MENA’s Digital News, Week #48

This is last weeks post due to challenges with the hosting service, cancellation and transfer to a new host. We’re up on running now!

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Shelvz, Lebanon-based Saas-workforce management platform, raises funding from iM Capital http://bit.ly/2kfmMIv

Foloosi, UAE-based fintech startup, closes a angel funding round of $500k (inclusive of the committed funding in June) http://bit.ly/2A5bxGA

Misk Growth Accelerator kicks off cycle with 11 startups, each of which will receive up to $100k in funding from Seedstars & Vision Ventures by end of cycle http://bit.ly/2kFN7zz

Sector News

Wired Magazine launches Middle East edition http://bit.ly/2LlmVVh 

Youtube launches subscription based premium music streaming service in MENA http://bit.ly/2k6ehiG 

Arrow Labs, Dubai-based wearable workforce management, expands to the USA. They had raised a single funding round from Global Ventures (Dubai) in May, 2018 (amount undisclosed) http://bit.ly/2LoJUPz

Qatar blocks Uber’s acquisition of Careem within the country http://bit.ly/318Vx2y 

Fintech

CareemPay launches mobile top-up capability in Egypt and Pakistan http://bit.ly/2lQpeFw 

Accion Venture Lab & Fund, $33M, launches to invest in MENAP based startups focused on financial inclusion http://bit.ly/2A0bImT

Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM) grants the first full digital banking license to Anglo-Gulf Trade Bank, which will allow it to provide corporate banking services to Abu Dhabi based companies starting with ones based in ADGM http://bit.ly/2ZTVkmf 

Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) is considering to expand the scope of digital currencies to banks & other countries http://bit.ly/30dybHr 

Central Bank of Egypt to launch over $50M fintech fund http://bit.ly/2kc7KDc 

Further Reading

Saudi’s Ministry of Labor launches a new platform to facilitate freelance work licenses in the kingdom (AR) http://bit.ly/2kaPzhc 

Egypt’s ICT Minister says they plan to launch 7 technological parks in 7 universities across Egypt, with EGP 1B (~$60M) budget from the government, and aims to increase ICT contribution to GDP to 4% by end of year http://bit.ly/2kFEFjE 

Egypt begins digitization of its energy grid http://bit.ly/2ka3qEr

Masdar, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, (owned by Mubadala) and the UK government have invested £70M ($86.5M) in a new green technology fund to be managed by London-based Zouk Capital http://bit.ly/2lIVsmk

Long Reads

The World Economic Forum publishes the 2019 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report. The UAE leads MENA enablement, infrastructure, ICT, labor and at a globally competitive level, however it’s not faring well on nature, openness and price. Full report here: http://bit.ly/2kqLhCF


To get your daily dose subscribe to MENA’s Digital News Telegram channel here or on Whatsapp. Follow the Arabic “MENA’s Digital News” Channels on Telegram & Whatsapp!


2018 Christmas Gift Guide II

This post is an aggregate of friends’ suggestions base on last week’s post, which you can check out here

L’Atelier Roulant 

Custom plexi-cut products, great for those looking for a personalized edge, or a personalized gift box that can be re-purposed around the house

You can order via DMs on instagram 

Janys De

Buying gifts for men is tough, believe me! Cufflinks with a cultural and modern twist might be a nice touch though. A plus if they’re up-cycled patterns 

You can order via the whatsapp number on instagram or on Janys De’s profile on Little Majlis

Entrepreneurship in Exile

Entrepreneurship has been a game-changer across the globe and MENA is no different. It takes perseverance and a lot of drive to make it work and the plight of the Syrian crisis has been prime grounds for persevering men and women to create businesses wherever they land and thrive.

Also a book available by donation on the author’s website

The Bombchel Factory

Fashion statement pieces handmade by Liberian women, oh and the prints are simply a party! 

