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 

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MENA’s Digital News, Week #37

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

Investments (Local and Global)

Eksab, Cairo’s Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) platform, announced a “six-figure seed investment” from 500 Startups http://bit.ly/2FdZ4DP 

Urent, P2P care rental platform, raised undisclosed funding from Seed Group, The Private Office of Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum, and will launch in Dubai this month. The startup has acquired RTA approval http://bit.ly/2XhEVH6 

Averos, Saudi tracking startup, Pre-Series A funding round from Saudi Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures (amount undisclosed) http://bit.ly/2ZsKTlO 

Zbooni, Dubai social commerce startup, raises $1.1M led by the Chalhoub Group and B&Y Venture Partners http://bit.ly/2WSdfsU

Swvl, Egypt’s mass transit startup, raises $42M from Vostok, BECO Capital, MSA and Endeavor Catalyst https://bloom.bg/2WVzwRE

Venturesouq joins $6M series A round, lead by Impulse VC, into GuestReady, UK based platform for real estate management http://bit.ly/2KrVt95

Arzooo, Indian retail tech startup, raises $1M in pre-series A lead by Jabbar Internet Group http://bit.ly/31D12a4 

Gympass, Brazilian fitness classes subscription service, raises $300M from Softbank Vision Fund and SoftBank Latin America Fund https://prn.to/2FoCtVd

Collective Health, US, raises $105M in funding led by SoftBank Vision Fund http://bit.ly/2FsM5OL

1 Acquisition

Mubawab, Morocco’s real-estate portal, acquire’s Jumia House operations in Morocco, Tunisia & Algeria (Mubawab owned by Dubai’s EPMG) http://bit.ly/2ZvA82b 

Sector News

World Bank grants $175M (two loans) to Tunisia, $100M for “digital transformation inside the Tunisian administration” and $75M “projects of emerging projects and SMEs” http://bit.ly/2MUNGCP

All mention of this article + posts suddenly disappeared, but we’re keeping it here for reference that they tried. > > Noon launches free delivery starting today across the UAE with no minimum spend (this is on the heels of Amazon launching Prime in the UAE last week) http://bit.ly/2IVmnTB

Microsoft to launch two new data centers in the UAE http://bit.ly/2XmyCBX

Long Reads

Report: Artificial Intelligence in Saudi Arabia, Report by Microsoft and EY (AR) http://bit.ly/2KrDobp

Further Readings

Etisalat to invest ~$1.2B for network upgrades in 2019 http://bit.ly/2x4oE9P

Emirates Investment Authority (sovereign) bought $630M stake into Du Holding (Telecom) from Mamoura Diversified Global Holding (previously Mubadala Development Co) and General Investments. The Emirates Investment Authority held 39.9% of Du, while Mamoura owned 19.92% https://bloom.bg/2FdDora 

Moroccan Govt looks to sell a further 8% of its shares in Maroc Telecom, cutting down its ownership from 30% to 22%. The sales comes as part of increased privatization move. (AR) http://bit.ly/31BD3s0

DAAL Investments, Saudi, signs MoU with Azerbijan’s Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies http://bit.ly/2wUvCOj

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

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MENA’s Digital News, Week #29

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Jumia raises $196M in New York Stock Exchange IPO http://bit.ly/2X9ueT6 

Inagrab, Bahrain based B2B analytics, raises follow-on funding from Faith Capital http://bit.ly/2Gmq2sj 

Foodics, Saudi cloud POS for F&B, raises bridge investment from Faith Capital (also) http://bit.ly/2UGBk4W

MerQ, Egypt AI, closes seed round at $800k valuation http://bit.ly/2VGJtTg 

Lunchon closes Series A funding at $5.5M http://bit.ly/2Devm0p 

Eyewa, Dubai-based eye wear ecommerce, raises $7.5M in Series A led by Wamda Capital, along with GS shop, Equitrust (Choueiri Group), 500 Startups and Faith Capital http://bit.ly/2IuJNAN 

Fordeal, Chinese cross-border global eCommerce platform, raised “tens of millions of dollars” in Series C funding from Chinese investors http://bit.ly/2ZcIxrR

Property Finder acquires Bahraini property portal ‘Bahrain Property World’ http://bit.ly/2v9eRhH 

Sector News

Arabic Added To Amazon Polly Text-To-Speech Cloud Service http://bit.ly/2DjYZgU

Aramex Inaugurates New e-Commerce Fulfillment Center in Dubai http://bit.ly/2UHMwhq

W Motors, Dubai based premium car manufacturer, to launch the region’s first “Automotive Academy” http://bit.ly/2DjUyTg

Drees & Sommer, international construction and real estate consultancy, has launched a Dubai-based innovation hub http://bit.ly/2XegIO8 

Uber Eats launches in Dammam, Eastern Province Saudi http://bit.ly/2Ukcti1 

Workz Group, Dubai-based mobile & IoT solutions provider, expands into EU with Dublin HQ http://bit.ly/2Kywcet

Anghami expands subscription to include video content – starting with Game of Thrones. http://bit.ly/2DgLMFm 

Long Reads

Mintrics Launches Online Video Analytics Report for Ramadan http://bit.ly/2VQhlgF

CrowdAnalyzer launches annual State of Social Media 2019 Report http://bit.ly/2VNwhMi 

Recently Read:

Technically Wrong

Technically Wrong by Sara Wachter-Boettcher. The challenge of tomorrow is that Artificial Intelligence is being built on the premise that today’s world is perfect and has all the answers, not on the conscious realization that we need to make the world a better, more “fair” place to live. That’s primarily because the majority of the engineers and decision makers behind AI are not subject to the abject discrimination and social ailments that the rest of the society is doomed for.

If we ever need to be afraid of AI, I would be fear the people developing and strategizing it, not the technology itself. We have seen that with drones, drugs, and chemicals, today it’s “artificial intelligence”

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