100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40
Ayah Bdeir

Ayah Bdeir

Industry: Technology

Designation: Inventor, entrepreneur

Country: Canada (Lebanon)

Country of origin: @ayahbdeir

Age: 33

Ayah Bdeir’s guiding principle is to “put the power of electronics in the hands of everyone, and to break down complex technologies so that anyone can build, prototype and invent”.

From the first prototype developed in 2008 to the 2011 launch of littleBits, an open source library of modular electronics that snap together with magnets, her concept has managed to make technology accessible across all disciplines and ages. The company, which is based in New York with funding from investors such as True Ventures, Foundry Group, and Two Sigma, has sold hundreds of thousands of units in about 80 countries.

In 2011, the Museum of Modern Art, located in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, added littleBits to its prestigious design collection. A Lebanese-Canadian, Bdeir earned a master’s of science degree from the MIT Media Lab and undergraduate degrees in computer engineering and sociology from the American University of Beirut.

She has garnered numerous industry accolades, including a fellowship at Eyebeam Art + Technology Centre in New York City, as well as being named to Popular Mechanics’ 25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream in 2014, and has spoken at TED, SXSW, Solid, and Creative Mornings. Bdeir is also the founder of Karaj, Beirut’s first non-profit lab for experimental arts, architecture and technology, and has also been a mentor on Stars of Science, the Middle East’s first reality show focusing on innovation.