Startup Wrap – Saudi Arabia leads November’s funding spree with $338m

In the recent funding landscape, the fintech sector emerged as the frontrunner in terms of funding volume, raising $485.9 million, primarily driven by the significant rounds raised by Tamara and Tabby. (SPA)
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Updated 09 December 2023
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Startup Wrap – Saudi Arabia leads November’s funding spree with $338m

CAIRO: Saudi Arabia’s startup ecosystem continues to dominate the region after raising the most funds in the Middle East and North Africa during November.

According to Wamda’s Monthly report, the MENA region saw $764 million raised across 42 rounds in November – a 390 percent month-on-month increase and a 74 percent growth year-on-year.

Saudi Arabia topped the charts with $338 million secured across nine deals. The UAE came in second with $284 million across 22 deals and Egypt followed with $130.5 million over 5 deals.




Omniful provides merchants with a unified management system, warehouse management system, and transport management system to scale their businesses.

Furthermore, the remaining capital was raised by startups based in Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, and Tunisia.

Funding activity experienced a notable resurgence across all stages, with mega rounds constituting a significant portion of the capital influx.  

Noteworthy among these rounds were a $250 million debt round secured by Saudi Arabia-based Tamara, a substantial $200 million series D funding by the Kingdom’s Tabby, and a $130 million raised by Egypt’s MNT-halan through securitized bonds.

Collectively, these three rounds made up around 76 percent of the total funding raised during November.

In the recent funding landscape, the fintech sector emerged as the frontrunner in terms of funding volume, raising $485.9 million, primarily driven by the significant rounds raised by Tamara and Tabby.  

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Noteworthy among these rounds were a $250 million debt round secured by Saudi Arabia-based Tamara, a substantial $200 million series D funding by the Kingdom’s Tabby, and $130 million raised by Egypt’s MNT-halan through securitized bonds.

This sector also ranked second in terms of the number of deals, recording nine in total. Furthermore, a notable boost to the super app sector’s funding status was recorded with the industry raising $131 million during the month, thanks to MNT-Halan‘s round.  

The education technology sector managed to secure $41.4 million in funding, largely due to a major transaction by Saudi Arabia-based Noon.

Additionally, several other sectors witnessed funding rounds reaching into the tens of millions.

Notable among these were Saudi-based Retailo’s $15 million, Saudi Ajras’ $28 million, UAE’s Flow48’s $25 million, and Emirati Immensa’s $20 million round.

Out of the 42 deals reported, 10 successfully attracted direct global investment, predominantly from US-based investors.  

Within the region, UAE-based investors took the lead, participating in 21 deals, with Modus Capital standing out through its investment of $2.8 million across eight startups via its venture builder program. Saudi Arabian investors followed closely, engaging in 10 deals.

In terms of founder gender dynamics, male-founded startups dominated the funding scene, securing $753 million across 29 deals, accounting for 98.5 percent of the total funding.  

In stark contrast, female founders received less than 2 percent of the overall capital, amounting to $9 million. Mixed-gender founding teams raised the remaining 0.2 percent.




Mtor’s founder and CEO, Mohamed Maged, established the startup in April 2022. (Supplied)

The report indicated that nine startups did not disclose their exact funding amounts. A conservative estimate of $100,000 was assigned to each of these ventures.

These were NOWmoney, Awfar, and Lynk, as well as Lath, Chari, Wayup Sport, and Winshot, Akhdar, and Farcana.

Supply chain and ecommerce enabler Omniful raises $5.85m to boost regional operations

Supply chain and ecommerce enabler startup Omniful, co-headquartered in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, has raised $5.85 million in a seed funding round.

Led by VentureSouq, the round saw participation from 500 Global, DASH Ventures, Jahez Group, as well as SEEDRA Ventures, Bunat Ventures, Hala Ventures, and RZM Investments, along with family offices including Al Rasheed, Siraj Holding, Al Bawardi, Al Nafea, and a number of angel investors.

Founded in 2022 by Mostafa Abolnasr and Alankrit Nishad, Omniful provides merchants and fulfillment providers with a unified management system, warehouse management system, and transport management system to scale their businesses.




Mostafa Abolnasr, Omniful cofounder and CEO

Abolnasr, also the company’s CEO, said: “The future of commerce is hyperlocal and omnichannel, with consumers expecting brands to be closer to them, to deliver faster and offer a personalized experience. At Omniful, we are equipping merchants in this $4 trillion industry with a single platform to manage all their sales channels and deliver on time and in full, improving their efficiencies by 40 percent and their customer retention by 15 percent.”

