GCC Startup Ecosystem News | December 2021

Forbes, Startup ecosystem news, VC news

This report is also available in a downloadable PDF version via this link: GCC Startup Ecosystem News Roundup – 2021 Dec


  • Top 50 most funded startups in MENA raised nearly $3 billion in 2021, with top 10 amassing $1.9 billion: In Forbes Middle East’s Top 50 Most Funded Startups in MENA, UAE dominates with 22 startups raising a combined $1.8B, followed by KSA  (12 startups, $520.4M) and Egypt (7 startups, $248.6M). Food tech sector raised most money with $874.9M. Fintech and ecommerce show up as the most represented sectors.
  • UAE shifts workweek to Monday through Friday effective 2022, to align with western world and global markets: The country is also the first country in the Gulf to implement a 4.5 weekday plan for government entities, to pioneer creation of work-life balance. The shift to Monday to Friday workweek brings the country in sync with international markets & businesses. To date, a number of private companies, including banks and financial institutions have announced to follow suit.



Startup Sector / Industry Location Amount & Round Investors
Sary Retail / wholesale KSA $75M, Series C Led by Sanabil Investments, from Wafra International, Endeavor Catalyst, STV, Raed Ventures, et al
Fresha Beauty & Wellness UAE $52.5M, Series C Led by Michael Lahyani and BECO Capital; from  General Atlantic, Partech, Target Global
Opontia Venture builder KSA $42M, Series A (equity & debt) Led by STV, from Raed Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Upper 90, Venture Souq et al
Dawn Health Health Denmark, UAE $25M, Series A Led by  Chr. Augustinus Fabrikker, Vaekstfonden and Lars Marcher (angel)
Calo F&B Bahrain $13.5M, Seed Led by Khwarizmi Ventures, Nuwa Capital, STV; from Vision Ventures, 500 Global, et al
GrubTech F&B UAE $13M, Series A Led b Addition, from BY Ventures, Hambro Perks Oryx Fund
Tamatem Games Gaming Jordan $11M, Series B Krafton, Venture Souq, Endeavor Catalyst et al
Sympl Finance Egypt $6M, Seed Led by BECO Capital, from A15, Global Ventures
Lamaa Finance KSA $5.5M, Seed Led by Raed Ventures and Wa’ed
Simplifi Finance UAE $5.1M, undisclosed round Global Founders Capital, Raed Ventures, 4DX Ventures, Rally Cap Ventures
The List Consumer services UAE $3.5M, Seed American Designer, Rachel Zoe et al
Englease.com Education UAE $3.4M, Seed Led by LearnCapital (US), LearnStart (US); from COTU Ventures, BY Venture Partners, et al
Akeed Delivery F&B Oman $2.5M, Series A Phaze Ventures, IDO
PureBorn Consumer services UAE $2M, Seed Undisclosed
 Nice to Meet You (NTMY) Security, IT solution UAE $1M, Seed Pure Group et al
Noodlet  Finance KSA $1M, Pre-Seed Led by Yaser Alghamdi (angel), from Saudi Venture Capital, OMQ Investments
Shuttle Logistics KSA $1M, Pre-Seed Led by Impact46
Telr Finance UAE, USA $1M, undisclosed round Cashfree Payments (India)
Agenz Real estate Morocco $540K, Seed Led by Azur Innovation Partners
AIM Technologies Enterprise SaaS Egypt Undisclosed amount, Seed Led by Sequence Ventures
Arcab Transportation UAE Undisclosed amount, Seed We Founder Circle
beXel Enterprise SaaS Egypt Undisclosed Led by JH Investments Ltd
Dawatech Health Jordan Undisclosed amount, Seed Led by  Access Bridge Ventures, from ISSF et al
Edfundo Finance UAE $400K, Pre-Seed Friends & family
FilKhedma Consumer services Egypt Undisclosed Led by Cairo Angels
Hello World Kids Education Jordan Undisclosed amount, Pre-Series A Led by Daam Almonsha’at Holding, Oman Technology Fund
Jaafar Shop Consumer services Jordan Undisclosed amount, Pre-Seed Nama Ventures
Plstka Environment Egypt Undisclosed amount, Seed Alexandria Angels Network
RemotePass Human Resources UAE Undisclosed amount, Pre-Series A Led by BECO Capital, from Wamda Capital, Khwarizmi VC, Flat6Labs, Wealth Well, et al
Rodha F&B KSA $400K, undisclosed round Crowdfunding (Scopeer)
WaffarX Finance Egypt Undisclosed Led by Lobby Capital (US)
Ziwo Communications UAE Undisclosed amount, Pre-Series B Dtec Ventures & undisclosed investors


