MENA’s Digital News, Week #43

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

Investments & Acquisitions

HiGuests, Dubai-based property management startup, closes $1.1M investment from Spanish real-estate developer Forcadell and plans expansion to Spain http://bit.ly/2GyIxL0 

Rain, Bahrain-based cryptocurrency exchange, raises a $2.5M seed round co-led by BitMex Ventures and Blockwater (Kuwaiti cryptocurrency fund), joined by Vision Ventures, 500 Startups (MENA), and Taibah Valley. It also received a Crypto-Asset Module (CRA) license from the Central Bank of Bahrain http://bit.ly/2ynUw9U

Hayaat Group, Dubai based investor, joins investment round into Loyyal, US based blockchain powered loyalty and incentives startups, led by Unblock Ventures Limited, Recruit Co. and Monex Group, the amount of funding is undisclosed. Loyyal has raised from mostly Dubai based investors in 2016 and 2017 https://prn.to/2KfQE09 

Hazen.ai, Saudi artificial intelligence-based traffic analytics and monitoring solutions, secured a Seed round from Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures, amount undisclosed http://bit.ly/2LTRq6i

e-Finance, Egypt’s government-owned fintech company, to list publicly on the Egyptian stock exchange (EGX) under a wave of privatization efforts http://bit.ly/2Ydv7yZ 

Saudi’s Public Investment Fund to invest in Babylon Health, UK based healthcare bookings platform, as part of a rumored ~$400M round to fuel global expansion http://bit.ly/2ZpgipQ

Sector News

Floward, Kuwaiti flower eCommerce platforms, expands to Riyadh, Saudi http://bit.ly/2SLuLd1 

Saudi’s Capital Market Authority (CMA) grants license to both Wahed Invest and Haseed Investing Co to operate robo-advisory services in the Kingdom https://nyti.ms/2Yh76ao 

Amazon Web Services officially inaugurates their Bahrain office. A long list of clients (startups, enterprises and public sector) in the unusually long press release. Also, Bahrain Gov intends to have “30% of all 72 government entities migrated to AWS by June 2020” https://bwnews.pr/3154M3m 

markettiers MENA, a broadcast specialist, claims there are ~1.3M regular podcast listeners in the UAE http://bit.ly/2GC1j4q

Saudi Venture Capital (SVC) agrees to fund Impact46’s (Saudi) latest Impact Seed Fund for an undisclosed amount (AR) http://bit.ly/317DWHS

Mastercard and Bahrain’s Electronic Network for Financial Transactions (BENEFIT) partnered to launch a pilot blockchain program for cross-border banking transactions http://bit.ly/2MrSEoH 

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Mashreq Bank’s Corporate and Investment Banking Group, and norbloc, announced today a strategic alliance to launch a blockchain Know Your Customer (KYC) data sharing consortium in Q1 2020 for Dubai http://bit.ly/2ymD8Cy 

Further Readings (Economic)

Saudi’s Ministry of Labor imposes new requirements for Saudi nationals employment quotas on Hospitality sector, particularly 3 stars hotels and above https://bloom.bg/2yjnM1J (AR, official MoL page) http://bit.ly/2YoJ20j

Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) imposed financial penalties of $299M $15.3M on Abraaj Investment Management Limited, AIML & Abraaj Capital Limited, ACLD, respectively http://bit.ly/2YbvtWZ 


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“I find the news items very relevant and timely. You gather all the relevant info in one place & that they are short.”

Jenny Atout Ahlzén, Board Member of CFA Society Jordan, and Former Principal at Silicon Badia

MENA’s Digital News, Week #38

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

First order of business: Farah Nakouzi has joined me to launch the Arabic “MENA’s Digital News” Channels on Telegram and Whatsapp!

Some changes will come to the weekly roundup soon, but I appreciate your patience 🙌🏻

Now let’s get to it, it’s been a long week!

Investments & Acquisitions

BSynchro, Beirut based insurtech, raises $1M from Berytech & Phoenician Fund http://bit.ly/2Fug6NQ 

Hopi, D2C contact lenses startups, raises seed funding from Esanjo (the latest venture of Jadopado’s Founder) – undisclosed amount http://bit.ly/2KxFXZk

Foodics, Saudi POS tech, raises $4M from Riyadh Taqnia Fund (RTF), Fatih Capital, Tech Invest Com and Naseel Holding http://bit.ly/2XJsQuF (AR) http://bit.ly/2KJDIT7 

Breadfast, Cairo-based baked goods and breakfast delivery startup, raises series A, led by 500 Startups & Egyptian angel investor, and gets accepted to YC combinator http://bit.ly/2KCM8M1

