Saudi startups raise $76m in the first quarter of 2021

Saudi startups raise $76m in the first quarter of 2021
Saudi Arabia recorded a 35 percent year-on-year increase in the number of investment deals in the technology startup sector in 2020. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 12 April 2021

Saudi startups raise $76m in the first quarter of 2021

Saudi startups raise $76m in the first quarter of 2021
  • Entrepreneurship platform Wamda says figure is a 137.5 percent increase on previous quarter
  • Nearly $400 million raised from 125 deals in the Middle East and North Africa

JEDDAH: Saudi startups raised $76 million in the first quarter of 2021, a 137.5 percent increase on the previous quarter’s fundraising total of $32 million.

Entrepreneurship platform Wamda said that $396 million was raised from 125 deals in the Middle East and North Africa in the first quarter of 2021. 

The UAE was the biggest market with 38 deals worth $256 million, while Egypt had 34 deals worth $22 million, and Saudi Arabia had 28 deals worth $76 million.

March boasted 43 deals worth $170 million, with agritech posting as the biggest sector with $50 million, followed by logistics ($37.5 million), food tech ($30.2 million), fintech ($26.5 million), mobility (10 million), and e-commerce ($8 million).

In the Kingdom, the number and value of deals increased dramatically quarter-on-quarter, rising 137 percent from the 13 deals worth $32 million reported in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Triska Hamid, editorial director of Wamda said: “The government’s push towards entrepreneurship is evident in the number of startups that have emerged in Saudi Arabia over the past few years. We are seeing more deal flow in the country and larger ticket sizes.”

Last year, Saudi Arabia recorded a 35 percent year-on-year increase in the number of investment deals in the technology startup sector. A study by data research platform Magnitt found that the Kingdom accounted for 18 percent of the 496 investment deals across the Middle East and North Africa last year.

Amal Dokhan, one of the Kingdom’s first female venture capitalists (VCs) and a partner at Californian venture capital firm 500 Startups, is confident that the Saudi market will continue to grow in 2021.

“What we are seeing now in 2021, the numbers will definitely increase when it comes to Saudi Arabia and the region as well. The reason is that last year, when it was not expected for things to increase, they actually turned out to be a positive year for many companies and startups, especially in fintech,” Dokhan told Arab News.

“The year has started with a positive sign for startups and VCs. Lots of international investors are looking into the Saudi market, so lots of prosperity I think is coming on this year and we are going to witness a good number of the deals as well,” she added.

In March, the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu and Wa’ed, Saudi Aramco’s entrepreneurship arm, signed a memorandum of understanding to promote the growth of new startups and small and medium-sized enterprises in Saudi Arabia’s two largest industrial cities.

“The Saudi startup ecosystem remains strong in spite of — and because of — the challenges posed by COVID-19,” Wassim Basrawi, managing director of Wa’ed, told Arab News, adding: “Wa’ed announced major VC investments in the first quarter in five exciting, disruptive Saudi startups. Our Q2 pipeline is filling up quickly and we will soon be announcing new deals.”


Emirates converts 16 passenger planes to carry cargo

Emirates converts 16 passenger planes to carry cargo
Updated 41 min 45 sec ago

Emirates converts 16 passenger planes to carry cargo

Emirates converts 16 passenger planes to carry cargo
  • It comes as some big airlines are faced with competing forces of supply and demand in the cabins and bellies of their aircraft

DUBAI: Emirates has converted 16 passenger planes to transport cargo and is also using some of its fleet to carry goods in the cabin.
Nabil Sultan, Emirates SkyCargo divisional senior vice president said the airline was studying its capacity, in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Sunday.
“So far we have converted 16 passenger aircraft to fully cargo flights,” he said. “We also use the remaining fleet, where we have put cargo in the main cabin, especially to move essential PPE goods and various other medical material.”
It comes as some big airlines are faced with competing forces of supply and demand in the cabins and bellies of their aircraft — as cargo volumes accelerate while at the same time passenger numbers remain subdued.
Earlier on Sunday Emirates said it would begin shipping aid for free into India to help fight the coronavirus.
It comes as air cargo demand has risen to its highest recorded level ever in the wake of the pandemic.


Turkish research group faces criminal charges over inflation data

Turkish research group faces criminal charges over inflation data
Updated 09 May 2021

Turkish research group faces criminal charges over inflation data

Turkish research group faces criminal charges over inflation data
  • The group started publishing its own inflation data in September amid claims from opposition parties that the official agency is under-reporting price increases

DUBAI: Turkey’s statistics agency filed a criminal complaint against a group of local researchers publishing alternative inflation data, Bloomberg reported.