  • UAE-based Chimera Capital Ltd closed its first VC fund at $75 million, backed by Mubadala Investment Company alongside other regional and global limited partners. The fund targets geographically-diversified investments, which encompass stages spanning from early growth to pre-IPO. Chimera Capital plans to hold investments for periods ranging from two-five years.
  • UAE & US-based venture capital firm Mindshift Capital, has doubled its fund size attracting new US and Middle East investors to its inaugural fund including amda’s Fadi Ghandour, Dr Aamir A. Rehman, a senior fellow at Columbia Business School and Kristina Montague, co-founder of TheJumpFund. The fund has invested in 11 tech startups, with a target of 20 companies in total.
  • Cairo Angels announced the first closing of its Cairo Angels Syndicate Fund (CASF), a Delaware-based angel Micro-VC fund, at $5M. CASF will invest ticket sizes of $100K – $250K on average across the Middle East and Africa with a particular focus on Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa
  • Abu Dhabi’s state-owned holding firm ADQ has expanded its services into Egypt, by opening its Cairo office. The move complements the $20 billion strategic investment platform launched in 2019 between ADQ and The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (TSFE) aiming to advance Egypt’s economic development through joint strategic investment projects, specialised funds and investment tools in key sectors such as healthcare and pharma, utilities, food and agriculture, real estate and financial services.
  • UAE-based VC MEVP has made a partial exit from its investment in the UK-headquartered beauty app Fresha, with a secondary sale in the company’s $52 million Series C extension round. MEVP’s new partial exit generated a 52x cash-on-cash multiple and an IRR of over 90 per cent. Earlier this year MEVP announced that it had made a partial exit from the company, generating a 39x cash-on-cash multiple. Following both exits, MEVP continues to own a sizable stake in Fresha


  • Payments & API banking solutions company Cashfree Payments (India) announced a $1M equity investment in UAE-based payment service provider Telr. Through the partnership, Cashfree expands their MENA market with Telr as the latter grants access to every payment method it offers, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, UnionPay, Apple Pay, PayPal, SADAD, Mada, and STCPay.
  • Kuwait-based content marketing platform OptimizeApp acquires digital entrepreneurial education startup Panda Media (Kuwait). The acquisition sees Panda Media operating entirely under OptimizeApp, retaining former’s existing team and services. While its founder, Eid Almujaibel, will now serve as OptimizeApp’s new Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer.
  • Media and entertainment start-up Minly, (Egypt & UAE), announced its acquisition of celebrity shoutout platform Oulo (Dubai), consolidating Minly’s position as a leading creator economy platform in the region and will accelerate Minly’s growth trajectory and customer reach. The acquisition came after Minly raised $3.6M in Seed funding backed by 4DX Ventures, B&Y Venture Partners, Global Ventures and Kepple Africa Ventures.
  • Saudi entertainment group Telfaz11 acquired Riyadh-based independent production house Last Scene Films in a deal scaling up its move into feature film production. This is the first acquisition of Telfaz11 which has raised more than $9M over 3 funding rounds between 2018 and 2021 from investors including STV, VenturesSouq, Hala Technology, SVC and ABN Ventures
  • Home servicing platform FilKhedma (Egypt) gets fully acquired by South-African based platform SweepSouth. This merger will create a new entity combining the tech stack and market reach of the two startups, creating new opportunities for market and product offering growth. The acquisition follows FilKhedma’s recent fundraise from The Cairo Angels.
  • US-based and MENA-servicing B2B healthcare marketplace Aumet announced its acquisition of healthcare supply chain solutions startup Platform One (Egypt) to become fully active across Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan with more than 5,000 active pharmacies on its platform. With this acquisition, Aumet gains access to Platform One’s network of users where the Cairo-based team will lead Aumet’s operations in Egypt
  • E-commerce platform for pre-owned vehicles CARS24 (India), announced the closing of a $300 million Series G equity funding alongside $100 million debt from diversified financial institutions. This round is CARS24’s third in just over a year and values the used cars e-commerce player at $3.3 billion, about double the valuation from its previous round in September 2021. The company has already sold close to 3000 cars in the UAE market since commencing its operations in May this year.
  • Careem launches Quik in the UAE, a quick-commerce e-grocery service enabled by a hyperlocal dark store network. Targeting a delivery time of 15 minutes, Quik will initially cater to JVC, the Marina, and Business Bay in Dubai before the end of 2021 and to most areas in Dubai by early 2022, before expanding to over 100 dark stores across the region by end of 2022.
  • KSA online food delivery platform Jahez has announced its initial public offering price on the Saudi parallel exchange market Nomu at SR850 ($226) per share. The final offer price was set after the company had concluded its book-building process facilitated by HSBC Saudi Arabia. The IPO would mark the first listing of a Saudi homegrown technology startup on the Saudi Exchange.


  • PepsiCo has launched the MENA edition of the Greenhouse Accelerator Program, in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MCCE). The Programme will run for three months, focused on nurturing the growth of greentech companies working in the areas of sustainable packaging alternatives, packaging reduction and recycling options, and sustainable recycling behaviour modification.
  • Flat6Labs partners with ESLSCA (Egypt) for student incubation program to empower undergraduate students to develop viable and sustainable businesses upon graduation. The 8-month program will provide 100 selected students with lessons on general entrepreneurship awareness and the basics of design thinking as well as marketing and customer discovery.


  • Dubai Expo 2020: 20 Oct 2021-10 Apr 2022, Dubai
  • Rocket Fuel Startup Competition by LEAP: 01-03 Feb, KSA
  • Arabian Business Awards: 20 Jan 2022, Dubai


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