Saudi Arabia’s venture ecosystem boosts MENA funding

Saudi Arabia’s venture ecosystem boosts MENA funding
Saudi Arabia has maintained its lead as the top destination for venture capital funding for the second consecutive month with its large-sized transactions. (SPA)
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Updated 06 January 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s venture ecosystem boosts MENA funding

Saudi Arabia’s venture ecosystem boosts MENA funding
  • MENA startups raised $2.2 billion across 488 deals in 2023

CAIRO: Saudi Arabia has solidified its position as a top destination for venture capital funding in the Middle East and North Africa thanks to a record-breaking end to 2023.

In December, the region witnessed an unprecedented influx of startup funding, amounting to $1.15 billion, according to Wamda’s monthly report in collaboration with Digital Digest.

This figure marks an 825 percent increase year-on-year and a 55 percent rise month-on-month. Significantly, $700 million of this sum was attributed to the debt round raised by the UAE-founded and now Saudi-headquartered fintech, Tabby.  

Excluding this substantial debt round, MENA startups raised $456 million in December alone, an 18 percent increase on November and a 253 percent rise on the same month of 2023.  

Overall, 2023 saw startups in the region secure $3.98 billion across 498 deals.

While this represents a marginal increase of less than 1 percent from 2022’s $3.95 billion raised over 802 deals, the picture changes when debt rounds are discounted.  

Excluding these, MENA startups raised $2.2 billion across 488 deals in 2023, compared to $3.45 billion across 786 deals in 2022, showing a significant 36 percent fall in deal value and a 38 percent drop in transactions.

The year 2023 also saw a 256 percent increase in the amount of debt raised compared to the previous year, totaling $1.77 billion.  

December’s deal-making activity demonstrated growth with 60 transactions recorded, a jump from November’s 49 deals.  

This increase was driven largely by an upswing in grants concentrated in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon, and the graduation of 19 startups from the Sanabil 500 Startup accelerator program and Techstars Riyadh. 

Saudi Arabia maintained its lead as the top destination for venture capital funding for the second consecutive month, primarily due to large-sized transactions by Tamra and Tabby. Egypt was a distant second, and the UAE came in third. 




Dutch travel tech company Jedo has acquired the Jump-in app, bolstering its market presence in the Kingdom and expanding its user base. (Supplied)

Fintech emerged as the dominant sector, with 25 deals exceeding $1 billion in funding, including Tabby’s debt round. Clean tech followed, with substantial funding rounds for Saudi Arabia-based secondhand e-commerce marketplace Soum and UAE’s Zeroe.  

Other sectors like health tech, educational tech, logistics, and mobility also attracted significant investor interest. Early-stage deals, primarily from accelerators, dominated the deal volume.  

Funding was notably skewed towards male-led startups, with less than 1 percent of deal value going to mixed founding teams or female-founded startups.

Key developments in December included four acquisition and merger deals, such as Pure Harvest’s acquisition of Red Sea’s production facility in Saudi Arabia and Maxab’s merger with Wasoko.  

In light of the UN climate change conference, COP28, held in Dubai, clean tech-focused initiatives gained momentum, including an accelerator program by PepsiCo, SABIC, AstroLabs, and a substantial climate tech fund from Investcorp.

As the MENA region continues to grow as a hub for innovative startups, Saudi Arabia’s leading role in this surge of investment activity is clear.  

The Kingdom’s thriving startup ecosystem and its ability to attract large-scale funding are pivotal in shaping the future of entrepreneurship and technology in the region.

Dutch travel tech Jedo expands to Saudi Arabia  

In a significant step towards global expansion, Dutch travel tech company Jedo has acquired the Jump-in app, marking its strategic entry into the Saudi market.  

The acquisition is a pivotal move for Jedo, significantly bolstering its market presence in the Kingdom and expanding its user base.  

By integrating Jump-in app’s unique capabilities, Jedo plans to digitize trip planning by embedding artificial intelligence technologies. This approach aims to offer more personalized and engaging travel experiences to users.

Jedo’s strategy involves close collaboration with key stakeholders, including Plug and Play and local tourism authorities in Saudi Arabia.  

