Top 10 most funded mobility-tech startups in MENA region

Top 10 most funded mobility-tech startups in MENA region
Car-sharing firm ekar operates across seven cities with a fleet of 2,300 vehicles and 250,000 users in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. (Supplied)
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Updated 05 October 2022

Top 10 most funded mobility-tech startups in MENA region

Top 10 most funded mobility-tech startups in MENA region
  • After producing several unicorns, the shared mobility market is set to expand

CAIRO: The shared mobility technology landscape, which includes ride-sharing, car-renting and taxi-ordering models, has been on the rise in the Middle East and North African region ever since global players such as Uber and Lyft rode a wave of success in the business.

After producing several unicorns, the shared mobility market in the region is set to expand with a compound annual growth rate of 18.4 percent from 2022 to 2030 as the annual market is predicted to witness a 16.9 percent increase, according to Grand View Research Inc.

Arab News has compiled a list of the 10 most funded mobility-tech startups from the MENA region.

1. Careem

Total funding: $771.7 million

Founders: Mudassir Sheikha and Magnus Olsson

Investors: Alpha Partners, Arzan Venture Capital, BECO Capital, Bild Alternative Investment, Coatue Management and 22 others

Headquarters: UAE

Recognized to be the Middle East’s first unicorn startup, Careem has transformed the ride-hailing sector in the region, attracting global competition and acquisitions to the industry.

The company first started as a car-booking app. It later entered the food delivery space and now operates as a super app.

Founded in 2012, Careem is the second most funded startup in the region. It obtained unicorn status in 2018 and was later acquired by global ride-hailing giant Uber for $3.1 billion in 2020.

2. Swvl

Total funding: $264 million

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Mahmoud Nouh and Ahmed Sabbah

Investors: BECO Capital, Endeavor Catalyst, MSA Capital, Oman Technology Fund, Arzan Venture Capital, Sawari Ventures, VNV Global, Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital and others

Headquarters: Founded in Egypt, based in the UAE

Founded in 2017, Swvl is a tech-enabled mass transit solutions provider offering intercity, intracity, business-to-business and business-to-government transportation services.

The company is another unicorn founded in the MENA region, also listed on the Nasdaq.

Currently operating in 20 countries across four continents, Swvl went public after it completed a merger with special purpose acquisition company Queens Gambit Growth Capital and was valued at $1.5 billion in March 2022.

3. Yassir

Total funding: $43 million

Founders: Noureddine Tayebi and El-Mahdi Yettou

Investors: Y Combinator, P1 Ventures, French Partners, ACE & Co., Venture Souq, WndrCo, DN Capital, Kismet Capital, Spike ventures, Quiet Capital, Endeavor Catalyst, FJ Labs, Venture Souq, Nellore Capital, Moving Capital and other investors

Headquarters: Algeria

Established in 2017, Yassir offers on-demand services such as ride-hailing and last-mile delivery in 25 cities across Algeria, Canada, France, Morocco and Tunisia, with over 3 million users.

The startup started as a ride-sharing platform and later became a super app adding last-mile delivery and financial services for its users.

The company raised $30 million in series A funding in June 2021 in a bid to expand into Western Africa and Europe in 2022.

4. ekar

Total funding: $34 million

Founder: Vilhelm Hedberg

Investors: Polymath Venture and other investors

Headquarters: UAE

Founded in 2016, ekar offers on-demand access to a network of car-share, subscription leasing vehicles and other mobility options, including peer-to-peer rentals.

Operating across seven cities with a fleet of 2,300 vehicles and 250,000 users in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the company is one of the region’s first fully contactless car-sharing apps.

The company raised $17.5 million in series B funding in 2019, announced its launch in Thailand in 2022 and plans to expand into Malaysia, Turkey and Egypt later in the year.

5. KOI Ride

Total funding: $18 million

Founders: Ghassan Muradwij and Riyaz Alambath

Investors: Undisclosed

Headquarters: UAE

KOI Ride is a B2B ride-hailing service startup that offers end-to-end ground transport services and connects online booking portals with licensed transportation providers.

Established in 2015, the company offers its services in over 30 countries. In June 2022, KOI Ride raised $3 million in an investment round to strengthen its presence in existing markets.

6. Udrive

Total funding: $17.3 million

Founders: Nicholas Watson and Hasib Khan

Investors: Cultiv8 and Oman Holding International

Headquarters: UAE

Another car rental app Udrive provides a pay-per-minute rental service for UAE residents and tourists, clocking in over 2 million trips.

Founded in 2016, the company allows users to pick up a car from any location available and is then returned to any parking location in the same city.