You can shop on their online store, and custom order as well, though not sure that’s a good idea in time for Christmas

Yara Berjawi on Redbubble

Shameless plug, but hey who doesn’t want to support their artistic friends when they take a leap of faith and venture into their world of creation <3

You can shop Yara’s designs on Redbubble

Kanj Workshop

Also a friend, but a programmer not an artist, who has launched an on-demand 3D printing service in Lebanon. You can order from what’s online or custom order. 

 Direct orders can be made on Kanj Workshop’s online store.


Not online, but worth the shoutout


Sacoche

More leather goodness, I mean really, who doesn’t want a piece that only gets better with time? Scoche’s Christmas collection is also here:

 You can find them at the The Semicolon Story in Badaro, Beirut. The store also has great local designers, upcycled, recycled and hand made products. 

Can we take a moment: 

View this post on Instagram

Lines of Liberty #recyclingisliving #terrazzo

A post shared by Jean-Paul Fares (@jp.recycledesign) on


Happy Holidays 2018

2018 Christmas Gift Guide

I used to publish this on facebook and other platforms in the past. I aggregate this list because buying local products or services is a gift to both those you receiving your love and making it. 

The rules to making the list are:

  • Locally made
  • Can be ordered online, through instagram (or any social media) or via an online shop
  • A plus if it supports a cause

The below post includes the following categories:

  1. Tried, tested and loved
  2. Locally (mostly Lebanese) made products or bundles
  3. In Print
  4. Gifts supporting refugees
  5. Fashionable pieces from around

Tried, tested and loved


Waste Studio

My passport bag and gym duffle from Waste have been with me for years. I adore their fresh designs and collabs; they have something for everyone from beanbags to cardholders

You shop them online here: https://waste.studio/shop/ 
Or find them in any of the following outlets: https://waste.studio/all-the-shops/ (across Lebanon and in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)

Green Glass Recycling Initiative (GGRIL)

This project started as a way of preserving the tradition of glass blowing and supporting the last few families that hold this tradition in Lebanon, as well as getting glass bottles out of landfills. I am cheating on this one as they don’t have an online store, but I love this project so much I’m giving it an exception (live with it!) 

They have lots of options, from lamps to decanters, bowls and shot glasses, all naturally colored glass and made with love. 

You can find their products at all the outlets listed on their facebook post
I personally recommend you check them out at Souk Al Tayeb or other exhibitions as they’ll have a bigger collection

Roadie Tuner

Is your friend or loved one a guitar, bass or string instrument lover? This is the PERFECT gift for them: a state of the art tuner! Best of all it’s designed and produced by the amazing Band Industries team in Lebanon. 

You can shop them online on their website: https://www.roadietuner.com/ or on amazon and it ships worldwide. 

Anghami Subscription

The gift of endless tunes. I have sent this to friends before and it’s often an instant win (knowing that my friend was sick of ads and their subscription was approaching end). This works as an add-on gift or stand alone, depends on your needs. 

Grandma would love the everlasting oldies on replay all day while she makes your favorite treats 😉 

You can buy the subscription through the app on iOS or Android or online https://www.anghami.com/giftland – and it plays on all your devices.

While you’re at it check out my favorite playlist “Saba7ak Moustaqel (Your Independent Morning)” صباحك مستقل and get inspired to support some amazing regional independent artists

Tania Saleh store: http://www.taniasaleh.com/store 
Mashrou3 Leila store: https://mashrouleila.tmstor.es/index.php 
Or the wonderful Mostakell مستقل (Supported by Eka3) website for more artists: https://mostakell.com/ 

MintBasil Market 

Local, organic, ethical, made with care and love. As our bodies and planet revolt against neglect and pollution, taking action in your day-to-day life becomes a way of life and it’s doesn’t have to be expensive and difficult. 

