MENA’s Digital News, Week #29

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Jumia raises $196M in New York Stock Exchange IPO http://bit.ly/2X9ueT6 

Inagrab, Bahrain based B2B analytics, raises follow-on funding from Faith Capital http://bit.ly/2Gmq2sj 

Foodics, Saudi cloud POS for F&B, raises bridge investment from Faith Capital (also) http://bit.ly/2UGBk4W

MerQ, Egypt AI, closes seed round at $800k valuation http://bit.ly/2VGJtTg 

Lunchon closes Series A funding at $5.5M http://bit.ly/2Devm0p 

Eyewa, Dubai-based eye wear ecommerce, raises $7.5M in Series A led by Wamda Capital, along with GS shop, Equitrust (Choueiri Group), 500 Startups and Faith Capital http://bit.ly/2IuJNAN 

Fordeal, Chinese cross-border global eCommerce platform, raised “tens of millions of dollars” in Series C funding from Chinese investors http://bit.ly/2ZcIxrR

Property Finder acquires Bahraini property portal ‘Bahrain Property World’ http://bit.ly/2v9eRhH 

Sector News

Arabic Added To Amazon Polly Text-To-Speech Cloud Service http://bit.ly/2DjYZgU

Aramex Inaugurates New e-Commerce Fulfillment Center in Dubai http://bit.ly/2UHMwhq

W Motors, Dubai based premium car manufacturer, to launch the region’s first “Automotive Academy” http://bit.ly/2DjUyTg

Drees & Sommer, international construction and real estate consultancy, has launched a Dubai-based innovation hub http://bit.ly/2XegIO8 

Uber Eats launches in Dammam, Eastern Province Saudi http://bit.ly/2Ukcti1 

Workz Group, Dubai-based mobile & IoT solutions provider, expands into EU with Dublin HQ http://bit.ly/2Kywcet

Anghami expands subscription to include video content – starting with Game of Thrones. http://bit.ly/2DgLMFm 

Long Reads

Mintrics Launches Online Video Analytics Report for Ramadan http://bit.ly/2VQhlgF

CrowdAnalyzer launches annual State of Social Media 2019 Report http://bit.ly/2VNwhMi 

Recently Read:

Technically Wrong

Technically Wrong by Sara Wachter-Boettcher. The challenge of tomorrow is that Artificial Intelligence is being built on the premise that today’s world is perfect and has all the answers, not on the conscious realization that we need to make the world a better, more “fair” place to live. That’s primarily because the majority of the engineers and decision makers behind AI are not subject to the abject discrimination and social ailments that the rest of the society is doomed for.

If we ever need to be afraid of AI, I would be fear the people developing and strategizing it, not the technology itself. We have seen that with drones, drugs, and chemicals, today it’s “artificial intelligence”


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MENA’s Digital News, Week #27

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Brimore, egypt’s manufacturer to consumer platform, raises $800k from Algebra Ventures and Endure Capital, with participation from 500 Startups, Flat6Labs, and some angel investors http://bit.ly/2FI3Mcd 

Social Champ, Pakistani media planning solution, raises $100k from Oman’s OTF Wadi (2nd investment into Pakistan this year) http://bit.ly/2OHEAqe

Forward Delivery, Dubai based last mile delivery, raises $2.6M in a pre-series A from multiple investors including Saudi-based Al Rajhi “family members” http://bit.ly/2HNdP3b

Property Finder increases stake in Turkish property platform Zingat to 40% http://bit.ly/2CPt9s9 

Sector News

Google Assistant launches in Arabic [AR] http://bit.ly/2I2fwJo 

Egyptian Competitive Authority (ECA) launches review into Uber-Careem acquisition deal http://bit.ly/2uAoO7v 

Sarwa launches “Halal and Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)” investment portfolios http://bit.ly/2uDk40Y

Bahrain’s Al Salam Bank and Arab Financial Services (AFS), launch a digital pay-roll solution for unbanked blue-collar workers in Bahrain http://bit.ly/2Vnodld

Aramex Builds Integration with WhatsApp Business Solution via Nexmo APIs https://prn.to/2uLIKEA

Zoho launches Zoho One for startups in Saudi Arabia http://bit.ly/2ONUgsa

Long Reads

Fintech in Francophone Africa (including Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria) http://bit.ly/2UnL1nP 

Cleantech in MENA by Arzan VC http://bit.ly/2WBNKYc 

BECO Capital‘s Investment Periodic Table http://bit.ly/2OPMTjT

Magnitt’s Startup Ecosystem in the Arab World WEF Report http://bit.ly/2UqsO9g


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MENA’s Digital News, Week #26

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Uber buys Careem for $3.2B https://nyti.ms/2uuqWh4 (My two cents about this from late last year, read the last section)

Mudassir Sheikha on Twitter

Congratulations to every @Careem Captain, Customer and Colleague on this special moment. We’ve been blessed to impact the lives of millions in the region and it’s only the start as we join forces with @Uber.

