UAE’s Tabby gets ready to relocate HQ to Saudi Arabia ahead of IPO on Tadawul

UAE’s Tabby gets ready to relocate HQ to Saudi Arabia ahead of IPO on Tadawul
UAE-based e-sports startup Fanzword has secured a $1.2 million pre-seed funding round led by XVC Tech and other regional angel investors. (Supplied)
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Updated 30 September 2023
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UAE’s Tabby gets ready to relocate HQ to Saudi Arabia ahead of IPO on Tadawul

UAE’s Tabby gets ready to relocate HQ to Saudi Arabia ahead of IPO on Tadawul
  • Buy now, pay later fintech prepares for its IPO on Saudi stock exchange

CAIRO: In recognition of Saudi Arabia’s booming financial technology sector, UAE’s Tabby, a forerunner in the buy now, pay later fintech space, is shifting its headquarters to Saudi Arabia as it gears up for its initial public offering.

The decision comes as the company inked a memorandum of understanding with the Kingdom’s Ministry of Investment.

Concurrently, Tabby is laying the groundwork for its IPO on the Saudi stock exchange.

The company intends to strategically strengthen its presence in its largest market, given that 80 percent of its customers hail from the Kingdom.

“With this move, we aim to amplify our reach and impact, reinforcing our commitment to deliver unparalleled financial solutions to our customers in the region. We’re equally dedicated to fostering local talent and contributing to the growth of the Saudi economy,” as stated by Tabby’s official account on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Moreover, Tabby recently received the green light from the Saudi Central Bank after obtaining a permit to expand its operation into the Kingdom.

“Millions of people in Saudi Arabia rely on Tabby today, so it’s an incredibly important step to crystalize our foundations in the Kingdom and continue building toward financial freedom for our community,” Tabby’s CEO Hosam Arab told Arab News in August.

Tabby’s strategies perfectly align with the Kingdom’s aspirations to drive financial inclusion and literacy as a cornerstone of the country’s economic growth.  

Arab also lauded the Saudi government’s measures to help boost the fintech sector. The CEO said the encouraging regulatory landscape will help instill confidence in Tabby to introduce innovative services in the Kingdom.

Currently operational in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait, Tabby holds a valuation of $660 million following its latest funding round from investors including Sequoia Capital India, STV, PayPal Ventures, Mubadala Investment Capital, Arbor Ventures, and Endeavor Catalyst.

Furthermore, the company has over 15,000 worldwide brands and small enterprises, including H&M, Adidas, IKEA, SHEIN, noon, and Bloomingdale’s, that utilize its technology to stimulate growth and build a faithful customer base by offering flexible payment options both online and in-store.

UAE’s esports Fanzword raises $1.2m in a pre-seed round

UAE-based esports startup Fanzword has successfully raised $1.2 million in a pre-seed funding round, spearheaded by XVC Tech, and supported by several regional angel investors.

Launched in 2021 by Ibrahim El-Mohdar and Amr El-Beheiry, Fanzword positions itself as a unique football fan engagement platform. It envisions creating a virtual stadium experience where aficionados can not only track their favorite teams but also connect, interact, and accrue rewards.  

“We believe that it’s the perfect time to leverage a Football Fan Engagement Platform in the Middle East,” said El-Mohdar, CEO at Fanzword.

“Especially after the resounding success of the World Cup in Qatar and the Saudi Pro League’s blockbuster signings of football legends like Ronaldo, Neymar Jr., and Benzema,” he added.

With capital in hand, Fanzword aims to amplify its regional footprint and further tap into its web3 gaming capabilities.

The company claims to have over 250,000 downloads while achieving more than 100 percent growth in 2022.

“We believe that the partnership with Fanzword will not only reshape web3 gaming but also accelerate the adoption of NextGen Technology Solutions in the Middle East and beyond,” Johan Lundberg, founding partner and board member at XVC Tech, said.

Cypherleak raises $750k seed round to simplify cyber risk monitoring  

UAE’s cyber risk monitoring and scoring startup, Cypherleak, has successfully secured $750,000 in a seed funding round.  

The investment attracted notable participation from entities spanning Abu Dhabi, Morocco, and Qatar, including the Maroc Numeric Fund II and the Qatar Insurance Company.  

