REBEL Sponsoring History
If there’s one thing that our managing director does really well here at REBEL (Azar), it’s playing big things off as “yeah it’s whatever, we’re kind of cool I guess, no big deal”. Usually, with every other company I’ve been a part of, even when the smallest most irrelevant event takes place, they’ll be screaming it from the rooftops, making 3D banners on all the social media platforms and changing all the email signatures to include said event for the next 3 months. How does REBEL do it? “Sara, you free on the 7th? There’s like this event thing for tech and stuff”. “Yeah, okay” I responded thinking it would be a small university talk or something along those lines.
It wasn’t until a friend reached out panicking that they had forgotten to buy a ticket the day before and that they were all sold out that I started to wonder “Hang on a minute. Tickets? Sold out?!” I asked her to send me a link and then I realised……. we were sponsoring the first Muslim Tech Fest UK at the Royal Institution in Mayfair, London. “Blimey,” I thought to myself. Turns out, the directors themselves were also impressed when we made our way through the much-loved congestion charge zone in the belly of the beast: Central London.
As we passed by skyscrapers, marble-covered shopping malls and overly pretentious eateries serving portions the size of my thumb to po-faced customers someone let out a “wow, this is well posh init!” I believe that might have been Yas. We were then robbed in broad daylight *cough* sorry I mean we pulled into an incredibly overpriced car park and started offloading our merch, business cards and slightly wonky branding signs out of the Tesla #subtleflex. Although we initially walked into the wrong building, we eventually found the Institute and some very friendly volunteers ushered us into our stand, gave us a tour of the place and offered us tea and biscuits. We had already gotten our money’s worth at Travelodge, so we politely declined.
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what I expected but it was bloody, bloody amazing. Maybe it’s the result of brainwashing and propaganda but it had never really occurred to me that there would be so many other Muslims in the tech space. One thing that I found so inspirational in particular was the number of female founders who were present. Unfortunately, Ali didn’t find his future wife.
In a world where we are constantly told how old-fashioned, extreme, dangerous, and misogynistic we are, it felt like a big middle finger to the men behind the sun seeing so many of us (majority female) sitting side by side from hundreds of cultures and hundreds of backgrounds learning about AI, machine learning, virtual reality, and how to build products and scale businesses in the digital era. To top it all off, the fact it was hosted in the Royal Institution in the heart of Mayfair with onlookers absolutely flabbergasted was honestly the cherry on top for me.
As the event drew to a close, we were all very much aware that we were a part of history. A Muslim tech festival in the UK has never been done before and after so long of feeling alone, alienated, and misunderstood in modern society, you could see as we all collectively cried with happiness and slurped on our Zam Zam water at the end that the tide was finally changing. Watch this space….
Written by Sara Badry