GBarena, Giza-based esports and gaming community, has raised seed funding from HIMangel http://bit.ly/2uvbMZ5 

Receet, Palestine based payment digitizations service, raises investment from Ibtikar Fund http://bit.ly/2UT5uOr

The Modist, UAE based conservative fashion ecommerce, raises “strategic investment” from Farfetch and Nicola Bulgari (Vice Chairman of Bulgari Group) http://bit.ly/2HP8TtI

Jamalon raises $10M in Series B led by Wamda Capital, and joined by Anova Investments, 500 Falcons and Endeavor Catalyst http://bit.ly/2TRhFOv 

Alibaba Group will be acquiring ABBC Foundation (Alibabacoin Foundation), Dubai-based crypto-developer of AlibabaCoin, as part of their lawsuit settlement over name trademark http://bit.ly/2Fp2ELN

Infibeam Avenues, Indian eCommerce player, plans expansion into the Middle East via a 51% acquisition by UniPropitia, UAE based investor http://bit.ly/2UXjcQm

Smartchoice, Pakistani financial comparison startup, raises $100k from Oman Technology Fund’s Wadi Accelerator http://bit.ly/2FvjEzM

SoftBank Vision Fund joins $300M investment round into Opendoor, US based real-estate platform https://tcrn.ch/2HDSA3Q

Sector News

Jeeny, Rocket Internet’s ride-hailing company, asked to shut down Jordan operations by regulator http://bit.ly/2U9MRIW 

HIMangel, Alex Angels, Cairo Angels, & AUC Angels Sign a Syndication Protocol http://bit.ly/2CBxBKV

CAFU, UAE fuel delivery startup, signs exclusive deal with Nakheel for boat owners on Palm Jumeirah http://bit.ly/2FE6yAt

Innovation Hubs across Iraq Coordinate to Launch the 1st Nationwide Hackathon http://bit.ly/2JMaJyp

Mastercard to invest $300M in Network International IPO http://bit.ly/2Oq6MOp

Masdar City launches startup accelerator specializing in clean technology and sustainability, The Catalyst http://bit.ly/2upN643 

Mubadala and Softbank Group launched Hub 71, a “tech hub”, also committing $142M (AED 520M) of investment to tech start-ups. This project is in conjunction with Abu Dhabi’s Ghadan 21 $13.6B stimulus package, but it was not clarified what the dynamics between the funds is. http://bit.ly/2USwkpR

Carriage, Kuwait HQ food delivery, expands to Egypt http://bit.ly/2HpeKqj

Joi Gifts expands to Cairo http://bit.ly/2OaeBaH

Uber launches “Uber Lite” (lighter edition of the app) in Saudi and the UAE (AR) http://bit.ly/2Of7uxR (EN) http://bit.ly/2FnSOtv

Egyptian Central Bank sets up a 1B EGP ($57M) to support Fintech startups http://bit.ly/2ulF63P

Further Readings: The Bigger Economic Picture

Oman has launched a Vision2040 to be driven by digitization http://bit.ly/2HGpPmj

Saudi’s Alfanar and Huawei sign agreement to “co-create 5G and IoT solutions that will accelerate the digital transformation of the Middle East’s electricity industry” http://bit.ly/2HDfZCn 

Alhokail Medical Group, Saudi, announced plans to inaugurate its first full-fledged digital medical complex in Bahrain at a value of $13.2M http://bit.ly/2HHGmqM

Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group, massive regional retailer, diversifies into solar energy in partnership with Dubai Investments Park (DIP) and delivered by Yellow Door Energy http://bit.ly/2Wq3hdz 

Saudi Aramco to Buy Majority Stake in Petrochemicals Producer SABIC for $69.1B https://on.wsj.com/2HIdq21

Long Reads

UK Lebanon Tech Hub launches Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2018 report for Lebanon http://bit.ly/2OrrEVk 

The re-rise of Egypt’s economy

Egypt’s back baby! (Yes, I have always been a fan!)

The Egyptian tech ecosystem had slipped into silence for a few years, but it seems the slump is over: Investments in startups in up and growing . The African Business Angel Network (ABAN) even ranked Cairo Business Angels as the second most active angel network in Africa (followed by Tunisia’s Carthage Angels) < from the Week#18 roundup 

Egypt has also recently a witnessed a rise in media and business expansions from Noon.com, Namshi and Carriage to TBWA!

… and it’s not just about selling to a country of 100M. It’s also about about tapping into Egyptian talent: from the re-launching on Flat6Labs Cairo, to Startup Bootcamp’s new Fintech accelerator, Enara Capital and Falak accelerator’s clean technology investment fund, and a new angel investment syndicate launched (above).

The Egyptian Central Bank even set up a 1B EGP ($57M) to support Fintech startups (also, above).

I hope 2019 being the resurge of Egypt’s good streak!

(Yes, Central bank subsidies have not been the most directly successful vehicles the past few years.. but they have created early stage stimulus that we have yet to judge the mid-term value of)

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