UN Tourism Launches Women in Tech Startup Competition: Middle East

UN Tourism Launches Women in Tech Startup Competition: Middle East

UN Tourism has launched the second edition of its Women in Tech Startup Competition: Middle East. The initiative aims to highlight and support women entrepreneurs who are shaping the future of sustainable tourism and technology across the region.

Applications now Open  

The competition targets startups that are led by women and based in the Middle East. Enterprises must be operating within the tourism sector and related industries, and offer sustainable solutions for people, the planet, and prosperity. They must also be an entrepreneurial project at an early stage, idea stage, or Series A stage of their journey. Applications are open for the following three categories:   

  • People and Skills: this category calls for startups with environmental and sustainable approaches in education tech, social connectivity, wellness or health, with cross-cutting benefits with tourism.  
  • Green Travel Solutions: 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. 
  • Market Innovators: for startups working with emergent technologies applied to tourism. 

UN Tourism has welcomed key global and regional partners and ecosystem collaborators to support the winning startups. Almosafer, Plug and Play, AIM, The Bench, Impulse4Women and Bilakatu will be providing visibility, personalized mentorship, consultancy and access to potential investment to the best entrepreneurial solutions. This year's applications will be processed through Plug and Play's open innovation platform, the largest in the world, and the finalists will also be invited to join the global UN Tourism Innovation Network.  

The launch was announced at the AIM Congress, a leading investment platform, in Abu Dhabi, UAE, during a special UN Tourism Investment Forum session on “Investing in Innovation and Enabling Women Entrepreneurs”. 

The second edition follows on from the success of the inaugural initiative, with over 140 startups and SMEs applying from 11 countries. The four winners, Fosha (Egypt), Sparkle Haze (UAE), Plastus Biotech (Saudi Arabia), Xenios Academy (UAE) were announced last year during the celebrations for World Tourism Day on 27 September in Riyadh.  

UN Tourism and Women Empowerment 

UN Tourism is committed to advancing the positive impact of tourism on women's lives, thereby contributing to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 5 - Gender Equality. The organization has been actively supporting women entrepreneurs, working to propel the tourism sector forward and to foster inclusivity.  

UN Tourism Executive Director Natalia Bayona says: “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.”  

UN Tourism and Innovation 

Since 2018, UN Tourism has launched more than 25 startup competitions and innovation challenges, covering over 150 countries around the world. With over 20,000 participants and more than 350 top startups mapped with USD 2+ billion in funding, UN Tourism continues its efforts to support digitalization and innovation to advance the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Tourism is a tool for positive transformation and inclusive economic development. 

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