Anghami to be first Arabic tech firm to list on Nasdaq New York

Anghami to be first Arabic tech firm to list on Nasdaq New York
Founded in 2012, by Eddy Maroun and Elie Habib, Anghami is the first music-streaming platform in the MENA region. (Supplied)
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Updated 03 March 2021

Anghami to be first Arabic tech firm to list on Nasdaq New York

Anghami to be first Arabic tech firm to list on Nasdaq New York
  • UAE-headquartered music streaming service plans to rival Spotify, Deezer with US IPO

DUBAI: Arabic music streaming service Anghami is set to become the first technology company from the region to list on New York’s Nasdaq stock exchange as part of a merger deal valuing the platform at up to $230 million.

Anghami – my tunes, in Arabic – is set to merge with Vistas Media Acquisition Co. Inc., a publicly traded special-purpose acquisition company. Often referred to as “blank check companies” in the industry, the merger is seen as a quicker and cheaper route to a Nasdaq listing.

The listing is expected to close at the end of May, early June and Vistas Media Acquisition Co. Inc. has already gathered $40 million in advance commitments, with $10 million from parent company, Singapore’s Vista Media Capital, and $30 million from the UAE asset management firm SHUAA Capital.

Eddy Maroun, co-founder and CEO of Anghami, told Arab News the transaction was likely to value the company at between $220 million and $230 million.

Founded in 2012 by Maroun and fellow Lebanese entrepreneur Elie Habib, Anghami is the first music-streaming platform in the Middle East and rivals global brands such as Spotify and Deezer.

With more than 57 million Arabic and international songs and around 70 million registered users, it generates approximately 10 billion streams a year.

Maroun said: “Elie and I co-founded the company in 2012 with a vision for Anghami to be a first of its kind, digital media entertainment technology platform in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.

“Today, we have taken a significant step forward in our growth plans in seeking to become the region’s first Arab technology company to list on Nasdaq. Being a US-listed public company gives us access to growth capital and a global platform that is the best in the world.”

Headquartered in Abu Dhabi since early 2021, following a partnership with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, it also has offices in Beirut, Dubai, Cairo, and Riyadh. The duo of founders currently own 32 percent of the company, with the remaining 68 percent backed by regional venture capital funds and major media and telecommunications companies.

According to Anghami, its revenue has grown 80 percent over the last three years and is forecast to increase five-fold over the next three years.

Rabih Khoury, managing partner of Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), said: “As the largest institutional investor in Anghami, we at MEVP are delighted that one more of our top portfolio companies will list on Nasdaq, the leading global market for technology.

“We have partnered with Eddy and Elie from the outset in 2012 and continuously supported Anghami starting with its seed round and all its subsequent funding rounds.”

Sam Barnett, CEO of broadcaster MBC, one of Anghami’s backers, said his company was “honored” to be a part of its success, as it was “revolutionizing the Arabic music industry through innovation.”

Maroun revealed that he planned to use the new funding to tap into more of the 450 million Arabic-speaking population and to expand into new markets outside the Middle East.

“In our region we believe that there is a lot of untapped potential still in the Middle East and North Africa, meeting Gulf and Levant or in North Africa. And we also have a direction to go bigger with the Arab diaspora, which is a huge addressable market.

“We never spent any marketing dollars on diaspora, although there’s big potential there. And we believe that we have the capabilities to grow into other emerging markets given the learnings we had in our region,” he added.


Red Sea Development builds town for 14,000 employees

Red Sea Development builds town for 14,000 employees
Updated 12 April 2021

Red Sea Development builds town for 14,000 employees

Red Sea Development builds town for 14,000 employees
  • Red Sea project will have 50 hotels
  • First guests to be welcomed next year

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Development Company is building accommodation for some 14,000 people working on the mega project.
It signed a contract with Contracting & Construction Enterprises (CCE), to design and construct the infrastructure for the staff city, Al Eqtisadiah reported.
The contractor will also help to develop infrastructure designed to reduce carbon emissions.
The project will include the construction of roads, van lanes, pedestrian and cyclists’ paths, as well as the excavation and construction of central facilities.
The road and track network will be dedicated to sustainable transportation, the report said.
Lighting will also be designed to reduce energy consumption in line with the Red Sea Dark Skies Program.
The Red Sea project will consist of some 50 hotels providing up to 8,000 hotel rooms and more than 1,000 residential properties spread over 22 islands and six indoor sites, upon completion in 2030.
The project aims to receive its first guests next year as a new airport and the first of the planned hotels come online.
The new staff accommodation will welcome employees by the second quarter of 2021, the newspaper said.


Why we are paying more for tires, timber and tiles

Why we are paying more for tires, timber and tiles
Updated 12 April 2021

Why we are paying more for tires, timber and tiles

Why we are paying more for tires, timber and tiles
  • The latest IHS Markit Dubai Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) highlights a surge in input price inflation in recent weeks

LONDON: Global product shortages are starting to push up prices as consumers are forced to pay more and wait longer for everyday items.

The latest IHS Markit Dubai Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) highlights a surge in input price inflation in recent weeks “driven by mounting input shortages, restocking efforts by companies and an intensification of global supply delays.” It reported the largest rise in prices in the emirate in 28 months.

