In 2014 and 2015, Reine Abbas was selected as one of the World’s Most Powerful Arab Women by Arabian Business, a Dubai-based English-language weekly magazine, for her exceptional work in tech in the region. Reine is a Lebanese woman who found her passion for gaming, teaching kids and teens, and shifting this generation into a productive one. This mother of three has excelled in time management as she manages to be a super-mom, a super-gamer, and a super-educator.
Reine graduated with a Masters’ Degree in Visual Arts from Balamand University in the North of Lebanon. She taught herself the basics and technicalities of coding and worked for DigiPen, a U.S. gaming company that helped her learn the know-how of the business.
In 2010, she was the winner of the “Innovation in ICT” Award, organized by the Women in Information Technology. In 2010, she was elected as one of the top 20 Lebanese entrepreneurs by the Executive Magazine. In 2013, she won the “Artistic Expression” Award (WOW) at the 6th New Arab Woman Forum, and was also selected the same year as one of the most five powerful women in gaming by Inc.com.
Reine’s successful journey started with Douma, a Lebanese political video game. On their way to work back in 2007, Reine and her partner found themselves in the middle of a mob burning tires to block the road of their political rivals.
“I remember the helplessness we felt at that time. We were determined to do something, so we spoke up in the language we speak best: video games,” she told Annahar.
In a simple Flash-based fighting game, Douma brings the citizens to become puppeteers and use government leaders as puppets. Instead of fighting each other for their politicians, the politicians pummel each other. On its launch date, the game went viral with nearly 12,000 downloads.
Seeing the huge success of a single video-game, Reine sought more and more. In 2008, she founded the first Indie gaming company in Lebanon and one of the first in the Middle East: Wixel Studios.
With her partners, Ziad Feghali and Karim Abi Saleh, Reine managed to found the gaming company that develops fun and innovative video games based on original local and international intellectual property. Since its launching, the studio has produced 45 games in both English and Arabic, including several award-winning games.
When Reine was asked by her 4-year old son to teach him and his friends how to design video games, the idea of Spica Tech was born. She thought that it was the right time to turn kids from digital consumers to producers, especially that kids in the MENA region are the biggest digital consumers in the world.
Spica Tech is an academy that teaches kids and teens how to design and produce video games. In the academy, kids and teens learn game design, coding, implementation, art, testing, publishing, and marketing. They get exposed to critical thinking, creative thinking, and problem-solving, especially since, in video games, you have to create both a problem and a solution.
Besides, the students learn entrepreneurship, production, and management skills. Hence, whichever path they choose in the real world, they would have already acquired the necessary abilities and skills needed to do anything.
Believing that all children deserve an education, the academy hosts several children from different backgrounds, including kids with difficulties, kids with autism, dyslexia, ADHD, etc.
To inspire girls to join the academy, Reine offers girls 50% to join the courses, helping them know all of their capacities and go beyond what their societies tell them of limitations. In this male-dominant industry, girls are less than 15% in tech and video games.
Up until this day, the academy has assisted over 500 students in creating an online game from scratch. The students can create a full product and publish the game online, allowing them to have a sense of responsibility for what they present.
Reine receives sponsorship for her work from several corporations, such as MBC groups, Ferrari World, and Al Jazeera kids. In addition to that, Spica Tech participated in 3 competitions, and they were big winners.
The last Competition, Cartier Women Initiative in San Francisco, included 3000 applicants from around the world. Spica Tech was chosen out of the 700 regional applicants, and they won exposure and services that are very important to grow the business.
In an interview with BeryTech, Reine gave her advice for those just starting out, “Share your idea and don’t be scared that someone might rip it off, even if they do, it’s proof that it was a great idea!”