This partnership is set to leverage technologies’ potential in reshaping the country’s tourism sector, catering to both local and international travelers with authentic and tailored experiences.

The Jump-in team is expected to play an instrumental role in shaping Jedo’s operational strategies in the Kingdom, as well as forging new partnerships and alliances.

With a dual focus on enabling Saudi residents to explore their own country and providing international visitors with genuine Saudi experiences, Jedo is dedicated to adapting and refining its platform to align with the cultural and consumer preferences of the Saudi audience.

The Jedo team is currently concentrating on customizing the platform to resonate more closely with the distinct characteristics of the Saudi market.  

UAE’s Phoenix Group acquires 25 percent of Lyvely

Phoenix Group PLC, a UAE-based firm specializing in cryptocurrency mining and blockchain, has expanded its portfolio by acquiring a 25 percent stake in Lyvely, a platform focused on social networking and content monetization.  

Founded in 2016 by Bijan Al-Izadehfard and Munaf Ali, Phoenix has been actively pursuing opportunities to diversify and enhance its presence in the digital landscape.  

The acquisition of a stake in Lyvely is aligned with this vision, offering a new avenue for growth.  

Lyvely, established in 2020 by Farah Zafar and Dave Catudal, is a UAE-born platform that has carved a niche in assisting content creators to monetize their online presence effectively.  

It also offers consumers unique and personalized experiences, bridging the gap between creators and their audiences.

Lyvely received an undisclosed amount in seed funding from Cypher Capital in August. This investment is earmarked for the development of a cryptocurrency token, signaling the company’s foray into the world of digital currencies and further expansion in the online content sphere.  

The partnership between Lyvely and Phoenix Group opens new areas of collaboration for both companies, offering new opportunities for growth in the digital content market.


Saudi finance minister to lead Kingdom’s delegation at IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings  

Saudi finance minister to lead Kingdom’s delegation at IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings  
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Saudi finance minister to lead Kingdom’s delegation at IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings  

Saudi finance minister to lead Kingdom’s delegation at IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings  

RIYADH: Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan will head the Kingdom’s delegation to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group assemblies in Washington this week to discuss global economic developments.

Al-Jadaan will chair the first meeting of the International Monetary and Financial Committee under Saudi Arabia’s three-year chairmanship.
The meeting will review economic developments and the threats to overall global development. It will also discuss global economic policy, key priorities and the role of the Washington-based lender in providing financial assistance, advice, technical capacity building to member states, and financial support to countries in need.

The minister will also take part in the meeting of the World Bank Development Committee to discuss the global development plans implemented by the entity.  

Moreover, Al-Jadaan and the governor of the Saudi Central Bank, Ayman Al-Sayari, will also participate in the second meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 under the Brazilian presidency.

The meeting will discuss a number of economic and development issues as well as ways to enhance international cooperation to meet the challenges of the global economy.

The Kingdom’s delegation includes the CEO of the Saudi Fund for Development, Sultan Al-Marshad, the deputy chair of the International Monetary and Financial Committee of the IMF, Ryadh bin Mohammed Al-Khareif, and Assistant Minister of Finance for the Macro Fiscal Policies and International Relations Abdulmohsen Al-Khalaf.

 


Closing bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,666 

Closing bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,666 
Updated 14 April 2024
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Closing bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,666 

Closing bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,666 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index slipped on Sunday, losing 38.52 points, or 0.30 percent, to close at 12,666.90. 

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR6.28 billion ($1.67 billion) as 103 of the stocks advanced, while 122 retreated.   

On the other hand, the Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu gained 137.34 points, or 0.52 percent, to close at 26,390.11. This comes as 31 of the stocks advanced while as many as 38 retreated. 

Meanwhile, the MSCI Tadawul Index slipped 16.03 points, or 0.98 percent, to close at 1,615.00.  

The best-performing stock of the day was Etihad Atheeb Telecommunication Co. The company’s share price surged 9.98 percent to SR110.20.  

Other top performers include ACWA Power Co. as well as Saudi Steel Pipe Co. 

The worst performer was Sahara International Petrochemical Co., whose share price dropped by 4.72 percent to SR34.35. 

Other worst performers include the Arab National Bank as well as the Saudi National Bank.  

