MENA’s Digital News, Week #42

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

Investments & Acquisitions

SOS Credit, Casablanca-based fintech startup, has received an undisclosed investment from the SEAF Morocco Growth Fund (SMGF)

CODED, Coding education platform, raises $1.3M Pre-series A funding led by KISP, and joined by 500 startups, Sijam Ventures, Sirdab Lab, Sharq Capital and Abdullah Al-Zabin 

Zid, Saudi-based eCommerce infrastructure provider, raises $2M led by Elm Ventures and joined by Arzan VC & MSA Capital

PushBots, Saas add-ons provider for startups, sells two SaaS API products to Apilayer from Austria for undisclosed amount

Mubadala Ventures, joins investors in funding InCountry, US based data-residency startup, in a series A round of $15M 

Sector News

Swvl, Egypt’s on-demand shuttle service, expands into Pakistan’s Lahore

Huobi and CASHU, crypto-payment platforms, announce partnership and expansion to North Africa 

Careem launches new service in Dubai in joint-venture with the Road and Transportation Authority (RTA) called ‘Hala’ which further integrates RTA Taxis into Careem’s app (the partnership was announced in Dec, 2018)

Property Finder and the Dubai Land Department (DLD) sign a partnership to launch an official sales and rental price index for Dubai available through Data Finder platform, and Mo’asher

Iflix, Mayalsian VOD service, halts operations in the Middle East. They had just closed a $50M investment round. 

BIGO, Singapore holding company of IMO messenger and BIGO Live, to establish an office in Jordan (BIGO Live is a popular live streaming platform in SEA) 

SoftBank Vision Fund II has commitments from Apple, Goldman Sachs Group, and Kazakhstan’s government 

UAE x China

SenseTime, Chinese AI startup, to open an EMEA R&D center in Abu Dhabi 

Jollypay, online payment arm of China’s Jollychic, receives license to operate in the UAE (Alipay, Alibaba’s payment service, has been operating in the UAE since 2018) 

Fang, China’s #1 real-estate platform, launches in the UAE

Didi, China’s leading ride-hailing service, signed a joint-venture with Symphony Investors and other unnamed investors to establish a regional presence 

Neolix, Chinese autonomous vehicle company, signs agreement with to trial their vehicles in Saudi Arabia and UAE 

Further Readings (Economic)

CooperFitch publishes salary guide for Saudi Arabia (AR) 

Lebanon issues New Commercial Law to improve ease-of-business, clauses are very positive for startups. Unofficial english translation is here: and full draft (much longer) in official gazette here (AR) 

Worldbank releases new report “Promoting a New Economy for the Middle East and North Africa” 

Investcorp, Bahrain-based “alternative investment manager”, announces a $142M for its Private Equity Fund for India 

AJ Capital and Investment LLC (AJCI), Al Jallaf Family Office, acquires a 51% stake in Kenyan micro-insurer, Insurance For All (IFA) Ltd

Long Reads

Saudi authorities issue a “Fintech Access Guide” that includes: regulations and frameworks for companies that wish to setup or expand into the kingdom 

IBM’s Cost of Data Breach Report is out and MENA (UAE & Saudi as per their research) remain the second highest regions for average cost of breaches for entities at $5.97M! The average cost per breached record in MENA is $173. Full Report here: and a more interactive cost calculator can be found on their website here: 

Visa’s eCommerce in the UAE Report on the state and projections of eCommerce in the UAE. Market is estimated at $8.3B in 2018 and growing 23% annually, UAE consumers spend per transaction is one of the highest globally at $100+ per transaction

Global Innovation Index (GII) 2019 is out, MENA countries don’t rank very high globally, but are on par in some categories. Excerpt is 20 pages, Full report is 400+, pick your weekend read! both can be found here 

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MENA’s Digital News, Week #9

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Yahaal, Kuwaiti Childcare eCommerce App, raises funding at $3.5M valuation

Holidayme, Dubai HQ travel bookings, merges with Malaysia based Tripfez, together raising $16M in Series C 

Swvl, Egypt’s bus hailing app, raises Series B at $100M valuation and plans to expand to East Asia

Majid Al Futtaim concludes their 2014 investment in Beam Wallet with a full acquisition [EN] [AR]

Impact Guru, India’s healthcare crowdfunding platform, receives investment from Shorooq Investment and angel investors, plans expansion to UAE 

Sector News

Bahrain and Shenzhen sign 12+ landmark agreements to deepen economic ties covering artificial intelligence, fintech and investment strategies, among which Bahrain EDB signed an MOU with Jolly Chic

Kuwait Projects Company (KIPCO) to sell its 60.50% stake in Panther Media Group Limited, otherwise known as OSN revealing a 70% drop in Q3 revenues

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) launches GCC chapter 

Snapchat rolls out shows in MENA with 20 media partners.
[EN] [AR] 

Careem (with TransAD / Integrated Transport Center)  and Uber (with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Transport)  relaunch in Abu Dhabi, with deals that allow Emirati’s to sign up with their private cars

Further Readings

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) competition for sustainable smart homes launches showcase of 15 houses (you can visit till the 28th) 

Softbank’s Vision Fund to open office in India 

Long Reads

WorldBank’s Ease of Doing Business Report in MENA capitals

Wamda releases “Tech entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia“ Report

Can Working Smart & Local Compete With Global Giants Burning Investor Money

This was the title of the last two posts I have written about the alarm bells that ring every time a regional startup goes head-to-head with a global player. 

Last week Spotify rolled out to 13 countries in MENA, spurring the doom-sayers to declare the years of Anghami growth a waste. Also, the rumor mill of a looming Uber acquisition of Careem escalated (yet again) as talks of the imminent IPO nears. 

Read them here:

There will be, and are already, many global startups expanding to the region, however, they would not come if they do not see successful local companies paving the way and showing them the ropes. 

They do not understand the market more than regional startups, but they can burn a lot of investor cash on the way, so be ready for more marathons to come 😉 

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