In its latest funding round, Udrive raised $5 million to support its plans to expand in the Middle East and enhance its technology.

7. Fenix

Total funding: $5 million

Founders: Jaideep Dhanoa and IQ Sayed

Investors: Emkan Capital and Panthera Capital Ventures

Headquarters: UAE

Established in November 2020, Fenix provides a different kind of mobility using electric scooters on a subscription-based service.

Founded by two ex-Careem executives, the company has one of the largest electric vehicle fleets in the region as it operates in four cities.

In 2021, the company raised a $5 million seed funding to support its goals to become the first national micro-mobility operator in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

8. Telgani

Total funding: $4.2 million

Founder: Abdulkader Almkinzy

Investors: 500 Startups, Saudi Venture Capital Co., Impact46 and others

Headquarters: Saudi Arabia

A car rental platform, Telgani allows users to rent a car through its mobile app that is then delivered to their doorstep.

Founded in 2018, the company also enables users to pick the car and the location they want to travel to and provides them with nearby options.

In November 2021, Telgani secured a $2.5 million pre-series A funding led by Saudi venture capital firm, Impact46.

9. Ousta

Total funding: $3.1 million

Founder: Nader El-Batrawi

Investors: Angel investors

Headquarters: Egypt

Founded in 2016, Ousta is Egypt’s first local ride-sharing application that was established to compete with ride-hailing companies Uber and Careem.

The company did not disclose any of its operations to the media since its fundraising of $1.5 million in 2016.

10. Urent

Total funding: $1.5 million

Founder: Omar Al-Ashi

Investors: Viacheslav Zhuravlev

Headquarters: UAE

Urent, another player in the car rental space, is a UAE-based platform aiming to revolutionize the car rental industry in the region.

The company offers a peer-to-peer vehicle sharing platform, creating a whole community based on trust.

It is dubbed to be the Airbnb for cars.

In June 2019, Urent raised seed funding and, in 2020, raised an undisclosed pre-series A funding, and will be operating globally by Q4 2023.


Egyptian startup SIDEUP raises $1.2m as it relocates HQ to Saudi Arabia  

Egyptian startup SIDEUP raises $1.2m as it relocates HQ to Saudi Arabia  
Updated 12 sec ago

Egyptian startup SIDEUP raises $1.2m as it relocates HQ to Saudi Arabia  

Egyptian startup SIDEUP raises $1.2m as it relocates HQ to Saudi Arabia  

CAIRO: Cairo-based e-commerce services provider SIDEUP secured $1.2 million in a seed funding round to launch operations in Saudi Arabia.  

Established in 2019, the company provides e-commerce businesses with various technological solutions to enable integrations, partnerships and payments to scale revenue.  

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Waleed Rashed, CEO and founder at SIDEUP, said that the company is relocating its headquarters to Saudi Arabia with plans to hire and expand its team. 

Waleed Rashed, CEO and founder at SIDEUP (Supplied)

 

“We have already opened up roles in the Kingdom, by next month we will have added 10 people to our on-ground team in Riyadh which will amount to almost 30 percent of our total employee base,” he told Arab News.  

Rashed added that the company will continue hiring in Saudi Arabia throughout 2023 as the new headquarters will be their biggest office.  

“The e-commerce sector in Saudi Arabia is going to grow exponentially. The Kingdom is also going to be our gateway to the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council as we plan our entry into new markets,” he stated.  

The company plans to support small businesses in the Kingdom by providing services like warehousing, payments, customer service and more.  

SIDEUP has also partnered with e-commerce platforms Zid, Zammit, and Wuilt as well as payment service providers Paytab, Cowpay, and Paymob in addition to logistics companies Aramec, J&T and iMile.  

Rashed explained that the company’s presence in Saudi Arabia will boost its growth exponentially, thanks to the Kingdom’s young population as well as the digital infrastructure in place.  

“There’s no place more exciting to build a Middle East business than in Saudi Arabia. We have made great strides in setting up the right partnerships. The government has also created an environment for founders to thrive, being here has a number of benefits,” he added.  

The founder stated that the Kingdom will be a stepping stone for the company to expand and explore other markets in the Middle East and Africa as it plans to enter two new countries within the next 12 months.  

“We have the backing of renowned investors such as Launch Africa VC, 500 Global, Riyadh Angels, Alex Angels, Al Tuwaijri Fund and also Saudi angel investor Faisal AlAbdulsalam. This allows us to plan ahead while benefiting from the expertise of these investors,” he said.  

The company has been seeing positive growth since its launch as it hit profitability with over $500,000 gross merchandise value per month and growing at 30 percent monthly.  