He added: “Our seed round marks a major milestone, and together with our investors, we are excited about going out of stealth and launching our sales and marketing efforts in the Middle East, Africa, and India, followed by Europe and US.”

The future of commerce is hyperlocal and omnichannel, with consumers expecting brands to be closer to them, to deliver faster and offer a personalized experience.

Mostafa Abolnasr, Omniful cofounder and CEO

The company aims to utilize its fresh influx of capital to boost its operations in existing markets, primarily the UAE and the Kingdom, as well as double down on its technology development.

Nishad, the company’s chief technology officer, said: “As a product-led organization, our technology is a clear differentiator, making us the platform of choice for omnichannel merchants and high-volume 3PL (third party logistics) fulfillment providers. Over the next year, we will double down on growing our technology capabilities in India, while also planning for the launch of our platform there.”

Egypt’s Mtor closes $2.8m in a pre-seed round

Egypt’s online car parts marketplace Mtor has closed a $2.8 million pre-seed funding round led by Algebra Ventures with participation from Dutch Founders Fund, Aditum Ventures, LoftyInc Capital Management, and angel investors.

Founded in 2022 by Mohamed Maged, Moaz El-Megharbel, Mohamed Altaf, and Khaled Kandil, Mtor aims to revamp the car parts industry in Egypt with a unified online platform.

“It can be a car owner’s nightmare to get their car serviced. Mtor was founded to fundamentally transform this reality and make the process easier and more efficient, empowering a layer of local car workshops that are well rounded with quality parts, a suitable price position, and a good customer experience,” Maged, CEO of Mtor, said.

The company aims to utilize the received funding to further grow its product range and expand its local workshop client-base.

 


NEOM wraps up tour by showcasing investment opportunities in Hong Kong

Updated 21 April 2024
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NEOM wraps up tour by showcasing investment opportunities in Hong Kong

RIYADH: Saudi megacity NEOM on Sunday wrapped up a tour courting Chinese investors with an event at its last destination, Hong Kong.

The event was organized in partnership with the Belt and Road Office under the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau of the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The roadshow for NEOM traveled from Beijing to Shanghai to Hong Kong, where potential investors flocked to a chic museum to peruse eye-popping renderings in various stages of development.

A series of presentations by the NEOM leadership team led the event agenda, showcasing the progress and milestones of NEOM to date, as well as the partnership and investment opportunities available to the audience, according to an official press release.

A private showcase “Discover NEOM: A New Future by Design,” was one of the many highlights of the event, providing guests with an immersive experience that explored The Line, the 170-km-long city that will be the future of urban living; Oxagon, which is redefining the traditional industrial model; Trojena, the mountain resort of NEOM, and finally, Sindalah, a luxury island destination in the Red Sea that will be open to the public later this year.

NEOM CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr said: “We would like to thank the finance and business sector for their support and contribution to the success of our tours ‘Discover NEOM.’ We enjoyed showcasing NEOM’s tangible on-the-ground progress and discussing the range of investment opportunities available to Hong Kong companies. We are looking forward to continuing to engage with our Hong Kong partners to meet our shared goals for a better future.”

NEOM’s Executive Director Tarek Qaddumi walked journalists through the exhibition at the M+ museum on Friday, talking up NEOM’s goal of balancing “nature conservation, human livability and economic prosperity.”

“NEOM is a very vast vision … It is an initiative that is probably the most exciting and the most forward-looking in the 21st century,” he said.

Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Algernon Yau said: “As an open economy and one of the world’s top financial, investment, and innovation hubs, Hong Kong stands ready to support Saudi Arabia in achieving its vision while bringing growth opportunities for Hong Kong. Saudi Arabia is a key player in the development of the Belt and Road Initiative.

“With our internationally-benchmarked professional services and talent pool, Hong Kong can provide support for projects, such as NEOM, along the Belt and Road countries.”

Discover NEOM Hong Kong is the latest stop for the global roadshow and follows events in key markets including Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore, New York City, Boston, Washington, D.C., Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Paris, Berlin and London.

The megacity is progressing alongside other major development projects launched as part of Vision 2030.


