Top 10 most funded edtech startups in the MENA region

Top 10 most funded edtech startups in the MENA region
Founded in 2019, Abwaab provides online content tailored to local curriculums of secondary school students, thereby filling the educational resources gap. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 08 October 2022

Top 10 most funded edtech startups in the MENA region

Top 10 most funded edtech startups in the MENA region
  • Educational technology opens up new opportunities for learning experiences

CAIRO: Technology has opened new vistas for the education sector by optimizing the ability to learn inside a classroom and beyond.

Educational technology has supported teaching facilities using online learning and smart applications in various academic and non-academic environments.

According to market research firm Valuates Reports, the 2021 global e-learning market revenue was about $15 billion, and the market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.5 percent from 2021 to 2028.

Arab News has compiled a list of the Middle East and North African region’s top 10 most funded edtech startups.

1. Abwaab

Total funding: $27.5 million

Founders: Hamdi Tabbaa, Sabri Hakim and Hussein Al-Sarabi

Investors: BECO Capital, 4DX Ventures, GSV Ventures and Water Partners

Funding rounds: Four

Headquarters: Jordan

Founded in 2019, Abwaab provides online content tailored to the local curriculums of secondary school students, thereby filling the educational resources gap.

Through the platform, students can participate in lessons, get access to feedback and join discussion boards to tackle the region’s high dependence on offline tutoring.

In its last funding round, Abwaab raised $20 million in a series A funding round to expand its services to Egypt and Pakistan.

2. Noon Academy

Total funding: $21 million

Founders: Mohammed Al-Dhalaan and Aziz Al-Saeed

Investors: STV, Al-Turki Holding and NFX Ventures

Funding rounds: Two

Headquarters: Saudi Arabia

Noon Academy is a student-centric social learning platform that offers free live and interactive tutoring with “gamified” features.

Established in 2013, the company incorporates social and “gamification” features to make learning more enjoyable and collaborative for students.

With a presence in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India and Pakistan, the company managed to raise $13 million in a pre-series B funding round led by STV in 2020.

3. Al-Mentor

Total funding: $14.5 million

Founders: Ihab Fikry, Ibrahim Kamel, Hesham Heikal, Husni Khuffash and Abdelrhman Fahmy

Investors: Partech, Sawari Ventures, Egypt Ventures and Sango Capital

Funding rounds: Five

Headquarters: UAE

Al-Mentor, one of the leading video learning platforms in the region, offers online content for Arabic speakers with a wide range of courses developed by distinguished experts.

Founded in 2016, the company delivered over 2 million learning experiences with over 80 enterprise partnerships in the Middle East and North African region.

In 2021, Al-Mentor raised $6.5 million in a series B funding round led by Partech as it aimed to sustain its position as a leader in the industry. 

Orcas links parents and students with nearby tutors or online courses. (Supplied)

4. Orcas

Total funding: $3.5 million

Founders: Hossam Taher, Amira El-Gharib, Omar Fayez and Ahmed Ismail

Investors: NFX Ventures, Launch Africa and Access Bridge Ventures

Funding rounds: Five

Headquarters: Egypt

Established in 2013, Orcas is a mobile application that connects parents and students with nearby tutors or online courses.

Based in Cairo, the company provides K-12 students with live one-on-one tutoring sessions online and in person.

In January 2022, Orcas secured $2.1 million in pre-series A funding round to expand geographically.

5. Ostaz

Total funding: $2.8 million

Founders: Audrey Nakad, Zeina Sultani and Sibylle Nakad

Investors: Hub71, Inspired Education and Phoenician Funds

Funding rounds: Five

Headquarters: Lebanon

Founded in 2017, Ostaz connects students with qualified private tutors to support the pupils in setting learning goals on their academic journey.

The UK-based Inspired Education Group acquired the company in 2021 as it had registered more than 43,000 students and clocked over 65,000 tutoring hours.

6. Al-Gooru

Total funding: $2.6 million

Founders: Khalid Abou Kassem

Investors: Oqal, Raz Holding Group, 100 Ventures, Ray Investment and RZM Investment

Funding rounds: Two

Headquarters: Saudi Arabia

Al-Gooru, another player in the online tutoring space, is a platform for students to connect with their desired private teachers.

Founded in 2021, the company secured $1.8 million in a seed funding round to expand its scope in the education sector across Saudi Arabia.