Wyndham takes future of Ramada in its own hands with reintroduction of direct franchising of brand in KSA 

Wyndham takes future of Ramada in its own hands with reintroduction of direct franchising of brand in KSA 
Updated 16 min 20 sec ago

Wyndham takes future of Ramada in its own hands with reintroduction of direct franchising of brand in KSA 

Wyndham takes future of Ramada in its own hands with reintroduction of direct franchising of brand in KSA 

RIYADH: In alignment with Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ strategy to expand its midscale offering in the Middle East, the company has reintroduced direct franchising and management rights for the Ramada brand in Saudi Arabia.

This announcement by the world’s largest hotel franchising company, with approximately 9,100 hotels across more than 95 countries, replaces exclusive master license agreements for the brand in the Kingdom.

With more than 900 hotels globally, Ramada is Wyndham’s largest brand in Europe, Middle East, Eurasia and Africa, with over 200 hotels in approximately 40 countries in the region, of which over 30 are in the Middle East and Africa alone.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the recently held World Travel and Tourism Global Summit in Riyadh, Dimitris Manikis, president EMEA at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, said: “With this announcement we, as Wyndham, are 100 percent responsible for the development of the Ramada brand in Saudi Arabia. It was the right time for us to step in and take the destiny or the future of Ramada in our own hands.  It’s a major step for us.”

He added: “This signifies our belief in the future of the Kingdom and that we want to have a direct relationship with our partners here.”

Going on to explain that Wyndham was in the franchise business where they worked with local partners, Manikis said, as a company, they are “asset light.”

“Just to give you an idea, out of the 9,000-plus hotels, we don’t own any hotels,” he said, adding: “We give our local partners the brand, we give them the technology, the distribution, and we support them through a franchise agreement.”

As part of the company’s expansion plan in Saudi Arabia, Wyndham has recently opened Ramada by Wyndham Riyadh King Fahd Road, its thirteenth hotel in the country.

According to Manikis, the real strength of Wyndham was in economy and midscale offerings, and that is where he believes the future is for Saudi Arabia.

“We are committed to contributing to the development of the Kingdom’s tourism through the expansion of our mid-market and economy presence, to help bring even more accommodation options to suit all visitors to the Kingdom,” Manikis said.

He added: “Five percent of the world travels luxury, 95 percent is ordinary people like me that want to travel and have a great and affordable experience.”

“Hospitality is not just about stay at the hotel. It’s about the restaurants. It’s about the theme parks. It’s about a holistic experience,” Manikis continued.  

Not surprisingly he said that, from an investment perspective, Wyndham is working with the Saudi government to look at the midscale and economy sector.

“I believe there’s a huge future for that sector in Saudi Arabia,” he reiterated.

Manikis was also very optimistic about the future of the hospitality sector in the Kingdom. “Saudi Arabia is on the map,” he said.

“You would be crazy not to have Saudi Arabia as one of your top three destinations for the next five years in terms of arrivals, in terms of adding your brands, investments and bringing people in. You cannot close your eyes to what is happening in Saudi Arabia at this point, you just cannot ignore it.”

Moving on to talk about the hospitality industry in general, Manikis said it was one of the most resilient industries in the world. “We survived COVID-19 but we lost valuable people, we lost enormous talent,” he said. “Our number one priority now is to bring the talent back,” he concluded. 


Oil Updates — Crude climbs after OPEC+ meeting; Japan sets price cap on Russian crude  

Oil Updates — Crude climbs after OPEC+ meeting; Japan sets price cap on Russian crude  
Updated 05 December 2022

Oil Updates — Crude climbs after OPEC+ meeting; Japan sets price cap on Russian crude  

Oil Updates — Crude climbs after OPEC+ meeting; Japan sets price cap on Russian crude  

RIYADH: Oil prices rose as much as 2 percent on Monday after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, held their output targets steady ahead of an EU ban and a price cap kicking in on Russian crude. 

At the same time, in a positive sign for fuel demand, more Chinese cities eased COVID-19 curbs over the weekend, though a patchwork easing in policies sowed confusion across the country on Monday. 

Brent crude futures were last up 72 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $86.29 a barrel at 0430 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures gained 70 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $80.68 a barrel. 

OPEC+ agreed on Sunday to stick to their October plan to cut output by 2 million barrels per day from November through 2023. 

Japan sets price cap on Russian crude oil, excluding Sakhalin-2 

Japan implemented a price cap on Russian crude oil from Monday, but crude oil imported from the Sakhalin-2 plant will be excluded, the government said in a statement. 

The decision follows an agreement by the Group of Seven nations and Australia on Friday to limit the price of Russian crude oil at $60 per barrel in the latest move to slap sanctions on Moscow over its war in Ukraine. 

