GCC Startup Ecosystem News | February 2020

February saw the launch a new investment platform, Nuwa Capital, the creation of KSA’s Ministry of Investments and a number of growth stage funding rounds in the region. Here’s a roundup of the month’s startup ecosystem highlights.

You can download a PDF version via this link:  GCC Startup Ecosystem News Roundup – 2020-02



  • Nuwa Capital Investment Platform launched: The fund targets final commitment of up to $100 million and focuses on Direct To Consumer (DTC), Fintech, Mobility & Logistics and Enterprise segments. Managed by Khaled Talhouni. Al Faisallah Group joins as anchor investor.
  • KSA creates Ministry of Investment: KSA promotes Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), its state entity governing investments, into a full ministry, now known as Ministry of Investment.
  • District 2020 launches Scale2Dubai: The global entrepreneurship program aims to enable global innovators & startups to scale their businesses in Dubai; benefits include a soft landing program with two years of free working space, and support in visa & business setup.


Startup Sector / Industry Location Amount & Round Investors
Kitopi F&B UAE, USA $60M Series B led by Knollwood and Lumia Capital, incl. BECO, Global Ventures, et al
Vezeeta Healthcare Egypt $40M Series D led by Gulf Capital incl. Saudi Technology Ventures
SellAnyCar.com Transport UAE $35M undisclosed round led by Sanabil Investments et al
Okadoc Healthcare UAE $10M Series A Abu Dhabi Investment Office,  Ithmar Capital Partners et al
Elmenus F&B Egypt $8M, Series B led by Global Ventures and Algebra Ventures
Seez Transport UAE $6M Series A Crealize (Germany), Wamda, Phoenician funds, et al
Liwwa Finance Jordan $6M undisclosed round led by Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank FMO, et al
Eat App F&B Bahrain $5M Series B led by 500 Startups and Derayah VC
Tamatem Gaming Jordan $3.5M undisclosed round led by Wamda, incl. Modern Electronics & North Base Media
Homzmart E-commerce Egypt $1.3M Seed MSA Capital, Oman Technology Fund, EquiTrust
MarkeetEx E-commerce Oman $1M Seed undisclosed private investors in Oman and USA
Garment IO Manufacturing Egpt $450K Seed Egypt Ventures, 500 Startups
Addenda Finance UAE Undisclosed amount, Bridge round AB Accelerator Program by AB Ventures
Bosta Logistics Egypt Undisclosed amount, Series A DPDgroup (France)
Chefz F&B KSA Undisclosed amount, Seed Vision Ventures, Impact 46, and Ocean X
Raqamyah Finance KSA Undisclosed amount, Seed Impact46 Seed Fund



  • Cafu founder unveils new property tech startup “Urban”, a mobile/web application bringing the rental journey online.
  • Dubai Economy establishes KYC Blockchain Consortium in partnership with 6 UAE banks to allow freelances and entrepreneurs in Dubai to open bank accounts instantly.
  • Emirates signs 3 year deal with blockchain loyalty solution Loyyal. Loyyal’s solution is now in production with Emirates Skywards.
  • Careem and RTA launch 800 rental bikes across 78 locations in Dubai for public use starting 29th February.
  • Social media monitoring platform Crowd Analyzer acquired micro-influencer marketing platform Task Spotting. Financial details were undisclosed.
  • Jordanian content startup Mawdoo3  acquired Relevant Network, an Amman-based affiliate marketing company that helps brands and businesses in MENA.
  • Delivery Hero’s MENAT regional revenue in 2019 jumps by 126% to $775 million, with the region continuing to be the company’s largest market.
  • Mobile wallets, Careem Pay and Noon Pay were granted initial approval in Saudi by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA).


According to Magnitt’s 2019 Saudi Arabia Ventures Capital Snapshot report

  • 71 venture deals took place in Saudi Arabia in 2019, up 92% from 2018
  • $67M was invested in Saudi-based startups in 2019, up 35% from 2018.
  • 41 institutions invested in Saudi-based startups in 2019, up 58% from 2018
  • E-commerce and Delivery & Transport remain top industries
  • Across the MENA, KSA ranks 3rd in terms of highest number of deals and total funding in 2019.
  • Newly established accelerators and other public and private initiatives spur the growing startup and venture capital ecosystem in Saudi Arabia.


  • Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) expands the scope of the $146 million (AED535 million) Ventures Fund to participate in Series B and beyond funding rounds, invest in established regional and global funds and collaborate with global accelerators.
  • Saudi Telecom Ventures (STV) hires Ivan Jakovljevic from Google to lead STV’s portfolio growth and firm development.
  • Mubadala Investment Company to look into significantly increasing their investment in life sciences and medical technology sector.
  • Private equity company Carlyle Group to open regional headquarters in Abu Dhabi via its partnership with Abu Dhabi Catalyst Partners
  • Saudi Telecom Company (STC) to acquire Vodafone’s entire 55% stake in Vodafone Egypt for $2.39 billion. The sale marks Vodafone’s exit as telecom operator in Egypt. The remaining 45% stake is owned by Telecom Egypt.


  • Hub71 announces opening of first WeWork in the UAE, spanning 3 floors with a total of 1,200 desks.
  • Hub71 adds 4 more startups in their Incentive Program, bringing the total to 39.
  • Hub71 partners with Aldar and ADCB under the former’s Corporate Engagement Program, to provide mentorship, launch global challenges and collaborate with startups on creating proof of concepts.


  • Intelak selects 4 winning startups from their latest cohort: Sherpa (Canada), Troop Travel (Spain), Mobimatter (UAE) and Seafood Souq (UAE).
  • TechStars announces the Inaugural Class of the TechStars Hub71 accelerator comprising of 10 startups. The program is located at WeWork X Hub71. Demo Day is scheduled for 20th April 2020.
  • Krypto Labs shortlists 16 startups for their 3-month program, The Bridge. 50% of selected teams include an Emirati member.
  • Business accelerator TRIBE Labs (Kuwait), to invest US$1 million in a bid to promising startups who will be part of their acceleration program.


  • 01 March: Detecting Fraudulent Transactions using Blockchain at Dtec, Dubai
  • 19 March: Techstars Startup Weekend Ras Al Khaimah
  • 02 April: Fintech Retreat 2020, Egypt