MENA’s Digital News, Week #22

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Mile, Dubai-based delivery and logistics management platform, raised seed funding (amount undisclosed) in round led by Riyad Taqnia Fund 

Feel22, Lebanon’s beauty eCommerce platform, raises series A funding by Equitrust, Choueiri Group’s investment arm 

Golden Scent, Saudi perfume and scents ecommerce, raises an undisclosed funding round from existing investors

Nalbes, Kuwait’s local online fashion-centric, raises $2M in series B

LUNCH:ON, Dubai-based lunch subscription, closes $3M series A round, led by Wamda Capital, EATventure, Arzan VC and Abu Nayyan Holding (for expansion in UAE + to Saudi) 

GoodsMart, Egypt-based grocery startup, secures funding from Algebra Ventures in pre-series B 

Mad’a Investment Company, Saudi-based private equity & venture capital firm, invests in Dubai based Family Souk Ventures and its online retail subsidiary 

SEED Group, The Private Office of Sheikh bin Ahmed Al Maktoum, names INVAO as “exclusive” intl. blockchain investments partner (this marks the second foray in crypto-assets publicized by SEED Group, scroll to last Wednesday for the first)

Haute Hijab, NY-based eCommerce startup co-founded by ex-MarkaVIP’s Ahmed Zedan, raises $2.3M in seed funding led by Cue Ball Capital with Ludlow Ventures, Sinai Ventures, Maveron, Muse Capital, AngelList and The Helm 

Sector News (sectioned)

Aramex sells India unit to logistics startup Delhivery

OSN officially launches low-cost Saudi offering El Farq 

DMS announces the launch of its new digital ad performance product “DMS Perform 


Skiplino, Bahraini digital queue service, expands into Kuwait 

Deliveroo launches in Kuwait with 900 restaurants 

Hepsiburada, Turkey’s, launches it’s first foray into global markets with it’s first Arabic and English website editions

If you lose me you know where to find me!

LEGO opens offices in Dubai to support expansion 

All Egypt

Noon confirms expansion to Egypt

TBWA expands to Egypt through partnership with AB Group

Uber agrees to pay VAT in Egypt 

Financial Technology and Blockchain

Apple activates Apple Pay services in Saudi Arabia ahead of official launch 

STC Pay launches international remittance service in partnership with Western Union 

Dubai Caesars Bluewaters will start using Lucid Pay blockchain wallet technology (already in use by Atlantis Hotel and Resort) 

TradeAssets, the blockchain-powered e-marketplace for trade finance assets, is now live with 25 banks 

Further Reading

Flexport, a software-focused freight forwarder, raises $1B in funding led by Softbank Vision Fund

Mubadala to launch a $400M fund for EU tech investments with Softbank as an investor 

Dubai Ports World extends acquisition of P&O, the British freight firm, to include subsidiaries: P&O Ferries and P&O Ferrymasters

The re-birth of blockchain

I have along anticipated that the hype over blockchain would die off and we’ll get a more mature applicable understanding of how the technology can be used to simply make transactional, verification or contractual ledgers work more seamlessly.

Well it seems we’re finally getting there. Less over-hype and more business-as-usual.

From hotels using crypto-based wallets for on-premise transactions (above), blockhain powered trading (also above), cross border remittances powered by Ripple and custom clearance at ports (Week#15), as far as even developing a single use crypto-coin to settle cross border trade (Week#12), blockchain powered POS systems (Week #4), Islamic Digital Sukuk (Week#3), and all of Week#13‘s crypto-section.

While popular coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum, and Ripple have slipped in market valuation, that’s not a indication of it’s practical value as a technology.

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MENA’s Digital News, Week #17

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

This week’s round up is late, I’m catching up on winter in Lebanon and was frankly enjoying the weather a tad too much yesterday to sit in front of a computer.

Investments & Acquisitions

Yawmi, Dubai-based food startup, just closed a seed round from Shorooq Investments

Lucidya, Saudi-based arabic social media monitoring platform, raises ~$1M (4M SAR) in Series A funding from BIAC (EN) (AR)

Dubizzle has now been fully acquired by Naspers, $190M was paid for remaining equity. 

Aramex Acquires Saudi TAL for Commerce and Contract Company Ltd (“Saudi TAL”), for approximately $80M 

Modanisa, Turkish modest fashion eCommerce, sells minority stake to Goldman Sachs 

Sector News

The UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking to make equity-free investments of up to $100k in startups using data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) or similar technologies.

Saudi Government issues regulations and permit procedure for personal and commercial drones

Chinese consumer electronics and mobile communication company, Oppo, launched in Saudi Arabia, and commits to helping MENA countries foster 5G powered innovation through Qualcomm partnership and AI R&D

Google Assistant launches Arabic Language Support in Beta 

Further Readings

DP World to buy a 71.3% stake in Chile’s Port Service Puertos y Logistica SA

Vietnam’s Yeah1 Media Group acquire’s MCN’s ScaleLab, Youtube multi-channel management platform, which has offices in Latin America, Russia, the UK, and the Middle East 

ZDNet: Middle East tech: What does 2019 have in store?

Damian Radcliffe reached out before the end of 2018 to contribute to their annual 2019-predictions article on ZDNet.

I’m honored to be featured along amazing regional leaders such as Chris Schroeder, Jawad Abbassi, Sevag Papazian, and Jaime Galviz.

What does 2019 hold for the region, check out the article here.

Long Reads

African Venture Capital 2018 Report – $725.6M Invested In 458 Deals

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