TagCrypto

MENA’s Digital News, Week #33

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Resal, Saudi gifting ecommerce, raises $800k Pre-Series A (EN) http://bit.ly/2WQdH6T (AR) http://bit.ly/2w20lIZ 

InstaDeep, Tunisian enterprise AI startup, raises $7M in Series A from AfricInvest and Endeavor Catalyst http://bit.ly/2DZJTxe 

Wadi.com, Saudi grocery delivery, gets acquired by Majid Al Futtaim (MAF). MAF had invested in Wadi in late October, after-which it pivoted to focus completely on grocery delivery from general eCommerce http://bit.ly/2Hmwd1h

Heetch, French ride-hailing startup with presence in Morocco, raises $38M from from Cathay Innovation, Idinvest Partners, Innov’Allianz, Total Ventures, Alven and Felix Capital, and plans expansion to Algeria and some other markets http://bit.ly/2HhmeJr

Gofers, Indian online grocery startup, raises $200M led by SoftBank Vision Fund http://bit.ly/2JkY8ku

Sector News

12 startup accelerators and incubators from across MENA announce a partnership to support their portfolio companies with knowledge sharing, soft-landing and resources http://bit.ly/2WNPfD7

COFE, Kuwait’s coffee delivery app, signs exclusive “partnership” with Deliveroo in Kuwait and UAE http://bit.ly/2W0pHFF 

BitOasis is granted “preliminary license… to operate a digital asset wallet and a trading platform” by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority https://bloom.bg/2HePx0l 

Careem Bus expands to Saudi, launches an inter-city bus service between Jeddah and Makkah http://bit.ly/2JCXEpe

The National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) launches open banking protocols, becoming the first regional bank to allow any third parties to provide utilize their banking data http://bit.ly/2Q5U7AZ

Abu Dhabi announces enhanced “Guidance for the Regulation of Crypto Asset Activities” http://bit.ly/2VpiWZG

Further Readings

Jordan established Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship (AR) http://bit.ly/30aEi0y

APCO Worldwide, global PR agency, opens Bahrain office http://bit.ly/2DZUZCv 

Dubai “plans” unified free-zone license http://bit.ly/2LFrlJ4 

UAE “plans to set up” expat retirement funds led by DIFC for employees working within its financial free zone. No final agreement has been reached, but the discussions are ongoing http://bit.ly/2Q1ETgp

The Human Race is On!

One of the biggest shortages in the world today is talent. Good talent can genuinely make or break a company, or even a country.

Governments today are faced with a two-prongs nurture local talent, attract international talent. I think all governments need both, and urgently. Local talent is irreplaceable, but expats that are willing to leave the comfort of their home country and bring in fresh perspectives, methodologies and experiences are just as important for innovation and economic growth.

Which is what we’re seeing today among GCC countries. Almost every week a new announcement on long term visas, retirement vehicles, and increasing the ease-of-doing-business. If talent sees a country as a great way to make money and leave, then they’ll do just that. Then leave to invest their lives somewhere else that’ll provide them with stability and nurture.

As the world shifts to an the increasingly competitive grab for global talent (and the global and regional refugee crisis) it may be worthwhile to remember human progression does not have to be a zero sum game.


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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 #22

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Mile, Dubai-based delivery and logistics management platform, raised seed funding (amount undisclosed) in round led by Riyad Taqnia Fund http://bit.ly/2SHnnTf 

Feel22, Lebanon’s beauty eCommerce platform, raises series A funding by Equitrust, Choueiri Group’s investment arm http://bit.ly/2S86FHE 

Golden Scent, Saudi perfume and scents ecommerce, raises an undisclosed funding round from existing investors http://bit.ly/2XhILNx

Nalbes, Kuwait’s local online fashion-centric, raises $2M in series B http://bit.ly/2E34HmI

