GCC Startup Ecosystem News | October 2021

Sandbox, startup incubator, startup accelerator, dtec ventures, DSOA, Pure Harvest, BitOasis, Siwar, Careem, Uber, Fetchr, MBRSC, Noon.com, Khawarizmi Ventures, Shorooq Partners, BY Venture Partners, Saudi Ventures Capital Company

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


  • Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) launches landmark program SANDBOX for early-stage startups: Coinciding with UAE’s Project of the 50, the 12-month founder-centric incubator program is run by the Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (Dtec), the region’s largest startup hub, and is built on 6 key pillars: product development, traction, scaling, financial diagnostics, wellbeing and legal support.



Startup Sector / Industry Location Amount & Round Investors
PureHarvest Agriculture UAE $64.5M undisclosed round IMM Investment
BitOasis Finance UAE $30M Series B led by Wamda and Jump Capital (USA), from  Alameda Research and Global Founders Capital et al
Siwar F&B KSA $7.5M Series A led by Seera Group
Chari Retail Morocco $5M undisclosed round led by  Rocket Internet, Global Founders Capital, and P1 ventures
Seez Automotive UAE $5M Pre-Series B Nuwa Capital, Crealize (Germany), BY Venture Partners, Alfa Partner Holding, angels
Cura Health / Wellness KSA $4M Series A led by ELM and Wa’ed
OTO Logistics KSA $3M Seed led by MEVP and Derayah Capital
ShipBlue Logistics Egypt $2.4M Seed Nama Ventures
Amenli Insurance Egypt $2.3M Seed GFC, P1 Ventures, Liquid2 Ventures, Anim Fund with Costanoa VC, Cliff Angels, and other angels
AlgoDriven Automotive UAE $2M Series A led by Global Ventures, from DTEC Ventures, Spartech Ventures, otf Wadi, Driven Capital Partners
FinTech Galaxy Finance UAE $2M Seed led by Ahl Fintech, from Raz Holding Group, OMQ Investments, EFG EV Fintech Fintech, et al
ILLA Logistics Egypt $2M undisclosed round led by  Watheeq Financial Services and Golden Palm Investments
GetBee Enterprise SaaS UAE $1.8M Pre-Series A Altitude Capital, B & Y Venture Partners, and +VC et al
STEPPI Health / Wellness UAE $1.8M undisclosed round Embody Fitness
Biware Data Analytics Tunisia $1.2M Seed led by CDC Gestion and Zitouna Capital
Fero Logistics UAE $1.1M undisclosed round undisclosed
Xina.AI Communication Jordan $1M Seed angels and Jordanian family office
Dealcom Marketplace KSA $933K, undisclosed round Scooper (crowdfunding)
Express Wash Consumer services KSA $667K, undisclosed round Scooper (crowdfunding)
Efreshli Interior Design Egypt $550K Seed Tarek Sakr (angel) and Marakez.
Fitlove Health / Wellness UAE $500K Pre-Series A Angels
Palletpal Logistics UAE $200K Pre-Seed Draper Associates (USA)
BLOOM Retail Jordan undisclosed undisclosed
FACEKI Cybersecurity Bahrain undisclosed amount Pre-Seed Nama Ventures
Gbarena Gaming Egypt undisclosed amount, Pre-Series A led by Ahmed Aboudoma, Kushal Shah, and HIM Angles VC network
Elmawkaa Construction Egypt undisclosed amount, Seed led by Flat6Labs, from Oqal Angels
Fathom Solutions Enterprise SaaS KSA undisclosed Wa’ed
Glance Care Health / Wellness KSA undisclosed amount, Seed Sanabil 500 MENA Seed Accelerator Fund and angels
Kuzlo Marketplace Egypt undisclosed amount, Pre-Seed undisclosed
Lamma Logistics Tunisia undisclosed Orange Ventures
Orisdi Marketplace Iraq undisclosed led by  Al Sharqiya TV group
Talabeyah F&B Egypt undisclosed amount, Pre-Seed Angels


SANDBOX is a founder-focused startup program helping early-stage technology entrepreneurs grow their ventures. This landmark 12-month program hosted by Dtec puts founders at the core from day one.

  • With a 47% drop in the share of total funding rounds for Early Stage startups in the past 3 years YTD, SANDBOX supports the aim of providing a source of innovation and quality deal flow for a sustainable technology ecosystem
  • SANDBOX is the first startup program in the region to lay emphasis on well-being and mental health

Program benefits to Founders:

  • Rolling application allowing Founders to apply when they are ready
  • Access to 200 hours of workshops that are based on its 6 key pillars: product development, traction, scaling, financial diagnostics, wellbeing and legal support.
  • 100+ hours of 1:1 practical mentorships that can be availed across UX/UI optimization, sales automation, digital marketing, pitch deck review, and so much more
  • Heavily subsidized company license & setup fee
  • Access to dedicated program space in Dtec
  • Over $150,000 of perks & in-kind credits from our partners (hosting, payment gateway, CRM, etc.), as well as legal and financial diagnostics

Who can apply:

  • MVP-stage to Seed-stage companies that are considering raising institutional funds within the next 12 months.
  • Problem-solving founders with a customer-centric mindset currently building a highly scalable tech startup.

