Startup Ecosystem Newsletter | March 2019

Dtec Ventures with d in yellow with startup ecosystem news March 2019.

It’s been a busy month for the startup scene. And quarter 1 2019 ended with a (BIG) bang as the region witnessed the biggest acquisition so far with the acquisition of Careem. Dtec Ventures brings you the latest happenings for the month of March:


  • Uber acquires Careem for $3.1 billion. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval and expected to be completed in 7-8 months
  • Abu Dhabi Government launched Hub71 tech ecosystem. Founding partners Mubadala Mubadala Investment Company, Microsoft and SoftBank Vision Fund, in partnership with ADGM. committed $142 million to invest in startups. The hub to offer incentives such as subsidized housing, office space, health insurance packages, co-investment with VCs in Abu-Dhabi-based startups, and co-investment with Abu-Dhabi-based first-time fund managers with direct matching funds.
  • Dtec Ventures portfolio companies (360Vuz, Cognitev, Melltoo , The Luxury Closet and Yallacompare) make it to the 100 Arab Startups Sharing the Fourth Industrial Revolution of 2019 by the World Economic Forum and Bahrain Economic Development Board.
  • Dubai International Financial Centre has appointed Middle East Venture Partners and Wamda Capital to manage $10 million (Dh36.72m), part of its $100 million FinTech fund launched in 2018 to support the growth of financial technology companies in the region.
  • 500Startups announced had an oversubscribed final closing for their 1st MENA region focused fund, 500 Falcons. They set out to raise a $30 million fund and closed now at $33 million.
  • Egypt’s Central Bank announced an $58 million (EGP 1 billion) Fintech Fund and Regulatory Sandbox.
  • Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, approved the Dubai universities free zones strategy, to transform public and private universities in Dubai into free zones that will allow students to engage in economic and creative activities
  • Ajman Media City Free Zone launches mentoring hub, Media Lab, offering training and coworking space to support Emirati Youth development.
  • Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has indefinitely banned electric scooters from sidewalk. RTA is “currently considering the technical and legislative requirements to allow the operation of electric scooters in addition to the conditions and commitment of scooter drivers”.




  • Jamalon (online Arabic book retailer, Jordan) – $10 million, Series B, led by Wamda and Aramex
  • Tarjama (language service provider, UAE) – $5 million, Series A, from Anova Investments
  • Beehive (P2P SME Lending Platform, UAE) – $4 million, part of Series B, from Riyad TAQNIA Fund
  • Fodel (last mile delivery, UAE) – $2.6 million, pre-Series A, from Al Rajhi Family, Hamdi Osman et al.
  • Coded Minds (edutech, UAE) – undisclosed amount, undisclosed round, from Alarabi Investments
  • Mrsool (on-demand delivery, KSA) – undisclosed amount, Series A, led by STV and Raed Ventures
  • Receet (digital receipt app) – undisclosed amount, Seed, from Ibtikar Fund
  • Syarah (automotive marketplace, KSA) – undisclosed amount, undisclosed round, from KSA IT company, ELM
  • Modist (Luxury e-tailer, UAE) – undisclosed amount, undisclosed round, from Farfetch and Nicola Bulgari


  • Namshi’s CEO Hosam Arab steps down after company’s full acquisition
  • Europe’s Equity Crowdfunding Platform FundedByMe Launched operations in DIFC
  • UAE-based completely shuts down their online marketplace to focus on groceries for KSA market
  • UAE Hotel company Rotana signs agreement with Airbnb to pilot a direct distribution agreement in Dubai
  • Twitter launches self-serve ads platform for MENA SMBs for Arabic campaigns


  • London-based VC Hambro Perks to open regional headquarters in the UAE this year
  • Mubadala Investment Co, looks to invest and partnership opportunities hi-tech industries, AI, health care, real estate in Asia.
  • 500 Startups closes their MENA-focused fund, 500 Falcon. Set out to raise $30 million, it closed oversubscribed at $33 million.


  • Masdar City launches Tech Park startup hub for companies receiving funding from accelerator Catalyst. The hub hopes to attract 30 startups in clean tech and sustainability to set up home by 2021


  • Abu Dhabi Global Market opens 4th Reglab Cohort focusing on the API Economy and sustainable finance.
  • Bahrain Fintech Bay is working to establish three “sister platforms” in Singapore, Silicon Valley and Detroit to build added international exposure and connection for their startups
  • Flat6Labs Bahrain graduates its 2nd cycle with final 8 teams in industries such as SaaS, FinTech, EdTech, F&B, E-commerce
  • FinTech Hive signs agreements with FinTech Saudi, FinTech District (Milan) and FinTech Istanbul, bringing their network of strategic partnerships to 14 FinTech hubs globally


  • AIM Startup Annual Event – 08-09 Apr, Dubai
  • Seamless Middle East 2019 – 10-11 Apr, Dubai
  • Women Power Summit (UAE) – 14-15 Apr, Dubai
  • 6th Annual Smart Data Summit (UAE) – 15-16 Apr, Dubai
  • Global Maker Challenge Pitch Day: Abu Dhabi – 16 Apr, Abu Dhabi
  • AWS Summit Dubai 2019 – 17-19 Apr, Dubai
  • Global Maker Challenge Pitch Day: Dubai – 17 Apr, Dubai
  • Women Entrepreneurship Summit MENA – 22 Apr, Dubai