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


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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 #28

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

This week was so packed I had to further split sections and cut out some news to make it even reasonable to follow! Good times ahead

Investments (and 1 IPO)

Network International Sells $1.4B of Stock in Europe’s Biggest IPO of 2019 YTD https://bloom.bg/2uWGtpZ 

YaLLa Esports, MENA esports entity, raised seed funding round from a group of “strategic investors” http://bit.ly/2U4QI62 

Haseel, Saudi fresh food’s mobile app, raises funding led by Riyadh Taqnia Fund and joined by Vision Ventures and 500 Startups (EN) http://bit.ly/2KuUhCU (AR) http://bit.ly/2XbNFuP 

PointCheckout raises $600k from Arzan VC, 500 Startups, Dubai Angel Investors, Hala VC, and DTEC Ventures. http://bit.ly/2UqDTI5 

CaptainPanel, Kuwaiti SaaS for maritime activities, raises $1.2M from Faith Capital and 500 Startups. (CaptainPanel is an expansion of Fishfishme, the yacht/boat booking platform started in 2012) http://bit.ly/2GhDf63 

Oliv, dubai based career portal, raises $2M in series A ed by Aloshban and Alnamlah Family Groups in Saudi Arabia, and Mohammed Khoory in the UAE http://bit.ly/2OVvJl2

ProTenders, Dubai based “construction intelligence and procurement company”, raises $3M in pre-series A from undisclosed investors http://bit.ly/2UIZTNC

ArabyAds raises $6.5M in funding from Equitrust, the investment arm of Choueiri Group http://bit.ly/2OScbhz 

Shedul, booking platform for salons and spas, raises $20M in Series B at a $105M valuation https://tcrn.ch/2Z1npVr  

AWOK.com, Dubai based e-commerce platform, closes $30M series A from StonePine ACE Partners and Al Faisaliah Ventures and co-invested by Endeavor Catalyst http://bit.ly/2G9qR9k 

Acquisitions

Noon “acquires” Sivvi, Dubai based eCommerce, owned by Rashid Al Abbar, Mohammed Al Abbar’s Son http://bit.ly/2VpNScZ 

Bayut acquires Rocket Internet’s property portal Lamudi in UAE, Saudi & Jordan to fuel its expansion across GCC http://bit.ly/2UKr3E2

Vista Global, Dubai based charter flights booking, to acquire JetSmarter, US based on demand charter booking app http://bit.ly/2IrPMq

Property Finder to Acquire JRD Group, UAE-based real estate technology provider http://bit.ly/2U520Hp 

Sector News

Choueiri Group launches a TV attribution performance product, “Brand4mance” http://bit.ly/2D0isTl

BroadcastPro ME on Twitter

Twitter expands #videocontent in #MENA with over 16 partnerships. https://t.co/Cxq4LbDSXF

Twitter MENA, signs content partnership deals with 17 media houses to produce / host featured content http://bit.ly/2GcSnmj

Reebok launches eCommerce site to serve the UAE and Saudi markets http://bit.ly/2IsWn3H

Uber partners with Dryve, egypt-based car-sharing platform http://bit.ly/2P1LM0V 

AlAnsari Exchange, UAE, to launch multi-currency travel card with Wirecard, Germany http://bit.ly/2uYaXIf

Zoho partners with Paytabs in MENA as part of their regional expansion http://bit.ly/2InGrzH 

Funding Ecosystem

Seedstars announces $100M fund to invest in African tech startups in collaboration with Paris based First Growth Ventures http://bit.ly/2D2fk9w

Saudi Arabia to Launch a Bank for SMEs http://bit.ly/2UuMx7B 

AfricInvest and Cathay Capital launch $169M African venture fund http://bit.ly/2P7XAyE

Startupbootcamp FinTech Dubai Accelerator adds Mashreq bank as a backer for the program (Visa, HSBC and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) are already onboard). http://bit.ly/2Uu8epd

IFC is now backing both Startupbootcamp Fintech Cairo and AUC Venture Lab http://bit.ly/2KuDcsT

The World Bank allocates $200M to support entrepreneurship and SMEs in Egypt http://bit.ly/2Dac4Jz 

Mubadala opens NY office, focus on financial services, private equity https://reut.rs/2UNJ8kw

Government Support

UAE government to offer long-term (5 year) visas to start-ups, starting with the “top 100 startups” selected for the World Economic Forum that just took place in Jordan http://bit.ly/2U48XbP 

UAE and Saudi Arabia sign MoU to develop digital education system. MoU also involved university twinnings across 8 universities – no details on the MoU’s detailed outlook yet http://bit.ly/2DjOeez

Badir Program, Saudi, partners with Propeller in Jordan, http://bit.ly/2Ua00gU

Long Reads

Mintrics launches report on the State of Social Video in Egypt (in time for Ramadan preps) http://bit.ly/2G8Gn5f


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