Held under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and President of Hamdan bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU)

  2018 Keynote Speakers

Hsueh-Yung Benjamin Koo

Main Keynote Speaker

Prof. Koo is one of the founders of iCenter@Tsinghua, a school-in-school experiment at Tsinghua University, Beijing, where he serves as the Director of International Relations of iCenter. He works on the design and deployment strategies of digital learning infrastructures for individuals and institutions. He created a collective-learning methodology: Extreme Learning Process (XLP), which is being practiced at many levels of educational institutions in China. Based on XLP, Prof. Koo co-created an associate degree program at Tsinghua: “Minor in Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship”, that covers all disciplinary domains at this general-purpose university, and aims at using the experience as a basis to inform and reform higher education practices in China. Prof. Koo’s research interest is related to knowledge management in general. He earned a doctoral degree in Engineering Systems Division, and a master degree in System Design and Management, both from MIT. He also had a master degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, and a bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering, both from University of Minnesota.

Dr. Amer Ahmad Sharif

Health & Environment Track

Dr Amer Ahmad Sharif is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Dubai Healthcare City Authority – Education Sector (DHCE) and the Vice Chancellor of the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU).
Dr Sharif leads the education sector within the Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA). The sector oversees the development of the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU).

As CEO, he has broadened the reach of MBRU, established in 2014 to advance individual and community healthcare status in the UAE. He has guided the University since inception, strengthening collaborations with international academic institutions – the Queen’s University Belfast, one of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities, and many more regionally and internationally.

Dr Sharif has been instrumental in raising the profile of MBRU through its academic programs at the Hamdan Bin Mohammed College of Dental Medicine for dental postgraduates and the College of Medicine which welcomed its first cohort of undergraduates in 2016.

He has a Medical Degree from the College of Medicine and Health Sciences (CMHS) from the UAE University, a Master of Science (MSc) in Healthcare Management from the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI) and a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Mapping the UAE Health System: Challenges and Recommendations from the UAE University.

Dr. Fengchun Miao

Smart Learning Track

Dr. Fengchun Miao is the Chief of the Unit for ICT in Education at UNESCO, Education Sector, headquarters in Paris. He is leading UNESCO’s major programmes in ICT in education policy planning and development, ICT competency standards for teachers and students (ICT CFT), Open Educational Resources (OER), mobile learning, and future e-school. He is in charge of UNESCO Prize for the Use of ICTs in Education. He is responsible for coordinating the inter-UN-agency cooperation in the field of ICT for SDGs and the use of Artificial Intelligence in Education.

He has launched the follow major ICT in education events of UNESCO: International Conferences on ICT and SDG 4 for Education 2030 which has been convened twice (2015 and 2017) , UNESCO Mobile Learning Weeks (for six years consecutively since 2011), Asia-Pacific Ministerial Forums on ICT in Education which has been organized for five times since 2010, and African Ministerial Forums on ICT in Education which has been organized twice. He has been leading the development of the following major documents of UNESCO: 2015 Qingdao Declaration and the 2017 Qingdao Statement, UNESCO Global Policy Guidelines on harnessing ICT for achieving Education 2030, UNESCO ICT in Education Policy Toolkits, and Indicators for the Adoption and Impacts of OER. He has been co-leading the development of UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers (ICT CFT), 2017 Action Plan for OER, and Mobile Learning Policy Guidelines. He initiated Deans’ Forum on ICT-pedagogy Integration for teacher education institutions and promoted the model in more than 30 countries in Africa and Asia. He has directly planned and organized more than 30 workshops on ICT in education policy development for more than 1000 policy makers from over 50 countries, and 15 workshop on OER policy development for more than 20 countries.

Before joining UNESCO, Dr. Miao was the Director General of the National Research Centre for Computer Education, Ministry of Education, China. In that capacity, he was responsible for the development of ICT in education policy and ICT standards and managing the National Association for the Use of ICT in K-12 Schools of China. Highlights of his achievements during that period include National Guidelines for Curriculum Reform for China K-12 Schools, National ICT in Education Master Plan 2005-2010, ICT Curriculum Standards for Students (K-12), China Educational Technology Standard for Teachers, and five series of ICT textbooks for students.


Dr. Ahmed Mourady

Islamic Banking and Finance Track

Dr. Mourady is a 20+ years dedicated expert who led digital transformation in various industries. Starting in the academic career, he has managed to excel in higher education, Digital Marketing, Ecommerce, and Fintech.
Dr. Mourady is a visionary executive and management consultant with in-depth expertise in Financial Technologies; he is the Head of Strategy in Inbound Fintech in UK and member of Fintech accelerators groups and networks in UK, UAE and Egypt.

Dr. Mourady is a frequent speaker in international conferences and events with a focus in the areas of Fintech, E-commerce and Marketing Automation.