It is part of a global trend as the world’s manufacturing engines struggle to keep pace with accelerating consumer demand pushing up prices from hardware stores to garages.

Builders merchants from the US and Europe have started to flag shortages of materials that are already adding to the cost of new homes.

The UK’s Builders Merchants Federation and the Construction Products Association have warned that building material shortages are likely to get worse, especially for timber, steel and roof products.

They said concrete tiles are now taking as long as 36 weeks to be delivered, forcing some projects to be redesigned to use products in better supply.

Timber prices are also being driven by surging demand from the US construction sector, where prices have already jumped by around 150 percent over the last year.

Containers that previously cost $2,100 at this time last year are now costing between $15,000 and $30,000, the trade bodies said.

The Gulf states, which rely heavily on imports that arrive in such containers, are feeling the impact as prices climb and delivery times lengthen.

“We are seeing supply constraints impact on economic activity, and it is also impacting on inflation,” Doug Bitcon, Rasmala Investment Bank’s head of credit strategies, told Bloomberg TV on Monday.

He shared his experience of trying to buy a set of new tires for his vehicle in Dubai this weekend. He was only able to source a set made in 2020 but still had to pay full price.

“This is just one example of the supply constraints you are seeing in the PMI numbers for Dubai,” he said. “This is just the start of what we are going to see in economies around the world.”

China factory gate prices are now running at more than a two-year-high according to March data, while the latest US inflation data is expected on Tuesday.

“We are set to see the first evidence of the much anticipated surge in inflation that is widely expected through the coming months as base effects from a year ago begin to take effect as the sharp declines post-COVID start to fall out of the annual calculations,” said MUFG analysts.


Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag
Updated 12 April 2021

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag
  • Fares to Luxor start from 129 dirhams ($35) with Sohag flights from 179 dirhams and Belgrade from 199 dirhams
  • Regional airlines are gradually adding new capacity as vaccinations programs are rolled out worldwide and more people resume flying

DUBAI: Wizz Air Abu Dhabi has announced three new routes connecting the UAE capital to Belgrade, Sohag and Luxor.
Fares to Luxor start from 129 dirhams ($35) with Sohag flights from 179 dirhams and Belgrade from 199 dirhams, it said on Monday.
"The new connection between the capital of the United Arab Emirates and these three new cities within Europe and the Middle East will continue to stimulate air traffic demand and support the growth of Abu Dhabi’s tourism sector and economic agenda," said Kees Van Schaick, managing director of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi.
Regional airlines are gradually adding new capacity as vaccinations programs are rolled out worldwide and more people resume flying.
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is a joint venture between ADQ, one of the region’s largest holding companies and Wizz Air Holdings, the fastest growing European airline which operates a fleet of 137 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft.


Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank

Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank
Updated 12 April 2021

Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank

Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank
  • Online banking has become increasingly popular in the UAE, especially as a result of restrictions as a result of the pandemic

Dubai businessman Mohamed Alabbar is to lead a new digital bank set to be launched soon in the UAE.

Zand is being billed as “the world’s first combined digital corporate and retail bank” and is currently going through final approvals ahead of its launch, according to an announcement issued on Monday.

Alabbar is the founder of Emaar Properties — the Dubai developer behind The Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa — and also teamed up with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) to launch the Noon online shopping platform in 2017. As part of his latest venture, he will take on the role of chairman of Zand.

“The UAE combines progressive regulations with commercial, financial, and technology hubs. This provides the perfect environment for a world-leading digital bank that can launch in the UAE and scale beyond,” Alabbar said in a statement.

“As the first fully independent digital bank in the country, with a full UAE banking license, Zand will provide innovative, effective financial solutions that help simplify businesses and lives, addressing the needs of both retail and corporate customers.”

Online banking has become increasingly popular in the UAE, especially as a result of restrictions as a result of the pandemic, which made it harder to get to a physical bank branch.

A survey by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) last October found that 70 percent of respondents said that they are actively searching for a new bank and 87 percent said they would be willing to open an account with a branchless digital-only lender.

The same BCG survey found that 53 percent said that they were using banking mobile apps more often as a result of the pandemic and half of those surveyed had started using digital banking for the first time.

“UAE’s banking customers’ have a strong appetite for digital banks, and we see more growth in the demand of digital products during the pandemic,” Mohammad Khan, partner at BCG, was quoted as saying.


Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO

Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO
Updated 12 April 2021

Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO

Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO
  • The pandemic had prompted some companies to shelve planned offerings

RIYADH: Bahrain Bourse is expected to attract two new public offerings this year, its CEO told Asharq Business.
The first is a logistics company and the second an oil company, Sheikh Khalifa bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, told the website
However, he said that the pandemic had prompted some companies to shelve planned offerings.
He said that the exchange was focused on easing the entry of investors into the market.
He also highlighted the launch of the Bahrain Bourse environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting guideline for listed companies, in response to rising appetite for such investments from global institutions.
The stock exchange applies the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) to classify listed companies, he said, highlighting continued cooperation with Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul stock exchange, the largest in the region.
He said the bourse’s main objective was to diversify its investor based which is currently dominated by institutions, unlike some other regional exchanges where individual investors are more strongly represented,
Al-Khalifa pointed to the adoption of new listing rules that better guarantee the rights of investors, including those directed at companies with large accumulated losses.