CAIRO: Startups in the Middle East and North Africa region raised $646 million in funding across 69 deals witnessing a 331 percent year-on-year growth.
The region’s startup ecosystem raised a total of $3 billion this year with over 551 deals so far, according to startup news outlet Wamda.
Companies from the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia were the top-performing last month, as all three countries
have been securing their positions on top of the list since the beginning of the year.
First on the list is the UAE which raised $460 million in 24 deals in October, a huge boost compared to the country’s $27 million raised in September.
The UAE saw one of the biggest investment rounds in the region thanks to clean technology startup Yellow Door Energy’s $400 million fundraising.
Egypt came in second with investments totaling $113 million in 18 deals, with the top three fundraisers
going to MaxAB’s $40 million pre-series B, MoneyFellows’ $31 million series B and Telda’s $20 million seed round.
Egypt also witnessed a massive upturn in its investments compared to a total of $8 million raised in September.
The Kingdom raised a total of $70 million across 12 deals ranking it in third place after being in first place with $114 million raised in September.
• The region’s startup ecosystem raised a total of $3 billion this year with over 551 deals so far, according to startup news outlet Wamda.
• Companies from the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia were the top performing last month, as all three countries have been securing their positions on top of the list since the beginning of the year.
The region saw a 273 percent increase in funding value compared to the month before, primarily attributed to a spike in late-stage investments, as about 84 percent of capital deployed in October was focused on series B and growth stages.
Cleantech was the most funded sector with Yellow Door Energy’s round, followed by fintech, which attracted 16 out of 69 deals to $70 million raised. Neobanks and open banking startups were the most funded segments in fintech.
In terms of investor activity, Egypt saw the most active investors participating in 18 deals, followed by the UAE with 15 and Saudi Arabia with 13.
Algeria’s Yassir secures $150m
Algeria-based super app Yassir secured $150 million in a series B funding round led by growth-stage investment firm Bond as the company plans expansion.
The super app provides users with services including ridesharing, food delivery and financial options, with operations in six countries and 45 cities since its inception in 2017.
“We look forward to expanding our presence in other geographies to become the first super app to achieve mass adoption,” said Noureddine Tayebi, Founder and CEO of Yassir.
The funding round saw participation from notable investors like DN Capital, Dorsal Capital, Quiet Capital, Stanford Alumni Ventures and Y Combinator.
Saudi’s tall order
Saudi software as a service startup Order raised $1 million in a pre-seed round led by angel investors on Nov. 13.
Founded in 2020 by Faisal Al-Anazi and Essam Mohamed, the company provides software solutions for restaurants and cafes to handle daily operations.
Currently operating in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the company aims to utilize its funding to increase its market share and product innovation.
“Investors’ belief in us is the main motive for us to have continuous development and innovation for the services we provide in the company, which will give us a competitive advantage in the market, as our solutions are comprehensive and offer financial freedom to brand owners in this sector,” Al-Anazi said in a statement.
The company also plans to create more jobs through its expansion into the MENA region by 2025. It has successfully processed over 600,000 orders through its platform.
In the blink of an eye
Egypt-based fintech Blnk announced it raised $23.7 million in equity and debt funding and $8.3 million in bond issuance on Nov. 10.
The seed funding round was co-led by UAE’s Emirates International Investment Co. and Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, while the securitized bond issuance was by the National Bank of Egypt and Banque du Caire.
Founded in 2021, the company provides a digital lending platform for merchants to finance their customer purchases at the point of sale with installments ranging from six to 36 months.
“We are delighted to have the backing of a great cohort of investors early in our journey. With their support, we can drive financial inclusion in Egypt, the wider Middle East and the North Africa region,” Amr Sultan, Co-founder and CEO, said in a statement.
Blnk has issued over $20 million in loans to date and will utilize its funding to develop its AI-powered infrastructure further and widen its customer portfolio.
Swift as thought
UAE-based same-day delivery platform Swftbox secured $2 million in a seed round led by MENA Technology Fund on Nov 9th.