7. Baims

Total funding: $2.2 million

Founders: Yousef Al-Husaini and Bader Al-Rasheed

Investors: Rasameel Investment Co. and AlWazzan Education

Funding round: One

Headquarters: Kuwait

Established in 2017, Baims is an online platform that offers customized courses for university students in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan.

The company raised $2.2 million in a pre-series A funding round in 2022 to grow its content library and strengthen its presence in existing markets.

8. Al-Academia

Total funding: $2 million

Founder: Ahmed Ashour

Investors: Entlaqa and Goldmines

Funding round: One

Headquarters: Egypt

Al-Academia is a distance education platform focusing on professional development in small courses from industry experts.

The company launched in 2020 after raising $2 million in investments to support the enormous digital transformation ignited by COVID-19.

9. Aanaab

Total funding: $1.5 million

Founders: Mounira Jamjoom and Naila Al-Khalawi

Investors: Nour Nouf and Wamda Capital

Funding Rounds: One

Headquarters: Saudi Arabia

Founded in 2016, Aanaab’s platform facilitates ongoing professional and personal development of Arab teachers through distance learning solutions, providing them an opportunity to acquire Cambridge credentials.

The company secured its first funding in 2020 with a $1.5 million investment to strengthen its presence in Saudi Arabia and the UAE and explore business-to-business opportunities.

10. Zedny

Total funding: $1.2 million

Founders: Mohamed Youssef El-Baz and Basil Khattab

Investors: Undisclosed

Funding round: One

Headquarters: Egypt

Established in 2020, Zedny is an Arabic learning platform that targets individuals keen on developing their business skills, acquiring general knowledge and scouting for jobs.

The company launched after a $1.2 million pre-seed funding round and has offered over 200 online courses on its platform since then.

Arab region making headway toward climate change, says UN official

Arab region making headway toward climate change, says UN official
Updated 8 sec ago

Arab region making headway toward climate change, says UN official

Arab region making headway toward climate change, says UN official

RIYADH: Events such as the IAEE Conference currently underway in the Saudi capital and COP27 held in Egypt and the upcoming COP28 in the UAE are important milestones for the region toward a successful transition to green energy transition.
This was underlined by Rola Dashti, executive secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia while speaking at a session titled “Energy, Development and Climate Change” at the 44th IAEE International Conference in Riyadh on Monday.
“The Arab region is making significant headway toward climate change with two back-to-back COP conferences, the last one held in Egypt and next to be held in the UAE, and this IAEE conference will add more value to it,” she said.
Dashti praised Saudi Arabia for its green initiatives, measures for green energy transition, commitment to circular carbon economy, and scaling up the hydrogen energy program.
Echoing similar sentiments, Noura Alissa, a senior international policy analyst at the Saudi Energy Ministry, highlighted the importance of energy transition.
“Having a diverse energy mix is an important part of energy security,” she said.
Green hydrogen has a crucial role in the energy transition and the decarbonization of the economic sectors in the Arab region, said Sausan Al-Riyami, director of the Oman Hydrogen Center, German University of Technology in Oman.
“We should be ready in Oman and the Arab countries, and this could be done if we boost cooperation between all the stakeholders in the region,” she said.
Sarah Najm, assistant professor at King Saud University’s Department of Economics, noted that energy transition requires greater international cooperation.
Manjeet Kripalani, executive director at Gateway House, pointed out that India is a densely populated country with massive energy consumption. The situation is different from other countries facing energy transition challenges.
“The only country we can compare with is China,” she said.
She, however, added that China is taking a cautious approach to balancing its carbon-neutral commitment against the need for energy security, and India can follow the idea.
India is an energy-consuming country, and a large part of the energy produced locally is by coal, which is cheaper, she said.
Kripalani said there is a need to improve the efficiency of coal used to make the value chain more sustainable.
The session was moderated by Steven Griffiths, senior vice president for research and development, at Khalifa University.

Cigna Worldwide becomes 1st foreign health insurance firm to operate in Saudi Arabia

Cigna Worldwide becomes 1st foreign health insurance firm to operate in Saudi Arabia
Updated 06 February 2023

Cigna Worldwide becomes 1st foreign health insurance firm to operate in Saudi Arabia

Cigna Worldwide becomes 1st foreign health insurance firm to operate in Saudi Arabia

CAIRO: Cigna Worldwide Insurance Co. has become the first foreign health insurance company to start operations in the Kingdom following the issuance of a license by the Saudi Central Bank.

