MENA’s Digital News, Week #17

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

This week’s round up is late, I’m catching up on winter in Lebanon and was frankly enjoying the weather a tad too much yesterday to sit in front of a computer.

Investments & Acquisitions

Yawmi, Dubai-based food startup, just closed a seed round from Shorooq Investments https://goo.gl/xKFCxt

Lucidya, Saudi-based arabic social media monitoring platform, raises ~$1M (4M SAR) in Series A funding from BIAC (EN) https://goo.gl/SXWJSH (AR) https://goo.gl/3RyJns

Dubizzle has now been fully acquired by Naspers, $190M was paid for remaining equity. https://goo.gl/V6Kxg8 

Aramex Acquires Saudi TAL for Commerce and Contract Company Ltd (“Saudi TAL”), for approximately $80M https://goo.gl/VygCas 

Modanisa, Turkish modest fashion eCommerce, sells minority stake to Goldman Sachs https://goo.gl/BnU3s6 

Sector News

The UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking to make equity-free investments of up to $100k in startups using data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) or similar technologies. https://goo.gl/KSLxZ3

Saudi Government issues regulations and permit procedure for personal and commercial drones https://goo.gl/VcAS4S

Chinese consumer electronics and mobile communication company, Oppo, launched in Saudi Arabia, and commits to helping MENA countries foster 5G powered innovation through Qualcomm partnership and AI R&D https://goo.gl/EibLZK

Google Assistant launches Arabic Language Support in Beta https://goo.gl/LTcZDF 

Further Readings

DP World to buy a 71.3% stake in Chile’s Port Service Puertos y Logistica SA https://goo.gl/eHfYPN

Vietnam’s Yeah1 Media Group acquire’s MCN’s ScaleLab, Youtube multi-channel management platform, which has offices in Latin America, Russia, the UK, and the Middle East https://goo.gl/yp3zNC 

ZDNet: Middle East tech: What does 2019 have in store?

Damian Radcliffe reached out before the end of 2018 to contribute to their annual 2019-predictions article on ZDNet.

I’m honored to be featured along amazing regional leaders such as Chris Schroeder, Jawad Abbassi, Sevag Papazian, and Jaime Galviz.

What does 2019 hold for the region, check out the article here.

Long Reads

African Venture Capital 2018 Report – $725.6M Invested In 458 Deals https://goo.gl/4ZZrCS

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

MENA's Digital News on Telegram

Will Machines Destroy Us?

2 minutes

Here’s the new end-of-the-world plot line that’s been suffocating my newsfeeds. Technologists are scared of machines becoming too smart for us and plotting to end or enslave humans.

While the apocalyptic scenario rings familiar with all the Hollywood theatrics and childhood stories. It’s worth remembering a few elemental things.
1) Machines are non-feeling (“feelings” when available are programmed by a human)
2) Machine mobility is still super complex
3) Human learning starts at infancy and is administered through a far more complex pattern than scientists have decoded into machine learning.
4) Most importantly: We project our inner weaknesses onto those around us.

The first time (Google’s AI) AlphaGo beats a world Champion at the Chinese board game Go — This robot can do no other task though, nor has other cognitive abilities

Us humans have been brain-washed into mistrusting each other and always expecting the worst from the person in front of us. We have become so mistrustful that that has almost become the default for everyone.
The US has enough Nuclear missiles to end the planet, but doesn’t trust anyone they don’t get along (or do at this stage) with to have any (while today the threat may just as well be from the inside).

In the Middle East many countries don’t trust their governments (even democratic nations). We don’t trust refugees, westerners, Asians, Africans, our fellow citizens of different sects and our neighbors. We have a trust issue.

Here comes the machines. Why did we expect that we will fall into their arms in safety? Our inherent psychology prompts us that the “machine-race” are to be mis-trusted. They have metal power, access to our connectivity and superior vertical self-learning intelligence.

When facebook’s machines developed their own language, it made absolute sense! Machine’s don’t need the syntax and language rules that humans use to communicate (even coding languages are designed for humans), nor do they come lumbered with cultural references. Therefore in light of efficiency the machines will logically communicate in a machine inherent language.

Just because machines are getting “smarter” than humans from programmed and designed machine learning research is not equal to “machines will end the human race”. I would be more concerned about the human race ending the human race through global warming and war machines within the next few decades instead.


“Why did you kill my family?” Graffiti in Yemen. The war on Yemen has been a ground for Drone testing and Intelligent Military

This post originally appeared on Medium in the Breathe Publication on Sep 24, 2017