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MENA’s Digital News, Week #38

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

First order of business: Farah Nakouzi has joined me to launch the Arabic “MENA’s Digital News” Channels on Telegram and Whatsapp!

Some changes will come to the weekly roundup soon, but I appreciate your patience 🙌🏻

Now let’s get to it, it’s been a long week!

Investments & Acquisitions

BSynchro, Beirut based insurtech, raises $1M from Berytech & Phoenician Fund http://bit.ly/2Fug6NQ 

Hopi, D2C contact lenses startups, raises seed funding from Esanjo (the latest venture of Jadopado’s Founder) – undisclosed amount http://bit.ly/2KxFXZk

Foodics, Saudi POS tech, raises $4M from Riyadh Taqnia Fund (RTF), Fatih Capital, Tech Invest Com and Naseel Holding http://bit.ly/2XJsQuF (AR) http://bit.ly/2KJDIT7 

Breadfast, Cairo-based baked goods and breakfast delivery startup, raises series A, led by 500 Startups & Egyptian angel investor, and gets accepted to YC combinator http://bit.ly/2KCM8M1

Sprii, eCommerce platform for mothers, raises $8.5M in funding from undisclosed investors http://bit.ly/2RwK6NO 

Noon Academy, Saudi EdTech startup, raises $8.6M co-led by Raed Ventures and Saudi Technology Ventures (STV) http://bit.ly/2KHWRVt (AR) http://bit.ly/2KH7UOu 

Elmenus, Egypt-based food delivery and discovery platform, is raising a series B with commitments currently secured from angel investors http://bit.ly/2NcMaw8

Beyond Capital, Jordan, announces investment in 5 startups under their Scout Program: Bilforon, 360Moms, Addenda, Silkroad Audio http://bit.ly/31VHaiP 

Sector News

Noon.com, re-announces free delivery on all orders. The first announcement was done last week, but was later withdrawn across channels http://bit.ly/2IVmnTB 

Tencent Games to open offices in Dubai’s Internet City http://bit.ly/2Jav1xK 

Oman’s Information Technology Authority (ITA) initiated a new accelerator in the sultanate: Sas Accelerator, powered by Google Developers Launchpad program. First cohort announced. http://bit.ly/2LcNSek

UAE Ministry of Economy approves Careem‘s acquisition by Uber http://bit.ly/2FwNJPn

Toters, Lebanon-based food delivery app, expands to Riyadh (announced via email only) 

Seedstars launched its second MENA hub in Morocco, with commitments to invest in startups through Investment Readiness Program and the Seedstars World. The first was in Cairo http://bit.ly/2Xckvjl 

Fintech

Souqalmal.com, Dubai-based insurtech startup, to expand services to Bahrain http://bit.ly/31TcwGA 

MENA Fintech Association (MFTA) was launched yesterday in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and the Arab Monetary Fund http://bit.ly/2WZrQhn 
Link to the MENA Fintech Association website http://bit.ly/2IDBsu8

DEX (Digital Assets Exchange) has secured in principle approval from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) to operate a Crypto Asset Exchange http://bit.ly/2Yagqcb (this is the second digital asset platform getting initial approval this month) 

Central Bank of Egypt‘s old building in Cairo to be turned into a Fintech Campus. Announcement was made by Greek Campus and Sawari Ventures founder, Ahmed Alfi http://bit.ly/2J4TNQ1

A Public Sector Overhaul in the UAE

UAE’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA)’s & Dubai 10X have collaborated on a new initiative: Rahhal, providing “innovative learning pathways blending traditional education with industry qualifications”. Under this initiative GEMS schools and Siemens sign an MoU signed a collaboration to build more integration between schools and industry http://bit.ly/2RvMcOa (to note: GEMS school just expanded it’s investments in Saudi last month)

UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, TRA, launches the ‘UAE National Cybersecurity Strategy’ http://bit.ly/2Xxg3Lw The strategy’s page and full length reading here http://bit.ly/2Xa8OtP (AR) http://bit.ly/2RB4rBN

Ghadan 21, Abu Dhabi, announces: – New ~$1.2B R&D Fund – Energy consumption discounts to enterprises – “open data” access to gov’t collected data – shorter payment cycles for gov’t contractors, 30 days – increased number of services that can be applied for online http://bit.ly/2xdRrJ0

Further Readings

Tech/Digital

Snapchat study hows that users of the platform in Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the two most dominant markets in using snapchat as a messaging platform http://bit.ly/2FyBTnD 

Byblos Bank, Lebanon, launches a new Data Center, “the only Uptime Institute Tier III certified constructed facility” http://bit.ly/2WZPiej

IBM is launching two new centers in Cairo: Industry Client Center and Marketing Services Center http://bit.ly/31Pk51f

Non Tech/ Digital (Economic)

PSA Group, French Peugeot Citroen manufacturer, launches factory in Morocco http://bit.ly/2KtwGBT 

Tunisia Secures $131.7M Fund from French Development Agency to Develop Its Smart Grid Project http://bit.ly/2KvwFgE

Saudi Arabia now accepting online applications for the permanent residency program http://bit.ly/2IB2Gl4

Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) announces 15 MOUs and agreements with South Korean investors, around Artificial Intelligence for Healthcare, Solar Energy Sector among others http://bit.ly/322huBh

Long Read

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report on Economic Development in Africa 2019 http://bit.ly/2X8Kkw9


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