GCC Startup Ecosystem News | July 2020

GCC Ecosystem news, startup news, VC news, MENA venture report, magnitt, Fetchr, Kitab Sawti, Careem, what3words, Chalhoub Group, Al Futtaim Group, Clara, DED trader license, Nomad, Amazon Home Services, Hunger Station, Noon, Boutiqaat, Hub71, Al Waha, Intelak, Shorooq Investments, Merak Capital, Dtec Ventures

This report is also available in a downloadable PDF version via this link: GCC Startup Ecosystem News Roundup – 2020 July


H1 2020 sees more amount of investment but in a fewer number of startups: A total of $659M was invested in MENA-based startups, which accounts of 95% of the total amount invested in 2019.  But the total number of deals in H1 2020  is 8% down from H1 2019. More from the Magnitt’s H1 2020 Venture Snapshop Report



Startup Sector / Industry Location Amount & Round Investors
Fetchr Logistics UAE $15M Bridge BECO, Tamer Group, and CMA CGM SA (France)
Mawad Environmental Services Construction UAE $6.5M, Series A led by Ahmed Sadek El Sewedy, et al
Lean Technologies Finance KSA $3.5M Seed led by  RAED Ventures, from  Shorooq Partners, Outliers VC, Global Founders Capital, Global Ventures, and angels
GrubTech F&B UAE $2M, Seed undisclosed
Aumet Health Jordan $1.25M Seed Right Side Capital, TechStars, and Plug and Play
HOT Technologies Health Kuwait $1.1M Seed Angels
Cubex Global Logistics  / Freight Oman $1M Seed Led by OTF, from angels & undisclosed Hongkong VC
Eve Virtual Events/ entertainment UAE $1M Seed Wiz Holdings, and angels
Felix Finance UAE $800K Seed OTF Wadi Accelerator
Thobi Fashion KSA $650K Seed ABN Ventures
Play:Date Consumer services UAE $250K undisclosed round Modus Capital
Mohtwize Media KSA $250K Pre-Series A Ithraa Capital and Hawsabah
Fatura Retail / commerce Egypt Undisclosed amount, Seed led by Disruptech, from EFG EV, Cairo Angels
MidChains Finance UAE undisclosed amount & round Mubadala Capital, Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), Miami International Holdings, et al
Periscope Media Education UAE undisclosed amount, Seed Undisclosed
Spotii Finance UAE undisclosed amount & round Led by Daman Investments



H1’20 MENA Venture Snapshot

  • H1 2020 saw an 8% drop in number of deals compared to H1 2019.
  • Nonetheless, due to a few sizable investments such as EMPG ($150M), Kitopi ($60M), and Vezeeta ($40M), total funding is up 35%.

Geographic Trend:

  • The UAE maintained the largest share of total funding as a result of several later-stage investments. Egypt still ranks first by number of deals. Saudi Arabia saw the largest percentage increase of 101% in their total funding year over year.

Sector Trend:

  • Due to EMPG’s $150M mega round, Real Estate ranked first by total funding. FinTech continued to account for the largest share of investment deals in H1 2020. Food & Beverage saw the largest jump in total funding due to Kitopi’s $60M fundraise.

Top 5 Funding Rounds:

  • The top 5 funded startups accounted for 49% of the $659M total funding in H1 2020
  • The UAE accounts for 3 of the top 5 funded startups in MENA
  • 3 out of the top 5 deals were in Q1 2020, prior to the outbreak of COVID-19



  • Fetchr gets $15M in funding from BECO, Tamer Group, and CMA CGM SA (France) to accelerate growth in KSA and as part of its turnaround plans to save the company from the brink of collapse.
  • Middle East audiobook streaming service Kitab Sawti, get acquired by Storytel, leading audiobook & e-book streaming services, as part of the latter’s plans to establish a new geographic business region, Storytel MENA
  • District 2020 launches Scale2Dubai. Successful startup candidates can access two years’ free workspace, support on visa and business set-up, two years’ subsidised living, and access to funding.
  • Careem partners with what3words, location technology company to provide a precise addressing system that will improve the pick up and drop off experience for customers and captains in KSA
  • Fintech startup PayBy partners with the Lulu Group to provide contactless payment solutions that are now operational across more than 60 LuLu hypermarkets and stores in the UAE.
  • UAE startup GetBee partners with Chalhoub Group to create a digital concierge service for 15 luxury and fashion brands, allowing them to interact with customers using conversational commerce technology
  • Al Futtaim Group partners with Fintech Startup Tabby to offer “Buy now, pay later” option across a selection of brands on Muddha.com, and Al Futtaim Watches & Jewellery’s online store.
  • Fintech startup PayTabs partners with hotel management software provider Nazeel.net (KSA) to facilitate payment processing in 168 currencies for the hotels on Nazeel.net platform.
  • Clara, the London-based legaltech company, has secured the rights to incorporate companies in two of the world’s most popular jurisdictions for raising venture capital: the Cayman Islands and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM
  • DED’s trader license which enables startups in the emirate of Dubai to conduct business activities online and across social networking mediums, saw 1,947 licenses issued for H1 2020, an 83% increase from last year.
  • US-based property tech startup Nomad, raises a $4M seed round led by Comcast Ventures.  Partech Partners, Class 5 Global and Precursor Ventures also participated, in their aim to target the EMEA market
  • VISA launches “Where You Shop Matters” initiative, a merchant platform providing tools and information on how to start, run and grow small businesses, aiming to enable entrepreneurs & encourage consumers to support small business in the UAE
  • Wholesale marketplace WeMENA partners with Spotii to offer an installment facility without any interest to WeMENA’s clients.
  • Delivery Hero’s Saudi subsidiary HungerStation has appointed Assad Numan,ex- Uber Eats KSA as its new CEO
  • ‘Amazon Home Services‘ launched as a rebranding of Souq.com’s Helpbit, with home services with fixed upfront prices in UAE
  • Saudi mobile wallet Stc Pay partners with VISA to issue VISA cards to its customers for ontactless, scan-to-pay, ecommerce transactions, and international remittances.
  • Noon to launch food delivery marketplace, following the lauch of Noon Now, their 60-minute on-demand grocery delivery platform
  • Kuwaiti beauty e-commerce Boutiqaat faces investigation on suspected money-laundering activities of social media influencers on its platform. Bank accounts influencers & Boutiqaat have  been frozen.


  • Bahrain’s Al Waha becomes the first Fund of Funds to make a substantial investment in the Bedaya Fund I of seed-stage venture capital firm Shorooq Partners
  • Merak Capital launches operations as Asset Management company from KSA, investing in early to late stage technology ventures in GCC and MENA. They are currently managing iNet Fund, with a new VC fund vintage 2020 to launch soon.


  • In5 announces that their members have raised AED65M in funding from VCs and angels during H1 2020.
  • Accenture and Microsoft join the Emirates Group and Dubai Tourism to launch Intelak Hub which would now consist of Intelak Idea Lab, Intelak Incubator and Intelak Accelerator
  • Finance Forward MENA 2020, a 12 day accelerator program by Village Capital, Metlife Foundatioin and PayPal have selected 12 startups for its cohort to work on challenges around financial health


  • Abu Dhabi-based Hub71 appointed ex-Mubadala Executive Director for Human Capital, Hanan Harhara Al Yafei as its new CEO
  • Hub71 selects 11 startups for the second cohort of its Incentive Program to receive subsidies including free housing, office space and health insurance for 2 or 3 years depending on the development stage of the startup