Women’s Empowerment Vital to Success, says UNWTO Chief
Women in Tech Startup Competition in the Middle East
The UN World Tourism Organization, on a significant day, World Tourism Day, divulged the victors of its much-anticipated Women in Tech Startup Competition in the Middle East. The contest, initialized in March to celebrate International Women’s Day, brought into focus women-led startups pioneering in innovative solutions and services designed for widespread social benefits. Featuring 143 contenders from diverse nations including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, and Syria.
Pushing Sustainable Progress with Biodegradable Bioplastic
The laurel for the Social Impact Category found its rightful owner in Saudi national Nouf Al-Hazmi, who leads Plastus Biotech. Her firm is distinguished in manufacturing PHA biodegradable bioplastic, ingeniously reusing organic waste in the process. This not only showcases innovation but also rings well with Saudi Arabia’s ambitions for sustainable development and commitment to carbon neutrality.
Innovating the Hospitality Sector with AI
The Tourism and Travel Experience category was dominated by Kirti Chandel’s unique contribution—an AI-based assistant speaker for hospitality settings. Dubbed “Woo-Hoo”, the device offers a blend of personalization, practicality, and green tech in the form of a single, clutter-free device, thereby paving the way towards green hospitality.
AI-Powered Employee Training in Hospitality
In the Future Tech Category, Zeljana Babic, CEO of Xenios Academy, emerged victorious with her AI-based training program for hospitality businesses. Her approach stands out in seeking profitability not from cutting costs but by investing in valuable employee education, testifying to the value of her product.
A New Era for Experiences through AI
The final category, Events and Community, was won by MENA region-based Fosha, an AI-powered application that facilitates booking of personalized experiences. The venture is led by CEO Menna Ayad whose user-friendly innovation proves to be a game-changer for the tourism industry in the region.
Investing in People, Planet and Prosperity: The Saudi Contribution
Executive Director of the UN World Tourism Organization, Natalia Bayona, emphasized the fast-growing tourism industry in Saudi Arabia. In addition to a surge in tourism, the middle-eastern nation has seen massive foreign direct investment growth, up by 80 percent according to a joint report with the UNWTO. The tourism sector, being the major employer of women and youth, can significantly contribute to the economy’s diversification.
The Power of Empowerment
The dynamic Bayona stressed on the importance of a supportive and empowering environment for the growth of innovative leaders. Talent and ideas can only reach fruition when they are trusted and encouraged.
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