The government body demanded ENAGroup, an independent inflation research group, be fined for “purposefully defaming” the official statistics institution and “misguiding public opinion,” according to documents seen by the news wire.
The group started publishing its own inflation data in September amid claims from opposition parties that the official agency is under-reporting price increases, Bloomberg said
ENAGroup’s inflation figures are higher than the official data. Its consumer price index rose 2.62 percent in April from a month earlier, more than double the 1.1 percent reported by the official agency. The group reported an annual inflation rate of 36.7 percent for 2020, Bloomberg reported.
Turkey’s Treasury and Finance Minister Lutfi Elvan said that the statistics agency filed a complaint against a group “for the first time in the history of the Turkish Republic.”
The group aims to “damage and discredit the Turkish Statistical Institute” by spreading misleading data that are used by opposition parties, Elvan said.

 


Abu Dhabi's ADNOC said to invite banks to pitch for bookrunner roles for drilling unit IPO

Abu Dhabi's ADNOC said to invite banks to pitch for bookrunner roles for drilling unit IPO
Updated 09 May 2021

Abu Dhabi's ADNOC said to invite banks to pitch for bookrunner roles for drilling unit IPO

Abu Dhabi's ADNOC said to invite banks to pitch for bookrunner roles for drilling unit IPO
  • ADNOC is planning to take the unit public in the third quarter
  • ADNOC Drilling owns and operates a large fleet of rigs

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC) has invited investment banks to pitch for bookrunner roles for the initial public offering of its drilling unit, two sources told Reuters on Sunday.
The oil giant invited a handful of international and local banks to take part in the process of the public share sale of ADNOC Drilling, which is due later this month, they said.
ADNOC is planning to take the unit public in the third quarter, they added. One of the sources previously said ADNOC could raise at least $1 billion from the share sale.
ADNOC, which supplies nearly 3 percent of global oil demand, declined to comment when contacted by Reuters on Sunday.
ADNOC Drilling owns and operates a large fleet of rigs, including 75 onshore rigs, 20 offshore jackup rigs, and 11 well water rigs, according to its website.
The drilling business is critical for ADNOC’s upstream operations, helping the oil company reach its production targets.
ADNOC Chief Executive Sultan Al-Jaber has been chief architect of the transformation strategy the company embarked on more than four years ago, building an investment team to monetise assets and raise funds from international private equity groups.
It is also planning to float Fertiglobe, a fertiliser joint venture with Dutch-listed chemical producer OCI later this year.


Google-backed Firefly comes to the Middle East after Abu Dhabi deal

Google-backed Firefly comes to the Middle East after Abu Dhabi deal
Updated 43 min 8 sec ago

Google-backed Firefly comes to the Middle East after Abu Dhabi deal

Google-backed Firefly comes to the Middle East after Abu Dhabi deal
  • IHC-owned Multiply Marketing Consultancy (MMC) acquired the minority stake in the company

DUBAI: A unit of Abu Dhabi’s International Holding Company (IHC) has acquired a stake in Google-backed Firefly, which provides street-level digital media on taxis and rideshare vehicles.
IHC-owned Multiply Marketing Consultancy (MMC) acquired the minority stake in the company, it said in a stock exchange filing on Sunday.
Firefly operates across major US cities, working with major taxi and rideshare companies to install advertising displays atop their vehicles.
The proprietary screens feature content based on location, and are Internet-enabled. The platform attracts millions of impressions per month, according to a statement.
The deal will expand the company’s operations in the Middle East, and will set up an office within MMC’s Abu Dhabi headquarters.
“Investments in our communications vertical ensure that our media teams are servicing our local clients with the latest, most innovative and analytically-precise technology available on the market,” MMC chief Samia Bouazza said.
Gulf governments are ramping up their technology investments in a regional race for supremacy in the sector which is seen as a critical path to economic diversification.
Firefly will become part of Multiply Group’s communications vertical, which includes global agency MMC, Viola, as well as other minority stakes in companies such as Yieldmo, a digital advertising and attention analytics company.


ADQ-owned Senaat offers to merge Arkan Building Materials with Emirates Steel

ADQ-owned Senaat offers to merge Arkan Building Materials with Emirates Steel
Updated 09 May 2021

ADQ-owned Senaat offers to merge Arkan Building Materials with Emirates Steel

ADQ-owned Senaat offers to merge Arkan Building Materials with Emirates Steel
  • The proposed deal implies an equity value for Arkan of about 1.4 billion dirhams

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi industrial conglomerate Senaat has submitted an offer to Arkan Building Materials to merge it with its own Emirates Steel unit.
Under the proposed deal, Emirates Steel would be transferred to Arkan in consideration of a convertible instrument which would on the closing of the deal convert to 5.1 billion ordinary shares at a fixed price of 0.798 dirhams per share in Arkan’s capital.
The proposed deal implies an equity value for Arkan of about 1.4 billion dirhams, the building materials company said in a filing to the Abu Dhabi stock exchange.
Post completion, ADQ-owned Senaat would own approximately 87.5 percent of the entire issued share capital of the combined group
Should an agreement be reached between the two parties, a general assembly meeting would consider approving the transaction during the second half of this year, Arkan said in the statement.
Emirates Steel is a leading integrated steel manufacturer in the Middle East region, based in Abu Dhabi.