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MENA’s Digital News, Week #43

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

Investments & Acquisitions

HiGuests, Dubai-based property management startup, closes $1.1M investment from Spanish real-estate developer Forcadell and plans expansion to Spain http://bit.ly/2GyIxL0 

Rain, Bahrain-based cryptocurrency exchange, raises a $2.5M seed round co-led by BitMex Ventures and Blockwater (Kuwaiti cryptocurrency fund), joined by Vision Ventures, 500 Startups (MENA), and Taibah Valley. It also received a Crypto-Asset Module (CRA) license from the Central Bank of Bahrain http://bit.ly/2ynUw9U

Hayaat Group, Dubai based investor, joins investment round into Loyyal, US based blockchain powered loyalty and incentives startups, led by Unblock Ventures Limited, Recruit Co. and Monex Group, the amount of funding is undisclosed. Loyyal has raised from mostly Dubai based investors in 2016 and 2017 https://prn.to/2KfQE09 

Hazen.ai, Saudi artificial intelligence-based traffic analytics and monitoring solutions, secured a Seed round from Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures, amount undisclosed http://bit.ly/2LTRq6i

e-Finance, Egypt’s government-owned fintech company, to list publicly on the Egyptian stock exchange (EGX) under a wave of privatization efforts http://bit.ly/2Ydv7yZ 

Saudi’s Public Investment Fund to invest in Babylon Health, UK based healthcare bookings platform, as part of a rumored ~$400M round to fuel global expansion http://bit.ly/2ZpgipQ

Sector News

Floward, Kuwaiti flower eCommerce platforms, expands to Riyadh, Saudi http://bit.ly/2SLuLd1 

Saudi’s Capital Market Authority (CMA) grants license to both Wahed Invest and Haseed Investing Co to operate robo-advisory services in the Kingdom https://nyti.ms/2Yh76ao 

Amazon Web Services officially inaugurates their Bahrain office. A long list of clients (startups, enterprises and public sector) in the unusually long press release. Also, Bahrain Gov intends to have “30% of all 72 government entities migrated to AWS by June 2020” https://bwnews.pr/3154M3m 

markettiers MENA, a broadcast specialist, claims there are ~1.3M regular podcast listeners in the UAE http://bit.ly/2GC1j4q

Saudi Venture Capital (SVC) agrees to fund Impact46’s (Saudi) latest Impact Seed Fund for an undisclosed amount (AR) http://bit.ly/317DWHS

Mastercard and Bahrain’s Electronic Network for Financial Transactions (BENEFIT) partnered to launch a pilot blockchain program for cross-border banking transactions http://bit.ly/2MrSEoH 

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Mashreq Bank’s Corporate and Investment Banking Group, and norbloc, announced today a strategic alliance to launch a blockchain Know Your Customer (KYC) data sharing consortium in Q1 2020 for Dubai http://bit.ly/2ymD8Cy 

Further Readings (Economic)

Saudi’s Ministry of Labor imposes new requirements for Saudi nationals employment quotas on Hospitality sector, particularly 3 stars hotels and above https://bloom.bg/2yjnM1J (AR, official MoL page) http://bit.ly/2YoJ20j

Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) imposed financial penalties of $299M $15.3M on Abraaj Investment Management Limited, AIML & Abraaj Capital Limited, ACLD, respectively http://bit.ly/2YbvtWZ 


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“I find the news items very relevant and timely. You gather all the relevant info in one place & that they are short.”

Jenny Atout Ahlzén, Board Member of CFA Society Jordan, and Former Principal at Silicon Badia