The exclusion of crude oil from the far eastern Russian Sakhalin-2 project, which Japanese energy operators hold stakes in after the exit of Shell, was decided “in light of Japan’s energy security,” the government said in the statement. 

Further measures on Russian petroleum products, set to begin on Feb. 5, 2023, will be announced at a later date, the statement added. 

Algeria says OPEC+ decision to keep output unchanged appropriate 

Algeria’s energy minister said on Sunday that the OPEC+ decision to keep output unchanged was appropriate to market fluctuations, the country’s state news agency reported. 

The OPEC+ group will closely monitor crude markets for any developments, minister Mohamed Arkab said in remarks after its Sunday meeting, adding that the decision kept Algerian output unchanged at 1.007 million bpd. 

(With input from Reuters) 

 

 


Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority approves regulations of market-marking and procedures

Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority approves regulations of market-marking and procedures
Updated 05 December 2022

Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority approves regulations of market-marking and procedures

Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority approves regulations of market-marking and procedures
  • The CMA’s approval aims to regulate the activities of listed securities market-making, and impacts resulted from approving the market making registration application

RIYADH: Regulations proposed by the Saudi excange around market-making procedures have been approved by the Capital Market Authority (CMA), it was announced on Sunday.

The CMA’s approval aims to regulate the activities of listed securities market-making, and impacts resulted from approving the market making registration application, and description of mechanism of practicing market making activities on securities, a statement said.

The statement continued that regulations include the market-maker’s activities through providing continuous listed securities buy/sell orders during the market open session to provide liquidity to the relevant listed securities.

Also, among the conditions of the market-maker, it shall have a membership of the market or derivatives market and shall have the written policies and procedures to separate between the market making activities and any other activities practiced by the maker.

This maker shall also have the security and technical requirements necessary for practicing the activity, or any other condition proposed by the market and approved by the CMA.

The regulations set out the Market Maker’s liabilities; among them, to assign an account at the Securities Depository Center (Edaa) (where applicable) and Securities Clearing Center Company (Muqassa) that are limited to practicing activities of market making only on specific security (securities) in accordance with the Market Making Agreement.

Also, all activities of market making practiced by the market-maker shall be in compliance with the Capital Market law, its implementing regulations and the market rules, and any other relevant laws.

The CMA’s approval on the market-making regulations and procedures comes as part of the CMA’s continuous efforts to create potentials facilitating trading process, including increasing efficiency and volume of liquidity in the capital market through providing continuous listed securities buy/sell orders.


Saudi National Development Fund launches operations at SME Bank 

Saudi National Development Fund launches operations at SME Bank 
Updated 04 December 2022

Saudi National Development Fund launches operations at SME Bank 

Saudi National Development Fund launches operations at SME Bank 

RIYADH: In a move to bridge the financing gap in the small and medium enterprises sector, Saudi Arabia’s National Development Fund has announced the start of operations at the Small and Medium Enterprises Bank.

The opening of the new bank will help the SME sector contribute as much as 35 percent to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product in line with the Saudi Vision 2030. 

Launched in 2021, the bank focuses on providing all its products and services in digital form without the need to establish branches. 

In an attempt to create partnerships and further enhance the contribution of financial institutions in terms of financing SMEs, the bank signed a total of 15 cooperation agreements, worth an accumulated SR3 billion ($797 million), with several financial institutions, Alarabiya reported. 

Overall, Saudi Arabia is witnessing an acceleration in licensing SME factories while taking advantage of government facilities to stimulate specific sectors and industries related to the fourth industrial revolution. 

In November, Saudi Arabia’s cabinet approved the Small and Medium Enterprises Bank System, according to the Saudi Press Agency.     

Ministers signed off the transfer of Kafalah SME Loan Guarantee Program from Monsha'at to SME Bank.

This comes as industrial SMEs in Saudi Arabia are urged to transform into resilient and technologically savvy operations in order to go global and be able to compete internationally, according to a report by the multinational professional services network KPMG. 

Moreover, the SME sector is perceived as a vital economic engine, a key generator of new employment, and the foundation of the global economy, senior vice president of technical services at Aramco, Ahmad Al Sa’adi said, in an exclusive interview with Arab News earlier. 

In addition to this, SMEs are set to play a significant role in achieving Saudi Arabia’s objectives of lowering the unemployment rate from 11.6 percent to 7 percent, and increasing women’s participation in the workforce from 22 percent to 30 percent. 

In October, the Saudi Arabian Oil Co, also known as Aramco, announced the launch of the Taleed Program, which aims to maintain and further grow the SME sector, Al Sa’adi added.