After presenting the results of a background study on data science in the region and listening to interventions and discussions from various stakeholders, I put - in a comment - a brief recipe for the data driven innovation in the MENA region, which was tweeted under the #ddiMENA hashtag. Here's an elaboration on the components:
While there, I saw myself in a similar event in a different setting. We were in a field and near the exit point two 10-year old boys approached me. One of them was bright and the other was just giving company. The boy, who wasn't privileged enough, handed me a CV and said: "my name is Mahmoud al-Faqeer (Arabic for poor) and I'd like to work with you". I said I am not an employer myself but I'll make sure my colleagues accommodate you. Then I discovered that whoever collected a CV must pay a 20LE deposit which I did and woke up right away that morning.
In two hours, we were at the pyramids and I saw the likes of Mahmoud (both boys and girls) there. My colleague and I saw the opportunities and different concepts of what value could be and what business models, marketing tools and supply chains apply there. Thinking within local context opens up horizons and generate ideas one would have never dreamed up going to business schools in Harvard and its likes.
On my way back, I got to see the dark side of the picture, or problems to be solved as a prerequisite for sustainable development. You can't bomb a country and build a school in a refugee camp as an act of charity, or subsidize an occupation and offer entrepreneurial activities to its victims.
On a more positive note, the data revolution has already started and we must have the championship, commitment, determination, self reliance and grit to make it happen, succeed and scale for the benefit of the region and the world as well.