You can check out MinstBasil Market’s gift ideas here: 
https://mintbasilmarket.com/collections/gifts and browse the store for more.
They deliver everywhere in Lebanon for free

Beesline 

My favorite tried and tested (& I swear by their effectiveness) body-care brand is Beesline. Dry winters and cities are hell on the lips and I go through at least four of their Beesline Lip Care sticks every winter, nothing ever works as good as they do (trust me, I tired). And for the handy man or lady in your life, the Beeswax Ointment is a miracle worker on the worst chapped skin imaginable. Both fragrance-free. 

You can shop Beesline’s Products here: http://ae.shopbeesline.com/en/ as well as on MintBasil Market (above), as well as at most pharmacies in Lebanon

Lunatic

I adore their toddler and children collection, you just can’t go wrong with the witty Lebanese slang and modern-authentic twist on everything. They are perfect for friends living abroad or visiting for the holiday season, or simply for friends that love to play-it-up. 

I’m sure you know someone that can use some fresh cufflinks 😉

You can buy them on their website here: https://www.luanatic.com/ or their store on Camille Edde Street or other outlets listed on their instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/luanaticbeirut/ 

Mimo and Stitch

I bought the below pair of earrings for my bestie’s birthday in October via instagram. The earring were perfect and the service was great; overall love! Keep in mind that custom made (the below were) orders may need extra time, so order fast to get them done before Christmas or check what’s in stock for quicker purchases

You can order online via Mimo and Stitches instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/mimo_and_stitch/

Dingbats*

Drop the Moleskin, these Lebanese made notebooks are just as epic! 

You can read more about Dingbats Green promise and buy products on their online shop in low quantities, bundles or bulk

(another Lebanese paper brand worth looking out for in stationery stores is PaperConcept, they don’t sell online but available in most outlets. I have been personally using their ~A6 soft-cover for a two years now)

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls

Not local, but features regional rocking ladies and global role models as well. I bought this for a friend’s daughter a while back and would buy it again for ladies-in-the-making

You can order them online on Rebel Girls’ website, via Amazon, or most local book sellers (online or offline)


Locally made products or bundles


Sikasok

You know what they say: Comfort starts from the toes. Or something like that, but seriously, how can you have a bad day if you’re wearing comfortable bright and funny socks…

Orders can be placed via Instagram DMs or email (hello@sikasok.com) or phone +961 71 180 323 and their facebook page for inspo  

FAR Leather Goods

Handcrafted from premium leathers in Beirut. I was introduced to their work when a friend custom ordered the tote below with lots of pockets in all the right places; a bag lovers dream. The finishing, handy-work and all are of utmost perfection. 

View this post on Instagram

Another Nyaeve tote done 💪

A post shared by FAR Leathergoods (@farleathergoods) on

You can DM them on instagram for inquiries and orders, as well as checking their collections. 

These products are handmade, so my advice is to check out what’s ready made (and maybe get initials embossed for personalization) to ensure you get them before Christmas as custom-orders might be tough to deliver. 

Raghwe

Let’s get clean! “Natural handcrafted soaps, made from goat’s milk with essential oils” how could you go wrong with that? 

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bquq1OZjULs/

Orders can be made by calling 03927198 and check out their instagram page to find Christmas markets they’ll be exhibiting for the season 

Koullouna Box

This is the ideal gift to ship to family and friends abroad or those that are there for the holidays only, or someone who loves exploring new local flavors, a bundle of Lebanon in a box 

 You can order online on their website here: https://www.koullounabox.com/15-our-previous-boxes and you can order one box or a 3 month subscription, both would be great gift ideas

Cedars Box

Give the gift of life, whether it’s a Cedar sapling to plant or one adopted in your loved ones name and cared for by professionals. May your love grow as strong as it’s roots and live on beyond your years, like a Cedar in glory

You can buy or adopt Cedars on their website


In Print


Locale SD

I have been following Locale for a few month and it makes me want to plan a trip to Sudan sooner rather than later. A country with little cultural publicity and under-appreciated history (upper Egypt). 

