MENA’s Digital News, Week #42

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

Investments & Acquisitions

SOS Credit, Casablanca-based fintech startup, has received an undisclosed investment from the SEAF Morocco Growth Fund (SMGF) http://bit.ly/2Y9hgFb

CODED, Coding education platform, raises $1.3M Pre-series A funding led by KISP, and joined by 500 startups, Sijam Ventures, Sirdab Lab, Sharq Capital and Abdullah Al-Zabin http://bit.ly/2GoYGmo 

Zid, Saudi-based eCommerce infrastructure provider, raises $2M led by Elm Ventures and joined by Arzan VC & MSA Capital http://bit.ly/32Mk9PJ

PushBots, Saas add-ons provider for startups, sells two SaaS API products to Apilayer from Austria for undisclosed amount http://bit.ly/2GqeQfh

Mubadala Ventures, joins investors in funding InCountry, US based data-residency startup, in a series A round of $15M https://tcrn.ch/2XVlwI9 

Sector News

Swvl, Egypt’s on-demand shuttle service, expands into Pakistan’s Lahore http://bit.ly/2Y9O05b

Huobi and CASHU, crypto-payment platforms, announce partnership and expansion to North Africa http://bit.ly/2GiRKHe 

Careem launches new service in Dubai in joint-venture with the Road and Transportation Authority (RTA) called ‘Hala’ which further integrates RTA Taxis into Careem’s app http://bit.ly/32ALZOJ (the partnership was announced in Dec, 2018)

Property Finder and the Dubai Land Department (DLD) sign a partnership to launch an official sales and rental price index for Dubai available through Data Finder platform, and Mo’asher http://bit.ly/2SyLqQR

Iflix, Mayalsian VOD service, halts operations in the Middle East. They had just closed a $50M investment round. https://tcrn.ch/2yfGV4h 

BIGO, Singapore holding company of IMO messenger and BIGO Live, to establish an office in Jordan (BIGO Live is a popular live streaming platform in SEA) http://bit.ly/2MdR2Ps 

SoftBank Vision Fund II has commitments from Apple, Goldman Sachs Group, and Kazakhstan’s government https://on.wsj.com/2YwXVSJ 

UAE x China

SenseTime, Chinese AI startup, to open an EMEA R&D center in Abu Dhabi http://bit.ly/2GvB0g5 

Jollypay, online payment arm of China’s Jollychic, receives license to operate in the UAE http://bit.ly/2M3lhse (Alipay, Alibaba’s payment service, has been operating in the UAE since 2018) 

Fang, China’s #1 real-estate platform, launches in the UAE http://bit.ly/2Y2blBO

Didi, China’s leading ride-hailing service, signed a joint-venture with Symphony Investors and other unnamed investors to establish a regional presence http://bit.ly/2OaulOP 

Neolix, Chinese autonomous vehicle company, signs agreement with Noon.com to trial their vehicles in Saudi Arabia and UAE http://bit.ly/2Z7C691 

Further Readings (Economic)

CooperFitch publishes salary guide for Saudi Arabia (AR) http://bit.ly/32MDzE0 

Lebanon issues New Commercial Law to improve ease-of-business, clauses are very positive for startups. Unofficial english translation is here: http://bit.ly/2Z2k5ZS and full draft (much longer) in official gazette here (AR) http://bit.ly/2SpE5D4 

Worldbank releases new report “Promoting a New Economy for the Middle East and North Africa” http://bit.ly/30SgP3L 

Investcorp, Bahrain-based “alternative investment manager”, announces a $142M for its Private Equity Fund for India http://bit.ly/2SEmUxR 

AJ Capital and Investment LLC (AJCI), Al Jallaf Family Office, acquires a 51% stake in Kenyan micro-insurer, Insurance For All (IFA) Ltd http://bit.ly/2OhHu8Q

Long Reads

Saudi authorities issue a “Fintech Access Guide” that includes: regulations and frameworks for companies that wish to setup or expand into the kingdom http://bit.ly/2MhJriI 