The permit aims to fulfill the objectives of the bank’s “Rules for Licensing and Supervision of Branches of Foreign Insurance and Reinsurance Companies in Saudi Arabia” initiative. 

It also comes as part of its role in supporting financial stability and contributing to economic growth aligned with Vision 2030’s objectives. 

The licensing falls under the strategy of the central bank, also known as SAMA, to encourage foreign direct investments to increase the sector’s competitiveness and utilize the Kingdom’s economic potential. 

“SAMA reaffirms its ongoing efforts to support the financial sector as a whole, raise the level of effectiveness and flexibility of financial transactions and encourage innovation in financial services,” stated SAMA’s website. 

Moreover, enabling new international entrants will enhance the quality of provided services, increase the diversification of investors and introduce unique business models to the market, according to the site.


Aramco announces deal with Zoom at LEAP 2023 

Aramco announces deal with Zoom at LEAP 2023 
Updated 06 February 2023

Aramco announces deal with Zoom at LEAP 2023 

Aramco announces deal with Zoom at LEAP 2023 

RIYADH: In line with the Kingdom’s aim to accelerate digital transformation, the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., also known as Saudi Aramco, announced a strategic partnership with Zoom and an increase in funding for Wa’ed Ventures on Feb. 6.  

The announcements were made at the second edition of LEAP, a major international technology conference held annually in Saudi Arabia. 

With more than 700 speakers from 50 counties and 900 local and international companies in attendance at the Riyadh Front Center for Exhibitions and Conventions, this year’s edition of LEAP represents a huge economic advance in the Kingdom through many partnerships, deals and investment tours.

The strategic partnership with Aramco aims to build Zoom’s first global data center in the Kingdom to support the digital transformation ecosystem.

It is expected to connect to the Zoom global data center network and will serve Saudi Arabia and the region.

The two companies will also explore the joint development of innovative technology solutions for the energy sector. 

The partnership aims to contribute to the digital transformation of various market sectors, such as energy, industry, education and healthcare. 

Aramco also announced that additional funds had been allocated by the company to Wa’ed Ventures, increasing the size of its Kingdom-focused venture capital arm from $200 million to $500 million.

The increase aims to enable the company to deliver an accelerated investment performance regionally and globally.

Wa’ed Ventures intends to localize global frontier technologies to advance the Kingdom’s innovation ecosystem; expand investments in mid and growth-stage startups; and fund underserved domains such as environmental, social and governance, the metaverse and quantum computing. 

Amin Nasser, Aramco’s president and CEO, said: “Our establishment of a diversified network of partners has helped us maintain a track record of reliability, and our new strategic partnership with Zoom is expected to further enable innovative solutions focusing on the digital transformation ecosystem.”

“Furthermore, with an expanded fund size, Wa’ed Ventures aims to facilitate the cross-pollination of innovation between the global and local markets,” he added. 

Closing bell: TASI continues to decline, closes flat at 10,589 

Closing bell: TASI continues to decline, closes flat at 10,589 
Updated 06 February 2023

Closing bell: TASI continues to decline, closes flat at 10,589 

Closing bell: TASI continues to decline, closes flat at 10,589 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index on Monday lost 2.87 points — or 0.03 percent — to close at 10,588.58. 

While MSCI Tadawul 30 Index dropped 0.10 percent to 1,452.66, the parallel market Nomu slipped 0.76 percent to 18,761.95. 

TASI’s total trading turnover of the benchmark index on Monday was SR4.46 billion ($1.19 billion), with 101 stocks of the listed 224 advancing and 109 retreating. 

On Feb. 6, Saudi Reinsurance Co. was the topmost gainer, rising 5.73 percent to SR16.98.  

The other top gainers were Basic Chemical Industries Co., Riyadh Cables Group Co., Saudi Industrial Investment Group and Elm Co. 

The worst-performing stock of the day was Salama Cooperative Insurance Co., which dropped 3.81 percent to SR16.16. 

Other stocks that poorly performed were Etihad Atheeb Telecommunication Co., Riyad Bank, Alinma Bank and The Mediterranean and Gulf Insurance and Reinsurance Co. 

Among sectoral indices, 11 of the 21 listed on the stock exchange declined, while the rest advanced. 

The Software and Services Index was a clear winner, with the industry catapulting 2.98 percent to 38,040.86 and driving all five constituents in the green. 

On the other hand, the Food and Beverages Index fell 1.23 percent to 4,772.11. Five of the 10 constituents in the sector advanced and the rest declined. 

