MENA’s Digital News, Week #40

A weekly round up of the top headlines from the digital sector in MENA, covering startups, corporate and the public sector.

Investments & Acquisitions

Clara, UAE based legal-tech startup, raises $2M seed financing from Techstars, 500 Startups, Wamda Capital, VentureSouq, Delta Partners, Shorooq Investments and Dubai Angel Investors http://bit.ly/32lwURg 

Washmen, Dubai-based mobile laundry, raises $6.2M in series B funding led by AddVenture joined by Henkel, Cedar Mundi Ventures, B&Y Venture Partners and Clara Ventures http://bit.ly/2XvILNH 

ChangeLab, Cairo-based accelerator, initiates their first cohort of 10 startups http://bit.ly/2G77bSV 

Fungible, Data center management and optimization startup, raises $200M Series C led by Softbank Vision Fund https://tcrn.ch/2YIBxCq 

Byju, India based Edtech platform, raises a $150M finacing round led by Qatar’s Investment Authority http://bit.ly/2G6X0Og 

Creditas, Brazilian lending platform, raises a $231M financing round led by Softbank Vision Fund https://reut.rs/2XEcTqm 

SURE International Technology, Saudi-based system solutions agency, acquires web & app development agency Maxsys for undisclosed amount in what looks like a capabilities acquihire (EN) http://bit.ly/2FYDO52 (AR) http://bit.ly/32bU506

Inking Ideas, India-based advertising and marketing agency, and Dubai-based Free-To-Air Bollywood movie channel Imagine Movies have announced merger http://bit.ly/2L8339h

Sector News

Saudi’s Misk Innovation, Seedstars and Vision Ventures launch new Saudi based accelerator http://bit.ly/2Xzmtpo 

Badir Program for Technology Incubators & Accelerators in Saudi, officially launches Haramain Technology Accelerator http://bit.ly/2L5BYUt 

Fawry, Egyptian online / mobile payment platform, to IPO on the Egyptian Exchange by next month eyeing a valuation of ~$300M http://bit.ly/2NJ1XDa (AR) http://bit.ly/32f5Gvz 

Saudi’s Ministry of Commerce and Investment issues official eCommerce Regulations, detailed law can be found on this link in Arabic http://bit.ly/32hgxVB no English draft is available as of yet, however the link to official announcement http://bit.ly/2XWrHQi and a small snippet of laws http://bit.ly/2XTaebD

STC pay, Saudi Telecom, partners with Paytabs & Hyperpay to integrate their payment solutions within their service http://bit.ly/32l9XO4 & http://bit.ly/2NK8Fsu

Spotify launches a Lite app edition across 36 countries including 12 MENA ones http://bit.ly/2NKRZRB 

Further Readings

Egypt may pass decree that grants investors a chance to acquire an Egyptian passport and/or permanent residence. An amendment to existing laws has already been issued to support (AR) http://bit.ly/2YMovEg

Dubai International Financial Centre, DIFC, issues 4 new licensing categories (Short-term and Restricted Licenses, Commercial Permissions and Dual Licenses) with reduced fees http://bit.ly/2S43pi2

Sharjah decrees to establish an “Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport,” AASTMT, in the emirate http://bit.ly/2S1RMYO 

Dubai’s value of non-oil external trade with Saudi Arabia was 55B AED (~$15B) in 2018 http://bit.ly/2Jz7J57

Dubai’s DAMAC Properties, real-estate developer, to acquire Italian Fashion house Roberto Cavalli for ~$180M http://bit.ly/2YKGGtN


To get your daily dose subscribe to MENA’s Digital News Telegram channel here: https://t.me/technologyinmena or on Whatsapp (admin posting only) right here

MENA's Digital News on Telegram

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MENA’s Digital News, Week #39

A weekly round up of the top headlines from the digital sector in MENA, covering startups, corporate and the public sector.

In this week’s edition, I have added our first ever mention of an accelerator cohort. I have had mixed feelings about including acceleration news, but eventually (~40 weeks in) decided when startups enroll through equity based accelerators their companies have technically raised a small investment round, so there they’ll live.

