MENA’s Digital News, Week #49

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Teacherly, UAE-based edtech platform, raises funding from Shorooq Partners http://bit.ly/2kD8BNF

UPayments, Kuwait-based epayment provider, raises seed funding from Angel Investors http://bit.ly/2kGzDnm

Wahed Invest (Wahed), raises a “multi-million dollar investment” from Dubai Cultiv8 Investments Limited, a subsidiary of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Fund for SME (an integrated division of the Department of Economic Development) http://bit.ly/2lX2Muy

Investcorp, Bahrain, to acquire Italy-HQ ticketing platform Vivaticket which has more than “2,100 clients across 50 countries including Walt Disney World, Musee du Louvre and FC Barcelona” http://bit.ly/2m07jww

Etisalat, UAE, to acquire full ownership of cybersecurity firm Help AG’s businesses in the UAE & Saudi http://bit.ly/2mmKsLz

Sector News

Swvl expands into two new cities in Pakistan and launches engineering office in Karachi http://bit.ly/2kgQTiC

Halan, Egyptian tuk-tuk startup, to expand to Ethiopia https://reut.rs/2ksDJzh

Dubizzle, UAE-based Olx subsidiary, launches a new portal for listing off-line projects in the UAE http://bit.ly/2m0OusK

Ipsos shares stats on Subscription video on demand (SVoD) in Saudi Arabia for 2018 http://bit.ly/2lWFHs4

Fintech

DIFC FinTech Hive’s 2019 Accelerator Program accepts 31 Startups for their upcoming cycle. DIFC provides support for three month but no direct equity based investment http://bit.ly/2kJPgKA

National Bank of Fujairah (NBF) joins trade finance blockchain network Marco Polo, which has 22 members including Mastercard, BNP Paribas, ING & Standard Chartered http://bit.ly/2mfD3xF

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) launches blockchain-based trade finance http://bit.ly/2kMjywj

EmiratesNBD, UAE, to launch audio banking capabilities through Amazon Alexa http://bit.ly/2lTdkuH

Further Reading (Policy & Economy)

Egypt to start work on $2.4B telecom network for first phase of a new capital city https://reut.rs/2mfDqZ5

University of Bahrain (UOB) announced the launch of a new cloud computing degree program in collaboration with AWS Educate Cloud Degree initiative http://bit.ly/2lV9elW

Egypt Cabinet approves Ride-Hailing Apps Act, which will require companies and drivers to pay, registration, licensing, taxes and social insurance http://bit.ly/2kTdFNU Official Gazette (AR) http://bit.ly/2lZxDXp

Central Banks of UAE and Saudi lower interest rates after US Fed cut http://bit.ly/2mqvdBz

Rand Merchant Bank, South Africa, 2020 investment report says Egypt is still the most attractive country to invest in in Africa, followed by Morocco, then South Africa http://bit.ly/2mhUsFQ (full report will be available in Jan 2020 for non-RMB clients)


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MENA’s Digital News, Week #43

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

Investments & Acquisitions

HiGuests, Dubai-based property management startup, closes $1.1M investment from Spanish real-estate developer Forcadell and plans expansion to Spain http://bit.ly/2GyIxL0 

Rain, Bahrain-based cryptocurrency exchange, raises a $2.5M seed round co-led by BitMex Ventures and Blockwater (Kuwaiti cryptocurrency fund), joined by Vision Ventures, 500 Startups (MENA), and Taibah Valley. It also received a Crypto-Asset Module (CRA) license from the Central Bank of Bahrain http://bit.ly/2ynUw9U

Hayaat Group, Dubai based investor, joins investment round into Loyyal, US based blockchain powered loyalty and incentives startups, led by Unblock Ventures Limited, Recruit Co. and Monex Group, the amount of funding is undisclosed. Loyyal has raised from mostly Dubai based investors in 2016 and 2017 https://prn.to/2KfQE09 

Hazen.ai, Saudi artificial intelligence-based traffic analytics and monitoring solutions, secured a Seed round from Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures, amount undisclosed http://bit.ly/2LTRq6i

e-Finance, Egypt’s government-owned fintech company, to list publicly on the Egyptian stock exchange (EGX) under a wave of privatization efforts http://bit.ly/2Ydv7yZ 

Saudi’s Public Investment Fund to invest in Babylon Health, UK based healthcare bookings platform, as part of a rumored ~$400M round to fuel global expansion http://bit.ly/2ZpgipQ

Sector News

Floward, Kuwaiti flower eCommerce platforms, expands to Riyadh, Saudi http://bit.ly/2SLuLd1 

Saudi’s Capital Market Authority (CMA) grants license to both Wahed Invest and Haseed Investing Co to operate robo-advisory services in the Kingdom https://nyti.ms/2Yh76ao 

