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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MENA’s Digital News, Week #37

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

Investments (Local and Global)

Eksab, Cairo’s Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) platform, announced a “six-figure seed investment” from 500 Startups http://bit.ly/2FdZ4DP 

Urent, P2P care rental platform, raised undisclosed funding from Seed Group, The Private Office of Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum, and will launch in Dubai this month. The startup has acquired RTA approval http://bit.ly/2XhEVH6 

Averos, Saudi tracking startup, Pre-Series A funding round from Saudi Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures (amount undisclosed) http://bit.ly/2ZsKTlO 

Zbooni, Dubai social commerce startup, raises $1.1M led by the Chalhoub Group and B&Y Venture Partners http://bit.ly/2WSdfsU

Swvl, Egypt’s mass transit startup, raises $42M from Vostok, BECO Capital, MSA and Endeavor Catalyst https://bloom.bg/2WVzwRE

Venturesouq joins $6M series A round, lead by Impulse VC, into GuestReady, UK based platform for real estate management http://bit.ly/2KrVt95

Arzooo, Indian retail tech startup, raises $1M in pre-series A lead by Jabbar Internet Group http://bit.ly/31D12a4 

Gympass, Brazilian fitness classes subscription service, raises $300M from Softbank Vision Fund and SoftBank Latin America Fund https://prn.to/2FoCtVd

Collective Health, US, raises $105M in funding led by SoftBank Vision Fund http://bit.ly/2FsM5OL

1 Acquisition

Mubawab, Morocco’s real-estate portal, acquire’s Jumia House operations in Morocco, Tunisia & Algeria (Mubawab owned by Dubai’s EPMG) http://bit.ly/2ZvA82b 

Sector News

World Bank grants $175M (two loans) to Tunisia, $100M for “digital transformation inside the Tunisian administration” and $75M “projects of emerging projects and SMEs” http://bit.ly/2MUNGCP

All mention of this article + posts suddenly disappeared, but we’re keeping it here for reference that they tried. > > Noon launches free delivery starting today across the UAE with no minimum spend (this is on the heels of Amazon launching Prime in the UAE last week) http://bit.ly/2IVmnTB

Microsoft to launch two new data centers in the UAE http://bit.ly/2XmyCBX

Long Reads

Report: Artificial Intelligence in Saudi Arabia, Report by Microsoft and EY (AR) http://bit.ly/2KrDobp

Further Readings

Etisalat to invest ~$1.2B for network upgrades in 2019 http://bit.ly/2x4oE9P

Emirates Investment Authority (sovereign) bought $630M stake into Du Holding (Telecom) from Mamoura Diversified Global Holding (previously Mubadala Development Co) and General Investments. The Emirates Investment Authority held 39.9% of Du, while Mamoura owned 19.92% https://bloom.bg/2FdDora 

Moroccan Govt looks to sell a further 8% of its shares in Maroc Telecom, cutting down its ownership from 30% to 22%. The sales comes as part of increased privatization move. (AR) http://bit.ly/31BD3s0

DAAL Investments, Saudi, signs MoU with Azerbijan’s Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies http://bit.ly/2wUvCOj


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MENA’s Digital News, Week #36

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

Hope you’re re-energized post Eid and back in full gear, also staying safe from the heat! A few of the email subscribers have mentioned that the auto-emails are arriving in a less than enticing manner, so bare with me this week and we’ll hopefully fix that for the next week 😉

It’s a long one. Go!

Investments & Acquisitions

The Stories Studio, Bahrain social gaming startup, has raised follow on funding from an Angel investor post graduation from Flat6Labs Bahrain http://bit.ly/2Zdw9ab 

Foloosi, UAE-based fintech startup, raises undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding from angel investor http://bit.ly/2WyTUYV 

Orcas, Cairo-based online marketplace for babysitters & tutors, raises $500k in pre-series A from Khaled Ismail, Kamelizer, and Cairo Angels http://bit.ly/2XAzoIu

Maroc Numeric Fund, Moroccan Government fund, announces its exit from Ma-Navette.com to Glen Invest (FR) http://bit.ly/2XLuAAe

Tenderd, Dubai-based heavy equipment rental marketplace, raises $5.8M sees round lead by Y Combinator and BECO Capital, and also includes Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Paul Buchheit, Justin Mateen, Matt Mickiewicz, VentureSouq, SOMA, Dynamo, and Global Founders Capital http://bit.ly/2WvtMxN 

Wadi.com app gets absorbed by Carrefour Saudi. Wadi was acquired by MAF earlier in May after it had pivoted to groceries delivery only in March. The shift to groceries may have been influenced by MAF as they had invested in Wadi during October 2018 http://bit.ly/2W2p8XT

Ivi, Russian VOD service, raises $40M lead by Mubadala and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) http://bit.ly/2QZA3Rl

FreshToHome, India’s fresh produce delivery startup, raises $11M in series A lead by CE Ventures, joined by Das Capital, Kortschak Investments, TTCER Partners, Al-Nasser Holdings, Abdul Azeez Al-Ghurair and M&S Partners http://bit.ly/2WsboWM 

Sector News

BeyondCapital raised $450K from Mercy Corps to invest in a pool of early-stage companies in Jordan http://bit.ly/2K0gTKs

Amazon Prime now available in the UAE for $4 http://bit.ly/2WquMmR 

Trolley, Kuwaiti e-grocery startup, partners with Jazeera airways, Kuwait’s low-cost carrier, to provide on-board convenience store http://bit.ly/2QQ1wEU

Swvl, Egypt shuttle service, expands to Nigeria and to launch in Lagos (they had launched in Kenya in January) http://bit.ly/2F1RHiz 

Oliv, Dubai-based career platform, announces expansion into Singapore http://bit.ly/2EYnEbs

Careem expands services to Basra, Iraq http://bit.ly/2Wuis5e 

XtreeE and Concreative, French concrete 3D printing companies, to set up 3D solutions production unit in UAE http://bit.ly/2WC7hwf 

Arabian Bourse (ABX), UAE crypto asset exchange and custodian, has received initial regulatory approval from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) http://bit.ly/2WHQ58G

Mastercard Partners with Bahrain FinTech Bay http://bit.ly/2wGquxs 

Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) is working on a draft law for crypto-related activities which will oblige financial institutions to obtain licenses creating, advertising or operating platforms that issue or facilitate trading of cryptocurrencies http://bit.ly/2Wz7Q9R

Long Reads

NUMBER AND VALUE OF INVESTMENTS BY YEAR

ArabNet’s State of Digital Investments in MENA 2013-2018 Report http://bit.ly/2WFn3qc

Further Readings (Non-tech news that should be on your radar)

GEMS Education buys Saudi school group Ma’arif, through a joint venture with Hassana Investment http://bit.ly/2XgpdZv (GEMS schools network grew substantially over the past two years in the UAE and are known among tech circles for continuously engaging with coding and entrepreneurship ecosystems) 

Egyptian Ministry of Public Works announced a plan to merge three public land #transport government companies into one entity and offer it as an opportunity for foreign investment (the system transports 1.4B passengers a year) http://bit.ly/2wNq7Rv 

Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) and SEERA (previously Al Tayyar Travel Group) signed a strategic partnership agreement to strengthen travel demand from Saudi to Dubai http://bit.ly/2MEVSHr

Network International stocks now listed on FSE 250 Index raising over $1B since IPO http://bit.ly/2WGAPIX

Dubai Islamic Bank to acquire Noor Bank http://bit.ly/2WC4gM9

Dubai issues “new insolvency law for companies operating in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)” http://bit.ly/2IDLqe3


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