23 Ramez talks about digitization of the Middle East economy, what it means and what he is seeing on the ground
3:40 MENA internet penetration higher than global average
5:22 Ramez shares some of the reasons why he feels that businesses are still struggling to join the digital world
7:55 100,000 UAE Golden Visas for coders: Who can apply and how
8:53 Ramez talks about what he does with his role at Facebook to get more of the SMEs online and be digital
9:30 New unicorns spike 491% to 136 in Q2, says report
11:10 Facebook launches #LoveLocal initiative in MENA
14:22 Ramez talks about how the pandemic has been kind of a wake up call for the SMEs to go big and digitalize
17:09 Huda Beauty
17:44 Will conversational commerce be the next big thing in online shopping?
18:04 Ramez talks about e-commerce and c-commerce and how they are evolving in the Middle East region and what plans Facebook has towards that
22:42 Dubai ‘ghost kitchen’ Kitopi is adjusting to life in a pandemic
27:06 Ramez talks about the transformation of Facebook in terms of the revenue structure and how it changes as the environment changes
29:15 Ramez talks about advertisements in the Middle East and if it has fully digitalized in terms of even putting the advertiser’s money online
32:18 Ramez also talks about scalability and how brands are being able to scale globally thanks to platforms like Facebook especially in the Middle East
36:16 Ramez talks about what people should be focusing on in the ecosystem for them to be successful especially in the Middle East
39:15 Ramez talks about entrepreneurship and why we need to widen its definition so as to even accommodate the small businesses and what can be done to help the SMEs
42:36 Ramez talks about how Facebook balances its business goals and the social issues especially in the Middle East region

Find the empowerME podcast on the app of your choice

The empowerME Conversations podcast features conversations with business and government leaders shaping the Middle East. The podcast sheds light on key opportunities and challenges for companies and governments, and Season 2 will focus on CEOs in the region.

empowerME at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East is shaping solutions to empower entrepreneurs, women, and the private sector and building influential coalitions to drive regional economic integration, prosperity, and job creation.

Related Experts: Amjad Ahmad