MENA’s Digital News, Week #25

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Gulivery, Somali mobile meals and groceries delivery, add e-hailing service http://bit.ly/2Haf38a 

Tarjama, UAE-based language service provider, raised $5M in a Series A round led by Anova Investments to develop its Ureed platform, an online marketplace focusing on translation and content services http://bit.ly/2XOGXvR 

Dsquares, Cairo-based B2B loyalty solutions provider, raises (undisclosed amount) investment from Algebra and Ezdehar http://bit.ly/2SWdX1n 

Mrsool, Saudi On-Demand Delivery Service, Completes A “Multimillion-Dollar” Series A Funding Led by Raed Ventures and STV http://bit.ly/2EZBPwm

VentureSouq invests in Hello Verify, India-based online background check platform http://bit.ly/2T1x3Dd

Sector News

Jumia files for IPO on the New York Stock Exchange https://tcrn.ch/2T1Oe7J

Network International, Dubai’s payment network, files for IPO in London at a valuation of ~$3B https://bloom.bg/2HxRXYB and appoints the deputy chairman of WorldPay to lead the IPO https://on.ft.com/2VYhG0k


Nabd, Regional Personalized News App, Launches Live Streaming Service http://bit.ly/2tXxHb3 

Weyyak, Zee Entertainment’s first Arabic Video on Demand platform in MENA partnered with Samsung to host exclusive content offerings via their Smartpack http://bit.ly/2CktEde


Foodonclick is now officially Talabat http://bit.ly/2F0lJ6P

Jollychic signs MoU with SAGIA to “bolster Saudi Arabia’s digital economy”. details of how and when are not clear from the release http://bit.ly/2NVU1Lp


FundedByMe Granted License to Operate Crowdfunding Platform in UAE http://bit.ly/2CmZpCz

Emaar will be engaging in crypto but not in real-estate purchasing (as previous rumors claim). Emaar is employing Swiss-based, Lykke AG (ETH based), to develop a community token that can be used across Emaar’s properties and services to drive customer services, loyalty and referrals. http://bit.ly/2O2QJpv

DIFC launches $10M fintech fund and has appointed both Wamda Capital and Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) to manage it http://bit.ly/2F4dAOC 


Rotana, hotel management company, will pilot a direct distribution agreement with Airbnb http://bit.ly/2XX1yyb

VIVA Bahrain And Etisalat Sign Agreement On SmartHub Data Centre In The Middle East http://bit.ly/2T08tTu 

Further Readings

Al Mashreq Bank announces plans to close 50% of it’s branches as part of it’s digitization strategy https://reut.rs/2XSYqDf

DXB remains world’s busiest airport in 2018, handling 88.9M international passengers in 2018 http://bit.ly/2HxB549

Business Models #LookingEast to China

A couple of weeks ago Facebook announced a shift towards “privacy” that raised a few eyebrows across the industry. Not just because Facebook can’t decide what it wants to be, but also because Facebook makes money from data, all our data, for advertising (and beyond).

However I had just listened to Brian McCullough‘s Techmeme podcast episode with Connie Chan, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, about her latest article: “Outgrowing Advertising: Multimodal Business Models as a Product Strategy

Connie confirms the vulnerability of Facebook and Google’s most lucrative business models which is vitally dependent on advertising. What happens when laws like the GDPR hit and governments start to take notice and fight back against the data abuse and “friendly-fraud”

The reason I decided to talk about this, it Careem’s latest interview on Forbes that declares it’s vision to

“build more businesses on top of it (infrastructure). We will build some verticals ourselves, but we are also building a framework upon which others can build upon our platform”

While Careem is not an advertising business it was for a long time dependent on one highly-competitive revenue stream: ride-hailing. It have recently launched it’s food delivery “Careem Now”, and more importantly Careem Pay, the first (and only) truly regional P2P payment method in MENA.

What is everyone modeling around: WeChat; the one app that’s killing apple’s ability to penetrate china. An app that the Chinese live by.

Facebook failed in its countless attempts to enter China, is this a fresh attempt?

Something to think about for the weekend.

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

MENA's Digital News on Telegram

You now join the daily updates on whatsapp (admin posting only) right here

Embarrassing Childhood Photos for Future Generations and Things to Consider in the Process

2 minutes
I recently listened to Audible’s Exclusive “The Dark Web” series which highlights what is the dark web (Tor project) the role of crypto-currency in fueling the space (correlation not causation) and the types of activities that have been facilitated through this network. Interesting primer, jaw dropping realities.
One particular episode talked about how pedophiles use the (dark) web, and according to the institutes and law enforcement departments interviewed it is a whole world wide web epidemic. Pedophiles use average day-to-day photos of children from Facebook and public social websites to trade with their pedo-peers. They use “cute” and “cuddly” photos that your average new-parent friends are bombarding you with day in and day out of every action for lewd fantasies and sharing. Frankly, it’s nauseating.


The dark web does have it’s share of such lewd behavior, however, there’s been more than 60,000 websites on the regular web taken down due to child abuse / explicit content in comparison to just 78 on the dark web! Remember that the price of free services is your privacy and in some unfortunate cases the safety of not-yet-consenting little ones.

Should you post your child photos online? They are adorable angels, by all means share the love. However take your privacy and your child’s privacy seriously. Some social channels have become a scrap book of childhood documentation and future memories. Just remember that your children have the right to decide what’s to be shared about them and what’s not.

As the cyber world intertwines with our physical being, it’s important that we start treating our online behavior responsibly. 

This is not a topic I usually post about and I was quite disturbed by the topic, that I didn’t really want to dwell into it. But I felt a moral liability to bring these stats to attention to whomever reads this. This is not meant to turn on paranoia hitters for all, but taking precaution hurts no-one.