Beirut AI Bootcamp — Hope Beyond the Beirut Blast (August 2020)November 29, 2020
Beirut AI Community Recap: 2020January 5, 2021
Beirut AI’s AI Weekend: Helping the Lebanese Community Capture its AI Spark
Nothing beats bringing together like minded people and giving them the opportunity to learn and grow! As a part of Beirut AI’s initiative to make AI accessible to everyone. We are growing our repertoire of events and for the first time we brought you, our incredible community, the Beirut AI AI Weekend!
If you didn’t get the chance to join us on November 21st and 22nd, you might be curious what it was all about. Well, let us tell you.. It was an AI filled weekend curated specifically for the diverse Beirut AI community! Divided into two main tracks, the event catered to both engineering and business-oriented AI enthusiasts. Each track contained a number of workshops that tackled topics that would level up the participant’s skills.
But that’s not all! We know that having a solid network within the career path one is pursuing is crucial for long term success. So to make sure we provided that to our community the AI weekend also had talks, meetups and virtual networking events.
Want to learn more about how Beirut AI is capturing Lebanon’s AI Spark through the AI Weekend? Read on!
Overcoming Challenges and Innovating with AI: The Business Track!
You often hear that AI is the future, but we believe AI is now! Almost every domain can benefit from the automation, prediction or insight that AI can offer, and we wanted to focus on some common domains during the AI Weekend.
The workshops provided demystified the applications of AI in the fields of Human Resources (HR), marketing and insurance. Each workshop focused on the different aspects of the domain and elaborated on the benefits of AI within it.
For instance, despite popular belief that AI is coming for you and your job, Lilian Abou Hamdan, a researcher focused on AI in HR recruitment and selection, explained how AI is playing an important role in many aspects of HR. She explained how AI is in fact helping reinvent the HR field and creating more job opportunities than it is taking away.
On the other hand, George Touma, a Certified Health Data Analyst, elaborated on how the insurance field is growing with the growth of AI. As always, we like to keep our workshops as hands on as we can. George walked the participants through a case study that demonstrated exactly how the health insurance sector is enriched by AI.
Finally, Jad El Jerdy, Co-founder and CEO of Pixi Interactive, walked the participants through how AI can contribute to improving various key digital marketing metrics. Jad also presented multiple case studies demonstrating the exponential growth companies that adopted AI experience.
Roll Up your Sleeves and Dive in: The Technical Track!
The enthusiasm of the tech world towards AI is still growing as the value of this field is proven time and time again. We know that the field of AI is extremely broad and encompasses countless different routes that people enjoy working in. We wanted to provide as many options as we can during the weekend. That brought in our diverse selection of technical workshops that our incredible instructors provided to help participants build a solid foundation in the topics they were interested in learning.
In the first hands-on workshop Omar Kaakaji, an AI and Automation Developer, provided an Introduction to Computer Vision. Omar clarified the basic concepts of computer vision and helped the audience distinguish it from image processing. And as is Beirut AI tradition, he closed his session by providing a hands on explanation on how to make use of OpenCV, one of the foundational open-source libraries for CV applications.
We also had Anis Ismail, an incoming Machine Learning intern at BMW group, introduce how PyTorch can help anyone get started in Deep Learning. With Anis, Neural networks are no longer a mysterious and intimidating topic but rather a tool that is available for anyone who wants to create AI solutions.
And last but not least, Reem Mahmoud, Co-founder at Zaka and PhD student at American University of Beirut, helped the participants get a deeper understanding of time-series prediction. Reem walked participants through a step-by-step hands-on project where they used smart devices to solve a real world problem.
Career Growth and Capturing Opportunities: Talks, Discussions and Networking!
If you thought that what we talked about so far has been exciting, wait till you hear about the talks, discussions and panels that took place.
The talks and discussions ranged from specific technical topics and challenges to general advice on how to navigate through your AI career.
We had an amazing talk by two industry leaders making breakthroughs in the field of AI. Christophe Zoghbi, Beirut AI and Zaka Co-Founder, gave the Beirut AI community invaluable advice on how to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way and find your footing in your AI career. Abbas Sidaoui, Co-Founder of Revotonix and PhD student at the American University of Beirut, shared his journey in founding the first startup in the region developing autonomous mobile robots.
If our community has ever wondered what areas of AI they can contribute in, we got them covered! Dr. Samira Klaylat, a PhD researcher in Emotion Recognition, NLP and many more, presented some of the challenges that she and other researchers face when trying to recognise emotion in Arabic speech! So, if NLP and emotion recognition are topics you are interested in, be sure that there is plenty of opportunity to contribute!
We also had Alaa Maarouf, a Data Scientist at Schlumberger, moderate a panel discussion around the role of AI in our lives and the advantages it has in the MENA Region. Fabio Bou Habib, the co-founder of Luxeed Robotics, Ziad Jreijiri, co-founder of Oreyeon & aerospace engineer, and Anthony Tayoun, the co-founder and COO/CFO of Dexai Robotics, each pitched in with their opinions and experiences working with AI in the region and how AI has helped them tackle the challenges available in their respective fields.
Throughout the weekend, we were also deliberately dedicated to get all the participants together in one virtual room. During these networking events different members of our community had the opportunity to interact and learn from each others’ stories. From the students, to the professionals, to the speakers and instructors, everyone had the chance to meet. We created the perfect virtual environment to allow everyone to create the connections they believe will benefit their career.
Beirut AI AI Weekend in Numbers
Seeing as how data is our game, here is some of ours! This time around we had over a hundred participants during the AI Weekend and we had an interesting combination of students and professionals! We were also extremely happy to see that our impact is expanding across multiple countries!
Student vs Professional Breakdown
We can see that our student audience is excited to get their hands dirty with hands-on technical skills to prepare them for the market and eager to learn from invited experts and industry leaders that we hosted in our meetup discussions. On the other hand, the majority of our audience joining from industry is looking to better understand how AI can be leveraged in different fields and disciplines. We encourage you, regardless of your field and background, to join us in future events to discover how AI can be applied to your area of expertise and how you can leverage it to do things better!
Participants from Within and Outside of Lebanon
We are excited to see that Beirut AI’s roots are starting to reach far and wide. Although the percentage is currently small, we know that with time our impact will grow. We have faith that with the growing list of talented instructors we have the content to benefit people from all over the world. In the Beirut AI Weekend, we had people tuning in from the UAE, Kuwait, France, Germany and more! We can’t wait to see what is in store for our community in the future!
Thank You to Our Partners
As always, at Beirut AI we pride ourselves on our outreach and we wouldn’t be able to reach as many people as we do without our incredible partners! We want to say a special thank you to Zaka, our Community Sponsor, and our partners for AI Weekend - IEEE, Codi and Berytech - for helping us reach as many AI Enthusiasts as possible!