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 #48

This is last weeks post due to challenges with the hosting service, cancellation and transfer to a new host. We’re up on running now!

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Shelvz, Lebanon-based Saas-workforce management platform, raises funding from iM Capital http://bit.ly/2kfmMIv

Foloosi, UAE-based fintech startup, closes a angel funding round of $500k (inclusive of the committed funding in June) http://bit.ly/2A5bxGA

Misk Growth Accelerator kicks off cycle with 11 startups, each of which will receive up to $100k in funding from Seedstars & Vision Ventures by end of cycle http://bit.ly/2kFN7zz

Sector News

Wired Magazine launches Middle East edition http://bit.ly/2LlmVVh 

Youtube launches subscription based premium music streaming service in MENA http://bit.ly/2k6ehiG 

Arrow Labs, Dubai-based wearable workforce management, expands to the USA. They had raised a single funding round from Global Ventures (Dubai) in May, 2018 (amount undisclosed) http://bit.ly/2LoJUPz

Qatar blocks Uber’s acquisition of Careem within the country http://bit.ly/318Vx2y 

Fintech

CareemPay launches mobile top-up capability in Egypt and Pakistan http://bit.ly/2lQpeFw 

Accion Venture Lab & Fund, $33M, launches to invest in MENAP based startups focused on financial inclusion http://bit.ly/2A0bImT

Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM) grants the first full digital banking license to Anglo-Gulf Trade Bank, which will allow it to provide corporate banking services to Abu Dhabi based companies starting with ones based in ADGM http://bit.ly/2ZTVkmf 

Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) is considering to expand the scope of digital currencies to banks & other countries http://bit.ly/30dybHr 

Central Bank of Egypt to launch over $50M fintech fund http://bit.ly/2kc7KDc 

Further Reading

Saudi’s Ministry of Labor launches a new platform to facilitate freelance work licenses in the kingdom (AR) http://bit.ly/2kaPzhc 

Egypt’s ICT Minister says they plan to launch 7 technological parks in 7 universities across Egypt, with EGP 1B (~$60M) budget from the government, and aims to increase ICT contribution to GDP to 4% by end of year http://bit.ly/2kFEFjE 

Egypt begins digitization of its energy grid http://bit.ly/2ka3qEr

Masdar, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, (owned by Mubadala) and the UK government have invested £70M ($86.5M) in a new green technology fund to be managed by London-based Zouk Capital http://bit.ly/2lIVsmk

Long Reads

The World Economic Forum publishes the 2019 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report. The UAE leads MENA enablement, infrastructure, ICT, labor and at a globally competitive level, however it’s not faring well on nature, openness and price. Full report here: http://bit.ly/2kqLhCF


To get your daily dose subscribe to MENA’s Digital News Telegram channel here or on Whatsapp. Follow the Arabic “MENA’s Digital News” Channels on Telegram & Whatsapp!


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 


To get your daily dose subscribe to MENA’s Digital News Telegram channel here or on Whatsapp. Follow the Arabic “MENA’s Digital News” Channels on Telegram & Whatsapp!

“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