The company aims to utilize its funding to grow its customer base in the UAE and the Kingdom by supporting e-commerce platforms with enhanced delivery experiences.
It plans to utilize its funds to grow its customer base in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
“We will use the new capital to accelerate tech development to enhance user experience further and automation, boost margins and grow our customer base in the UAE and Saudi Arabia,” Mohammad Absi-Halabi, co-founder and CEO of Swftbox, added.
The funding round saw participation from venture capitals like Polymath Ventures, AirAngels, Ithraa Investment Co. and investors from the US, Europe, the UAE and the Kingdom.
The real deal
Dubai-based real estate platform Silkhaus raised $7.8 million in a seed round to digitize short-term rentals.
Established in 2017 by Aahan Bhojani and Ashmin Varma, the company is building an operating system to revolutionize the rental industry.
Bhojani explained that the market is currently underserved and is witnessing huge growth in demand, with an estimated value of $13 billion.
Growing over 10 times in the past year, Silkhaus plans to invest in its expansion plans into MENA and Southeast Asia.
The funding round included investments from Nuwa Capital, Nordstar, Global Founders Capital, Yuj Ventures, Whiteboard Capital and Venture Souq.
RIYADH: While the world is struggling with economic challenges, global oil consumption is still expected to increase year-on-year by 2.16 million barrels per day to 99.89 mbpd in 2022, said King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research in its latest outlook for the fourth quarter of 2022.
This is a minor upward revision of 10,000 bpd from its previous forecast in the third quarter of 2022.
“These revisions reflect healthy reports by several countries on road, air and maritime activity, and slower economic activity in others, through 2022,” said the report titled KAPSARC Oil Market Outlook.
It noted that declining gross domestic product growth in the fourth quarter of 2022 will add downward pressure to the underlying seasonality of oil demand trends in several countries, playing an important role in oil demand declines this quarter.
Since the third quarter of this year, KAPSARC said global oil demand has finally caught up to pre-pandemic levels. “Overall, we anticipate quarter-on-quarter growth in OECD consumption of roughly 640 kbpd, while oil demand growth in non-OECD countries is expected to decline by roughly 120 kbpd,” the quarterly report noted.
The report further noted that year-on-year growth demand from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries will contribute 960 kbpd of the overall demand growth in 2022.
Given a challenging GDP forecast for the first half of 2023 for several OECD countries, KAPSARC said OECD demand in 2023 is only expected to grow by another 520 kbpd.
For 2022, OECD Americas, led by the US, will carry 490 kbpd of this year’s growth, it said. Whereas, Europe will follow with the growth of 320 kbpd, with the UK representing 40 percent of OECD Europe’s demand growth.
The report noted that the remaining growth is expected to come from OECD Asia-Oceania, with South Korea representing roughly 50 percent of the region’s growth. Non-OECD demand growth is expected to reach 1.20 mbpd this year and 1.39 mbpd next year.
KAPSARC has revised its projection for China’s previous demand growth down to 90 kbpd as a result of lower GDP growth projections, with lower transport activity accompanying its continuing stringent zero-COVID-19 strategy.
In terms of non-OECD countries, the KAPSARC report made significant changes in Saudi Arabia with an upward revision to 180 kbpd growth in 2022. “While GDP growth plays an important factor in estimating demand growth for oil, we notice that Saudi aviation activity has almost doubled since last year and maritime activity has continued to rise,” the report noted.
The Saudi advisory think tank said in its outlook report that global oil demand growth will continue its recovery from COVID-19 through 2024.
On the supply side, the KAPSARC report predicted that the world would witness 230 kbpd of net global growth this quarter. However, it noted that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies concluded their 33rd OPEC and a non-OPEC ministerial meeting on Oct. 5 and agreed to “adjust downward the overall production by 2 mbpd from the August 2022 required production levels, starting November 2022.”
This means that OPEC+ will witness an overall quarter-on-quarter decline of 465 kbpd, bringing global production to a decline of only 400 kbpd.
