Saudi Venture Capital launches new investment funds

Saudi Venture Capital launches new investment funds
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Updated 21 September 2021

Saudi Venture Capital launches new investment funds

Saudi Venture Capital launches new investment funds
  • SVC, in partnership with angel investors, aims to bridge financing gaps, stimulate investment in emerging companies

RIYADH: The Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC) has launched an investment product in debt funds and venture capital funds, SPA reported.

This came after the approval of the Financial Sector Development Program Committee. Approval to launch SVC’s investment products in debt funds and venture capital funds aims to diversify sources of funding and fill financing gaps for emerging companies and small and medium enterprises (SME), the program director general, Faisal Al-Sharif said.

SVC, in partnership with angel investors, aims to bridge financing gaps and stimulate investment in emerging companies and small and medium enterprises.

Since its launch in 2018 SVC has invested SR2.8 billion in Saudi startups and SMEs.

“Funds that offer debt instruments and venture capital instruments still represent a financing gap in the venture capital and growth investment system in the Kingdom, and debt instruments and venture capital instruments have emerged globally as an extension of the evolution of the venture capital and growth investment system,” SVC CEO Nabeel Koshak said.

SVC is a government company that was established as a result of one of the initiatives of the Financial Sector Development Program, which was led by Monshaat.


Jordanian company dives into Arabic mobile games market

Jordanian company dives into Arabic mobile games market
Hussam Hammo, founder and CEO of Tamatem, speaks during an interview at his office in the capital Amman in September. Getty Images
Updated 6 sec ago

Jordanian company dives into Arabic mobile games market

Jordanian company dives into Arabic mobile games market
  • With offices now in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, Tamatem has published more than 50 mobile games

Its logo is a tomato, not an apple, but in just eight years Jordanian company Tamatem has already bitten a chunk out of the lucrative market for Arabic mobile games.


"Less than one percent of internet content is in Arabic, even though there are 400 million Arab users," said the company's founder and CEO Hussam Hammo.


"There is a very big gap in this market that we are trying to fill," added the 38-year-old entrepreneur, sitting in his elegant Amman offices.


Hamo founded Tamatem - which means tomato - in 2013 and it was the first Arab company to win investment from the "500 Startups" programme based in Silicon Valley, California.


Eight years on the company has grown to about 80 staff who convert mobile phone games into Arabic, also adapting content to fit Arab culture.


"Language was a barrier to mobile games growth" in the region, said Nour Khrais, founder and chief executive of games developer Maysalward.


"The Arabic language connects (the player) emotionally."


With offices now in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, Tamatem has published more than 50 mobile games, which have been downloaded more than 100 million times on Apple and Google Play stores.


"Seventy percent of smartphone users in the Arab world have set their phones in Arabic, which means they like to use content in their mother language," said Hammo.


"Sadly when you search in English for a game in app stores you will find millions of games, but when you search in Arabic there are only a few thousand," he added.


But competition is fierce, and Khrais said the Middle East and North Africa region was "the largest growth region in the world in the field of electronic games".


Market analysts Mordor Intelligence said the global gaming market in 2020 was valued at $174 billion, and was expected to reach $314 billion in 2026.


Tamatem, which has partnerships with companies in the US, China, France, South Korea, Bulgaria and Croatia, converts games by replacing characters' voices and names, adapting music and clothing, adding Muslim holidays like Ramadan and even changing car licence plates.


"We don't only do translation, we do the most important thing which is educating by making the content relevant to the Arab culture," said chief operating officer Eyad Al Basheer.


"Hollywood Story" from Nanobit.com, in which players can become movie stars, strut the red carpet, hang out with fans and even shoot blockbusters, was renamed "Malekat al Moda" -- or "Queen of Fashion".


Instead of locations in New York and Los Angeles, the avatars travel between Dubai, Beirut and Cairo, in an Arabic game which has now been downloaded more than 15 million times.


Strategy multiplayer and civilisation-building game "Clash of Empire" from developer Leme Games launched its Arabic version "Tahadi Al-Molouk" or "Challenge of Kings" this year.

To fit Arab audiences, the figure of the notorious crusader Richard the Lionheart has been replaced by legendary dynastic Muslim leader, Salah al-Din al-Ayubi.


One of the company's biggest hits is "Shake the Metal" which taps into the popular sport of drifting. Featuring car models beloved in the Arab world, it has now been downloaded five million times.


The most popular of Tamatem's Arabic mobile games however, is "VIP Belote", which is based on the French card game and has been downloaded more than 20 million times.


In a 2019 report by the World Economic Forum, Tamatem was chosen as one of the best 100 Arabic companies "shaping the fourth industrial revolution".


And the Covid-19 pandemic has proved a boon, with the number of mobile gamers soaring by 150 percent, Hammo said.


