Subscribed: A Roundup of Newsletters I Enjoy

I started a “newsletter” of sorts last year on this blog, every week I round up the top news and readings about, or related to, the digital scene in MENA into a post and publish it. It’s non-biased, non-promotional, and straight to the point.

Why weekly and not daily? The rate of “new” things to cover in MENA is doesn’t justify a daily newsletter yet, however you can get your dose 3-6 headlines a daily on the telegram channel that sparked it.

I am however inspired by many newsletters that I have and continue to read daily, weekly or monthly:

The Hustle

Probably the best written newsletter ever. I rave to people about the precise, funny and informative daily newsletter and have read almost every single one for the past… almost 3 years now. (broke my streak only when I changed emails from work to personal)

Don’t believe me, check out their latest Sunday “long” feature about “Why gym memberships probably aren’t worth the money“.

Give a try

Big Revolution by Martin Bryant

It’s so easy to slip on big news when your travel across time zones, get stuck in meetings all day and simply getting things done. This daily news letter is a good check on hot news that matter (globally). Martin’s “food for thought” pieces have been the inspiration behind the snippets (or mini blogs) I have been writing up in the weekly roundups

Give a try, and maybe support if you enjoy it as well

Sharing Dealflow by Eamonn Carey

eamonncarey on Twitter

Last dealflow email of 2018 goes out next week. We’ve got personalisation of CPG, healthcare, machine learning, data analytics and more. If you’re an angel or VC and want to know more, you can sign up here.

I don’t invest in startups myself, but I love the variety, careful selection and honesty of the newsletter. A good measure of who’s raising funding in the early stage scene (US, UK and EU). If these are markets you’re looking to invest in, definitely worth subscribing to.

Give it a try. Also read Eamonn year summary for a great overview

Boston Consulting Group

Yes, that same BCG. From Management to Technology, the research, insights and case studies have kept me engaged for a while now. I don’t read every single piece, they are quite long reads, but my Pocket account is stacked with saved ones for a rainy day. The research pieces are also quite unique.

There are a few subscription options, these are the ones I’m subscribed to:

You can select the industries and business topics you’re interested in to narrow down the content to your liking

You do have a to create a small no-fuss account to subscribe, but… Give it a try

You can sign up to this blog by adding your email on the left bar (or menu if you’re on mobile)

Would you be interested in getting the weekly round up to your inbox as a newsletter rather than a blog? Let me know on @__racha or subscribe to the MENA Digital News Channel on Telegram and ping me there

MENA’s Digital News, Week #14

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

This is probably the lightest round up yet, hopefully that means people are taking the time to wind down and be with their family, gearing up for a great 2019!

Investments & Acquisitions

VetCode, Egyptian pet-care startup, raises $450k in seed funding from PMaestro 

Sector News

Careem partnered with Dubai’s Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) to launch an eHail taxi joint venture 

Oyo, Indian budget hotel startup, that raised $1B from Softbank Vision Fund, expanded to UAE last April and has served more than 100,000 guests since 

Utopixar, Tunisian startup, receives funding from UNICEF’s Innovation Fund to solve global challenges using blockchain technology

AlRawi, Bahrain based audibooks platform, ​soon to be featured on Gulf Air flights

Emaar to partner with Tiktok to produce short-video content

Samsung bundles VOD services: MBC Shahid, Starz Play and Weyyak into new “SmartPack” offering – notably Netflix is excluded from the bundle 

Egypt’s Meeza debit card holders will be able to use their cards for online purchases soon

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and IBM piloted a blockchain-based automated system for oil and gas production management 

UAE to finalize initial coin offering (ICO) regulations in mid-2019 

Further Readings

The Emirates Foundation (Abu Dhabi) to grant Google $300k to expand the “Maharat min Google” Arabic language digital skills initiative across the country 

Schengen Nationals can now travel to Saudi Arabia with an eVisa

Long Reads

An academic perspective about refugee entrepreneurship in light of recent wars in MENA “Call Me a Business Owner, Not a Refugee!” Challenges of and Perspectives on Newcomer Entrepreneurship”

What I expect we’ll be seeing in 2019:

