THE BLOG

Startup Weekend Damascus: Entrepreneurship in a War Zone

02/13/2014 01:24 pm ET | Updated Apr 15, 2014

Imperialism, ideology, and war are not historically unique developments in a city that predates human record. After ten millennia, there is very little that the city of Damascus has not experienced. A Startup Weekend; however, is one such event.

On February 18, 2014, the international community will gain its first introscopic look into the entrepreneurial community of Damascus, the capital city of civil-war-laden Syria.

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The 54-hour event will measure public interest in Startup technologies within Damascus, and will reward a winner with access to venture funding and publicity. The three-day event, organized by Ahmed Sufian Bayram, will be preceded by a "bootcamp" for participants, and will include a cast of international entrepreneurs are scheduled to attend online.

Event mentorship will be led by Syrian international entrepreneurs, among others,  including: Rania Succar (Google); Kinan Sweidan (Shooofi) and Fadi Mujahid (Game Power 7). The event will be held in the city's Al Mezzah neighborhood, west of central Damascus, and near the presidential palace.

Startup Weekends have been a community rallying event among hopeful entrepreneurs across the Arab world for several years. Prior to Damascus, Startup Weekends have been hosted in Ramallah, Amman, Jeddah and Beirut, as well as Cairo, Dubai, and Casablanca. Iran will host its first Startup Weekend beginning February 12, and Libya is scheduled to host its first on February 27.

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Despite conferences in Geneva to strategize peace, this month has seen a wave of brutal events in the Syrian conflict; including al-Qaeda sponsored massacres, and continued violence within Damascus. As the Assad regime summons international support to combat "terror" within its tattered dominion, video has surfaced detailing indiscriminate "barrel bombing" of civilian locations within the southern suburbs of Damascus.

Registration for the event closed on February 5, with nearly 400 registrations filed. To those afforded the luxury of physical safety and internet access, the events of the weekend will be traceable on Twitter under the hashtag #SWDamascus and @SW Damascus.

The UP Global blog will host follow up coverage of the events, people and ideas that made Startup Weekend Damascus possible, including an interview with Ahmed Sufian Bayram, and a review of the Damascus' brightest entrepreneurial thinking.