APPLY NOW:  https://sandbox.dtec.ae/

As featured by:



  • KSA-based last-mile delivery startup Saee is planning an initial public offering (IPO) next year on Nomu, Saudi Arabia’s alternative stock market exchange. Saee is presently raising $10 million in a pre-Series B funding round, after raising  $2.4 million in its Series A round last year
  • UAE-based blockchain focused accelerator Morningstar Ventures has announced a $15 million investment fund aimed at projects building with Elrond blockchain technology, as well as a new strategic Elrond Incubator in Dubai.
  • UAE-based cloud kitchen kaykroo expands its services to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. It plans to see 15 additional branches open across KSA in the next 18 months. Within this period, kaykroo aims to deliver over one million meals in the kingdom and create over 500 new jobs through their cloud kitchens.
  • MBRSC launches Space Ventures to support space-focused startups. The purpose-built ecosystem enables businesses to collaborate with MBRSC on long-term projects, gain access to technology and support, and receive aid in communicating with regulatory agencies around the world in order to achieve viability and long-term growth.
  • Uber and its Dubai-based subsidiary Careem are facing a combined tax bill worth $100 million imposed by the Saudi authorities according to a report from Bloomberg. The claims are related to a dispute over how to calculate the value-added tax owed over the past few years by gig economy firms versus their individual contractors. These date back several years and include cumulative penalties
  • UAE-based last mile delivery company Fetchr, is at risk of liquidation according to a report from Bloomberg, citing a letter sent from BECO Capital, one of Fetchr’s biggest backers. The liquidation warning comes after the Saudi Tax Authority issued Fetchr with a $100 million unpaid VAT and Zakat tax bill, which the company disputes according to the BECO letter.
  • E-commerce platform Noon.com is receiving $2 billion in financing from investors including Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund over the next three to four years, to heat up the competition with its regional rival, Amazon.



  • KSA-based Khawarizmi Ventures announced the first closing of its first fund oversubscribed at $63M. The fund will invest in early-stage startups (SEED through Series A) with scalable potential in the MENAP region
  • BY Venture Partners (Abu Dhabi & Beirut-based) announced the closing of its 2nd fund, BY Fund II, valued at $50M. The fund will be investing in early-stage opportunities globally with a thesis to bridge the MENA region with global markets
  •  Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC) announced the launch of the “Investment in Accelerator Funds and Startup Studios Funds” product, as part of the Investment in Fund Program, to enhance the deal flow creation of high-growth startups
  • Abu Dhabi-based Shorooq Partners launched The Nahda Fund 1, a venture-debt fund, in partnership with South Korea’s IMM Investment Global to invest in Mena-based startups. Majority of the fund has been committed to agritech startup Pure Harvest
  • Chimera Capital (Abu Dhabi) announced the close of its 2nd fund valued at $50M to be invested in startups in US, Middle East and Southeast Asia in fintech, edtech and healthtech space. Ticket size would be up to $5M in 12-15 companies spanning Series A to pre-IPO stages.
  • Italian asset management group Azimut partners with GELLIFY Middle East to launch VC fund targeting a fund size of $50M focusing on B2B startups in Mena in the areas of smart city, healthcare, digital commerce, fintech, Industry 4.0 and tourism using advanced technologies.
  • Sequence Ventures launched $31M fund dubbed Egypt DeepTech to invest in Egyptian startups operating in healthtech, fintech, edtech, proptech, logistics, and DevOps within pre-seed to series-A stages
  • STV, a VC firm started by ex-Google executive Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, is looking to raise at least $1 billion for its second Middle East technology investment fund, making it potentially the biggest fund of its kind in the region according to sources.



  • DSOA launches SANDBOX a first of its kind, founder-centric incubator targeting targets high-potential tech startups at MVP to Seed-stage. Run by Dtec, the startups enrolled in the program will be benefit from heavily subsidized license setup fee, over 200 hours of practical workshops 1:1 mentorship and over $150,000 worth of perks & in-kind credits from SANDBOX partners
  • Flat6Labs partners with global healthcare Organon to launch Femtech Accelerator Program to support  female-led startups operating in the digital healthcare space in Mena by providing support to build products, test market fit and improve business models.
  • UAE-based Fintech Galaxy has partnered with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to launch a new cross-border 2-month accelerator programme “Yalla Xtech” for startups in Egypt and Jordan to help them with their business expansion into both markets.



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