MENA’s Digital News, Week #41

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


If you haven’t joined the daily updates, here’s a reason you should: consider:

One of the best if not the best signal to noise ratio channels in the middle East tech scene. Prepared by a team that has been covering tech for years. If you had one channel to add to your radar, start with this one

Kamal Mugahid, former Innovation lead @ du and Currently founder of SuperNode

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Investments & Acquisitions

COLNN, Egypt based school management Saas, raises seed round of $100k from Edventures http://bit.ly/2Y5GZ5k 

AlgoDriven, Dubai-based automotive data platform, raises $625k in pre series A funding from Oman Technology Fund, Dubai-DTEC Ventures, 500 Falcons, and Social Capital http://bit.ly/2Sgpxpj / http://bit.ly/2keMnkH

FineDine, Turkish SaaS management platform for F&B and hospitality, have secured investment from Savour Ventures (undisclosed amount) http://bit.ly/2YMZGYF 

Cryptyd, Alexandria-based mobile game development studio, raises pre-series A funding from Cairo Angels and Alexandria Angles http://bit.ly/30AmBXy 

Loay Academy, Bahrain-based online classes and accreditation platform, raises ~$1.1M from undisclosed investors (AR) http://bit.ly/30FtTJH 

Weego, Moroccan mobility startup, join’s Cape Town’s Startupbootcamp AfriTech accelerator http://bit.ly/30zrUXw

Capital Investment LLC, AbuDhabi, joins series F round (announced in May) with an additional $10M invested into Grofers, India’s grocery delivery startup. The round was led by Softbank Vision Fund and valued at $200M http://bit.ly/2Y6xXVJ 

Sector News

Careem launches Careem Now (food delivery) in Amman, Jordan http://bit.ly/2Y2Y3Zz 

Oasis500, Jordan, launches second investment fund: “Oasis Venture II Fund”, joined by the King Abdullah Fund for Development (KAFD), the Innovative Start-ups and SMEs Fund (ISSF) and Arab Bank http://bit.ly/2YTQoKj

Al Baraka Islamic Bank, Bahrain, launches a “Global API Marketplace” inviting startups to tap into their system http://bit.ly/30BAZij (regionally, Jordan’s Arab Bank (Aug 2018) and UAE’s EmiratesNBD (Nov 2018) have launched such offerings) 

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Free Zone (DMCC) registered companies will now be able to establish a presence & operation in mainland Dubai under a facilitated DED license http://bit.ly/2JQM4VU

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) has issued a new regulatory framework for robo-advisors, “digital investment managers”, operating in ADGM http://bit.ly/2XTHb3m 

Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi, announces establishment of the Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Systems Institute (AI Institute) http://bit.ly/2JyhIsm (Jordan’s Princess Sumaya University also launched a Bachelor in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (AR) last month)

UAE’s Ministry of Economy announced amended fees and fines prices for over 110 services including: Trademark registration, issuing and renewal of work permits and alteration of labor contracts, as well as labor transfer costs, “sale, merger and acquisition of foreign companies”, among others http://bit.ly/2XKeSJF (AR) http://bit.ly/2SbYGe8 (Full list should be available in the official gazette next month)

Saudi’s Ministry of Commerce and Investment issued new eCommerce Law last week, no official translation is available yet, but here’s a trusted unofficial one: http://bit.ly/2xIViOy

Long Read

Magnitt publishes “MENA Venture Investment Summary” report for H1 2019 http://bit.ly/2Gemp8E 


MENA’s Digital News, Week #23

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

In this week’s edition: A clarification on the “Further readings” section, and an announcement that you could for now join a whatsapp group (admin posting only) for the daily headlines – right here

Investments & Acquisitions

Rain, Bahraini crypto exchange, raises investment from Vision Ventures http://bit.ly/2EcsWir (Rain was incubated at the Central Bank of Bahrain)

Eunimart Multichannel, “AI-powered” cross-border e-commerce platform, raised bridge funding from UAE-based digital services company TMT Connekt http://bit.ly/2SoTP82 