Amazon Web Services officially inaugurates their Bahrain office. A long list of clients (startups, enterprises and public sector) in the unusually long press release. Also, Bahrain Gov intends to have “30% of all 72 government entities migrated to AWS by June 2020” https://bwnews.pr/3154M3m 

markettiers MENA, a broadcast specialist, claims there are ~1.3M regular podcast listeners in the UAE http://bit.ly/2GC1j4q

Saudi Venture Capital (SVC) agrees to fund Impact46’s (Saudi) latest Impact Seed Fund for an undisclosed amount (AR) http://bit.ly/317DWHS

Mastercard and Bahrain’s Electronic Network for Financial Transactions (BENEFIT) partnered to launch a pilot blockchain program for cross-border banking transactions http://bit.ly/2MrSEoH 

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Mashreq Bank’s Corporate and Investment Banking Group, and norbloc, announced today a strategic alliance to launch a blockchain Know Your Customer (KYC) data sharing consortium in Q1 2020 for Dubai http://bit.ly/2ymD8Cy 

Further Readings (Economic)

Saudi’s Ministry of Labor imposes new requirements for Saudi nationals employment quotas on Hospitality sector, particularly 3 stars hotels and above https://bloom.bg/2yjnM1J (AR, official MoL page) http://bit.ly/2YoJ20j

Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) imposed financial penalties of $299M $15.3M on Abraaj Investment Management Limited, AIML & Abraaj Capital Limited, ACLD, respectively http://bit.ly/2YbvtWZ 


To get your daily dose subscribe to MENA’s Digital News Telegram channel here or on Whatsapp. Follow the Arabic “MENA’s Digital News” Channels on Telegram & Whatsapp!

“I find the news items very relevant and timely. You gather all the relevant info in one place & that they are short.”

Jenny Atout Ahlzén, Board Member of CFA Society Jordan, and Former Principal at Silicon Badia

MENA’s Digital News, Week #33

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Resal, Saudi gifting ecommerce, raises $800k Pre-Series A (EN) http://bit.ly/2WQdH6T (AR) http://bit.ly/2w20lIZ 

InstaDeep, Tunisian enterprise AI startup, raises $7M in Series A from AfricInvest and Endeavor Catalyst http://bit.ly/2DZJTxe 

Wadi.com, Saudi grocery delivery, gets acquired by Majid Al Futtaim (MAF). MAF had invested in Wadi in late October, after-which it pivoted to focus completely on grocery delivery from general eCommerce http://bit.ly/2Hmwd1h

Heetch, French ride-hailing startup with presence in Morocco, raises $38M from from Cathay Innovation, Idinvest Partners, Innov’Allianz, Total Ventures, Alven and Felix Capital, and plans expansion to Algeria and some other markets http://bit.ly/2HhmeJr

Gofers, Indian online grocery startup, raises $200M led by SoftBank Vision Fund http://bit.ly/2JkY8ku

Sector News

12 startup accelerators and incubators from across MENA announce a partnership to support their portfolio companies with knowledge sharing, soft-landing and resources http://bit.ly/2WNPfD7

COFE, Kuwait’s coffee delivery app, signs exclusive “partnership” with Deliveroo in Kuwait and UAE http://bit.ly/2W0pHFF 

BitOasis is granted “preliminary license… to operate a digital asset wallet and a trading platform” by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority https://bloom.bg/2HePx0l 

Careem Bus expands to Saudi, launches an inter-city bus service between Jeddah and Makkah http://bit.ly/2JCXEpe

The National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) launches open banking protocols, becoming the first regional bank to allow any third parties to provide utilize their banking data http://bit.ly/2Q5U7AZ

Abu Dhabi announces enhanced “Guidance for the Regulation of Crypto Asset Activities” http://bit.ly/2VpiWZG

Further Readings

Jordan established Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship (AR) http://bit.ly/30aEi0y

APCO Worldwide, global PR agency, opens Bahrain office http://bit.ly/2DZUZCv 

Dubai “plans” unified free-zone license http://bit.ly/2LFrlJ4 

UAE “plans to set up” expat retirement funds led by DIFC for employees working within its financial free zone. No final agreement has been reached, but the discussions are ongoing http://bit.ly/2Q1ETgp

The Human Race is On!

One of the biggest shortages in the world today is talent. Good talent can genuinely make or break a company, or even a country.

Governments today are faced with a two-prongs nurture local talent, attract international talent. I think all governments need both, and urgently. Local talent is irreplaceable, but expats that are willing to leave the comfort of their home country and bring in fresh perspectives, methodologies and experiences are just as important for innovation and economic growth.

Which is what we’re seeing today among GCC countries. Almost every week a new announcement on long term visas, retirement vehicles, and increasing the ease-of-doing-business. If talent sees a country as a great way to make money and leave, then they’ll do just that. Then leave to invest their lives somewhere else that’ll provide them with stability and nurture.

As the world shifts to an the increasingly competitive grab for global talent (and the global and regional refugee crisis) it may be worthwhile to remember human progression does not have to be a zero sum game.


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