On the announcements front, Gulf Insurance Group has announced the board of director’s decision to distribute SR78.75 million in cash dividends to shareholders for the fiscal year 2023. 

According to a Tadawul statement, the total number of shares eligible for dividends amounted to 52.5 million, with the dividend per share standing at SR1.5. 

The statement also revealed that the percentage of dividends to the share par value stood at 15 percent. 

Moreover, Scientific & Medical Equipment House Co. has announced the signing of an SR180 million contract with the Ministry of Health to provide cooked nutrition to hospitals in Madinah.  

A bourse filing revealed that the financial impact of the five-year agreement will commence in the third quarter of 2024.  

Additionally, Al Kathiri Holding Co. has announced that one of its subsidiaries, Msandh Al-Emdad Co., has been awarded a project with the Presidency of State Security to establish a building in Riyadh with a total value of SR20 million.  

According to a Tadawul statement, this project includes the supply and implementation of structural, architectural, and mechanical as well as electrical and systems works for the building in accordance with competition drawings and documents.  

Furthermore, the Saudi Ground Services Co. has announced the signing of an SR2 billion contract renewal with flynas for a duration of five years.  

A bourse filing revealed that under this contract, the Saudi Ground Services Co. would provide ground handling assistance, including ramp and passenger services, for domestic and international flights at all airports in the Kingdom. 

Meanwhile, Gulf General Cooperative Insurance Co. has announced the completion of the sale of 3,321 fractional shares.  

According to a Tadawul statement, the sale revenue of the fractional shares stood at SR44,838, with the average selling price per share reaching SR13.50.  

This comes following the decrease of the company’s capital based on the approval of the extraordinary general assembly.


Saudi master developer KEC inks 2 deals worth $78m for Al-Alya project    

Saudi master developer KEC inks 2 deals worth $78m for Al-Alya project     
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi master developer KEC inks 2 deals worth $78m for Al-Alya project    

Saudi master developer KEC inks 2 deals worth $78m for Al-Alya project     

RIYADH: Saudi master developer Knowledge Economic City Co. has signed two deals to deliver 396 residential apartments within the first phase of its mixed-use project Al-Alya.

In Tadawul filings, the listed firm announced the deals with Elkhereiji Commerce and Contracting Co., worth SR288.6 million ($77.92 million).

The first agreement entails fully implementing contracting works for additional residential buildings in the first phase of the Al-Alya mixed-use project. This comprises a group of four houses, offering 132 apartments of different sizes valued at SR117.5 million, excluding value-added tax.

The second contract involves the implementation of electromechanical, finishing, gardening, and site coordination works for a group of eight residential buildings valued at SR171.13 million, providing 264 apartments, the company said in a statement to Tadawul.

Based on work progress, both contracts will be paid in installments per monthly payment certificate.

The company commented on the second deal, saying: “Accordingly, the financial impact is represented in the cash outflow for the amount payable to the contractor over a period of 20 months starting from the end of May 2024.” 

The firm said that the financial impact of the first agreement is represented in the cash outflow for the amount payable to the contractor over a period of 24 months.

Al-Alya is one of the main projects in the Knowledge Economic City and represents a project with mixed-use components within a gated complex compound that combines hospitality, housing and offices as well as retail and education services.

It was designed to respond to the urban trend of humanizing cities and the quality-of-life program that relies on green areas and pedestrian walkways to create a style and vibrancy that meets the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

The project aims to enable local and foreign companies, businessmen, and digital entrepreneurs to work in Madinah.

In October last year, Knowledge Economic City Co. signed an agreement with Gulf International Bank Capital for SR3.5 billion to establish a real estate investment fund.

The initiative is poised to launch the initial phase of the Islamic World District in Madinah and will span over 140,000 sq. meters, transforming the area into a mixed-use development.

The site will include hospitality, residential, retail, entertainment, and cultural zones, providing over 5,000 hotel keys, 743 residential apartments, plus a designated area of 24,000 sq. m. for retail shops.

GIB Capital is a subsidiary of Gulf International Bank, owned by the governments of the Gulf Cooperation Council, in which Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund holds a 97.2 percent stake, according to the bank’s 2022 annual report.

