MENA’s Digital News, Week #9

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Yahaal, Kuwaiti Childcare eCommerce App, raises funding at $3.5M valuation

Holidayme, Dubai HQ travel bookings, merges with Malaysia based Tripfez, together raising $16M in Series C 

Swvl, Egypt’s bus hailing app, raises Series B at $100M valuation and plans to expand to East Asia

Majid Al Futtaim concludes their 2014 investment in Beam Wallet with a full acquisition [EN] [AR]

Impact Guru, India’s healthcare crowdfunding platform, receives investment from Shorooq Investment and angel investors, plans expansion to UAE 

Sector News

Bahrain and Shenzhen sign 12+ landmark agreements to deepen economic ties covering artificial intelligence, fintech and investment strategies, among which Bahrain EDB signed an MOU with Jolly Chic

Kuwait Projects Company (KIPCO) to sell its 60.50% stake in Panther Media Group Limited, otherwise known as OSN revealing a 70% drop in Q3 revenues

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) launches GCC chapter 

Snapchat rolls out shows in MENA with 20 media partners.
[EN] [AR] 

Careem (with TransAD / Integrated Transport Center)  and Uber (with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Transport)  relaunch in Abu Dhabi, with deals that allow Emirati’s to sign up with their private cars

Further Readings

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) competition for sustainable smart homes launches showcase of 15 houses (you can visit till the 28th) 

Softbank’s Vision Fund to open office in India 

Long Reads

WorldBank’s Ease of Doing Business Report in MENA capitals

Wamda releases “Tech entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia“ Report

Can Working Smart & Local Compete With Global Giants Burning Investor Money

This was the title of the last two posts I have written about the alarm bells that ring every time a regional startup goes head-to-head with a global player. 

Last week Spotify rolled out to 13 countries in MENA, spurring the doom-sayers to declare the years of Anghami growth a waste. Also, the rumor mill of a looming Uber acquisition of Careem escalated (yet again) as talks of the imminent IPO nears. 

Read them here:

There will be, and are already, many global startups expanding to the region, however, they would not come if they do not see successful local companies paving the way and showing them the ropes. 

They do not understand the market more than regional startups, but they can burn a lot of investor cash on the way, so be ready for more marathons to come 😉 

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MENA’s Digital News, Week #8

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Fakahany, Egypt-based grocery startup, raises $700k from Endure Capital and angel investors

Bluering, Lebanon based fintech startup, raises Series A funding from Phoenician Fund (amount undisclosed) 

WakeCap, UAE-based construction tech, raises $1.6M from Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), Graphene Ventures, Abunayyan Holding, Inspire Ventures, SOSV, startAD Seed and SeedCo Capital 

VoltLine closes their pre-series A round at $1.28M with participation of Dubai Angel Investors – they had raised part from MEVP & Hedef Filo (& individuals) in August 

Twiga Foods, Kenyan marketplace for farmers and vendors, raises $10M investment led by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme, with participation from previous investors including Wamda Capital.

Mubadala Ventures Leads $60M Funding Round Into US Logistics Tech Firm Turvo

WISE Power, Kentucky based Internet of Things (IoT) energy storage company, raises $3M from Saudi based SilverNote Investment Capital (among bigger round) 

Sector News

UAE based payment processor Network International seems to have plans for a $3B IPO, no date set, but IPO advisers have been hired

DMS, Choueiri Group’s digital arm, adds Zee Network’s “Weyyak” to its portfolio of Video-on Demand (VoD) platforms

Slighter, Lebanon based hardware startup, a CES 2019 Innovation Awards Honoree

Google Pay launches in the UAE 

Spotify launches MENA wide 

X8, Swiss cryptocurrency firm, gets certified for Sharia compliance by the review board, in plans to launch in MENA

500 Startups launches pre-accelerator program with Misk Foundation in Saudi

Modus Capital, New York based venture capital firm, plans to expand into Egypt with incubation, seed and series A investment, and coworking space

UAE’s Al Zarooni Group and US’s Crypto Bulls trading house to open the first official crypto-currency exchange to be registered in the UAE 

Batelco Signs Deal To Build New Bahrain Data Centre With Huawei 

ADGM Signs MOU with Central Bank of Bahrain to Promote Fintech

Further Readings

Egypt Fintech Ecosystem by AsokoInsights

Saudi children are among the youngest in EMEA that receive smartphone, at approximately 7 years of age (AR) 

According to the Arab Investment Export Credit Guarantee Corporation, China now holds nearly a third of the foreign direct investment (FDI) stock in the Arab word 

Github launches it’s growth numbers with promising MENA prospects highlighted: Algeria is the fastest growing country by repository creation, and Egypt leads the way in the highest number of open source repositories

Fintech Landscape maps of Bahrain & Egypt 

Long Reads

Faith Capital release a MENA Venture Capital Regulatory Framework white paper 

ESCWA launches their 2018 “Fostering Innovation in Small and Medium Enterprises in the Arab Region” report

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Wow, this week was eventful, and long. I will post a snippet or two of personal thoughts on some regional news later in the week, as I have to rush out early for a long day in the wilderness. 

Thoughts about the newsletter:
Given how much vertical news there seems to be (mostly fintech and occasionally crypto), I’m considering spinning those out into a separate section or even post altogether… what do you think?