UPDATE: Top Middle East technology conferences

The Middle East hosts a wide range of events where technology leaders can meet peers, learn from experts and check out a wide range of tech topics. Coronavirus travel restrictions have caused some upcoming events to be cancelled, so check out our updated list, and always doublecheck with event organizers before finalizing plans.

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The Middle East and North Africa region, and particularly the GCC trade hub of Dubai, has become home to a wide range of conferences exploring just about every facet of technology, security and management that CIOs and other tech leaders have to deal with. 

Tech conferences are a way to meet IT leaders from vendors, private business and the public sector, and learn about emerging technology trends -- including IoT, 5G, AI and blockchain -- while learning new ways to optimize legacy systems and connect them to newer computing systems including public cloud platforms.

Below is CIO Middle East's list of the top tech conferences in the Middle East, based on topics of interest, quality and range of speakers and exhibitors.

NOTE: The coronavirus pandemic has caused some conferences to be cancelled or postponed due in large part to current travel restrictions people face worldwide. For example, the Gulf Information Security Expo and Conference (GISEC), the region's largest cybersecurity event (see list below), has been moved from 6–8 April to 1-3 September this year. We will be updating this list on a regular basis, and adding more events as more information becomes available. However, before committing to travel, doublecheck the status of the event you wish to attent. 

Bahrain International Tech Expo (BITEX)

March 24-26, Manama, Bahrain

Entering its 10th edition, BITEX calls on companies, consulting and research organizations and more to showcase their latest developments and services in the ICT industry. BITEX allows industry leaders and solutions providers to highlight their wares and solutions outside of the noise of Bahrain's technology week in September.

With the recent opening of AWS's new region in Bahrain, the island kingdom may well become a regional technology industry hub. Held under the theme "Innovative and Adaptive Digital Transformation", BITEX promises "unrivaled conference content with a major exhibition and a well-crafted networking opportunity."

Future Datacentres & Cloud Infrastructure Summit

1-2 April, Dubai, UAE

This data centre and cloud conference includes data centre management, infrastructure, and security topics. The event includes sessions on incorporating AI, flash storage, new cooling technologies and edge computing into date centre infrastructure. It also includes sessions on managing hybrid private-public cloud technology and deciding which data centre is most suitable for your enterprise. The conference also features panels on the evolving cybersecurity landscape.

World Fintech Forum

15 April, Amman, Jordan

The fintech forum will examine how emerging technology in the areas of digital banking, AI and blockchain will shape financial services. It's expected to bring together more than 350 participants form the worlds of banking, tech, and government regulators.

cOcOnHacking and Cyber Security Middle East

June 15, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Previously known as Cyber Safe, c0c0n claims to be one of the longest-running conferences in the area of information security and hacking in the world. The conference orgnaizers say the goal of the event "is to provide a platform to discuss, showcase, educate, understand and spread awareness on the most recent trends in information, cyber, hacking and hi-tech crimes." It also intends to be a meeting place for information security experts from the public and private spheres, including law enforcement agencies and research institutions.

Gulf Information Security Expo and Conference (GISEC)

1-3 September, Dubai, UAE

GISEC, the region's largest cybersecurity event, has been postponed, from 6–8 April to 1-3 September this year. More than 12,000 attendees are expected to visit GISEC and Future Blockchain Summit (see below), with which GISEC is co-located. GISEC organizers say they expect more than 170 tech vendors to exhibit, and more than 200 speakers to make presentations. In addition, there will be a total of more than 300 conference sessions, lectures and workshops at both events. The agenda focuses on core security-related topics including AI, 5G and cloud.

Future Blockchain Summit

2-3 September, Dubai, UAE

Future Blockchain Summit, co-located with GISEC (see above) bills itself as "the world's largest blockchain festival." Speakers come from acedemia, business, stock exchanges, government, and the world of tech vendors. 

GEO 2020

14-17 September, Bahrain

The GEO conference has been a premier petroleum geoscience event for more than two decades, and is now becoming, as the organizers put it, a "next generation energy event," gathering oil companies, equipment manufacturers, tech vendors and service  companies. It has a strong tech component, with sessions on AI, machine learning and big data.


27 September - 1 October, Dubai, UAE

With more than 100,000 attendees and 4,500 exhibtors expected at the conference, GITEX is the biggest tech event in the Middle East, and one of the largest in the world. It will include nine tracks on the following topics:

  • 5G
  • Smart Cities
  • Startup management for growth
  • Fintech
  • Digital Marketing
  • Retail tech
  • Energy
  • Healthcare
  • Education

EXPO 2020

20 October 2020 - 10 April, 2021, Dubai, UAE

EXPO 2020 is not a tech conference, but in a sense it is a technology showcase. It's a world exposition, or world's fair, sanctioned by the International Bureau of Expositions, meant to show off the achievements of nations around the world, and more than 190 country pavilions are expected to be constructed. But it is also viewed as a prototype for smart cities – communities that make use of IT and operational technology to improve the performance of urban services -- based on the internet of things (IoT), connected devices that collect information and provide a stream of data that can be analyzed and acted on. Expo 2020 will in a sense act as a proving ground for how IoT will pave the way for new services and business opportunities.

(Additional reporting by Annie Bricker in Dubai.)


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