IBM’s Cost of Data Breach Report is out and MENA (UAE & Saudi as per their research) remain the second highest regions for average cost of breaches for entities at $5.97M! The average cost per breached record in MENA is $173. Full Report here: https://ibm.co/2YiJxx7 and a more interactive cost calculator can be found on their website here: https://ibm.co/2YahdZF 

Visa’s eCommerce in the UAE Report on the state and projections of eCommerce in the UAE. Market is estimated at $8.3B in 2018 and growing 23% annually, UAE consumers spend per transaction is one of the highest globally at $100+ per transaction http://bit.ly/2YqClyS

Global Innovation Index (GII) 2019 is out, MENA countries don’t rank very high globally, but are on par in some categories. Excerpt is 20 pages, Full report is 400+, pick your weekend read! both can be found here http://bit.ly/2M9QVnX 


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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

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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 #40

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Clara, UAE based legal-tech startup, raises $2M seed financing from Techstars, 500 Startups, Wamda Capital, VentureSouq, Delta Partners, Shorooq Investments and Dubai Angel Investors http://bit.ly/32lwURg 

Washmen, Dubai-based mobile laundry, raises $6.2M in series B funding led by AddVenture joined by Henkel, Cedar Mundi Ventures, B&Y Venture Partners and Clara Ventures http://bit.ly/2XvILNH 

ChangeLab, Cairo-based accelerator, initiates their first cohort of 10 startups http://bit.ly/2G77bSV 

Fungible, Data center management and optimization startup, raises $200M Series C led by Softbank Vision Fund https://tcrn.ch/2YIBxCq 

Byju, India based Edtech platform, raises a $150M finacing round led by Qatar’s Investment Authority http://bit.ly/2G6X0Og 

Creditas, Brazilian lending platform, raises a $231M financing round led by Softbank Vision Fund https://reut.rs/2XEcTqm 

SURE International Technology, Saudi-based system solutions agency, acquires web & app development agency Maxsys for undisclosed amount in what looks like a capabilities acquihire (EN) http://bit.ly/2FYDO52 (AR) http://bit.ly/32bU506

Inking Ideas, India-based advertising and marketing agency, and Dubai-based Free-To-Air Bollywood movie channel Imagine Movies have announced merger http://bit.ly/2L8339h

Sector News

Saudi’s Misk Innovation, Seedstars and Vision Ventures launch new Saudi based accelerator http://bit.ly/2Xzmtpo 

Badir Program for Technology Incubators & Accelerators in Saudi, officially launches Haramain Technology Accelerator http://bit.ly/2L5BYUt 

Fawry, Egyptian online / mobile payment platform, to IPO on the Egyptian Exchange by next month eyeing a valuation of ~$300M http://bit.ly/2NJ1XDa (AR) http://bit.ly/32f5Gvz 

Saudi’s Ministry of Commerce and Investment issues official eCommerce Regulations, detailed law can be found on this link in Arabic http://bit.ly/32hgxVB no English draft is available as of yet, however the link to official announcement http://bit.ly/2XWrHQi and a small snippet of laws http://bit.ly/2XTaebD

STC pay, Saudi Telecom, partners with Paytabs & Hyperpay to integrate their payment solutions within their service http://bit.ly/32l9XO4 & http://bit.ly/2NK8Fsu

Spotify launches a Lite app edition across 36 countries including 12 MENA ones http://bit.ly/2NKRZRB 

Further Readings

Egypt may pass decree that grants investors a chance to acquire an Egyptian passport and/or permanent residence. An amendment to existing laws has already been issued to support (AR) http://bit.ly/2YMovEg

Dubai International Financial Centre, DIFC, issues 4 new licensing categories (Short-term and Restricted Licenses, Commercial Permissions and Dual Licenses) with reduced fees http://bit.ly/2S43pi2

Sharjah decrees to establish an “Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport,” AASTMT, in the emirate http://bit.ly/2S1RMYO 

Dubai’s value of non-oil external trade with Saudi Arabia was 55B AED (~$15B) in 2018 http://bit.ly/2Jz7J57

Dubai’s DAMAC Properties, real-estate developer, to acquire Italian Fashion house Roberto Cavalli for ~$180M http://bit.ly/2YKGGtN


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