LUNCH:ON, Dubai-based lunch subscription, closes $3M series A round, led by Wamda Capital, EATventure, Arzan VC and Abu Nayyan Holding (for expansion in UAE + to Saudi) http://bit.ly/2GtO1bB 

GoodsMart, Egypt-based grocery startup, secures funding from Algebra Ventures in pre-series B http://bit.ly/2GL548y 

Mad’a Investment Company, Saudi-based private equity & venture capital firm, invests in Dubai based Family Souk Ventures and its online retail subsidiary Babysouk.com http://bit.ly/2ImOqyy 

SEED Group, The Private Office of Sheikh bin Ahmed Al Maktoum, names INVAO as “exclusive” intl. blockchain investments partner http://bit.ly/2BDv5Di (this marks the second foray in crypto-assets publicized by SEED Group, scroll to last Wednesday for the first)

Haute Hijab, NY-based eCommerce startup co-founded by ex-MarkaVIP’s Ahmed Zedan, raises $2.3M in seed funding led by Cue Ball Capital with Ludlow Ventures, Sinai Ventures, Maveron, Muse Capital, AngelList and The Helm http://bit.ly/2EgXQYo 

Sector News (sectioned)

Aramex sells India unit to logistics startup Delhivery http://bit.ly/2GvKGZG

OSN officially launches low-cost Saudi offering El Farq http://bit.ly/2T5JYbo 

DMS announces the launch of its new digital ad performance product “DMS Perform http://bit.ly/2Sdfksn 

Expansions

Skiplino, Bahraini digital queue service, expands into Kuwait http://bit.ly/2SNCISj 

Deliveroo launches in Kuwait with 900 restaurants http://bit.ly/2SUkLSh 

Hepsiburada, Turkey’s Amazon.com, launches it’s first foray into global markets with it’s first Arabic and English website editions http://bit.ly/2SGib24

If you lose me you know where to find me!

LEGO opens offices in Dubai to support expansion http://bit.ly/2X9bqUX 

All Egypt

Noon confirms expansion to Egypt http://bit.ly/2SMlh4A

TBWA expands to Egypt through partnership with AB Group http://bit.ly/2GtnVWd

Uber agrees to pay VAT in Egypt https://reut.rs/2Sd1uGa 

Financial Technology and Blockchain

Apple activates Apple Pay services in Saudi Arabia ahead of official launch http://bit.ly/2Gw2J1T 

STC Pay launches international remittance service in partnership with Western Union http://bit.ly/2T2TmwD 

Dubai Caesars Bluewaters will start using Lucid Pay blockchain wallet technology (already in use by Atlantis Hotel and Resort) http://bit.ly/2V5wIRy 

TradeAssets, the blockchain-powered e-marketplace for trade finance assets, is now live with 25 banks http://bit.ly/2TZLzNh 

Further Reading

Flexport, a software-focused freight forwarder, raises $1B in funding led by Softbank Vision Fund http://bit.ly/2E53Th9

Mubadala to launch a $400M fund for EU tech investments with Softbank as an investor http://bit.ly/2BFhT0F 

Dubai Ports World extends acquisition of P&O, the British freight firm, to include subsidiaries: P&O Ferries and P&O Ferrymasters http://bit.ly/2twNGMY

The re-birth of blockchain

I have along anticipated that the hype over blockchain would die off and we’ll get a more mature applicable understanding of how the technology can be used to simply make transactional, verification or contractual ledgers work more seamlessly.

Well it seems we’re finally getting there. Less over-hype and more business-as-usual.

From hotels using crypto-based wallets for on-premise transactions (above), blockhain powered trading (also above), cross border remittances powered by Ripple and custom clearance at ports (Week#15), as far as even developing a single use crypto-coin to settle cross border trade (Week#12), blockchain powered POS systems (Week #4), Islamic Digital Sukuk (Week#3), and all of Week#13‘s crypto-section.

While popular coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum, and Ripple have slipped in market valuation, that’s not a indication of it’s practical value as a technology.


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