UPDATE: Top Middle East technology conferences

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many tech conferences and events in the Middle East to be cancelled or postponed. Here's CIO Middle East's list of major tech events, updated regularly to help you track the conferences that have been cancelled or postponed.

CIO | Middle East  >  UAE / United Arab Emirates  >  Dubai  >  Cityscape / skyline / night
Manjik / Getty Images

The Middle East hosts a wide range of events where technology leaders can meet peers and learn from experts. Unfortunately, the coronavirus crisis has caused many conferences scheduled for the first half of the year, particularly in April and May, to be cancelled or postponed.

The crisis has caused the postponement of Dubai Expo 2020, expected to be the biggest event of the year in the world. While not strictly speaking a tech event, the Expo is considered a showcase for IoT and other emerging technology.

Here are our picks for some of the larger and more interesting events still scheduled in the region for 2020. Tech conferences offer IT leaders a chance to check out the latest in emerging technology— including IoT, 5G, AI and blockchain — while learning new ways to optimise legacy systems and connect them to newer computing systems including public cloud platforms. The travel situation is still in flux globally however, so make sure to doublecheck before reserving a spot at a conference, and before booking travel.

World Fintech Forum

15 April, Amman, Jordan [Postponed: new date to be announced soon.]

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

15 June, 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 organisers 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.

Bahrain International Tech Expo (BITEX)

16-18 June, Manama, Bahrain [Changed from original March dates.]

Entering its 10th edition, BITEX calls on companies, consulting and research organisations 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."

International Conference on Networks, Blockchain and Internet of Things (NBIoT 2020)

20-21 June, Dubai , UAE

NBIoT aims to provide an international forum for sharing results and knowledge in theory, methodology and applications of networks, blockchain, and IoT. Papers have been requested on a variety of topics including:

  • Blockchain Scalability
  • Blockchain-based security for the IoT
  • IoT Connectivity and Networking
  • Electronics and Signal Processing for IoT
  • IoT Experimental Results and Deployment Scenarios
  • IoT Applications and Services

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 organisers 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. 

Future Datacentres & Cloud Infrastructure Summit

14-15 September, Dubai, UAE [Changed from original April dates.]

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.

GEO 2020

14-17 September, Manama, Bahrain [Changed from original March date.]

The GEO conference has been a premier petroleum geoscience event for more than two decades, and is now becoming, as the organisers 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. There has been discussion about whether it should be postponed but conference organisers have not made any formal announcements yet.

There are nine tracks scheduled on the following topics:

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


20-21 October, Dubai, UAE

Techspo showcases a variety of technologies, including mobile and SaaS apps, but has a marketing and advertising flavor, with organisers calling out AdTech and MarTech as primary themes. The showcase, organisers say, "brings together developers, brands, marketers, technology providers, designers, innovators and evangelists looking to set the pace in our advanced world of technology."

EXPO 2020

1 October 2021 - 31 March 2022, Dubai, UAE [The event has been postponed from its original dates in 2020-2021]

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.

International Conference on Advanced Computing and Intelligent Engineering (ICACIE)

28-29 December, Dubai, UAE

The primary goal of ICACIE is to examine the difficulties related to the practical administration of the advanced information being produced in the fields of intelligent engineering and advanced computing. "With the rate at which advancements in these fields are taking place, scholars, budding academics, and researchers in the initial stages of their careers are finding it more difficult than ever to constantly keep updated. This event endeavors to support them in getting updated with all the most modern and latest improvements," according to conference organisers.


Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 secrets of successful remote IT teams