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) http://bit.ly/2Y9hgFb

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 http://bit.ly/2GoYGmo 

Zid, Saudi-based eCommerce infrastructure provider, raises $2M led by Elm Ventures and joined by Arzan VC & MSA Capital http://bit.ly/32Mk9PJ

PushBots, Saas add-ons provider for startups, sells two SaaS API products to Apilayer from Austria for undisclosed amount http://bit.ly/2GqeQfh

Mubadala Ventures, joins investors in funding InCountry, US based data-residency startup, in a series A round of $15M https://tcrn.ch/2XVlwI9 

Sector News

Swvl, Egypt’s on-demand shuttle service, expands into Pakistan’s Lahore http://bit.ly/2Y9O05b

Huobi and CASHU, crypto-payment platforms, announce partnership and expansion to North Africa http://bit.ly/2GiRKHe 

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 http://bit.ly/32ALZOJ (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 http://bit.ly/2SyLqQR

Iflix, Mayalsian VOD service, halts operations in the Middle East. They had just closed a $50M investment round. https://tcrn.ch/2yfGV4h 

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) http://bit.ly/2MdR2Ps 

SoftBank Vision Fund II has commitments from Apple, Goldman Sachs Group, and Kazakhstan’s government https://on.wsj.com/2YwXVSJ 

UAE x China

SenseTime, Chinese AI startup, to open an EMEA R&D center in Abu Dhabi http://bit.ly/2GvB0g5 

Jollypay, online payment arm of China’s Jollychic, receives license to operate in the UAE http://bit.ly/2M3lhse (Alipay, Alibaba’s payment service, has been operating in the UAE since 2018) 

Fang, China’s #1 real-estate platform, launches in the UAE http://bit.ly/2Y2blBO

Didi, China’s leading ride-hailing service, signed a joint-venture with Symphony Investors and other unnamed investors to establish a regional presence http://bit.ly/2OaulOP 

Neolix, Chinese autonomous vehicle company, signs agreement with Noon.com to trial their vehicles in Saudi Arabia and UAE http://bit.ly/2Z7C691 

Further Readings (Economic)

CooperFitch publishes salary guide for Saudi Arabia (AR) http://bit.ly/32MDzE0 

Lebanon issues New Commercial Law to improve ease-of-business, clauses are very positive for startups. Unofficial english translation is here: http://bit.ly/2Z2k5ZS and full draft (much longer) in official gazette here (AR) http://bit.ly/2SpE5D4 

Worldbank releases new report “Promoting a New Economy for the Middle East and North Africa” http://bit.ly/30SgP3L 

Investcorp, Bahrain-based “alternative investment manager”, announces a $142M for its Private Equity Fund for India http://bit.ly/2SEmUxR 

AJ Capital and Investment LLC (AJCI), Al Jallaf Family Office, acquires a 51% stake in Kenyan micro-insurer, Insurance For All (IFA) Ltd http://bit.ly/2OhHu8Q

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 http://bit.ly/2MhJriI 

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: https://ibm.co/2YiJxx7 and a more interactive cost calculator can be found on their website here: https://ibm.co/2YahdZF 

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 http://bit.ly/2YqClyS

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 http://bit.ly/2M9QVnX 


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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 https://goo.gl/ZextZe

Holidayme, Dubai HQ travel bookings, merges with Malaysia based Tripfez, together raising $16M in Series C https://goo.gl/PFjcFG 

Swvl, Egypt’s bus hailing app, raises Series B at $100M valuation and plans to expand to East Asia https://goo.gl/arsLri

Majid Al Futtaim concludes their 2014 investment in Beam Wallet with a full acquisition [EN] https://goo.gl/viD63F [AR] https://goo.gl/6tLctr

Impact Guru, India’s healthcare crowdfunding platform, receives investment from Shorooq Investment and angel investors, plans expansion to UAE https://goo.gl/cjX5dm 

Sector News

Bahrain and Shenzhen sign 12+ landmark agreements to deepen economic ties covering artificial intelligence, fintech and investment strategies https://goo.gl/EXtrwx, among which Bahrain EDB signed an MOU with Jolly Chic https://goo.gl/Q1UAuY

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 https://goo.gl/WLUHm3

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) launches GCC chapter https://goo.gl/UHsnVS 

Snapchat rolls out shows in MENA with 20 media partners.
[EN] https://goo.gl/vkDYM3 [AR] https://goo.gl/GZLUCz 

Careem (with TransAD / Integrated Transport Center) https://goo.gl/xbbBbR  and Uber (with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Transport) https://goo.gl/Grri7V  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) https://goo.gl/c2dJtj 

Softbank’s Vision Fund to open office in India https://goo.gl/cU73Ym 

Long Reads

WorldBank’s Ease of Doing Business Report in MENA capitals https://goo.gl/7SSekm

Wamda releases “Tech entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia“ Report https://goo.gl/3pdSbJ

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: 

http://box5099.temp.domains/~rachaspa//can-working-smart-local-compete-with-global-giants-burning-investor-money-part-2-careem-vs-uber/
http://box5099.temp.domains/~rachaspa//can-working-smart-local-compete-with-global-giants-burning-investor-money-part-1-anghami-vs-spotify/

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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