Investments & Acquisitions

Widebot, Cairo based Arabic chat bot makers, raise “six figure” pre-series A investment http://bit.ly/2JeWRJq 

FlexxPay, UAE based financial solutions for SMEs platform, raises undisclosed investment round from undisclosed investors http://bit.ly/2xm05VY

Dhad, Saudi based Arabic Audio-book, raises undisclosed seed investment from Vision Ventures, 500 Startups, SVC, and angel investors from Oqal http://bit.ly/2Xfk6rv 

Faylasof, Jordan based online bookstore, raises $500k in pre-series A from Wise Ventures http://bit.ly/2YpvIJX 

Ecomz, Lebanon’s eCommerce website builder, raises $4M in series A led by Cedar Mundi, joined by iSME Lebanon and BLC Bank http://bit.ly/2FObBOf 

Boutiqaat, Kuwait based eCommerce platform, raises investment at $500M valuation, amount & GCC investor undisclosed. The announcement was made via twitter: http://bit.ly/2xrKgx6, sale disclosure on Kuwait Bourse http://bit.ly/2XhtcnX (lost of speculation and cloudiness around this doubling in valuation in under 6 month)

Flat6Labs Bahrain inaugurates cycle 3 with 6 startups http://bit.ly/2XNjlKA

Jabbar Group founders join Series J round into India’s Ola http://bit.ly/2RR8b28 

Tara.ai (originally Gradberry) raises $10M led by Aspect Ventures with participation from Slack Fund. The founders are graduates from the American University in Sharjah and later moved their business to SF to tap into AI talent https://tcrn.ch/301jGqA

Ola spun off its Electric Mobility unit to independent, Ola Electric Mobility, for which it raised $250M from Softbank Vision Fund at $1B valuation http://bit.ly/324ePXr

Sector News

Halan, Cairo’s tuktuk & motorcycle ride-hailing, launched Halan Ads to power advertising on its vehicles http://bit.ly/2NjjBwT 

Amazon.ae’s Payfort signs agreement Ajman Municipality, UAE, to power a unified payment gateway for the emirate: AjmanPay http://bit.ly/2LvJkjp (AR) http://bit.ly/2ROXayc 

Standard Chartered Bank in the UAE has announced its support of Womena’s Womentum program as part of their “diversity and inclusion agenda” http://bit.ly/2YwjejG

Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), with the support of OCP Group & MassChallenge, launches an accelerator aimed at agri-tech, biotech, nanotech and mining tech: Impulse http://bit.ly/2YuFp9Z

Princess Sumaya University, Jordan, launches a Bachelor in Data Science & Artificial Intelligence (AR) http://bit.ly/2FHv834

Bahrain & UK selected by World Economic Forum to “pilot new guidelines for the procurement of Artificial Intelligence in the public sector” http://bit.ly/30aYvm0

Further Readings

The UAE Cabinet has approved 122 economic activities across 13 sectors eligible for up to 100% foreign ownership in the UAE, which include “transport and storage, which allows investors to own projects in the field of e-commerce transport, supply chain, logistics” among others http://bit.ly/2XpKpQY they also announced 10 incentives to attract investors (AR) http://bit.ly/2XpjgNQ (english not yet available)

Al Maktoum Center for Middle Eastern Studies to open at Dublin’s Trinity College in partnership with Al Maktoum College of Higher Education http://bit.ly/2xxnaot

Dubai Ports acquires Topaz, major oil and gas marine logistics provider for ~$1.1B from the Oman-listed Renaissance Services. Topaz operates 117 vessels https://wapo.st/2FLYhtO

Long Reads

Snapchat launches “The Friendship Report” that highlights relationships across Australia, France, Germany, India, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the UK, and the US broken down by generations http://bit.ly/31ZO46u 

World Bank “Mashreq 2.0: Digital Transformation for Inclusive Growth and Jobs” Report http://bit.ly/2KPp3FK (AR) http://bit.ly/301ewLn 


To get your daily dose subscribe to MENA’s Digital News Telegram channel here: https://t.me/technologyinmena or on Whatsapp (admin posting only) right here

MENA's Digital News on Telegram

Or follow the Arabic “MENA’s Digital News” Channels on Telegram & Whatsapp!


MENA’s Digital News, Week #38

A weekly round up of the top headlines from the digital sector in MENA, covering startups, corporate and the public sector.

First order of business: Farah Nakouzi has joined me to launch the Arabic “MENA’s Digital News” Channels on Telegram and Whatsapp!

Some changes will come to the weekly roundup soon, but I appreciate your patience 🙌🏻

Now let’s get to it, it’s been a long week!