Locale produces zines that are sold at exhibitions or through online orders that explore Sudanese culture and arts. 

You can check out what works they have available and order via instagram DMs 

Dots Planner

We all have that friend that still uses a physical planner, well here’s one that’s designed, developed and made in Egypt! It comes in 4 basic colors, and two formats: Weekly Planner and Monthly Planner

This would make a great corporate gift idea for teams as well. 

You can order on Dots’ website or reach out to them on the email provided for bigger orders

Baladi & Palestine on a Plate

The gift of food, but one that keeps giving. I follow Joudie Kalla on instagram and drool almost daily at the miracles that leave her kitchen, each crafted with drooling perfection

Baladi is Joudie’s second book, the first is Palestine on a Plate, so you can always bundle up! The book has already received multiple praises and ranked top book of 2018 in food by multiple esteemed publications. 

You can order the books on Joudi’s website or via Amazon
Also make sure to follow Joudi on instagram


Gifts Supporting Refugees


Christmas is the season of giving, the Syrian, Yemeni and ongoing Iraqi, Libyan crises are some of the worst in recent history. Knowing putting a smile on your loved ones’ faces draws a warm blanket or relief to a refugee makes the gift all more worth giving. 

Soup for Syria

More books, more food. “a humanitarian cookbook project whose profits will be donated to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR to provide urgently needed food relief for Syrian refugees.”

You can order the book on Interlink Publishing’s store or Amazon. For bulk ordering or other forms of support refer to this page

Interlink is also the publisher of Baladi and other Levantine cuisine books like Mouneh and The Aleppo cookbook, so do take the time to go through other options as well. 

Refugee Made

The hype over charcoal activated products, scented soaps and candles can be made even better when supporting local producers in Iraq 

Feeling even more generous? Buy yourself and loved ones a gift of pure giving; whether a “Month of Educational Therapeutic Play for a Refugee Child” for $20 or a “Computer for Tech Student” for $600. There’s no limit to your generosity

You can check out the Refugee Made products on this page and the empowerment donations on this one

Choose Love

The most selfless gift of all, for those in London and New York you can physically visit Choose Love’s stores and buy for others what would help them survive. 

For the rest of us around the world, you can buy for refugees boots, food, blankets and even mental health support on the Choose Love’s online store. Scroll to the bottom for the “Digital Gift Voucher” option as well

Sabbara

Empowering refugees through mental health support and financial independence. There’s nothing more rewarding than being fashionably conscious, knowing your giving more than just money. 

You can buy Sabbara’s products on their website and follow their instagram to check out where they are exhibiting around the world


Fashionable Pieces From Around


L’omda Boga

Egyptian designer bags, that I’ve been personally in love with for a while now. Modern with authentic twist. 

Orders via instagram DMs

Ragmatazz

Emirati brand; traditional with a twist. The trend of conservative fashion is a beautiful and comfortable one! 

This brand was recommended by a friend (Thank you Farah!)
You buy their products directly on Ragmatazz’s website

Ryoko Handmade Leather Goods

Also a friend recommendation (until I realized I own a wooden ring from their older collections). Based out of Dubai, the lovely couple behind the brand are passionate about their craft and making your everyday experience with their products as seamless and functional. 

Make sure to check out their “Wooden” section for truly unique pieces.
You can buy their products on the Ryoko Bags website


Websites for local designers and products


Major eCommerce players are not the best place to find authentic gifts, but luckily the internet is budding with boutiques supporting local brands everywhere

Soukra (Tunisian Designers)

Fouxx.com (Arab Designers)

H-Shirts (Silk-printed Shirts)


Got more ideas? share them in the comments or on any social channels you see this post and I’ll add an update to the post in a week or so. 

Recommendations of: books by regional authors, local fashion or home-made designs, organically or ethically harvested goods, and re-purposed or recycled products, are welcome 

Have a blessed season <3