Step Conference, the largest experiential tech festival in the world returns to Dubai for its ninth edition. The two-day event begins tomorrow and is expected to attract over 8000 attendees. Under the theme “The world in Dubai”, the event will showcase over 300 startups, mentoring sessions, a pitching competition, talks and panels featuring multiple influential leaders and speakers, discussing the latest topics and trends across key industries. Communicate spoke with Ray Dargham, CEO of STEP to learn what the ninth edition holds for the region.
What is the idea/inspiration behind the theme of this year’s STEP?
This year’s theme marks the start of our new strategy to make STEP a global conference, not just a regional one. We have partnered up with Dubai Internet City and the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) in order to make it happen. We have [a lineup of] speakers, startups, and investors from all over the world.
What do you hope to accomplish at this year’s STEP?
To have more international attendees [for the conference,] which I know we’ve achieved [this year.] This will help us to better position Dubai as a global startup hub.
What are some of the new additions to this year’s STEP?
We’ve added a wellness stage this year, which is extremely important for people who work in offices. We’ll also be showcasing another electric vehicle [which will be launched ] for the first time at the festival. Tons of tools and applications [have been employed] to better enhance the visitor’s experience at the event. One of them is called Holo guide, which is an AR-enabled guide for the event. The stage designs are made in such a way to provide a brand new experience to the visitor.
Why the need to adopt networking tools at this year’s conference?
People want to get more out of conferences in terms of content and networking, so we really [upgraded] with networking tools and technology, that will allow people to have a much better experience and make the most out of the event. One such application is called Brella, which allows people to pre-book meetings with [speakers, business prospects, etc.] The app uses AI and data to suggest and recommend the right people to one another. I’m really excited about this. I think we will have over 1,500 meetings happen at STEP through the app.