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MENA’s Digital News, Week #40

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Clara, UAE based legal-tech startup, raises $2M seed financing from Techstars, 500 Startups, Wamda Capital, VentureSouq, Delta Partners, Shorooq Investments and Dubai Angel Investors http://bit.ly/32lwURg 

Washmen, Dubai-based mobile laundry, raises $6.2M in series B funding led by AddVenture joined by Henkel, Cedar Mundi Ventures, B&Y Venture Partners and Clara Ventures http://bit.ly/2XvILNH 

ChangeLab, Cairo-based accelerator, initiates their first cohort of 10 startups http://bit.ly/2G77bSV 

Fungible, Data center management and optimization startup, raises $200M Series C led by Softbank Vision Fund https://tcrn.ch/2YIBxCq 

Byju, India based Edtech platform, raises a $150M finacing round led by Qatar’s Investment Authority http://bit.ly/2G6X0Og 

Creditas, Brazilian lending platform, raises a $231M financing round led by Softbank Vision Fund https://reut.rs/2XEcTqm 

SURE International Technology, Saudi-based system solutions agency, acquires web & app development agency Maxsys for undisclosed amount in what looks like a capabilities acquihire (EN) http://bit.ly/2FYDO52 (AR) http://bit.ly/32bU506

Inking Ideas, India-based advertising and marketing agency, and Dubai-based Free-To-Air Bollywood movie channel Imagine Movies have announced merger http://bit.ly/2L8339h

Sector News

Saudi’s Misk Innovation, Seedstars and Vision Ventures launch new Saudi based accelerator http://bit.ly/2Xzmtpo 

Badir Program for Technology Incubators & Accelerators in Saudi, officially launches Haramain Technology Accelerator http://bit.ly/2L5BYUt 

Fawry, Egyptian online / mobile payment platform, to IPO on the Egyptian Exchange by next month eyeing a valuation of ~$300M http://bit.ly/2NJ1XDa (AR) http://bit.ly/32f5Gvz 

Saudi’s Ministry of Commerce and Investment issues official eCommerce Regulations, detailed law can be found on this link in Arabic http://bit.ly/32hgxVB no English draft is available as of yet, however the link to official announcement http://bit.ly/2XWrHQi and a small snippet of laws http://bit.ly/2XTaebD

STC pay, Saudi Telecom, partners with Paytabs & Hyperpay to integrate their payment solutions within their service http://bit.ly/32l9XO4 & http://bit.ly/2NK8Fsu

Spotify launches a Lite app edition across 36 countries including 12 MENA ones http://bit.ly/2NKRZRB 

Further Readings

Egypt may pass decree that grants investors a chance to acquire an Egyptian passport and/or permanent residence. An amendment to existing laws has already been issued to support (AR) http://bit.ly/2YMovEg

Dubai International Financial Centre, DIFC, issues 4 new licensing categories (Short-term and Restricted Licenses, Commercial Permissions and Dual Licenses) with reduced fees http://bit.ly/2S43pi2

Sharjah decrees to establish an “Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport,” AASTMT, in the emirate http://bit.ly/2S1RMYO 

Dubai’s value of non-oil external trade with Saudi Arabia was 55B AED (~$15B) in 2018 http://bit.ly/2Jz7J57

Dubai’s DAMAC Properties, real-estate developer, to acquire Italian Fashion house Roberto Cavalli for ~$180M http://bit.ly/2YKGGtN


To get your daily dose subscribe to MENA’s Digital News Telegram channel here: https://t.me/technologyinmena or on Whatsapp (admin posting only) right here

MENA's Digital News on Telegram

Or follow the Arabic “MENA’s Digital News” Channels on Telegram & Whatsapp!


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 


To get your daily dose subscribe to MENA’s Digital News Telegram channel here: https://t.me/technologyinmena or on Whatsapp (admin posting only) right here

MENA's Digital News on Telegram

Or follow the Arabic “MENA’s Digital News” Channels on Telegram & Whatsapp!