The project aims to enhance the visitor experience in Madinah, a city that holds historical significance as the first capital of Islamic civilization and a destination that draws millions of pilgrims and tourists annually.


Jordan’s new mining strategy is set to create a $2.9bn industry 

Jordan’s new mining strategy is set to create a $2.9bn industry 
Updated 14 April 2024
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Jordan’s new mining strategy is set to create a $2.9bn industry 

Jordan’s new mining strategy is set to create a $2.9bn industry 

RIYADH: Jordan’s mining sector is set to grow substantially, with projections indicating that its contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product will reach 2.1 billion Jordanian dinars ($2.9 billion) by 2033. 

Up from 0.7 billion dinars in 2023, this ambitious target is part of the government’s newly announced initiative to transform Jordan into a mining state by 2033, as outlined in the country’s National Mining Strategy. 

This strategic overhaul aims to elevate the sector’s workforce to 27,500 and boost the value of its exports to 3.5 billion dinars from 1 billion dinars, according to a report issued by the state-owned Jordan News Agency, also known as Petra.   

The strategy emerges from its Economic Modernization Vision and is backed by directives from Jordan’s King Abdullah, emphasizing the need to accelerate investment-stimulating procedures in mineral exploration.  

A cornerstone of this transformation was the formulation of the strategy, spearheaded by the global consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie.  

In 2023, the Jordanian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources completed initiatives and projects under the EMV for the mining sector and set priorities within the vision’s executive program.  

The vision’s main pillars revolve around expediting the nation’s full economic potential while improving the quality of life for its citizens and maintaining sustainable measures. 

Moreover, the ministry’s proactive engagement has led to the signing of 11 memorandums of understanding to bolster investment in Jordan’s extractive industries.  

An additional three memorandums of cooperation were signed with various companies to further these goals.  

According to statements made to Petra, the ministry plans to continue advancing these undertakings throughout 2024, pushing these MoUs toward value-added mining operations.  

These initiatives are part of the nation’s ongoing efforts to boost its standing in the mining and minerals industry. 

In a report carried by Petra earlier in January, the ministry said that it aims to position the country on the global mining map by capitalizing on positive mineral exploration results. 

Over the past two years, the country established several partnerships with international companies in mining exploration.  

Moreover, it recently launched an investment platform to showcase national resources and opportunities in the energy sector. 


Egypt to increase funds for health sector by 25% in upcoming budget

Egypt to increase funds for health sector by 25% in upcoming budget
Updated 14 April 2024
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Egypt to increase funds for health sector by 25% in upcoming budget

Egypt to increase funds for health sector by 25% in upcoming budget

RIYADH: Egypt will increase health sector allocations in the next general budget to 495.6 billion pounds ($10.4 billion), according to the country’s finance minister.   

The North African country’s upcoming fiscal year is set to begin in July. 

Mohamed Maait said in a statement that this reflects an annual growth rate of 24.9 percent compared to the funds allocated for the sector in the current fiscal.   

This is in line with the nation’s goal to improve medical services for citizens, which is also an objective of Egypt’s Vision 2030.  

Moreover, the minister added that allocations for the education sector will also be raised to 858.3 billion pounds, with an annual growth rate of 45 percent.   

Scientific research reserves are also on track to increase to more than 139.5 billion pounds in the next budget, reflecting an annual growth rate of 40.1 percent.

Mait noted that the country will continue to provide the necessary funds to expand healthcare initiatives, supply medicines and medical aids to hospitals, and increase support for health insurance programs. 

He emphasized how Egypt was also working on targeting the speed of gradual expansion in extending the umbrella of comprehensive health insurance.

Furthermore, the minister said the last social package implemented in March included allocating 15 billion pounds in additional increases for doctors, nurses, teachers, and university faculty members. 

The breakdown was divided into 8.1 billion pounds to approve an additional increase in the wages of teachers in pre-university education as well as 1.6 billion pounds to approve a raise for faculty members and their assistants at universities, institutes, and research centers. 

There was also 4.5 billion pounds to approve a supplementary rise for members of the medical professions and nursing bodies.

In 2022, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi discussed strengthening cooperation with the World Health Organization to improve the country’s healthcare sector.