MENA’s Digital News, Week #23

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: A clarification on the “Further readings” section, and an announcement that you could for now join a whatsapp group (admin posting only) for the daily headlines – right here

Investments & Acquisitions

Rain, Bahraini crypto exchange, raises investment from Vision Ventures http://bit.ly/2EcsWir (Rain was incubated at the Central Bank of Bahrain)

Eunimart Multichannel, “AI-powered” cross-border e-commerce platform, raised bridge funding from UAE-based digital services company TMT Connekt http://bit.ly/2SoTP82 

Trella, Cairo trucking marketplace, raises $600k led by Algebra Ventures http://bit.ly/2SlBLvu 

ServiceMarket.com raises $4M from Emaar & AddVenture in Series B Funding http://bit.ly/2SkK5LL 

Nana Direct, Saudi grocery delivery startup, raises $6M from MEVP, Impact 46 and SVC (twitter) http://bit.ly/2Tm8lBM

JustClean, Kuwait’s on-demand laundry, raise $8M from Faith Capital http://bit.ly/2SoT9j0 

Jumla Club, Kuwait’s B2B F&B platform, “seven-figure pre-Series A” funding from GCC based individual investors http://bit.ly/2IyPIXh 

Emaar buys remaining 49% of website Namshi (previously acquired 51% before launching Noon.com) https://reut.rs/2GNjENq 

EMPG, parent company of Bayut, acquires Rocket Internet’s Lamdui Bangladesh http://bit.ly/2SZMe50 

Sector News (sectioned)

Investment Landscape

MEVP announces $125M regional fund (twitter) http://bit.ly/2H6Z3mT

Equinox Gold Announces $130 Million Strategic Investment by Mubadala Investment Company https://prn.to/2Srr5LA 

Speed@BDD, Beirut based accelerator, raised funding for the next three years of acceleration and decrease equity-stake from startups to 5% http://bit.ly/2T1fUhR 

Etihad Airways and the Department of Culture & Tourism – Abu Dhabi Partner with Plug and Play ADGM https://prn.to/2EiQHW4 

Fintech

Central Bank of Bahrain issues final rules on Crypto-asset services and Crypto-asset exchanges http://bit.ly/2VmOJLo 

Wahed Invest has received an associate membership approval from the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), a global standard for sharia-compliant financial operations http://bit.ly/2BWRtYt 

Emaar denies that it will be accepting crypto-payment for real-estate http://bit.ly/2EvKTtJ 

According to SAMA “2.3B transactions over the last year alone (through SAMA supported payment gateways), with a total financial value exceeding SR50T” http://bit.ly/2BRwg2d

Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi-based Islamic bank, appoints Temenos to “power” digital transformation http://bit.ly/2ICZfwf

Telecom

Turkcell, Turkish Telecom, Introduces Blockchain ID Management Product http://bit.ly/2SumR5V 

Etisalat partners with Huawei to deploy Next Generation Modular Data Center http://bit.ly/2SwjLOO & with Ericsson for 5G network http://bit.ly/2ToRVZi (bridging China and the US)

Zain (KSA) partners with Huawei for new video streaming service http://bit.ly/2BYaytl 

Further Readings: The Bigger Economic Picture

This segment usually focuses on things beyond tech. As I’m seeing increasing big moves in the region that may help facilitate startup growth and economic stability

Warner Music Group is in talks to buy a large minority stake in Rotana Music (who invested in Deezer and empowered their growth into MENA) https://on.wsj.com/2T9AnBm

Abdul Latif Jameel Land and Al Muhaidib Group form JV facilities management company in Saudi http://bit.ly/2tJIo0Q

Jumeirah Group unveils new luxury hospitality project in China’s Zhujiang New Town Central Business District http://bit.ly/2Vlw3vc 

Acwa Power, Saudi-based and PIF backed, signed an agreement with the Egyptian Government for an electricity plant with capacity of 2,250MW in Luxor, with total investments estimated at $2.5B (the company will also finalize three projects, valued at $200M and with a total capacity of 160MW, at Benban Solar Park in Aswan by the end of June) http://bit.ly/2ExnpUQ 

