In 2014, Russell was asked to speak at WeAreTheFuture’s first Middle East Youth Entrepreneurship Summit which was held in partnership with Abu Dhabi University. Upon his return to Scotland, Russell posted a LinkedIn article visiting some of his misconceptions and to share what the entrepreneurial landscape in the region was like at the time of visiting.
The two day event was anchored by WeAreTheFuture regional ambassador Stuart Morris and comprised talks by local successful entrepreneurs and a pitching competition “The Idea Factory”, for 14 to 22 year olds. Of the 54 teams that entered the pitching competition over 65% were female and an audience of 250 attended with many taking a long three hour drive to be there.
Russell presented to the auditorium alongside local speakers Farah Al Qaissieh, Founder and CEO of Discover Dhabi, Jaafar al Aydaroos Founder of Upscale Decor Peter Litvin of Fortress Partners and Fatima Shirawi Founder of the Gracious F. And not to forget Mohamed Hamdy of incubator Turn8 who was wonderful with the young would be entrepreneurs.
The pitches may have been given by those of school age but any notion that the ideas would be simplistic was firmly debunked when a young man of 16 years stood up in front of the crowd and pitched the creation and introduction of a new Bitcoin exchange platform for the UAE. He then proceeded to cover such revenue generations streams as “Arbitrage”.
The atmosphere within the event was encouraging and supportive and the event was covered in the top selling publications across the region including Gulf News and The National.
"The young people of the UAE are just as imaginative, driven and hard working as those in Europe and the US. Once again I witnessed first-hand the similarities between young people around the world and not the differences." - Russell Dalgleish, upon his visit in 2014
Note; in 2017 WeAreTheFuture merged with Power of Youth to create FutureX - "The learning and community platform for mission-driven leaders; solving hard problems, together."