Incepted in 2022 by Mohamed Belarbi, Cypherleak offers advanced risk monitoring solutions tailored for smaller businesses, effectively obviating the need for in-depth cybersecurity technical knowledge. 




Mohamed Belarbi’s Cypherleak offers advanced risk monitoring solutions. (Supplied)

This infusion of capital is set to bolster Cypherleak’s growth ambitions across the Middle East and Africa.

“The funding injection will enable us to accelerate our expansion across the Middle East and Africa, fortifying our position as a leading player in the rapidly evolving field of cyber risk management and ratings,” Belarbi said.

“With the backing of these strategic investors, Cypherleak is well-positioned to continue developing cutting-edge technologies and delivering unparalleled cyber risk insights to businesses and organizations across the region and the world,” he added.

The company claims to have successfully marketed subscriptions to over 1,000 corporate clients across Europe and the Middle East and North Africa region, targeting small and medium enterprises that are frequently priced out of enterprise-grade cybersecurity solutions.

“Cyber security risks are a serious threat for MENA SMEs who are mostly unprepared to face this new reality. Thanks to their strong experience, Mohamed Belarbi and his co-founders are building a strong and user-friendly platform that is able to address these serious threats, and help MENA SMEs get insured accordingly,” Dounia Boumehdi, managing director of MITC Capital, the management company of Maroc Numeric Fund II, said.

Lars Gehrmann, chief digital officer at QIC, also stressed the importance of cybersecurity for underserved MENA SMEs.

“Cyber security is a growing topic in the MENA region. SMEs are among the companies that are the most vulnerable. Cyber insurance for SMEs is already needed and is poised to grow in the months to come,” Gehrmann added.

UAE’s fintech BILRS raises pre-seed round

UAE’s emerging fintech player, BILRS, has secured a pre-seed investment from venture capital firm Haatch, although the exact amount remains undisclosed.  

Founded in 2022 by Rupert Shaw, BILRS has quickly positioned itself as a reliable facilitator, empowering both online and offline merchants to extend bill payment services to their customers.  

Notably, the company claims to have customers across a portfolio of over 30 countries, showcasing the firm’s vast reach in a short span. 

Millions of people in Saudi Arabia rely on Tabby today, so it’s an incredibly important step to crystalize our foundations in the Kingdom.

Hosam Arab, Tabby CEO

“We are incredibly excited about the future of BILRS and the opportunity this partnership with Haatch represents. This investment will empower us to enhance our platform’s capabilities, better serve our customers, and continue our mission of enabling purposeful remittance,” Shaw said.

“We are grateful for the confidence that Haatch has shown in our vision, and we look forward to the remarkable progress we will achieve together,” he added.

The recent funding is expected to provide BILRS with the requisite fuel to expedite its ambitious mission of introducing greater transparency and accountability into the world of money remittances.  

The move aligns with the broader industry trend of leveraging fintech solutions to simplify and streamline complex financial transactions for the end-users.

Canada’s ClearPier acquires UAE’s Media Quest Group for $35m

Canadian performance advertising giant ClearPier has marked a significant milestone in its growth strategy by acquiring UAE’s Media Quest Group, also known as MQuest, in a deal valued at $35 million.

ClearPier was established in 2010 by the duo Jignesh Shah and Sunil Abraham, while MQuest was formed in 2020 by John Rowe, Jay Bhojani, and Lorraine Hall.

The latter uses data to pinpoint consumers with a notably high propensity to make purchases, acting as a conduit between advertisers and potential buyers.

The strategic move to integrate MQuest into ClearPier’s operations is anticipated to bolster ClearPier’s foothold, not just in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, but also across the European markets.


Saudi Aramco completes acquisition of 100% equity stake in Chile’s Esmax

Saudi Aramco completes acquisition of 100% equity stake in Chile’s Esmax
Updated 44 min 25 sec ago
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Saudi Aramco completes acquisition of 100% equity stake in Chile’s Esmax

Saudi Aramco completes acquisition of 100% equity stake in Chile’s Esmax
  • Transaction, first announced in September 2023, represents Aramco’s first downstream retail investment in South America

LONDON: Saudi Aramco successfully completed the acquisition of a 100 percent equity stake in Chile’s Esmax Distribucion, a leading diversified downstream fuels and lubricants retailer, it was announced on Friday.

Esmax has a national presence that includes retail fuel stations, airport operations, fuel distribution terminals and a lubricant blending plant. 

