MENA’s Digital News, Week #49

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Teacherly, UAE-based edtech platform, raises funding from Shorooq Partners http://bit.ly/2kD8BNF

UPayments, Kuwait-based epayment provider, raises seed funding from Angel Investors http://bit.ly/2kGzDnm

Wahed Invest (Wahed), raises a “multi-million dollar investment” from Dubai Cultiv8 Investments Limited, a subsidiary of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Fund for SME (an integrated division of the Department of Economic Development) http://bit.ly/2lX2Muy

Investcorp, Bahrain, to acquire Italy-HQ ticketing platform Vivaticket which has more than “2,100 clients across 50 countries including Walt Disney World, Musee du Louvre and FC Barcelona” http://bit.ly/2m07jww

Etisalat, UAE, to acquire full ownership of cybersecurity firm Help AG’s businesses in the UAE & Saudi http://bit.ly/2mmKsLz

Sector News

Swvl expands into two new cities in Pakistan and launches engineering office in Karachi http://bit.ly/2kgQTiC

Halan, Egyptian tuk-tuk startup, to expand to Ethiopia https://reut.rs/2ksDJzh

Dubizzle, UAE-based Olx subsidiary, launches a new portal for listing off-line projects in the UAE http://bit.ly/2m0OusK

Ipsos shares stats on Subscription video on demand (SVoD) in Saudi Arabia for 2018 http://bit.ly/2lWFHs4

Fintech

DIFC FinTech Hive’s 2019 Accelerator Program accepts 31 Startups for their upcoming cycle. DIFC provides support for three month but no direct equity based investment http://bit.ly/2kJPgKA

National Bank of Fujairah (NBF) joins trade finance blockchain network Marco Polo, which has 22 members including Mastercard, BNP Paribas, ING & Standard Chartered http://bit.ly/2mfD3xF

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) launches blockchain-based trade finance http://bit.ly/2kMjywj

EmiratesNBD, UAE, to launch audio banking capabilities through Amazon Alexa http://bit.ly/2lTdkuH

Further Reading (Policy & Economy)

Egypt to start work on $2.4B telecom network for first phase of a new capital city https://reut.rs/2mfDqZ5

University of Bahrain (UOB) announced the launch of a new cloud computing degree program in collaboration with AWS Educate Cloud Degree initiative http://bit.ly/2lV9elW

Egypt Cabinet approves Ride-Hailing Apps Act, which will require companies and drivers to pay, registration, licensing, taxes and social insurance http://bit.ly/2kTdFNU Official Gazette (AR) http://bit.ly/2lZxDXp

Central Banks of UAE and Saudi lower interest rates after US Fed cut http://bit.ly/2mqvdBz

Rand Merchant Bank, South Africa, 2020 investment report says Egypt is still the most attractive country to invest in in Africa, followed by Morocco, then South Africa http://bit.ly/2mhUsFQ (full report will be available in Jan 2020 for non-RMB clients)


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MENA’s Digital News, Week #41

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


If you haven’t joined the daily updates, here’s a reason you should: consider:

One of the best if not the best signal to noise ratio channels in the middle East tech scene. Prepared by a team that has been covering tech for years. If you had one channel to add to your radar, start with this one

Kamal Mugahid, former Innovation lead @ du and Currently founder of SuperNode

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!


Investments & Acquisitions

COLNN, Egypt based school management Saas, raises seed round of $100k from Edventures http://bit.ly/2Y5GZ5k 

AlgoDriven, Dubai-based automotive data platform, raises $625k in pre series A funding from Oman Technology Fund, Dubai-DTEC Ventures, 500 Falcons, and Social Capital http://bit.ly/2Sgpxpj / http://bit.ly/2keMnkH

FineDine, Turkish SaaS management platform for F&B and hospitality, have secured investment from Savour Ventures (undisclosed amount) http://bit.ly/2YMZGYF 

Cryptyd, Alexandria-based mobile game development studio, raises pre-series A funding from Cairo Angels and Alexandria Angles http://bit.ly/30AmBXy 

Loay Academy, Bahrain-based online classes and accreditation platform, raises ~$1.1M from undisclosed investors (AR) http://bit.ly/30FtTJH 

Weego, Moroccan mobility startup, join’s Cape Town’s Startupbootcamp AfriTech accelerator http://bit.ly/30zrUXw

Capital Investment LLC, AbuDhabi, joins series F round (announced in May) with an additional $10M invested into Grofers, India’s grocery delivery startup. The round was led by Softbank Vision Fund and valued at $200M http://bit.ly/2Y6xXVJ 

Sector News

Careem launches Careem Now (food delivery) in Amman, Jordan http://bit.ly/2Y2Y3Zz 

