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Over $300M in funds for regional startups. Floward acquired Mubkhar. Spotify expands video podcasting to Saudi and the UAE. Zomato halts its food delivery service. Reports on fintech regulations, neobanks, retail industry and UAE CEOs outlook. 

💰 Startup Investments: $37.5M was invested across 7 startups this week led by Baraka's $20M series A funding round. This brings the total funding in November to $236M across 20 MENA-based startups. 
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Baraka, UAE-based stock-trading app, raised $20M in series A funding led by Valar Ventures, joined by Knollwood. The startup was founded in 2021 and offers retail investors in the UAE access to stocks in the US and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).

Silkhaus, UAE-based platform for short-term rental platforms, raised $7.75M in seed funding led by Nuwa Capital, Nordstar Partners, Global Founders Capital, Yuj Ventures, Whiteboard Capital, and VentureSouq. The startup was founded in 2021 and provides property owners with online tools to manage their short-term rentals.


🚀  Quick Investments

  • KLAIM, (UAE) insurtech for healthcare startup, raised $5M in funding from Knuru Capital (with a possible extension of up to $30M). The funding comes in the form of a “securitized financing structure”.
  • DataLexing, (Saudi) intelligence platform, raised $3M in seed funding led by Sadu Capital, joined by Impact 46 and other undisclosed investors.
  • Order, (Saudi) F&B Saas startup, raised $1M in pre-seed funding led by undisclosed angel investors.
  • Beekeeper Tech, (Tunisia) agritech startup, raised $640k in funding from 216 Capital Ventures, and angel investors.
  • Algebra Intelligence, (Jordan) AI energy monitoring startup, raised a funding round from Ibtikar Fund and the Architects Contracting Company (ARCO).


Floward, Saudi-HQ gifting marketplace, acquired Mubkhar, Kuwait-based perfume brand, for an undisclosed value. Floward was founded in 2017 in Kuwait and operates across 9 countries in MENA, as well as the UK. Mubkhar was founded in 2015 and has been a partner on Floward’s platform.

Mubadala Capital acquired a strategic stake in AirCarbon, Singapore-HQ blockchain-powered carbon trading platform, and plans to launch a trading exchange and carbon clearing house in Abu Dhabi. AirCarbon was founded in 2019, and allows corporates to trade and finance carbon credits.


💰 Funds and Funding

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) launched a $225M venture capital platform to invest in early-stage tech startups in Africa, Middle East, Central Asia, and Pakistan. The platform is sector-agnostic and will make equity and “equity-like” investments in startups. It has also secured an additional $50M from the Blended Finance Facility of the International Development Association’s Private Sector Window to de-risk investments into low-income countries.

Modus Capital, US-based MENA-focused venture capital firm, launched a $75M Modus Africa VC fund to invest in early-stage startups in Sub-Saharan Africa powered by AI and blockchain solutions. The fund aims to build synergies between African startups and its existing portfolio of MENA-based startups.

Spotify expands its video podcasting capabilities to Saudi Arabia and the UAE

Binance received Financial Services Permission (FSP) from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) to provide custody to professional clients.

ExpressPay, Saudi-based online payment platform, received approval from Saudi Payments to provide payment gateway services in the kingdom. (AR)

Zomato UAE will cease food delivery operations in the UAE as of November 24th, and redirect customers to Talabat’s platform for that service. Zomato’s UAE operations was acquired by Delivery Hero’s Talabat in 2019 but kept the brand operating separately until today. The remaining Zomato platform will pivot to focus purely on discovery and reservations.


Anghami reports preliminary Q3’22 unaudited results which show that subscription revenues grew 27% QoQ with total revenue growth in line 29% YoY from $24.5M to $31.7M. The company also decreased its headcount by 22% this quarter to improve profitability.

Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) increased its stake in Meta and Google for the third quarter. PIF now holds 3.26M class A shares in META (up from 416k shares in Q1), and 4.26M capital stock class A shares in Google (up from 213K).


The MENA Fintech Association (MFTA)’s Open Finance Working Group, launches the “Embedded Finance in the MENA Region” report which provides an overview of the developments in the region. The report ranks the regulatory readiness of GCC and Egypt's central banks for open banking growth, with Bahrain taking the lead in regulatory readiness, followed by Saudi Arabia.

KPMG published the ‘CEO Outlook 2022: United Arab Emirates Edition’ survey findings, which surveys local CEOs about their views and prospects for the upcoming year. According to the report, 60% of surveyed executives expect their earnings to increase by 2.5%-4.5% annually over the next 3 years, as 96% are confident in growth prospects for their industry, up from 88% in 2021. UAE executives believe that M&A (28%) and strategic alliances with third parties (36%) are the key strategies in achieving their organization’s growth goals in the next 3 years. However, UAE executives believe that scrutiny about inclusion, diversity and equity, is less likely to continue over the next 3 years than global executives; 48% agree will continue compared to 68% globally.

Alpen Capital published the ‘GCC Retail Industry’ report which provides a detailed dive into the retail market across the GCC from the availability of retail space, to market attractiveness and saturation, the volume of sales, and ecommerce contribution. According to the report, the eCommerce market size of the GCC is estimated at $29B, led by Saudi ($13B) and the UAE ($10B). Overall, retail sales grew by 6% in Saudi between 2020 and 2021, and by 4.5% in the UAE.

Saudi’s Minister of Human Resources and Social Development shared that 2.2M private sector employees in the kingdom are Saudi nationals and the rate of female participation in the workforce has increased to 35.6%. The ministry has also issued 270k+ flexible work contracts to date.

Finbold published data showing that there are globally over 291 neo-banks (digital-only banks) as of October 2022; only 17 of those are the Middle East and Africa region, which is still an increase from the 14 we had a year ago (30% more, and highest growth rate globally). Globally 43 new neo-banks launched in the past 12 months.
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