Saudi airports record 18% surge in flights, passenger numbers during Ramadan, Eid holidays

Updated 21 April 2024
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Saudi airports record 18% surge in flights, passenger numbers during Ramadan, Eid holidays

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s airports recorded an 18 percent surge in the number of flights and passengers during the month of Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr holidays compared to the corresponding period last year.   

According to a statement released by the General Authority of Civil Aviation, the Kingdom’s airports registered more than 12.5 million passengers during this timeframe.   

Furthermore, the report indicated that airports in the Gulf nation handled more than 86,000 flights during the corresponding period.  

It also revealed that during the same period, Saudi airports handled 100 cargo flights.

In terms of passengers per airport, King Abdulaziz International Airport was in the lead as it carried around 5.38 million travelers during the period mentioned above.

King Khalid International Airport came next with 3.23 million passengers, then Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport with 1.04 million travelers.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Kingdom’s airports combined carried as many as 2.85 million passengers in total.

In February, Saudi Arabia’s aviation sector continues to expand as GACA reiterates its commitment to boost air connectivity to over 250 destinations.    

During the authority’s participation in a session at the third symposium organized by the Riyadh Economic Forum, Mohammed Al-Khuraisi, the executive vice president of strategy and business intelligence at the authority, reviewed the main objectives of the National Aviation Strategy, the Saudi Press Agency reported at the time.  

This aligns with the Kingdom’s efforts to achieve the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, which aims for the Saudi aviation sector to become the top rated in the Middle East region. 

As part of his speech at the time, Al-Khuraisi highlighted additional goals of the strategy, including developing the infrastructure and operational procedures of airports, increasing the local market share of low-cost airlines, and enhancing the competitiveness of national carriers.     


Closing Bell: Saudi main index edges up to close at 12,518

Updated 21 April 2024
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Closing Bell: Saudi main index edges up to close at 12,518

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index began the week by gaining 15.87 points, or 0.13 percent, to close at 12,518.22.

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index on Sunday was SR6.39 billion ($1.70 billion) as 147 of the stocks advanced, while 76 retreated.  

The Kingdom’s parallel market, Nomu, also gained 232.50 points, or 0.87 percent, to close at 26,940.18. This comes as 35 of the stocks advanced while as many as 27 retreated.

Meanwhile, the MSCI Tadawul Index slipped 4 points, or 0.25 percent, to close at 1,571.11. 

The best-performing stock on the main index was Ash-Sharqiyah Development Co. The company’s share price surged 9.95 percent to SR21.44. 

Other top performers included Batic Investments and Logistics Co. as well as Saudi Ground Services Co.

The worst performer was Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co., whose share price dropped by 5.16 percent to SR11.40.

On the announcements front, Saudi AZM for Communication and Information Technology Co. announced its board’s resolution on approving the firm’s transfer from the parallel market to the main market and the appointment of Al Rajhi Capital as a financial adviser for the move.

According to a Tadawul statement, the transfer is subject to regulatory approval and depends on the fulfillment of all market requirements. Any material developments regarding the event will be announced as they occur, it added.

Saudi Automotive Services Co. announced the starting of a SR400 million project to gradually develop its locations over the next three years in accordance with regulations required for fuel stations and service centers issued by the Permanent Executive Committee for Service Centers and Fuel Stations. 

According to a bourse filing, the company is also planning to develop and improve services at its existing locations and add new benefits such as electric vehicle chargers, self-services, and AD LED screens.

The project is expected to contribute positively to sales growth and enhance customer experience and SASCO’s competitive position.

Furthermore, the undertaking will be financed through the company’s resources and the credit facilities signed with local banks.


Saudi food security drive receives boost with new Tadco partnership   

Updated 21 April 2024
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Saudi food security drive receives boost with new Tadco partnership   

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s food security drive is set to receive a boost as Tabuk Agricultural Development Co., also known as Tadco, signs an agreement to construct high-tech greenhouses.  

In a statement released on the Saudi Stock Exchange, Tadawul, the company outlined the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Saudi Greenhouses Management and Agri Marketing Co. The aim is to establish a cooperative partnership for constructing and managing greenhouses tailored to the Kingdom’s climatic conditions. 

High-tech greenhouses use technology to control conditions like temperature, humidity, light, and irrigation, optimizing plant growth and crop yield while conserving resources like water and energy. They may also integrate sustainable practices, such as renewable energy and efficient water management, to reduce their environmental impact. 