Trella, Cairo trucking marketplace, raises $600k led by Algebra Ventures http://bit.ly/2SlBLvu 

ServiceMarket.com raises $4M from Emaar & AddVenture in Series B Funding http://bit.ly/2SkK5LL 

Nana Direct, Saudi grocery delivery startup, raises $6M from MEVP, Impact 46 and SVC (twitter) http://bit.ly/2Tm8lBM

JustClean, Kuwait’s on-demand laundry, raise $8M from Faith Capital http://bit.ly/2SoT9j0 

Jumla Club, Kuwait’s B2B F&B platform, “seven-figure pre-Series A” funding from GCC based individual investors http://bit.ly/2IyPIXh 

Emaar buys remaining 49% of website Namshi (previously acquired 51% before launching Noon.com) https://reut.rs/2GNjENq 

EMPG, parent company of Bayut, acquires Rocket Internet’s Lamdui Bangladesh http://bit.ly/2SZMe50 

Sector News (sectioned)

Investment Landscape

MEVP announces $125M regional fund (twitter) http://bit.ly/2H6Z3mT

Equinox Gold Announces $130 Million Strategic Investment by Mubadala Investment Company https://prn.to/2Srr5LA 

Speed@BDD, Beirut based accelerator, raised funding for the next three years of acceleration and decrease equity-stake from startups to 5% http://bit.ly/2T1fUhR 

Etihad Airways and the Department of Culture & Tourism – Abu Dhabi Partner with Plug and Play ADGM https://prn.to/2EiQHW4 

Fintech

Central Bank of Bahrain issues final rules on Crypto-asset services and Crypto-asset exchanges http://bit.ly/2VmOJLo 

Wahed Invest has received an associate membership approval from the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), a global standard for sharia-compliant financial operations http://bit.ly/2BWRtYt 

Emaar denies that it will be accepting crypto-payment for real-estate http://bit.ly/2EvKTtJ 

According to SAMA “2.3B transactions over the last year alone (through SAMA supported payment gateways), with a total financial value exceeding SR50T” http://bit.ly/2BRwg2d

Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi-based Islamic bank, appoints Temenos to “power” digital transformation http://bit.ly/2ICZfwf

Telecom

Turkcell, Turkish Telecom, Introduces Blockchain ID Management Product http://bit.ly/2SumR5V 

Etisalat partners with Huawei to deploy Next Generation Modular Data Center http://bit.ly/2SwjLOO & with Ericsson for 5G network http://bit.ly/2ToRVZi (bridging China and the US)

Zain (KSA) partners with Huawei for new video streaming service http://bit.ly/2BYaytl 

Further Readings: The Bigger Economic Picture

This segment usually focuses on things beyond tech. As I’m seeing increasing big moves in the region that may help facilitate startup growth and economic stability

Warner Music Group is in talks to buy a large minority stake in Rotana Music (who invested in Deezer and empowered their growth into MENA) https://on.wsj.com/2T9AnBm

Abdul Latif Jameel Land and Al Muhaidib Group form JV facilities management company in Saudi http://bit.ly/2tJIo0Q

Jumeirah Group unveils new luxury hospitality project in China’s Zhujiang New Town Central Business District http://bit.ly/2Vlw3vc 

Acwa Power, Saudi-based and PIF backed, signed an agreement with the Egyptian Government for an electricity plant with capacity of 2,250MW in Luxor, with total investments estimated at $2.5B (the company will also finalize three projects, valued at $200M and with a total capacity of 160MW, at Benban Solar Park in Aswan by the end of June) http://bit.ly/2ExnpUQ 

BlackRock and KKR are acquiring a 40% stake in UAE’s ADNOC Oil pipelines http://bit.ly/2NqYYLG, ADNOC distribution also just inaugurated first service station in Saudi http://bit.ly/2Szu1Gf