Sprii, eCommerce platform for mothers, raises $8.5M in funding from undisclosed investors http://bit.ly/2RwK6NO 

Noon Academy, Saudi EdTech startup, raises $8.6M co-led by Raed Ventures and Saudi Technology Ventures (STV) http://bit.ly/2KHWRVt (AR) http://bit.ly/2KH7UOu 

Elmenus, Egypt-based food delivery and discovery platform, is raising a series B with commitments currently secured from angel investors http://bit.ly/2NcMaw8

Beyond Capital, Jordan, announces investment in 5 startups under their Scout Program: Bilforon, 360Moms, Addenda, Silkroad Audio http://bit.ly/31VHaiP 

Sector News

Noon.com, re-announces free delivery on all orders. The first announcement was done last week, but was later withdrawn across channels http://bit.ly/2IVmnTB 

Tencent Games to open offices in Dubai’s Internet City http://bit.ly/2Jav1xK 

Oman’s Information Technology Authority (ITA) initiated a new accelerator in the sultanate: Sas Accelerator, powered by Google Developers Launchpad program. First cohort announced. http://bit.ly/2LcNSek

UAE Ministry of Economy approves Careem‘s acquisition by Uber http://bit.ly/2FwNJPn

Toters, Lebanon-based food delivery app, expands to Riyadh (announced via email only) 

Seedstars launched its second MENA hub in Morocco, with commitments to invest in startups through Investment Readiness Program and the Seedstars World. The first was in Cairo http://bit.ly/2Xckvjl 

Fintech

Souqalmal.com, Dubai-based insurtech startup, to expand services to Bahrain http://bit.ly/31TcwGA 

MENA Fintech Association (MFTA) was launched yesterday in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and the Arab Monetary Fund http://bit.ly/2WZrQhn 
Link to the MENA Fintech Association website http://bit.ly/2IDBsu8

DEX (Digital Assets Exchange) has secured in principle approval from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) to operate a Crypto Asset Exchange http://bit.ly/2Yagqcb (this is the second digital asset platform getting initial approval this month) 

Central Bank of Egypt‘s old building in Cairo to be turned into a Fintech Campus. Announcement was made by Greek Campus and Sawari Ventures founder, Ahmed Alfi http://bit.ly/2J4TNQ1

A Public Sector Overhaul in the UAE

UAE’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA)’s & Dubai 10X have collaborated on a new initiative: Rahhal, providing “innovative learning pathways blending traditional education with industry qualifications”. Under this initiative GEMS schools and Siemens sign an MoU signed a collaboration to build more integration between schools and industry http://bit.ly/2RvMcOa (to note: GEMS school just expanded it’s investments in Saudi last month)

UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, TRA, launches the ‘UAE National Cybersecurity Strategy’ http://bit.ly/2Xxg3Lw The strategy’s page and full length reading here http://bit.ly/2Xa8OtP (AR) http://bit.ly/2RB4rBN

Ghadan 21, Abu Dhabi, announces: – New ~$1.2B R&D Fund – Energy consumption discounts to enterprises – “open data” access to gov’t collected data – shorter payment cycles for gov’t contractors, 30 days – increased number of services that can be applied for online http://bit.ly/2xdRrJ0

Further Readings

Tech/Digital

Snapchat study hows that users of the platform in Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the two most dominant markets in using snapchat as a messaging platform http://bit.ly/2FyBTnD 

Byblos Bank, Lebanon, launches a new Data Center, “the only Uptime Institute Tier III certified constructed facility” http://bit.ly/2WZPiej

IBM is launching two new centers in Cairo: Industry Client Center and Marketing Services Center http://bit.ly/31Pk51f

Non Tech/ Digital (Economic)

PSA Group, French Peugeot Citroen manufacturer, launches factory in Morocco http://bit.ly/2KtwGBT 

Tunisia Secures $131.7M Fund from French Development Agency to Develop Its Smart Grid Project http://bit.ly/2KvwFgE

Saudi Arabia now accepting online applications for the permanent residency program http://bit.ly/2IB2Gl4

Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) announces 15 MOUs and agreements with South Korean investors, around Artificial Intelligence for Healthcare, Solar Energy Sector among others http://bit.ly/322huBh

Long Read

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report on Economic Development in Africa 2019 http://bit.ly/2X8Kkw9


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

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Or you on whatsapp (admin posting only) right here


MENA’s Digital News, Week #36

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

Hope you’re re-energized post Eid and back in full gear, also staying safe from the heat! A few of the email subscribers have mentioned that the auto-emails are arriving in a less than enticing manner, so bare with me this week and we’ll hopefully fix that for the next week 😉

It’s a long one. Go!