The transaction, which was first announced in September 2023, represented Aramco’s first downstream retail investment in South America, illustrating the attractiveness of this market, and supports the Saudi company’s strategic goal to strengthen its downstream value chain.  

“We are delighted to conclude the acquisition of Esmax and look forward to working with the outstanding team on the ground in Chile to achieve our shared ambitions,” Yasser Mufti, Aramco executive vice president of products & customers, said.

“Aramco aims to be a primary global retail player and this deal combines our high quality products and services, including Valvoline lubricants, with the experience and quality of an established operator in Chile.” 


Germany’s WIKA opens new plant in Dammam

Germany’s WIKA opens new plant in Dammam
Updated 01 March 2024
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Germany’s WIKA opens new plant in Dammam

Germany’s WIKA opens new plant in Dammam

DAMMAM: The vast industrial city, known as MODON, situated in the industrial patch of land lined by warehouses and factories in Dammam has a new factory in town. 

The well-established German WIKA group inaugurated their newest plant on Feb. 29, with the local state-of-the-art production facilities meant to streamline every step of their journey forward.

“This is a symbol of our bilateral relationship which consists of a myriad of business, economic, cultural and political relations,” German Ambassador to the Kingdom Michael Kindsgrab said to the crowd.

Kindsgrab, who flew in for the occasion, pointed out how this new plant served as an example of the ample opportunities recently made available to German companies in the Kingdom and would help to further deepen the close relationship between Germany and Saudi Arabia. 

He cited this as his first visit to the Eastern Province and seemed to immensely delight in the cultural offerings on stage when local performers welcomed him — and WIKA — in traditional folk song and dance in between the various speeches.

The launch also brought together Germans and Saudis, as well as the diverse staff at WIKA.

“On behalf of Saudi Aramco, I would like to extend my warm thanks, appreciation and congratulations to WIKA for inaugurating WIKA Saudi Arabia,”  Fawaz Al-Sahan, manager of process automation system division at Saudi Aramco said, adding: “Today I’m honored to celebrate this success with you because we believe that localization has great benefits to both of our companies.

“In terms of scope, I believe that this is the largest instrumentation facility in the Kingdom. I trust this facility will serve as a WIKA hub for the Middle East.”

Alexander Wiegand, chairman and CEO of WIKA, also spoke to the crowd and offered his heartfelt gratitude to those who helped his family-owned company excel over the decades. He lovingly recalled the days when his mother was in charge and how this new facility in Dammam would be an extension of the WIKA family that is celebrating 78 years of operation in 2024.

“WIKA’s expansion in Saudi Arabia will create more than 100 new jobs over the next few years, it thus makes an important contribution to the local job market. In the new plant, German top technology is implemented by a qualified team with in-depth knowledge of the local market. This ensures that customers are supplied with high-quality instrumentation solutions tailored to their specific needs,” Wiegand said.

The factory covers a total area of 3,000 sq. m. Supplied

The new factory, with the logo colors of orange and blue, aims to enable WIKA to serve customers in Saudi Arabia, and the region at large, even more extensively. 

In the future, products for measuring pressure, temperature, level and flow will be manufactured locally on a total area of 3,000 sq. m. This would include diaphragm seals, instrumentation valves and thermometer thermowells for connecting measuring instruments to critical processes. The range of these services will be further expanded.

WIKA, as it was noted at the ceremony, sees itself as a partner in Saudi Arabia’s economic development, especially in the area of expanding economic sectors alongside oil and gas and diversifying beyond it. The group of companies has been present with sales subsidiaries in the Kingdom for over 20 years with about 12,000 employees worldwide, and counting.

In keeping with the Saudi Vision 2030 and the Saudi Made initiative, the launch also had its eye to the future.

“We are not thinking in quarters, we are thinking in decades,” Wiegand concluded.


Arab finance ministers discuss multilateralism, economic development at G20 meeting in Brazil

Arab finance ministers discuss multilateralism, economic development at G20 meeting in Brazil
Updated 01 March 2024
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Arab finance ministers discuss multilateralism, economic development at G20 meeting in Brazil

Arab finance ministers discuss multilateralism, economic development at G20 meeting in Brazil
  • Egypt, UAE attended as guests alongside Saudi Arabia, the only Arab G20 member
  • Saudi minister: Fair trade practices must be promoted ‘to enhance economic opportunities for developing countries’

SAO PAULO: The meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors that took place in Brazil on Feb. 28-29 could not be concluded with a joint statement as there was no consensus over the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.