Investments & Acquisitions

BSynchro, Beirut based insurtech, raises $1M from Berytech & Phoenician Fund http://bit.ly/2Fug6NQ 

Hopi, D2C contact lenses startups, raises seed funding from Esanjo (the latest venture of Jadopado’s Founder) – undisclosed amount http://bit.ly/2KxFXZk

Foodics, Saudi POS tech, raises $4M from Riyadh Taqnia Fund (RTF), Fatih Capital, Tech Invest Com and Naseel Holding http://bit.ly/2XJsQuF (AR) http://bit.ly/2KJDIT7 

Breadfast, Cairo-based baked goods and breakfast delivery startup, raises series A, led by 500 Startups & Egyptian angel investor, and gets accepted to YC combinator http://bit.ly/2KCM8M1

Sprii, eCommerce platform for mothers, raises $8.5M in funding from undisclosed investors http://bit.ly/2RwK6NO 

Noon Academy, Saudi EdTech startup, raises $8.6M co-led by Raed Ventures and Saudi Technology Ventures (STV) http://bit.ly/2KHWRVt (AR) http://bit.ly/2KH7UOu 

Elmenus, Egypt-based food delivery and discovery platform, is raising a series B with commitments currently secured from angel investors http://bit.ly/2NcMaw8

Beyond Capital, Jordan, announces investment in 5 startups under their Scout Program: Bilforon, 360Moms, Addenda, Silkroad Audio http://bit.ly/31VHaiP 

Sector News

Noon.com, re-announces free delivery on all orders. The first announcement was done last week, but was later withdrawn across channels http://bit.ly/2IVmnTB 

Tencent Games to open offices in Dubai’s Internet City http://bit.ly/2Jav1xK 

Oman’s Information Technology Authority (ITA) initiated a new accelerator in the sultanate: Sas Accelerator, powered by Google Developers Launchpad program. First cohort announced. http://bit.ly/2LcNSek

UAE Ministry of Economy approves Careem‘s acquisition by Uber http://bit.ly/2FwNJPn

Toters, Lebanon-based food delivery app, expands to Riyadh (announced via email only) 

Seedstars launched its second MENA hub in Morocco, with commitments to invest in startups through Investment Readiness Program and the Seedstars World. The first was in Cairo http://bit.ly/2Xckvjl 

Fintech

Souqalmal.com, Dubai-based insurtech startup, to expand services to Bahrain http://bit.ly/31TcwGA 

MENA Fintech Association (MFTA) was launched yesterday in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and the Arab Monetary Fund http://bit.ly/2WZrQhn 
Link to the MENA Fintech Association website http://bit.ly/2IDBsu8

DEX (Digital Assets Exchange) has secured in principle approval from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) to operate a Crypto Asset Exchange http://bit.ly/2Yagqcb (this is the second digital asset platform getting initial approval this month) 

Central Bank of Egypt‘s old building in Cairo to be turned into a Fintech Campus. Announcement was made by Greek Campus and Sawari Ventures founder, Ahmed Alfi http://bit.ly/2J4TNQ1

A Public Sector Overhaul in the UAE

UAE’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA)’s & Dubai 10X have collaborated on a new initiative: Rahhal, providing “innovative learning pathways blending traditional education with industry qualifications”. Under this initiative GEMS schools and Siemens sign an MoU signed a collaboration to build more integration between schools and industry http://bit.ly/2RvMcOa (to note: GEMS school just expanded it’s investments in Saudi last month)

UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, TRA, launches the ‘UAE National Cybersecurity Strategy’ http://bit.ly/2Xxg3Lw The strategy’s page and full length reading here http://bit.ly/2Xa8OtP (AR) http://bit.ly/2RB4rBN

Ghadan 21, Abu Dhabi, announces: – New ~$1.2B R&D Fund – Energy consumption discounts to enterprises – “open data” access to gov’t collected data – shorter payment cycles for gov’t contractors, 30 days – increased number of services that can be applied for online http://bit.ly/2xdRrJ0

Further Readings

Tech/Digital

Snapchat study hows that users of the platform in Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the two most dominant markets in using snapchat as a messaging platform http://bit.ly/2FyBTnD 

Byblos Bank, Lebanon, launches a new Data Center, “the only Uptime Institute Tier III certified constructed facility” http://bit.ly/2WZPiej

IBM is launching two new centers in Cairo: Industry Client Center and Marketing Services Center http://bit.ly/31Pk51f

Non Tech/ Digital (Economic)

PSA Group, French Peugeot Citroen manufacturer, launches factory in Morocco http://bit.ly/2KtwGBT 

Tunisia Secures $131.7M Fund from French Development Agency to Develop Its Smart Grid Project http://bit.ly/2KvwFgE

Saudi Arabia now accepting online applications for the permanent residency program http://bit.ly/2IB2Gl4

Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) announces 15 MOUs and agreements with South Korean investors, around Artificial Intelligence for Healthcare, Solar Energy Sector among others http://bit.ly/322huBh

Long Read

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report on Economic Development in Africa 2019 http://bit.ly/2X8Kkw9


To get your daily dose subscribe to MENA’s Digital News telegram channel here: https://t.me/technologyinmena

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