MENA’s Digital News, Week #24

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

Investments & Acquisitions

AvidBeam Technologies, Egypt big data analytics, begins Series A round with commitment from Egypt Ventures http://bit.ly/2tSiCXX 

Beehive, P2P SME Lending Platform, Raises Further $4M Investment as Part of a Series B Round from Riyad TAQNIA Fund (RTF) https://prn.to/2TeGwfm and expands to Bahrain http://bit.ly/2XHI6Fa 

Syarah, Riyadh-based online car marketplace, raises investment from Elm http://bit.ly/2tSMVhv

Blueground, Greek turnkey flexible rental apartments, raised $20M from VentureFriends, Endeavor Catalyst, Jabbar Internet Group and Kevin Ryan (angel) https://tcrn.ch/2H1MolN 

SoftBank Invests $350M In Delhivery, India based food delivery startup, at $1.6B valuation http://bit.ly/2NJvqZY and $1.5B in Grab, India’s top Uber competitor) http://bit.ly/2TCuM5M 

Mubadala Investment Company’s EU Fund led an investment into WeFox’s series B round which raised US$ 125M in funding http://bit.ly/2EQQ5sq

Sector News

ITP Media Group launches “ITP Gaming” which will focus on managing large scale gaming events, representing gaming publishers and influencers, and creating new multi-language games http://bit.ly/2TnWoM7 

Namshi to expand into Egypt http://bit.ly/2NE7qr4 

Wadi.com pivots to grocery-focus (used to sell everything) in the GCC companies it serves (twitter) http://bit.ly/2ITXN93 – the website now redirects to app with clear different branding and positioning wadi.com

Zomato raises $105M in it’s latest funding round led by Delivery Hero http://bit.ly/2EKYgWU and relinquished it’s UAE business to Delivery Hero to focus on increasing competition with Swiggy in India http://bit.ly/2NJhCP3 (Now Delivery Hero owns most of the regional food delivery players: Talabat, Carriage, Zomato UAE, and Hungerstation)

Paymate, Indian enterprise payment management, to expand to MENA supported by Visa (their partner in the Indian market) http://bit.ly/2NFfU1e

MidChains, Abu Dhabi-based blockchain enabled financial investment exchange, to open a crypto exchange business under the new Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Crypto Asset regulatory framework http://bit.ly/2XJB0jJ

Orange (Telecom) launches affordable 3G-featured phone in partnership with KaiOS Technologies and UNISOC in 16 MEA markets http://bit.ly/2C4KAEy 

The Food Battle .. continues.

.. yes it’s yet another battle in a long war.

In 2012 Delivery Hero was one of dozens of food delivery startups in Europe, and has since acquired half the market, or burnt out the other. In MENA, Delivery Hero financial results for 2018 show a two fold growth in MENA revenues (4 weeks ago) and it may be no surprise as they own most of the market!

Source: ArabNet

The latest acquisition increases Delivery Hero’s power of the delivery market and spells more trouble for Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Careem Now, who collectively hold a much smaller market share (confidential source) than Delivery Hero’s kingdom.

There are local players still standing strong to Delivery Hero’s dominance in Saudi: Wssel and Jahez. In Lebanon, Onlivery is still growing strong; Zomato launched delivery in 2018, however it is doing it in collaboration with other food delivery services (Toters). Egypt, Akelni ($1.2M funding), Yumamia ($1.3M funding) and ElMenus ($1.5 funding), are taking a crack at the market which may be big enough to share.

What’s interesting to watch is the new trend in lunch focused services like: LunchOn (Dubai, $3.5M) that specialize in curated lunch options, and Mumm (Cairo, $450k). As well as of vertical delivery like Cofe (Kuwait, $3.2M) and Sippy (Dubai) that provide a coffee shop market place to consumers.

Zomato did not drop it’s Dubai business due to losses, but the competition on its Indian home-turf with Swiggy has taken priority, and lets face it, India is a far larger market than all of MENA combined.

So next time you stare at Talabat, Carriage, and Zomato in the UAE deciding to order from either or, remember, it’s Rocket Internet anyway.

Reports & Long Reads

Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index 2019 http://bit.ly/2J4Bxt0 “

E-commerce in MENA: Opportunity Beyond the Hype” by Bain & Co’s http://bit.ly/2UoimM2

A Map of Health-tech in MENA http://bit.ly/2ETdk52

Further Readings: The Bigger Economic Picture

Petra Engineering Industries Company, Jordanian manufacturer, signed (the first ever deal in Jordan) with Siemens to supply Petra with the building technology and software to develop a line of smart HVAC and building management systems http://bit.ly/2NKmlzX


To get your daily dose subscribe to MENA’s Digital News telegram channel here: https://t.me/technologyinmena

MENA's Digital News on Telegram

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