A weekly round up of the top headlines from the digital sector in MENA, covering startups, corporate and public sector news.
Investments & Acquisitions
Load ME, UAE based freight exchange startup, raises $1M https://goo.gl/jn9awz
Kamkalima, Lebanon based edtech, raises $1.5M in Series A from Phoenician Fund and iSME https://goo.gl/wBKEbf
Webjet acquires Dubai travel firm Destinations of the World for $173M https://goo.gl/oA1qPt
Uber and Careem may start paying 22.5% corporate tax in Egypt https://goo.gl/d77W9w
Chalhoub Group launches Dubai based co-working space and accelerator: Greenhouse, and announces first cohort startups https://goo.gl/EJ7WA6
Saudi’s Badir Incubator launches in 4 new locations in the kingdom: Madina, Abha, Qassim and Dammam (AR) https://goo.gl/giojN5
Modus Capital, New York based venture capital firm, plans to expand into Egypt with incubation, seed and series A investment, and co-working space https://goo.gl/vZtyYs
Deutsche’s DWS to buy 15% stake in Dubai-based digital investment firm, Neo Technologies https://goo.gl/wtzzqn
Emirates NBD publicly launches their API sandbox https://goo.gl/cXJLTR
Dubai’s Fintech sandbox announces it’s first licensed graduate Sarwa https://goo.gl/WyHoh9
UAE announces the list of entities not allowed 100% foreign ownership (in follow up to law announced in August) https://goo.gl/UpwUgQ
Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) to Create Infrastructure for Cryptocurrency Assets https://goo.gl/XdAugm
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 https://goo.gl/CXEmp5
Twitter launches very insightful data on users in Saudi Arabia, from influence to level of education, even behavior: 64% of users perceive a piece of news not as significant if it was not shared or discussed on Twitter (AR) https://goo.gl/sn6tgk
Norton research shows that Saudi children are among the youngest in EMEA that receive smartphone, at approximately 7 years of age (AR) https://goo.gl/b1mFDC
Digital Gurus release a survey of average salaries of data engineers, scientists and analysts in the UAE https://goo.gl/krkRDk
Facebook releases it’s Egyptian market penetration numbers: 24M daily users and 37M monthly mobile users (more) https://goo.gl/Xgv2wS
According to Gartner, 787,000 bitcoins were mined in the first half of 2018 through illicit targeted crypto-mining in MEA https://goo.gl/L9PTQa
Faith Capital release a MENA Venture Capital Regulatory Framework white paper https://goo.gl/MjxcZD
So Much Fintech, Not Enough Time
Robo-advisors seem to be have taken center stage in the last 2 weeks, a continuation on the global (Fintech is the most funded tech sector) and regional trend.
WeInvest, Singapore based robo-advisor, raises $12.2M and targets Dubai office launch. The company is not new to the region as it has been part of the Fintech Hive Cycle in 2017, however the capital injection would help it compete aggressively as more robo-advisors enter the market at the same time. https://goo.gl/Ye89at
In the recent spotlight, Wahed, sharia compliant robo-advisor, that recently raised $7.75M from BECO Capital and Cue Ball Capital in late October. The company is a SEC registered Investment Advisory headquartered in New York and expanding to MENA as well
Meanwhile, Sarwa, also robo-advisor, was just granted license to operate in Dubai post DFSA sandbox incubation
You can check out the international leaders in the space here
The financial management and payment landscape is changing rapidly and maybe a tad too fast for consumers to keep up, but significantly improving the regions financial infrastructure for future generations. From banks launching API’s (EmiratesNBD, and earlier this year Arab Bank) to crypto-exchanges. Bright days ahead!
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Personally news: I have moved (back) to Dubai! After 7 years in Beirut (and on airplanes across MENA), I have resettled in the country I spent most of my life in: the UAE, and in Dubai (I grew up between Al Ain and Sharjah)
Reach out, let’s catchup over some tea or karak!