“Despite healthy growth from non-OPEC+ producers, they are expected to stagnate this quarter with a mere 65 kbpd. One of the leading reasons for the stagnating production growth in liquids this quarter comes from Brazil’s seasonal biofuels, which tends to peak in Q3 then decline in Q4,” the report noted.
RIYADH: Saudi fintech firm Geidea has launched a training program in partnership with The London Institute of Banking and Finance to support women in the fintech sector.
The program stands firmly in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 blueprint for women’s empowerment, which aims to increase women’s participation rate in the labor market.
The fully-funded GeideAct course is virtual, part-time and six weeks long, and its graduates will receive a Certified Fintech Practitioner qualification upon completion, it said.
The GeideAct which begins in February 2023 will be accessible to any women in the Kingdom who work in tech, fintech or financial services. The program is part of the company’s commitment to learning and creating an inclusive fintech sector in Saudi Arabia, it said.
The training program contains several major fintech topics, such as the impact of fintech on business models across banking and finance and different strategies for growth. It also includes how risk and regulation impact the sector, the newest technologies and how they affect product design and distribution.
“By providing women in Saudi Arabia with access to training and development, GeideAct delivers a more inclusive and diverse Saudi fintech talent bank,” said Renier Lemmens, Group CEO at Geidea.
He added: “GeideAct is all about accelerated learning, and we are giving back to a vast pool of young talents to help them to become future fintech leaders.”
The company said its training program is flexible as it targets professionals in the early to mid-phases of their careers, and so it takes place twice a week for 45 minutes each.
Lemmens is also considering more training programs when he called it “the first of many GeideAct programs” and hoped to introduce the initiative across all markets in which they operate.
Saudi women have been taking up key responsibilities and contributing to the growth of Saudi Arabia as the Kingdom pushes for inclusive development as part of Vision 2030.
With the female unemployment rate at a record low of 19.3 percent in the second quarter, the Kingdom is looking at bolstering the presence of women in the workforce.
Nuwair S. Al-Shammari, deputy dean of the Faculty of Information and Communication at Imam Mohammad ibn Saud Islamic University, said that Saudi women have progressed because of historical decisions taken under the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The reforms enabled Saudi women to be active partners in national development — the cornerstone of the National Transformation Program and Saudi Vision 2030.
RIYADH: The Saudi Central Bank, also referred to as SAMA, has announced the kickoff of a Qualification Program to aid the financial departments in the insurance sector, according to a statement.
The program is set to launch in Jan. 2023 and will be held for two consecutive months.
The program also falls in line with SAMA’s plan to further develop the insurance sector and the national talent in an attempt to boost specialized human resources which is one of the key pillars of the sector.
Specializing in insurance, the program has been developed, prepared, and designed in such a way that offers top-notch training and development solutions.
The main objective of the program is to provide members with the required skills and knowledge which will enable them access to potential job opportunities in financial departments belonging to entities operating in the insurance sector.
During the two-month training period, the program aims to train as many as 30 fresh graduates holding financial management-related academic qualifications.
In addition to being delivered in the English language, the program entails several training courses for participants that cover topics including but not limited to the Insurance Foundation Certificate Exam, structures of financial statements of insurance companies, technical accounts for reinsurance, value-added tax and withholding tax, SAMA’s instructions related to financial departments in the insurance sector, as well as the general content of International Financial Reporting Standards.
In September, SAMA launched an education program to provide Saudi university graduates with the skills to work in the Kingdom’s rapidly expanding financial services industry.
The Professional Education Program targets male and female graduates of Saudi universities and accredited international universities who hold bachelor’s or master’s degrees. The six-month program will offer trainees a range of advantages and incentives.
It aims to help graduates build careers that will enhance their role in the financial services industry. Candidates will have the opportunity to train in one of the departments of the Saudi Central Bank.
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt: Nature-based solutions to climate challenges are important and somewhat overlooked globally, particularly remedies that Saudi Arabia have been championing, say experts.
