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Tech Week: Palestinian companies make their marks in London

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With an eye on the most fundamental human connector of recognition, one trailblazing Palestinian company has travelled to London’s technology week to increase representation of the Arab world’s people and places across AI-based products.

“We noticed that generative AI tools were lacking the resonance from the Arab world due to a lack of data, so we decided to start providing Arab image datasets,” Mohammad Alnobani, the co-founder and chief executive of The Middle Frame, told The National.

His venture is at London Tech Week looking for more AI companies to partner with from within the 45,000-strong crowd at the conference.

The Middle Frame began life as an photograph company providing tens of thousands of images from 2,000 photographers in 16 countries in the Mena region. In their libraries are images that show the range of cultural and geographical experience and views from across the Arab world.

But now the company is branching out into the world of artificial intelligence, by providing datasets of images for machine learning. Essentially, it can provide a rich variety of datasets of uniquely Arab images that can be used by AI companies to create algorithms.

Within the 146 countries represented at this year’s London Tech Week, were around a dozen entrepreneurial companies from Palestine, keen to exhibit their wares, network and possibly create a partnership or two.

As London rapidly becomes a centre for AI innovation, The Middle Frame and several of the dozen Palestinian companies present at London Tech Week had an eye out for partnerships, investors and business networking opportunities, and Mr Alnobani said he had “a couple of really good leads for clients and potential collaborations”.

Omar Abdellatif, chief executive of Dragon Solutions, agreed that London Tech Week was “one of the most important venues in the world in this industry” and that attending the conference at the Olympia exhibition hall was a “very important opportunity”.

Based in Ramallah, Dragon Solutions products help their clients with marketing automation that facilitates customer interactions.

“Basically, every customer interaction starts with a chat – this is the most basic form of communication,” Mr Abdellatif told The National.

“When the customer comes in the chat, we qualify this customer, and we push them through separate flows, depending on their intent.”

Once the system recognises what the customer wants it will guide that customer to the appropriate department, be that sales, support or brand information.

“It’s a complete solution that helps you automate all the customer interaction and eliminates the human factor in between,” Mr Abdellatif said.

Tremendous opportunity

Also at the Palestinian Pavilion at London Tech Week was a FinTech company called Kanz, that specialises in connecting financial institutions such as banks with customers through an AI platform.

The idea is that an AI robot will help consumers find the right financial product for them, or find best pricing on a business loan.

“The documents are captured, assessed, verified and data is extracted, and then it enters through a process of risk analysis and pricing,” Kanz founder and vice chairman Bashar Abu Ein told The National.

At the end of that process, the customer is given a real-time market price for a specific banking product.

Mr Abu Ein said London Tech Week was a tremendous opportunity, because the UK capital is the “financial capital of the world.

“As a FinTech, it’s really good to be in this environment and meet VCs [venture capitalists] that are interested in FinTech solutions and meet customers that are interested in fintech solutions,” he said.

“And I love London,” he added, “Personally, I think it’s a great city to be in.”

Palestine-Israel war

Showing their products and skills at London Tech Week, was also an opportunity for the Palestinian companies to be seen in a context different to the one that has so dominated the news in the past nine months.

All three entrepreneurs have their roots in the West Bank, which they strenuously pointed out has suffered nowhere near the devastation that Gaza has in the current conflict with Israel. Nonetheless, they were all adamant that technology, and AI in particular, has a major part to play in Palestine’s economic development.

“What you hear about Palestine in the news is not the whole picture,” Mr Abdellatif said.

“Palestine has a very vibrant community in terms of education, in terms of technology, in terms of new media.

“We have a lot of engineers and programmers and developers and thousands who are graduating from universities each year.

“We are very up to date in terms of technology and the new revolution in AI. Any new technology we adopted very quickly in Palestine and take it to other countries as well.”

Although competition among the hundreds of Palestinian tech firms that applied to come to London Tech Week was fierce, Mr Abu Ein said he was not just representing his own company, but thousands of others.

“We are here with the voices of countless Palestinian entrepreneurs that want to have their voices heard around the world,” he said.

Updated: June 11, 2024, 5:54 PM

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