But many of the leaders who attended shared similar concerns regarding the topics suggested as priorities by Brazil, which is the current president of the forum, especially reducing inequality and building multilateral cooperation to address the most pressing global issues such as sustainable development and financial stability.

Three Arab nations took part in the meeting. Besides Saudi Arabia, which is the only Arab member of the G20, Egypt and the UAE attended as guests. They manifested concurrent views regarding the central themes of the forum.

Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan, who headed the Saudi delegation along with Saudi Central Bank Gov. Ayman Al-Sayari, affirmed during one of the event’s sessions that “addressing debt vulnerabilities in low-income countries cannot happen without multilateral cooperation from all stakeholders, including creditors, debtors, international financial institutions, and the private sector,” the ministry’s media center reported.

Al-Jadaan added that fair trade practices must be promoted “in order to enhance economic opportunities for developing countries.”

Regarding low-income nations’ debt, he said implementation of the G20 Common Framework, an initiative launched a few years ago to support poor countries with unsustainable debt, must go on.

Mohamed Hadi Al-Hussaini, the UAE’s minister for financial affairs, expressed his country’s commitment to reducing inequalities through financial inclusion, Emirates News Agency reported.

He cited the Financial Infrastructure Transformation Programme, launched in 2023 with the goal of speeding up the digital transition in the financial sector.

The initiative shares the same principles as the G20-supported Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion.

Al-Hussaini said innovative instruments may have a relevant role in promoting development, mentioning green bonds and sukuk, a Shariah-compliant bond used in Islamic finance.

He also addressed the UAE’s efforts regarding energy transition and combating climate change.

The Emirati government has been helping vulnerable nations enhance their climate resilience. The UAE pledged $200 million to the Resilience Sustainability Trust in December 2023.

Al-Hussaini said the UAE decided to prioritize multilateral cooperation during the 13th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference, which was held in Abu Dhabi on Feb. 26-29 and discussed new models for global trade.

Egyptian Finance Minister Mohamed Maait emphasized in his speech that developing nations have been impacted by challenging situations in recent months, something that affects their budgets and their ability to meet their citizens’ needs amid growing inflation crises, Ahram Online reported.

He said international cooperation is fundamental to support countries that are struggling to maintain their efforts for social protection.

He added that Egypt gained great experience in relief programs in recent years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the country increased its support programs in order to assist vulnerable social segments at a time of economic hardship and high inflation. Any reform needs social programs if the goal is to obtain success, he stressed.

Al-Jadaan had bilateral meetings with Maait, Ilan Goldfajn, who heads the Inter American Development Bank, the French delegation and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Al-Sayari met with his Turkish counterpart.

According to a statement released by the US Treasury Department, Al-Jadaan and Yellen discussed the Saudi economy, “the progress of its reform program” and the need to “work together effectively in both bilateral and multilateral settings.”

Al-Hussaini met with the finance ministers of South Africa and Germany, as well as the executive president of the Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean.


Oil Updates – crude rises, markets await OPEC+ decision amid mixed demand drivers

Oil Updates – crude rises, markets await OPEC+ decision amid mixed demand drivers
Updated 01 March 2024
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Oil Updates – crude rises, markets await OPEC+ decision amid mixed demand drivers

Oil Updates – crude rises, markets await OPEC+ decision amid mixed demand drivers

SINGAPORE: Oil prices edged up on Friday and were set to end the week modestly higher as markets awaited an OPEC+ decision on supply agreements for the second quarter amid differing demand indicators for key consumers US and China, according to Reuters.

Brent futures for May climbed 31 cents, or 0.38 percent, to $82.22 a barrel by 9:45 a.m. Saudi time, while US West Texas Intermediate for April rose 24 cents, or 0.31 percent, to $78.50.

WTI is on track for at least a 2.5 percent increase this week, while Brent is holding near last week’s settlement price. Brent has hovered comfortably above the $80 mark for three weeks.

“Brent crude prices continued to trade sideways this week ... Brent at $83/bbl has shown recent strength although fundamentals remain tilted to oversupply,” said BMI analysts in a client note.

