Qatar unveils its first VC fund of funds with $1bn worth of investments

Qatar unveils its first VC fund of funds with $1bn worth of investments
A well-connected startup ecosystem network in Qatar is fundamental to diversifying the country’s economy, said QIA CEO Mansoor Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud. Shutterstock
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Updated 27 February 2024
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Qatar unveils its first VC fund of funds with $1bn worth of investments

Qatar unveils its first VC fund of funds with $1bn worth of investments

RIYADH: Local and regional entrepreneurs are set to benefit from an investment exceeding $1 billion through Qatar’s new venture capital fund of funds.

According to the Qatar Investment Authority, the initiative aims to nurture innovation within the country, with the assets allocated to international and regional venture capital funds.

The endeavor, as outlined in a statement by QIA, has two primary objectives. 

Firstly, it seeks to yield market-level commercial returns, aligning with the authority’s overarching mission to secure sustainable, long-term gains for the people of Qatar. 

Simultaneously, it seeks to bolster the sustainable growth of a dynamic VC and startup ecosystem in accordance with Qatar’s National Development Strategy. 

The authority said: “The program will aim to attract leading international VC funds and entrepreneurs both to Qatar and the wider GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region, bringing deep VC and startup expertise and contributing to the growth of a local and region base of venture capitalists and founders.”

QIA CEO Mansoor Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud underscored the significance of establishing a dedicated capital pool for companies beyond seed funding, saying: “Building a well-connected startup ecosystem network in Qatar is fundamental to diversifying the country’s economic base in the long-term.”

This influx is anticipated to inject profound expertise in VC and startup realms, thereby nurturing a local and regional cadre of venture capitalists and founders.

The program is slated to prioritize investment in sectors such as technology, including fintech and edtech, alongside healthcare. 

While its primary mode of investment will be through indirect channels via other VC accounts, it retains the flexibility to engage in targeted co-investments with participating funds. 

The fund of funds program is exclusive to VC reserves and will abstain from investments in private equity, debt, or alternative capital.

The initiative aims to make important strides toward closing the current funding gap for local and regional entrepreneurs.

Al-Mahmoud added: “QIA is launching this program to help ensure that innovative businesses can readily access capital and support from VC funds, enabling them to scale operations and expand market presence in Qatar, across the GCC, and ultimately onto the international stage.”

Fund managers vying to secure capital will be tasked with demonstrating a robust track record characterized by consistent commercial performance. 

Moreover, a commitment to Qatar and active engagement within the GCC VC and startup landscape will be prerequisites, necessitating the establishment of an operational presence in Qatar and outlining expansion plans across the region.

Reflecting the dual investment mandate, the program will embrace international, regional, and emerging local fund managers. Close collaboration with Qatar’s wider VC and startup ecosystem will be fostered to harness synergies and maximize participation in various initiatives.

This strategic endeavor is poised to accelerate the evolution of Qatar’s venture capital ecosystem, infusing financial resources while importing global best practices and networks into the local market.


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 10 sec ago
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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.


Oman’s top 5 ports handle over 93.2m tonnes of cargo in 2023

Oman’s top 5 ports handle over 93.2m tonnes of cargo in 2023
Updated 6 min 42 sec ago
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Oman’s top 5 ports handle over 93.2m tonnes of cargo in 2023

Oman’s top 5 ports handle over 93.2m tonnes of cargo in 2023

RIYADH: Oman’s top five ports saw a 1.5 percent annual increase in cargo handling in 2023, surpassing 93.2 million tonnes, underscoring their growing significance in maritime trade.  

The terminals of Sultan Qaboos, Salalah Sohar and Khasab as well as Shinas, and A’Suwaiq handled approximately 91.8 million tonnes of general, liquid, and bulk cargo in 2022, according to the Oman News Agency. 

It also highlighted a significant increase in the number of berthed ships in 2023, reaching approximately 11,005 vessels compared to 10,553 watercraft in 2022, marking a 4.3 percent rise. 

Cruise ship passengers at the Sultan Qaboos, Salalah, and Khasab Ports have increased considerably. This achievement reflects the government’s collaborative efforts with tourism partners to enhance hospitality traffic to Oman. 

The news agency added that the government succeeded in attracting major cruise ship operators to several Omani connection points, including Salalah, Khasab, and Sultan Qaboos Port. 

It also reported that in 2023, 229 cruise ships brought 599,000 passengers to Omani terminals, compared to around 87 ocean liners carrying over 205,000 travelers in 2022. This represents an increase of over 190 percent in commuters. 