The Riyadh-based King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, in cooperation with the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology, released two reports last week on the matter at the UN Climate Change Conference, COP27, in Egypt. The solutions focused on the 4Rs of the circular carbon economy which are reduce, reuse, recycle and remove.
“Most people know about the technological type of solutions, carbon capture and storage, putting it into underground aquifers, using it for enhanced oil recovery, direct air capture, and so on,” Adam Sieminski, senior adviser to the board of trustees at KAPSARC, told Arab News.
“But nature-based solutions also fall under this ‘remove’ category, and they’re very, very important, and they are going to be part of everything that Saudi Arabia is doing to put as many opportunities on the table to deal with greenhouse gas emissions as can be done,” he added.
Sieminski said the announcements that Saudi Arabia made during COP27 and the Saudi Green Initiative Forum were critical for the future, which included mangrove restoration. He highlighted the plans by Aramco and the Ministry of Energy to build a carbon capture and storage hub in the Eastern Province, and the Public Investment Fund’s initiative to establish a carbon trading platform. “All of these things are going to add very much to the ‘lead by example’ credibility that the Kingdom has been showing.”
KAPSARC, an energy and sustainability think tank, offers research, analysis, consulting and modeling on topics such as oil and gas, utilities, urban transportation, environment, and climate, with a focus on the circular carbon economy.
The think tank also released the second version of its Circular Carbon Economy Index, which was launched during the second edition of the SGI Forum that was held on the sidelines of COP 27. It measures the performance of countries around the world on how they are reducing, reusing, recycling and removing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from the environment. The first version was launched at the previous COP26 in Glasgow last year.
“KAPSARC hopes to continue to play a role in providing good, non-biased, fact-based research and analysis on climate challenges … that will help to provide a good basis for policymakers and the policies that are debated and put in place at the COP meetings,” he said.
Sieminski also noted the importance of Vision 2030 for the Kingdom. “KAPSARC is trying to provide sort of the fact-based underlying work to show how Vision 2030 can be accomplished in a positive way for both energy sustainability and the economy, and this is ultimately, I think, going to be a good thing, not just for Saudi Arabia, but for the world.”
RIYADH: Saudi developer Dar Al Arkan has signed an agreement with former US President Donald Trump’s company to develop its $4 billion project in Oman, it said in a filing on the Tadawul on Sunday.
The Trump resort will include residential villas, a hotel and a golf course. It will be located at Aida, a 100-meter-high hilltop project jointly developed by Dar Al Arkan and the Oman Tourism Development Co.
The project will be developed over 10 years on an area of 3.5 million square meters and is expected to reach a joint investment of SR6 billion ($1.59 billion), the filing said.
“We are always looking to enhance Dar Al Arkan’s unique projects with premium facilities and experiences. Our partnership with Trump will distinguish our first venture in Oman and put it on the global map,” said Yousef Al Shelash, chairman of Dar Al Arkan, in a company statement.
The 100-meter-high hilltop development is one of the largest premium mixed-use real estate projects in the world, situated by the sea.
In 2017, the Trump Organization, a group of about 500 business entities of which Donald Trump is the sole or principal owner, launched a branded golf club in Dubai, a 7,205-yard, par-71 course located near Sheikh Zayed Road in DAMAC Hills.
“Together with Dar Al Arkan, we are going to deliver an exceptional Trump Golf resort with the finest residential villas, a world-class hotel and an iconic golf course,” said Eric Trump, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, in the statement.
Dar Al Arkan has delivered 15,000 residential units and 500,000 square meters of commercial space. It holds SR31 billion ($8.25 billion) of assets and operates in eight countries.
The real estate monolith has three ongoing projects in Dubai: Dar Al Arkan Pagani Tower, Urban Oasis and W Residences in Downtown Dubai. It has also forayed into Abu Dhabi and plans to start a residential project next year.
It is also planning to develop an exclusive vacation and housing project in Bosnia. Called Sidra, the company’s first European luxury residential project is targeted at people interested in owning a second home in a country rapidly becoming the top destination for investment and vacations right in the heart of Europe.