On the announcements front, Tihama Advertising and Public Relations Co. on Monday informed the stock exchange issued its prospectus for capital increase through an SR350 million rights issue. 

The company plans to offer 35 million shares, at SR10 per share, to raise the capital by 700 percent. 

Tihama aims to finance expansion plans and future investments, support working capital and pay off financial liabilities. The company’s share price rose 2.38 percent to SR94.8. 

Abdullah Saad Mohammed Abo Moati for Bookstores Co. announced that financial statements for the third quarter ended Dec. 31, 2022, might miss the disclosure deadline due to a cyberattack on its servers on Dec. 8, 2022. 

Abo Moati said the cyberattack resulted in the loss of financial data from Nov. 4 to Dec. 7, 2022. However, it restored data through hardcopy backups. 

The company also assigned an accredited cybersecurity company to examine the systems and network to ensure operations ran smoothly and normally. Its share price fell 2.46 percent to SR27.75. 

Meanwhile, Leejam Sports Co. signed on Feb. 5 a memorandum of understanding with UAE-based healthcare provider Burjeel Holding Co. to start a partnership in physiotherapy and sports healthcare services in Saudi Arabia. 

Both companies plan to establish a new company in a 50-50 partnership, the sports company said in a statement to Tadawul. 

The partnership aims to establish and operate a network of physiotherapy, rehabilitation and sports healthcare clinics within and outside Leejam centers in the Kingdom. 

The statement said it would also include the provision of physiotherapy and related wellness services, with a particular focus on sports medicine and advanced rehabilitation therapies. Leejam Sports’ share price closed flat at SR86.4. 

Microsoft, Huawei and Oracle among $9bn of tech deals announced during LEAP23 in Riyadh 

Microsoft, Huawei and Oracle among $9bn of tech deals announced during LEAP23 in Riyadh 
Updated 06 February 2023

Microsoft, Huawei and Oracle among $9bn of tech deals announced during LEAP23 in Riyadh 

Microsoft, Huawei and Oracle among $9bn of tech deals announced during LEAP23 in Riyadh 

CAIRO: Saudi Arabia witnessed the signing of $9 billion worth of investment contracts on the first day of the global tech event LEAP23 that began on Feb. 6 in Riyadh. 

Aimed at supporting future technology, digital entrepreneurship and tech startups, the deals were announced by Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Abdullah Al-Sawaha, during his opening speech at the event that will run till Feb. 9. 

These deals include Microsoft’s $2.1 billion investment that the tech giant is putting in to develop a super-wide cloud in the Kingdom, while Oracle’s agreed to invest $1.5 billion to establish a new cloud region in the country.  

Chinese tech firm Huawei also pumped in $400 million to offer cloud services in the Kingdom, while state oil firm Aramco formed a partnership with Zoom worth $434 million to establish a cloud area. In addition, the event saw the signing of $4.5 billion worth of other deals with a wide range of global and local firms for various sectors.  

These investments aim to strengthen the Kingdom’s position as the largest digital economy in the Middle East and North Africa region aligned with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s goal to empower the technology sector.  

Al-Sawaha stated that hosting the LEAP23 conference is a global affirmation of the great support directed by the Kingdom to transform the economy into a digital landscape that promises rapid developments in line with Vision 2030.  

The conference also witnessed some major announcements including Meta launching the opening of the first Metaverse Academy in MENA, headquartered in Saudi Arabia; WEO Technology and Camel Lab launching Hektar, a multi-content social media app. In addition, MENA Communication and STC announced the launching of Beem – a new application for instant messaging, high-quality voice and video calls, and business features.  

Al-Sawaha stressed that the technology sector holds unprecedented opportunities supported by the Crown Prince in sub-sectors including digital economics, Internet of Things, health tech, quantitative sciences, space and satellites, fintech and open sources.  

In his opening speech, the minister stated that the event is set to host more than 250,000 attendees, as opposed to 100,000 last year, and will continue to see more investments as the Kingdom holds a $42 billion opportunity platform and stands as the largest technology market in the region.  

He added that Saudi Arabia continues to lead the human technical workforce with more than 340,000 workers in the market and female participation in the technical sector reaching 32.5 percent, higher than the average of the EU and Silicon Valley.  

Taking place at the Riyadh Front Center for Exhibitions and Conventions, the conference was launched under the title “Towards New Horizons” with more than 400 global and local technology companies.