  • As regional investors have raised and announced big funds this year, it’s likely that we see a healthy increase in deal sizes, and follow on funding
  • More interest from international investors in the region
  • More Chinese and Asian companies companies expanding into MENA
  • Lots of IPOs are coming up for global players (Uber and co), which will lead to even more aggressive competition as stock markets are becoming cut-throat and unforgiving. (There might be some valuation corrections there as well)
  • Expansion of global players into MENA will be a wake up call for many regional startups (or unicorns) to improve their services
  • This may be the year that P2P payments finally makes it to in MENA – mobile payments in almost there for some markets, and even countries like Egypt are working on improving online payments (finally)
  • A maturity in the crypto / blockchain hype cycle. A lot of people have and will lose a lot of money in the process, but at least we’ll have a guide on what NOT to do.
  • More global regulations on Crypto currency and assets
  • More content creators = more fragmentation of market = people will pirate more as the options to watch all the shows and movies become too cumbersome to deal with
  • A clear gap in the “favorite” social network space leaves the space open for unlikely new players.
  • Over valuations may kill a startup or two.

See you in 2019!

To get your daily dose subscribe to MENA’s Digital News telegram channel here:

MENA's Digital News on Telegram

MENA’s Digital News, Week #8

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Fakahany, Egypt-based grocery startup, raises $700k from Endure Capital and angel investors

Bluering, Lebanon based fintech startup, raises Series A funding from Phoenician Fund (amount undisclosed) 

WakeCap, UAE-based construction tech, raises $1.6M from Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), Graphene Ventures, Abunayyan Holding, Inspire Ventures, SOSV, startAD Seed and SeedCo Capital 

VoltLine closes their pre-series A round at $1.28M with participation of Dubai Angel Investors – they had raised part from MEVP & Hedef Filo (& individuals) in August 

Twiga Foods, Kenyan marketplace for farmers and vendors, raises $10M investment led by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme, with participation from previous investors including Wamda Capital.

Mubadala Ventures Leads $60M Funding Round Into US Logistics Tech Firm Turvo

WISE Power, Kentucky based Internet of Things (IoT) energy storage company, raises $3M from Saudi based SilverNote Investment Capital (among bigger round) 

Sector News

UAE based payment processor Network International seems to have plans for a $3B IPO, no date set, but IPO advisers have been hired

DMS, Choueiri Group’s digital arm, adds Zee Network’s “Weyyak” to its portfolio of Video-on Demand (VoD) platforms

Slighter, Lebanon based hardware startup, a CES 2019 Innovation Awards Honoree

Google Pay launches in the UAE 

Spotify launches MENA wide 

X8, Swiss cryptocurrency firm, gets certified for Sharia compliance by the review board, in plans to launch in MENA

500 Startups launches pre-accelerator program with Misk Foundation in Saudi

Modus Capital, New York based venture capital firm, plans to expand into Egypt with incubation, seed and series A investment, and coworking space

UAE’s Al Zarooni Group and US’s Crypto Bulls trading house to open the first official crypto-currency exchange to be registered in the UAE 

Batelco Signs Deal To Build New Bahrain Data Centre With Huawei 

ADGM Signs MOU with Central Bank of Bahrain to Promote Fintech

Further Readings

Egypt Fintech Ecosystem by AsokoInsights

Saudi children are among the youngest in EMEA that receive smartphone, at approximately 7 years of age (AR) 

According to the Arab Investment Export Credit Guarantee Corporation, China now holds nearly a third of the foreign direct investment (FDI) stock in the Arab word 

Github launches it’s growth numbers with promising MENA prospects highlighted: Algeria is the fastest growing country by repository creation, and Egypt leads the way in the highest number of open source repositories

Fintech Landscape maps of Bahrain & Egypt 

Long Reads

Faith Capital release a MENA Venture Capital Regulatory Framework white paper 

ESCWA launches their 2018 “Fostering Innovation in Small and Medium Enterprises in the Arab Region” report

To get your daily dose subscribe to the Tech In MENA telegram channel here:

MENA's Digital News on Telegram

Wow, this week was eventful, and long. I will post a snippet or two of personal thoughts on some regional news later in the week, as I have to rush out early for a long day in the wilderness. 

Thoughts about the newsletter:
Given how much vertical news there seems to be (mostly fintech and occasionally crypto), I’m considering spinning those out into a separate section or even post altogether… what do you think?