Dr. Mourady’s qualifications include a PhD in computer sciences from the UK. Professionally, he has been certified as CMD from ICSC and Inbound Certified from HubSpot. Personally, he holds 2 Guinness World Records.

Professor Asha Singh Kanwar

Smart Learning Track

Professor Asha Singh Kanwar, one of the world’s leading advocates of learning for sustainable development, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL). Prior to joining COL, Professor Kanwar served briefly at UNESCO’s Regional Office for Education in Africa where she came after a distinguished career at the Indira Gandhi National Open University, India.

Professor Kanwar has over 35 years of experience in teaching, research and administration. She has written, edited a dozen books and published numerous papers and articles. Her speeches and presentations are available at www.col.org.

A recipient of several awards and fellowships, Professor Kanwar received the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) Prize of Excellence and the Meritorious Service Award for outstanding contributions in open and distance education from the Asian Association of Open Universities. She has been conferred six honorary doctorates: from the Vardhman Mahaveer Open University, KK Handiqui State Open University, India; the Open University, UK; the Open University of Sri Lanka; University of Swaziland and Wawasan Open University, Malaysia.

Mr. Idriss Al Rifai

Quality and Business Management Track

Idriss Al Rifai is an entrepreneur passionate about disrupting the Middle East retail market with technologies and customer-centric services that enable the growth of e-commerce in the region. Idriss has developed and optimized a last mile delivery solution specifically for the e-commerce needs and requirements in the Middle East.

In 2012, Idriss founded Fetchr which has evolved to become a full end-to-end logistic solution, backed by technology, for e-commerce companies, regional players, social media sellers as well as SMBs in the MENA region. In addition to its B2C and standard C2C deliveries powered through its app, Fetchr also recently launched an on-demand delivery service, the first of its kind in the region. Fetchr is also the first company in MENA to raise $52M in funding to date ($11M Series A and $41M Series B), led by a top tier Silicon Valley VC, New Enterprise Associates. This opened up the doors for other startups and entrepreneurs to receive funding form outside the region. Idriss’s goal is to empower all deliveries through technology in emerging markets.

Previously Idriss worked for MarkaVIP, a leading ecommerce player in the MENA region, where he headed the operations and built an in-house logistics department for the company to expedite deliveries. Prior to this he worked as a consultant at Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

Idriss holds degrees from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques of Paris (Sciences Po) and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He is also a Rath and Fulbright scholar and Endeavor entrepreneur.


Mr. Safder Nazir

Quality and Business Management Track

Safder heads Huawei’s Digital Industry Center of Excellence, prior to which he has held various leadership roles in global ‘blue chip’ companies. With over 20 years of experience across the world in industry verticals including real estate, smart cities and smart grid, Safder has enabled global companies to deliver exceptional results in new lines of business. Key to this success has been the innovative use of technology to drive business transformational outcomes.
Having held senior leadership positions as the customer, the consultant and the vendor, this 360 degree view combined with over 10 years in the Middle East region gives Safder a rounded perspective of the market, challenges and opportunities. He has worked directly with city and government leaders to help formalize their strategies to enable next generation services to be delivered.


Dr. Petar Stojanov

Smart Learning Track

Petar has navigated multiple careers over three continents across three industries, first as a decade-long academic research scientist and university lecturer in Australia, then as a corporate technical consultant in Germany, before settling in the UAE as a management consultant and entrepreneur.
Identifying early in his career that scientific principles are as powerful when applied to solving business challenges as they are for scientific challenges, Petar founded Ebtikaar, a boutique advisory that is obsessed with turning the Art of disruptive innovation into a Science.
In less than a year, Ebtikaar has executed a portfolio of successful projects across the UAE, including the region’s first academically-supported entrepreneurship accelerator mentorship program, as well as building intrapreneurship and innovation competencies in the Dubai Government under the highly-acclaimed EXPO 2020 and Dubai 10X initiatives. With a focus on youth talent development, Ebtikaar is working alongside the UAE Ministries of Education and Youth to develop innovation competencies across the youth of the UAE.
Petar is a contributing writer for Entrepreneur Middle East, Arabian Business and Inc. Arabia. Nominated for the 2017 Arabian Business ‘Mentor of the Year’ award, Petar is a Global Mentor for the 1776 incubator, and is advising a number of Emirati entrepreneurs launching startups and new business ventures in cybersecurity, technology, Retail and F&B.