Emirates NBD will complete the takeover of Turkey’s DenizBank in the first half of this year http://bit.ly/2tLF3OO


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MENA's Digital News on Telegram

MENA’s Digital News, Week #8

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

Investments & Acquisitions

Fakahany, Egypt-based grocery startup, raises $700k from Endure Capital and angel investors https://goo.gl/F51tNn

Bluering, Lebanon based fintech startup, raises Series A funding from Phoenician Fund (amount undisclosed) https://goo.gl/4mkua1 

WakeCap, UAE-based construction tech, raises $1.6M from Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), Graphene Ventures, Abunayyan Holding, Inspire Ventures, SOSV, startAD Seed and SeedCo Capital https://goo.gl/5XvnN6 

VoltLine closes their pre-series A round at $1.28M with participation of Dubai Angel Investors – they had raised part from MEVP & Hedef Filo (& individuals) in August https://goo.gl/cqvsk7 

Twiga Foods, Kenyan marketplace for farmers and vendors, raises $10M investment led by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme, with participation from previous investors including Wamda Capital. https://goo.gl/pGeH1n

Mubadala Ventures Leads $60M Funding Round Into US Logistics Tech Firm Turvo https://goo.gl/XV7dxw

WISE Power, Kentucky based Internet of Things (IoT) energy storage company, raises $3M from Saudi based SilverNote Investment Capital (among bigger round) https://goo.gl/f42rVD 

Sector News

UAE based payment processor Network International seems to have plans for a $3B IPO, no date set, but IPO advisers have been hired https://goo.gl/rQbFzC

DMS, Choueiri Group’s digital arm, adds Zee Network’s “Weyyak” to its portfolio of Video-on Demand (VoD) platforms https://goo.gl/VdwMBj

Slighter, Lebanon based hardware startup, a CES 2019 Innovation Awards Honoree https://goo.gl/12oZm7

Google Pay launches in the UAE https://goo.gl/fRPBNR 

Spotify launches MENA wide https://goo.gl/FZmHYJ 

X8, Swiss cryptocurrency firm, gets certified for Sharia compliance by the review board, in plans to launch in MENA https://goo.gl/dwEmbH

500 Startups launches pre-accelerator program with Misk Foundation in Saudi https://goo.gl/Dn152N

Modus Capital, New York based venture capital firm, plans to expand into Egypt with incubation, seed and series A investment, and coworking space https://goo.gl/vZtyYs

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 

Batelco Signs Deal To Build New Bahrain Data Centre With Huawei https://goo.gl/cVSvYD 

ADGM Signs MOU with Central Bank of Bahrain to Promote Fintech https://goo.gl/c1x6qR

Further Readings

Egypt Fintech Ecosystem by AsokoInsights

Saudi children are among the youngest in EMEA that receive smartphone, at approximately 7 years of age (AR) https://goo.gl/b1mFDC 

According to the Arab Investment Export Credit Guarantee Corporation, China now holds nearly a third of the foreign direct investment (FDI) stock in the Arab word https://goo.gl/C275wL 

Github launches it’s growth numbers with promising MENA prospects highlighted: Algeria is the fastest growing country by repository creation, and Egypt leads the way in the highest number of open source repositories https://goo.gl/Rz1bKh

Fintech Landscape maps of Bahrain https://goo.gl/b2WMG3 & Egypt https://goo.gl/1XDpZ3 

Long Reads

Faith Capital release a MENA Venture Capital Regulatory Framework white paper https://goo.gl/MjxcZD 

ESCWA launches their 2018 “Fostering Innovation in Small and Medium Enterprises in the Arab Region” report https://goo.gl/ZCcQXb


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MENA's Digital News on Telegram

Wow, this week was eventful, and long. I will post a snippet or two of personal thoughts on some regional news later in the week, as I have to rush out early for a long day in the wilderness. 

Thoughts about the newsletter:
Given how much vertical news there seems to be (mostly fintech and occasionally crypto), I’m considering spinning those out into a separate section or even post altogether… what do you think?