MENA’s Digital News, Week #49

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Teacherly, UAE-based edtech platform, raises funding from Shorooq Partners http://bit.ly/2kD8BNF

UPayments, Kuwait-based epayment provider, raises seed funding from Angel Investors http://bit.ly/2kGzDnm

Wahed Invest (Wahed), raises a “multi-million dollar investment” from Dubai Cultiv8 Investments Limited, a subsidiary of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Fund for SME (an integrated division of the Department of Economic Development) http://bit.ly/2lX2Muy

Investcorp, Bahrain, to acquire Italy-HQ ticketing platform Vivaticket which has more than “2,100 clients across 50 countries including Walt Disney World, Musee du Louvre and FC Barcelona” http://bit.ly/2m07jww

Etisalat, UAE, to acquire full ownership of cybersecurity firm Help AG’s businesses in the UAE & Saudi http://bit.ly/2mmKsLz

Sector News

Swvl expands into two new cities in Pakistan and launches engineering office in Karachi http://bit.ly/2kgQTiC

Halan, Egyptian tuk-tuk startup, to expand to Ethiopia https://reut.rs/2ksDJzh

Dubizzle, UAE-based Olx subsidiary, launches a new portal for listing off-line projects in the UAE http://bit.ly/2m0OusK

Ipsos shares stats on Subscription video on demand (SVoD) in Saudi Arabia for 2018 http://bit.ly/2lWFHs4

Fintech

DIFC FinTech Hive’s 2019 Accelerator Program accepts 31 Startups for their upcoming cycle. DIFC provides support for three month but no direct equity based investment http://bit.ly/2kJPgKA

National Bank of Fujairah (NBF) joins trade finance blockchain network Marco Polo, which has 22 members including Mastercard, BNP Paribas, ING & Standard Chartered http://bit.ly/2mfD3xF

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) launches blockchain-based trade finance http://bit.ly/2kMjywj

EmiratesNBD, UAE, to launch audio banking capabilities through Amazon Alexa http://bit.ly/2lTdkuH

Further Reading (Policy & Economy)

Egypt to start work on $2.4B telecom network for first phase of a new capital city https://reut.rs/2mfDqZ5

University of Bahrain (UOB) announced the launch of a new cloud computing degree program in collaboration with AWS Educate Cloud Degree initiative http://bit.ly/2lV9elW

Egypt Cabinet approves Ride-Hailing Apps Act, which will require companies and drivers to pay, registration, licensing, taxes and social insurance http://bit.ly/2kTdFNU Official Gazette (AR) http://bit.ly/2lZxDXp

Central Banks of UAE and Saudi lower interest rates after US Fed cut http://bit.ly/2mqvdBz

Rand Merchant Bank, South Africa, 2020 investment report says Egypt is still the most attractive country to invest in in Africa, followed by Morocco, then South Africa http://bit.ly/2mhUsFQ (full report will be available in Jan 2020 for non-RMB clients)


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MENA’s Digital News, Week #39

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, I have added our first ever mention of an accelerator cohort. I have had mixed feelings about including acceleration news, but eventually (~40 weeks in) decided when startups enroll through equity based accelerators their companies have technically raised a small investment round, so there they’ll live.

Investments & Acquisitions

Widebot, Cairo based Arabic chat bot makers, raise “six figure” pre-series A investment http://bit.ly/2JeWRJq 

FlexxPay, UAE based financial solutions for SMEs platform, raises undisclosed investment round from undisclosed investors http://bit.ly/2xm05VY

Dhad, Saudi based Arabic Audio-book, raises undisclosed seed investment from Vision Ventures, 500 Startups, SVC, and angel investors from Oqal http://bit.ly/2Xfk6rv 

Faylasof, Jordan based online bookstore, raises $500k in pre-series A from Wise Ventures http://bit.ly/2YpvIJX 

Ecomz, Lebanon’s eCommerce website builder, raises $4M in series A led by Cedar Mundi, joined by iSME Lebanon and BLC Bank http://bit.ly/2FObBOf 

Boutiqaat, Kuwait based eCommerce platform, raises investment at $500M valuation, amount & GCC investor undisclosed. The announcement was made via twitter: http://bit.ly/2xrKgx6, sale disclosure on Kuwait Bourse http://bit.ly/2XhtcnX (lost of speculation and cloudiness around this doubling in valuation in under 6 month)

Flat6Labs Bahrain inaugurates cycle 3 with 6 startups http://bit.ly/2XNjlKA

Jabbar Group founders join Series J round into India’s Ola http://bit.ly/2RR8b28 

Tara.ai (originally Gradberry) raises $10M led by Aspect Ventures with participation from Slack Fund. The founders are graduates from the American University in Sharjah and later moved their business to SF to tap into AI talent https://tcrn.ch/301jGqA

Ola spun off its Electric Mobility unit to independent, Ola Electric Mobility, for which it raised $250M from Softbank Vision Fund at $1B valuation http://bit.ly/324ePXr

Sector News

Halan, Cairo’s tuktuk & motorcycle ride-hailing, launched Halan Ads to power advertising on its vehicles http://bit.ly/2NjjBwT 

Amazon.ae’s Payfort signs agreement Ajman Municipality, UAE, to power a unified payment gateway for the emirate: AjmanPay http://bit.ly/2LvJkjp (AR) http://bit.ly/2ROXayc 

Standard Chartered Bank in the UAE has announced its support of Womena’s Womentum program as part of their “diversity and inclusion agenda” http://bit.ly/2YwjejG

Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), with the support of OCP Group & MassChallenge, launches an accelerator aimed at agri-tech, biotech, nanotech and mining tech: Impulse http://bit.ly/2YuFp9Z

Princess Sumaya University, Jordan, launches a Bachelor in Data Science & Artificial Intelligence (AR) http://bit.ly/2FHv834

Bahrain & UK selected by World Economic Forum to “pilot new guidelines for the procurement of Artificial Intelligence in the public sector” http://bit.ly/30aYvm0

Further Readings

The UAE Cabinet has approved 122 economic activities across 13 sectors eligible for up to 100% foreign ownership in the UAE, which include “transport and storage, which allows investors to own projects in the field of e-commerce transport, supply chain, logistics” among others http://bit.ly/2XpKpQY they also announced 10 incentives to attract investors (AR) http://bit.ly/2XpjgNQ (english not yet available)

Al Maktoum Center for Middle Eastern Studies to open at Dublin’s Trinity College in partnership with Al Maktoum College of Higher Education http://bit.ly/2xxnaot

Dubai Ports acquires Topaz, major oil and gas marine logistics provider for ~$1.1B from the Oman-listed Renaissance Services. Topaz operates 117 vessels https://wapo.st/2FLYhtO

Long Reads

Snapchat launches “The Friendship Report” that highlights relationships across Australia, France, Germany, India, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the UK, and the US broken down by generations http://bit.ly/31ZO46u 

World Bank “Mashreq 2.0: Digital Transformation for Inclusive Growth and Jobs” Report http://bit.ly/2KPp3FK (AR) http://bit.ly/301ewLn 


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