BlackRock and KKR are acquiring a 40% stake in UAE’s ADNOC Oil pipelines http://bit.ly/2NqYYLG, ADNOC distribution also just inaugurated first service station in Saudi http://bit.ly/2Szu1Gf

Emirates NBD will complete the takeover of Turkey’s DenizBank in the first half of this year http://bit.ly/2tLF3OO


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MENA’s Digital News, Week #5

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Wadi Group (Wadi.com) raises investment from UAE’s Majid Al Futtaim https://goo.gl/o3nWmx

This week’s investments had a common theme: Regional VCs investing abroad:

Tarfin, Turkish agricultural micro-lending startup, raises a $1.3M seed round led by Turkey-based Collective Spark Fund with co-investment from Wamda Capital https://goo.gl/wJ2JwX 

Fakespot, NY based fake reviews spotter, raised a $1.3M seed fund with participation from Faith Capital https://goo.gl/Wh6Ujs 

Blueground, NY-based airbnb for business travelers, raises $12M from Jabbar Internet Group, VentureFriends, and Endeavor Catalyst https://goo.gl/XAyjDj 

Wahed Invest, UK based Halal Online Investment Platform, raises $7.75M (£6M) from BECO Capital and Cue Ball Capital https://goo.gl/ScbB2K

Sector News

Recap of some of the big name deals signed at the Future Investment Initiative worth $50B https://goo.gl/dYYFoF

The UAE’ Statistics Authority signs with Esri, global leader in location intelligence, to geo-enable its work https://goo.gl/TaqW72

Cairo hosts it’s first NASA App Challenge sponsored by Nile Pioneers https://goo.gl/gzZ6EK 

Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) announces “Miza” “ميزة”, a mobile payment solution to be launched by December (EN) https://goo.gl/YmVABJ (AR) https://goo.gl/YmYDkg 

Qatar Sports Tech Accelerator Launched, powered by Startupbootcamp https://goo.gl/wGNy4L 

Womena Graduates First Cohort Of Female-led Tech Startups https://goo.gl/nqAmxT 

Meet the Startup winners at DEMO Africa https://goo.gl/vStLAJ

Further Readings

Deezer, French Music Streaming Service, Launches in the Middle East with “exclusive Rotana catalogue” https://goo.gl/4YEqbN 

A Palestinian-American billionaire plans a $1.4B city, Rawabi, in Palestine says it’s a ‘golden opportunity’ to build a ‘model state’ for the Middle East https://goo.gl/PjFjej

Reports claim that Russian malware was attempted to be used to sabotage a Saudi petrochemical plant last year https://goo.gl/y9htpd

Opportunities from Silicon Valley’s Dystopia 

In my years of working on covering the latest in the tech ecosystem regionally and globally and consistent pattern persists. American, Canadian and European startups ignoring fast adoption in MENA and market growth potential.

From Kik messenger in Canada who failed to capitalize on their massive sudden adoption in the GCC, only to have failing attempts after the train has passed, Flipboard, Foursquare, and many more, to more recently Path’s closure and failure to capitalize on their emerging market appeal.

Path appealed to adopters of the dark social web due to its private and mobile-first nature, but failed to evolve with the proliferation of multimedia and story-features taking over. It sort of faded in the world of influencers pull to instagram. However due to it’s popularity a regional replica launched to fill the void, but will it? 

I have no doubts that regional entrepreneurs are more capable to understand the client and market, and provide better, more adaptive solutions to the market. However my fears have been realized twice already with Saraha’s data scandals, and Careem’s 14M accounts leak

Now I’m not saying this only happens to regional startups, but I find that regional startups hire less in-house cryptographers and security engineers, due to the lack of availability or the lack of oversight, it’s not for certain. 

I already struggle with my information living on too many social platforms and how to cut down on tracking, while I’m curious and excited to see Moments launch, I need reassurance of it’s infrastructure before investing me time. 


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It was great meeting awesome entrepreneurs and professionals at Global South Tech Istanbul earlier in the week