Saudi ADES secures $93.3m contract to operate jack-up rig in Qatar

Saudi ADES secures $93.3m contract to operate jack-up rig in Qatar
Updated 30 min 45 sec ago
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Saudi ADES secures $93.3m contract to operate jack-up rig in Qatar

Saudi ADES secures $93.3m contract to operate jack-up rig in Qatar

RIYADH: Saudi drilling firm ADES is set to operate a SR350 million ($93.3 million) jack-up rig in Qatar, having secured a contract from TotalEnergies.  

ADES noted in a statement to Tadawul that the letter of award from the French petroleum company includes a mandatory and optional extension period of up to 18 months. 

The project is expected to commence in the second half of 2024, utilizing the firm’s fleet of jack-up offshore drilling units. 

Additionally, ADES indicated that the contract will enable it to maintain its market share in Qatar by operating three drilling rigs. This comes after the relocation of its Emerald Driller platform to Indonesia, anticipated to take place in the second half of 2024. 


 


Najran Municipality introduces 20 investment opportunities in Yadamah governorate 

Najran Municipality introduces 20 investment opportunities in Yadamah governorate 
Updated 58 min 59 sec ago
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Najran Municipality introduces 20 investment opportunities in Yadamah governorate 

Najran Municipality introduces 20 investment opportunities in Yadamah governorate 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Najran Municipality has unveiled 20 diverse investment opportunities across the governorate of Yadamah, encompassing commercial, sports, recreational, shopping, and event activities. 

These prospects are dispersed across various locations within the locale, including parks, squares, main roads, and public walkways, as reported by the Saudi Press Agency. 

The municipality clarified that the investment opportunities range from temporary agreements to investment deals spanning five to 25 years in various activities. It invited interested investors to review the possibilities and details of the competition through the Forsah platform, which translates to “opportunity” in English.


Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale transactions grew 20% to reach $14.33bn in February  

Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale transactions grew 20% to reach $14.33bn in February  
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale transactions grew 20% to reach $14.33bn in February  

Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale transactions grew 20% to reach $14.33bn in February  

RIYADH: Payments made through point-of-sale terminals in Saudi Arabia experienced a notable 20 percent annual increase in February, totaling SR53.72 billion ($14.33 billion), the latest data showed.   

According to data released by the Saudi Central Bank, the largest portion of POS spending in February was allocated to beverages and food, comprising 15.7 percent of the total at SR8.43 billion. This was followed by spending on restaurants and cafes, accounting for 15 percent of the total and reaching SR8.02 billion. 

A POS is where purchases are made in a store, like when items are paid for at the cash register or when a card is swiped.  

The rise in POS payments mirrors the Kingdom’s drive toward digital transformation and its investments in a technology-centric future. The nation is actively seeking initiatives to nurture sustainable urban development and a thriving digital economy.  

More than 93 percent of those sales use near-field communication technology through mobile phones and cards. 

NFC methods have transformed contactless payments in Saudi Arabia, enabling transactions to be completed with a mere tap of a card or smartphone. Its popularity stems from its rapidity and hygienic benefits, minimizing the necessity for physical contact.  

As consumer acceptance grows, businesses are quickly incorporating NFC technology into their payment systems. This approach aligns with customer desires for efficiency and speed, and integrates sophisticated security features to safeguard against fraud.  

Data from the central bank revealed the closure of 349 ATMs since February 2023. Conversely, the issuance of 5.4 million cards during this period suggests a shift from physical cash toward digital methods.  

The data also showed a notable increase in spending on miscellaneous goods and services, including personal care items, supplies, maintenance, and cleaning, which made up the largest share at 20 percent of the total rise in POS sales during the mentioned period. This category constituted 12 percent of the total expenditure in February 2024, amounting to SR6.5 billion and experiencing a growth rate of 39 percent.  

The POS payments for miscellaneous goods showed the highest growth rate among all categories, with hotels following closely behind, increasing by 28 percent during this period to reach SR1.52 billion.  

Additionally, beverages, food, and jewelry each experienced a boost of 23 percent and 21 percent, respectively.   

Riyadh dominated the POS sales, accounting for 34 percent of the total, followed by Jeddah with 14 percent. 

The capital city’s population surged from half a million in 1972 to over 7.8 million in 2024. This growth, coupled with increased urbanization and the concentration of numerous international headquarters, has positioned the municipality as a bustling hub where most sales transactions occur.