“Expectations of a continuation of OPEC+ production cuts into Q224 is also weighing on sentiment as soft demand is expected to persist ... However, timespreads for Brent futures contracts have widened. The move to stronger backwardation (market structure) will be supportive of a more bullish stance for prices as markets are pricing in tightening in the months ahead,” the analysts added.

A Reuters survey showed the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries pumped 26.42 million barrels per day this month, up 90,000 bpd from January. Libyan output rose month-on-month by 150,000 bpd.

A decision on extending the cuts is expected in the first week of March, sources have said, with individual countries expected to announce their decisions.

Increasing possibilities of OPEC+ continuing with the supply cuts beyond the first quarter, potentially till the end of 2024, will likely keep oil prices above $80 a barrel, said DBS Bank energy sector team lead Suvro Sarkar.

Strong expectations of Saudi Arabia keeping term prices of crude it sells to Asian customers little changed in April from March levels also underpinned the market.

Supporting prices, the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge, the US personal consumption expenditures index, showed January inflation in line with economists’ expectations, reinforcing market bets for a June interest rate cut. This in turn could lower consumer costs and spur fuel buying activity.

However, a mixed bag of February purchasing managers’ index data from China, the world’s top oil consumer, capped price gains.

China’s manufacturing activity in February contracted for a fifth straight month, an official factory survey showed on Friday, raising pressure on Beijing policymakers to roll out further stimulus measures as factory owners struggle for orders.

“Demand side we concur that 2Q will have hiccups and we are projecting Brent to average lower in 2Q24 compared to 1Q24, before rebounding in 2H24 on the back of the potential rate cut scenario, which should boost fund flows toward riskier assets,” said DBS Bank’s Sarkar. 


Inter-Arab trade at $700bn: Union of Arab Chambers

Inter-Arab trade at $700bn: Union of Arab Chambers
Updated 29 February 2024
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Inter-Arab trade at $700bn: Union of Arab Chambers

Inter-Arab trade at $700bn: Union of Arab Chambers
  • Secretary-general attends World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi
  • ‘The Arab region’s presence in such events aids in shaping policies for freer global trade’

SAO PAULO: Inter-Arab trade stands at $700 billion, constituting 10-11 percent of global trade, the secretary-general of the Union of Arab Chambers said on Thursday during the 13th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi.

In an interview with Emirates News Agency on the sidelines of the event, Khaled Hanafy highlighted the potential for increased trade, expanded business opportunities, job creation and economic growth across the Arab world through standardization, improved logistics and private sector engagement.

The UAE’s strategic positioning and robust infrastructure make it a preferred hub for international businesses seeking access to international markets, Hanafy said.

Its hosting of prestigious events such as COP28 and the WTO Ministerial Conference underscores its global leadership, communication prowess and influence in international forums, he added.

“The Arab region’s presence in such events aids in shaping policies for freer global trade,” Hanafy said, adding that the conference strengthens the UAC’s position as a representative of the Arab private sector within the WTO, potentially leading to observer status in key technical committees.

This, he said, would empower the UAC to exert greater influence on decisions shaping international trade flows.

The Arab world’s private sector contributes over 75 percent of the region’s gross domestic product, roughly equivalent to $3 trillion. This sector also plays a vital role in employment generation.

Hanafy emphasized the need for even greater private sector involvement in trade to foster business growth and achieve sustainable development across Arab nations.

He championed the UAC’s role in fostering trade cooperation within the Arab world, encompassing both commercial and investment activities.

Hanafy also advocated for the establishment of the Arab Common Market, outlining essential principles for achieving economic unity across the region.

This was the official debut of the Arab private sector at a WTO Ministerial Conference.

With unprecedented access granted to businesses at the event, representatives from regional chambers of commerce seized the opportunity to voice their concerns and aspirations.

Hanafy emphasized the significance of this inclusion at a roundtable event on the sidelines, saying: “This is the first time the Arab private sector is welcomed. The Arab private sector must be here.

“This is a great opportunity. There’s an objective: We want to see the Arab private sector have a larger role.”

Promoting economic cooperation and integration across the Arab world, the UAC unites chambers of commerce, industry and agriculture from the 22 Arab League member states.

It supports governmental and civil society initiatives to strengthen regional economic ties in commerce, industry, agriculture, finance, investment and services.