"Tamatem made games easier, and we understand things that we didn't understand before, because it was in English," said player Khader Hamid, a 28-year-old civil engineer.


Mona Rummaneh, a 30-year-old working in e-marketing, said Arabic games left her "confident that all the content is appropriate for our culture and morals".


She recalled how after the Beirut port explosion in August 2020, she and other gamers voiced their solidarity with Lebanese players.
"So it is more than just a game," she said.


Emirati prosecutors investigating Dubai's Union Properties

Emirati prosecutors investigating Dubai's Union Properties
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Updated 9 min 33 sec ago

Emirati prosecutors investigating Dubai's Union Properties

Emirati prosecutors investigating Dubai's Union Properties
  • Other filings on Sunday to the Dubai Financial Market showed shareholders wanted a vote later this week to possibly remove its board of directors

Federal prosecutors in the United Arab Emirates said Sunday they've launched a major investigation into Dubai-based real estate developer Union Properties.


A statement carried by the state-run WAM news agency said the investigation involved allegations of the firm selling property at less than its real value and hiding the name of the beneficiary of the sale, as well as forging documents and other violations.


Union Properties, known for building Dubai Motor City, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


A stock market filing by Union Properties suggested the sale may have involved a March 2020 transaction in which a woman named Amna al-Hammadi purchased a property for 30 million dirhams ($8.1 million) that had been earlier valued at 49.5 million dirhams ($13.4 million).


A top Union Properties official, chairman Khalifa al-Hammadi, shares the woman's last name. It wasn't immediately clear if the two were related.


Union Properties' filing sought to explain the sale by noting it came amid “the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying negative effects — and in light of the company’s commitment to settle its debt towards its lenders.”


Other filings on Sunday to the Dubai Financial Market showed shareholders wanted a vote later this week to possibly remove its board of directors. Separately, the company said one of its subsidiaries was involved in a lawsuit seeking nearly $1 billion, without elaborating.


Shares in Union Properties fell over 9 percent in early trading Sunday after the announcement.


The firm's current shareholder structure wasn't immediately clear, though a profile from the data firm Refinitiv showed its major investor as the Bluestone Fund.


“Today's news was shocking, but we need to be clear that this is a good thing that there is a system, a system that adheres to punishing people who are responsible,” said Waleed al-Khatib, a managing partner at the Abu Dhabi-based trading firm Global For Shares and Bonds.


Saudi Ministry of Industry issues 1,795 mining licenses until September

Saudi Ministry of Industry issues 1,795 mining licenses until September
Updated 18 min 44 sec ago

Saudi Ministry of Industry issues 1,795 mining licenses until September

Saudi Ministry of Industry issues 1,795 mining licenses until September
  • The number of licenses underscores the positive restructuring of the industry investment climate due to the new Mining Investment Law.

Saudi Arabia’s ministry of industry and mineral resources issued 1,795 mining licenses until September 2021, Argaam reported citing the ministry’s report on its mining indicators. 

The licenses included 1,041 licenses for building materials quarries, 22 detection licenses, 563 exploration licenses, and 169 licenses for mining and small-scale mining, the ministry said in a statement. 

The number of licenses underscores the positive restructuring of the industry investment climate due to the new Mining Investment Law.


Saudi telecom giant 'stc' reports 3.5% jump in net profit in 9 months

Saudi telecom giant 'stc' reports 3.5% jump in net profit in 9 months
Updated 47 min 22 sec ago

Saudi telecom giant 'stc' reports 3.5% jump in net profit in 9 months

Saudi telecom giant 'stc' reports 3.5% jump in net profit in 9 months

RIYADH: Saudi telecom giant 'stc" said its net profit for the first nine months of 2021 increased by SR295 million or 3.5 percent to SR8.7 billion compared to a year ago.

The company said in a filing that this was the result of the increase in revenues by SR3.6 billion and a decrease in operating expenses by SR627 million due to the decrease in general and administration expenses and selling and marketing expenses.


Nigeria to launch digital currency on Monday, central bank says

Nigeria to launch digital currency on Monday, central bank says
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Updated 51 min 37 sec ago

Nigeria to launch digital currency on Monday, central bank says

Nigeria to launch digital currency on Monday, central bank says
  • Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele has said the eNaira would operate as a wallet

Nigeria will on Monday launch a digital currency, the eNaira, the central bank said, months after it barred banks and financial institutions from dealing in or facilitating transactions in cryptocurrencies.

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele has said the eNaira would operate as a wallet against which customers can hold existing funds in their bank account.


"The eNaira therefore marks a major step forward in the evolution of money and the CBN is committed in ensuring that the eNaira, like the physical Naira, is accessible by everyone," the bank said in a statement.


Nigeria has named Barbados-based Bitt Inc as a technical partner in developing the eNaira.