Under the terms of the agreement, the entities will also collaborate to develop the marketing system, conduct research on high-value varieties, and cultivate them in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, the release stated their aim to “maximize the benefit of products through manufacturing industries.” 

Last week, Tadco secured a partnership agreement with Topian, a subsidiary of the Saudi giga-project NEOM, to innovate fruit and vegetable production. 

The MoU, which aimed to leverage advanced agricultural technologies and practices to enhance domestic food cultivation, was signed between the two bodies to set up a hydroponic greenhouse facility at the company’s site in Tabuk, located in northwestern Saudi Arabia.   

Hydroponics is the method of cultivating plants without soil and utilizing minimal water resources. This type of production, designed for space efficiency, can grow fruits, vegetables, and flowers in half the time of traditional agriculture while using 90 percent less water.  

This will further support the Kingdom’s efforts toward sustainable food production practices.   

Under the terms of the MoU, Topian will contribute its expertise, handling key responsibilities such as the design, installation, and operation of the hydroponic greenhouse facility.    

Meanwhile, the deal will see Tadco taking on a pivotal role in facilitating the project’s success by providing essential support and resources.  

This includes identifying and allocating suitable agricultural land for the greenhouse, establishing distribution channels for product off-take, and providing infrastructure and labor assistance to ensure seamless project execution.  

Both partnerships underscore Saudi Vision 2030’s aim to enhance food security through increased domestic production and sustainable agricultural practices.   

This further highlights the nation’s dedication to green initiatives. For instance, in January 2021, Al-Jouf Agricultural Development Co. launched the largest greenhouse complex in the Kingdom, covering 12 hectares and utilizing cutting-edge hydroponic technology. 


Saudi firm WAJA Co. forms joint venture to produce EVs in Egypt 

Updated 21 April 2024
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Saudi firm WAJA Co. forms joint venture to produce EVs in Egypt 

RIYADH: Saudi multi-sector firm WAJA Co., is set to establish a joint firm in Egypt to produce and manufacture electric vehicles, after signing a framework cooperation agreement.

The deal, inked with the Egypt-based military organization Arab Organization for Industrialization, meets the needs of the local market and exports abroad, according to the company’s statement to Tadawul.

In October 2023, Egypt was ranked 28th in a global e-mobility index, which reveals the country’s readiness to transition to EVs, Egypt Today newspaper reported, citing US consulting firm Arthur D. Little.

According to a report by the investment management firm Goldman Sachs, EVs could constitute nearly half, or 50 percent, of global car sales by 2035. This projection holds true despite the challenges faced by the sector, including competing market dynamics. 

Additionally, analysts predict that within five years following that date, a similar proportion of car sales will consist of more advanced autonomous or partially autonomous vehicles. 

Saudi Arabia has set a goal to transition 30 percent of all vehicles in Riyadh to electric by 2030. This target is part of a larger strategy to reduce emissions in the capital city by 50 percent, aligning with the country’s objective of achieving carbon neutrality by 2060. 

In January of this year, research firm Mordor Intelligence predicted that the Middle East and Africa automotive EV market size will be estimated at $3.33 billion in 2024 and will reach $9.42 billion by 2029. This sector is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 23.2 percent during the forecast period from 2024 to 2029. 

Governments in the region are increasingly emphasizing the promotion of eco-friendly vehicles and raising awareness about energy storage solutions within the renewable sector. These efforts are anticipated to stimulate growth in the market for EVs and related technologies in the foreseeable future. 

Faisal Sultan, vice president and managing director of Lucid Middle East, told Arab News in an earlier inteview that while the industry is still in its early stages of development, significant expansion is anticipated in the future, driven by a growing appetite among customers in the region for the best eco-conscious automobiles. 

“We are already on a path for electric vehicles to become a part of our daily lives, and Lucid is eliminating the most common barriers of ownership, including price, performance, and driving range,” Sultan said. 

EVs are appealing for their futuristic design, but one concern that potential buyers may consider is the need for more infrastructure to support these vehicles. 

In 2024, research firm Canalys predicts that the global EV market will grow by 27.1 percent, reaching 17.5 million units. 

As forecasts indicate exponential growth of the EV market, eco-conscious modes of transportation are no longer merely ambitions. The sector is rapidly evolving into a cornerstone of our lives, driving the nation toward a tomorrow that prioritizes sustainability and environmental responsibility.