Oasis500, Jordan, launches second investment fund: “Oasis Venture II Fund”, joined by the King Abdullah Fund for Development (KAFD), the Innovative Start-ups and SMEs Fund (ISSF) and Arab Bank http://bit.ly/2YTQoKj

Al Baraka Islamic Bank, Bahrain, launches a “Global API Marketplace” inviting startups to tap into their system http://bit.ly/30BAZij (regionally, Jordan’s Arab Bank (Aug 2018) and UAE’s EmiratesNBD (Nov 2018) have launched such offerings) 

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Free Zone (DMCC) registered companies will now be able to establish a presence & operation in mainland Dubai under a facilitated DED license http://bit.ly/2JQM4VU

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) has issued a new regulatory framework for robo-advisors, “digital investment managers”, operating in ADGM http://bit.ly/2XTHb3m 

Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi, announces establishment of the Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Systems Institute (AI Institute) http://bit.ly/2JyhIsm (Jordan’s Princess Sumaya University also launched a Bachelor in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (AR) last month)

UAE’s Ministry of Economy announced amended fees and fines prices for over 110 services including: Trademark registration, issuing and renewal of work permits and alteration of labor contracts, as well as labor transfer costs, “sale, merger and acquisition of foreign companies”, among others http://bit.ly/2XKeSJF (AR) http://bit.ly/2SbYGe8 (Full list should be available in the official gazette next month)

Saudi’s Ministry of Commerce and Investment issued new eCommerce Law last week, no official translation is available yet, but here’s a trusted unofficial one: http://bit.ly/2xIViOy

Long Read

Magnitt publishes “MENA Venture Investment Summary” report for H1 2019 http://bit.ly/2Gemp8E 


MENA’s Digital News, Week #14

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

This is probably the lightest round up yet, hopefully that means people are taking the time to wind down and be with their family, gearing up for a great 2019!

Investments & Acquisitions

VetCode, Egyptian pet-care startup, raises $450k in seed funding from PMaestro https://goo.gl/Dapbfk 

Sector News

Careem partnered with Dubai’s Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) to launch an eHail taxi joint venture https://goo.gl/RrrNmG 

Oyo, Indian budget hotel startup, that raised $1B from Softbank Vision Fund, expanded to UAE last April and has served more than 100,000 guests since https://goo.gl/kGzXR9 

Utopixar, Tunisian startup, receives funding from UNICEF’s Innovation Fund to solve global challenges using blockchain technology https://goo.gl/WCP1kf

AlRawi, Bahrain based audibooks platform, ​soon to be featured on Gulf Air flights https://goo.gl/XDVRp1

Emaar to partner with Tiktok to produce short-video content https://goo.gl/T5tL4c

Samsung bundles VOD services: MBC Shahid, Starz Play and Weyyak into new “SmartPack” offering – notably Netflix is excluded from the bundle https://goo.gl/tECX1M 

Egypt’s Meeza debit card holders will be able to use their cards for online purchases soon https://goo.gl/C9oeqJ

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and IBM piloted a blockchain-based automated system for oil and gas production management https://goo.gl/bfekrx 

UAE to finalize initial coin offering (ICO) regulations in mid-2019 https://goo.gl/eCdLne 

Further Readings

The Emirates Foundation (Abu Dhabi) to grant Google $300k to expand the “Maharat min Google” Arabic language digital skills initiative across the country https://goo.gl/znNBM4 

Schengen Nationals can now travel to Saudi Arabia with an eVisa https://goo.gl/gmJ638

Long Reads

An academic perspective about refugee entrepreneurship in light of recent wars in MENA “Call Me a Business Owner, Not a Refugee!” Challenges of and Perspectives on Newcomer Entrepreneurship” https://goo.gl/HH47nx

What I expect we’ll be seeing in 2019:

  • As regional investors have raised and announced big funds this year, it’s likely that we see a healthy increase in deal sizes, and follow on funding
  • More interest from international investors in the region
  • More Chinese and Asian companies companies expanding into MENA
  • Lots of IPOs are coming up for global players (Uber and co), which will lead to even more aggressive competition as stock markets are becoming cut-throat and unforgiving. (There might be some valuation corrections there as well)
  • Expansion of global players into MENA will be a wake up call for many regional startups (or unicorns) to improve their services
  • This may be the year that P2P payments finally makes it to in MENA – mobile payments in almost there for some markets, and even countries like Egypt are working on improving online payments (finally)
  • A maturity in the crypto / blockchain hype cycle. A lot of people have and will lose a lot of money in the process, but at least we’ll have a guide on what NOT to do.
  • More global regulations on Crypto currency and assets
  • More content creators = more fragmentation of market = people will pirate more as the options to watch all the shows and movies become too cumbersome to deal with
  • A clear gap in the “favorite” social network space leaves the space open for unlikely new players.
  • Over valuations may kill a startup or two.

See you in 2019!


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