Investments & Acquisitions

The Stories Studio, Bahrain social gaming startup, has raised follow on funding from an Angel investor post graduation from Flat6Labs Bahrain http://bit.ly/2Zdw9ab 

Foloosi, UAE-based fintech startup, raises undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding from angel investor http://bit.ly/2WyTUYV 

Orcas, Cairo-based online marketplace for babysitters & tutors, raises $500k in pre-series A from Khaled Ismail, Kamelizer, and Cairo Angels http://bit.ly/2XAzoIu

Maroc Numeric Fund, Moroccan Government fund, announces its exit from Ma-Navette.com to Glen Invest (FR) http://bit.ly/2XLuAAe

Tenderd, Dubai-based heavy equipment rental marketplace, raises $5.8M sees round lead by Y Combinator and BECO Capital, and also includes Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Paul Buchheit, Justin Mateen, Matt Mickiewicz, VentureSouq, SOMA, Dynamo, and Global Founders Capital http://bit.ly/2WvtMxN 

Wadi.com app gets absorbed by Carrefour Saudi. Wadi was acquired by MAF earlier in May after it had pivoted to groceries delivery only in March. The shift to groceries may have been influenced by MAF as they had invested in Wadi during October 2018 http://bit.ly/2W2p8XT

Ivi, Russian VOD service, raises $40M lead by Mubadala and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) http://bit.ly/2QZA3Rl

FreshToHome, India’s fresh produce delivery startup, raises $11M in series A lead by CE Ventures, joined by Das Capital, Kortschak Investments, TTCER Partners, Al-Nasser Holdings, Abdul Azeez Al-Ghurair and M&S Partners http://bit.ly/2WsboWM 

Sector News

BeyondCapital raised $450K from Mercy Corps to invest in a pool of early-stage companies in Jordan http://bit.ly/2K0gTKs

Amazon Prime now available in the UAE for $4 http://bit.ly/2WquMmR 

Trolley, Kuwaiti e-grocery startup, partners with Jazeera airways, Kuwait’s low-cost carrier, to provide on-board convenience store http://bit.ly/2QQ1wEU

Swvl, Egypt shuttle service, expands to Nigeria and to launch in Lagos (they had launched in Kenya in January) http://bit.ly/2F1RHiz 

Oliv, Dubai-based career platform, announces expansion into Singapore http://bit.ly/2EYnEbs

Careem expands services to Basra, Iraq http://bit.ly/2Wuis5e 

XtreeE and Concreative, French concrete 3D printing companies, to set up 3D solutions production unit in UAE http://bit.ly/2WC7hwf 

Arabian Bourse (ABX), UAE crypto asset exchange and custodian, has received initial regulatory approval from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) http://bit.ly/2WHQ58G

Mastercard Partners with Bahrain FinTech Bay http://bit.ly/2wGquxs 

Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) is working on a draft law for crypto-related activities which will oblige financial institutions to obtain licenses creating, advertising or operating platforms that issue or facilitate trading of cryptocurrencies http://bit.ly/2Wz7Q9R

Long Reads

NUMBER AND VALUE OF INVESTMENTS BY YEAR

ArabNet’s State of Digital Investments in MENA 2013-2018 Report http://bit.ly/2WFn3qc

Further Readings (Non-tech news that should be on your radar)

GEMS Education buys Saudi school group Ma’arif, through a joint venture with Hassana Investment http://bit.ly/2XgpdZv (GEMS schools network grew substantially over the past two years in the UAE and are known among tech circles for continuously engaging with coding and entrepreneurship ecosystems) 

Egyptian Ministry of Public Works announced a plan to merge three public land #transport government companies into one entity and offer it as an opportunity for foreign investment (the system transports 1.4B passengers a year) http://bit.ly/2wNq7Rv 

Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) and SEERA (previously Al Tayyar Travel Group) signed a strategic partnership agreement to strengthen travel demand from Saudi to Dubai http://bit.ly/2MEVSHr

Network International stocks now listed on FSE 250 Index raising over $1B since IPO http://bit.ly/2WGAPIX

Dubai Islamic Bank to acquire Noor Bank http://bit.ly/2WC4gM9

Dubai issues “new insolvency law for companies operating in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)” http://bit.ly/2IDLqe3


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

MENA's Digital News on Telegram

Or you on whatsapp (admin posting only) right here