Mr. Khalid Ferdous Howladar

Mr. Khalid Ferdous Howladar

Islamic Banking and Finance Track

Khalid Howladar is the Managing Director and Founder of Acreditus, a boutique advisory practice created to serve the risk, rating and Islamic finance needs of the Gulf and Islamic credit markets. With his global perspectives, he is a recognised authority in his field and has addressed investors worldwide as well as audiences at the World Bank, IMF, ECB and IIF. Other interests include blockchain and inclusive capitalism.
Previously, Khalid spent 15 years at Moody’s Investor’s Service London and Dubai as Global Head – Islamic Finance while concurrently Head of the GCC banking team. This was after senior roles covering securitisation and structured credit.

Dr. Demetris F. Lekkas

Dr. Demetris F. Lekkas

Health & Environment Track

Dr Demetris Francis Lekkas is Associate Professor in the Department of Environment (University of the Aegean, Greece). He is the Director of the Waste Management Laboratory and leader of the Analysis and Simulation of Environmental Systems research group. He holds a PhD in Hydrology from Imperial College London (UK). From 2002 to 2004 he worked as research assistant at Imperial College London on single-site continuous rainfall modelling – part of the DEFRA (UK) funded project “Improved Methods for National Spatial – Temporal Rainfall and Evaporation Modelling for BSM (Broad Scale Modelling)”. His research interests include Water resources analysis and simulation, catchment hydrology, analysis and evaluation of hydrological, model identification and evaluation, development of tools for water quantity and quality management, time series analysis and extreme values estimation, droughts and climate change impacts assessment, integrated waste management, composting, circular economy and eco-effectiveness. Dr Lekkas has participated in numerous EU and Greek projects and published more than 60 scientific papers. Moreover, he is the chairman of the International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology (CEST), a biennial conference held since 1989 (the biggest environmental conference in Greece) and executive director of Global NEST Journal. Current research activity includes the coordination of the project “Geo-Ergon Paideia: Start Up Farm: Skills for future eco-farmers (funded under the Erasmus+ programme), the coordination of projects associated with Municipal Solid Waste Management in Greece (funded by Greek municipalities) and the participation in the Research Infrastructure «ENIRISST: Intelligent Research Infrastructure for Shipping, Supply chain, Transport and Logistics” (funded by Greek General Secretariat for Research and Technology). Recently he was appointed as a member of the Board of Research and Innovation of the North Aegean Region.

Abdallah Shanableh

Prof. Abdallah Shanableh

Health & Environment Track

Abdallah Shanableh is a Professor of Environmental Engineering and Director of the Research Institute of Sciences and Engineering at the University of Sharjah. Formerly, he was the Chairman of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Chairman of Research Groups Department and Chairman of Central Research and Studies Department at the same university. Before joining the University of Sharjah, Prof. Shanableh served in academic positions at the University of Jordan (Jordan) and Queensland University of Technology (Australia). He was also a visiting Professor at Kyoto University (Japan) and a visiting scholar at the University of Texas at Austin (USA). Prof. Shanableh is a Charted Professional Engineer (Australia) and worked as a Senior Environmental Engineer with Engineering-Science, Inc. in Houston, Texas (USA). His research interests include: pollution control and remediation and energy and resources recovery from waste.

Mohammed Saeed Harib

Quality & Business Management Track

Best known as the man behind the animated TV series FREEJ, Mohammed Saeed Harib is the Chairman of Lammtara Art Production and the talented creator of stage shows, feature films and gaming apps.

Mohammed’s journey from an arts student to a pioneer for Emirati animation started in 1998 at the Northeastern University in Boston, where he studied General Arts and Animation. Mohammed first had the idea for FREEJ while at university but it took nearly ten years – and plenty of determination – for the show to come to fruition.

Shortly after founding Lammtara in 2005, Mohammed started production of FREEJ, a hugely popular 3D animated TV series that features caricatures of Emirati grandmothers. FREEJ was voted by Dubai One viewers as the number one TV show of 2006, 2007 and 2008, and the first season received the Special Country Award at the Hamburg Animation Awards in 2007. The fifth season was aired in 2013.

In 2009, building on his success with FREEJ, Mohammed directed the largest Arabic theatrical production in the Middle East, FREEJ Folklore. This unique stage show, which celebrates UAE heritage and culture, was staged at the Madinat Jumeirah Arena in both English and Arabic. It created the illusion of holographic animated FREEJ characters interacting with real life performers, and was accompanied by performances from the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Back at the drawing board, Mohammed created and directed an Emirati cartoon series and a gaming app called Mandoos, which teaches children about UAE heritage and culture. He also produced 28 2D animated stories to feature in the Arabic speaking version of the TV series for kids, Sesame Street.

Mohammed’s talent has taken him overseas, and in 2015 he directed a chapter in Roger Allers’ animated Hollywood production of Kahlil Gibran’s, The Prophet. He worked alongside eight international directors, as well as Salma Hayek and Liam Neeson. Earlier, in 2013, Mohammed was a creative consultant for Kanye West’s art film Cruel Summer, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.