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MENA bytes Quarterly MENA Venture Report for the first quarter of 2018 tracked 42 deals in 8 countries across the region that brought in $35.4 million worth of investments. Out of those 42 deals, only 28 were disclosed (with regard to the size of investment). UAE startups secured $31.36 million in investments which accounted for 88% of the total.

Local services (18.6%), e-commerce (13.9%) and financial services (11.6%) were the top three industries accounting for 44% of the disclosed deals. The other industries were logistics (9.3%), software (7.1%), media (4.6%) education (4.6%) and transportation (4.6%) As in 2017, local services and e-commerce continued to dominate in the first quarter of 2018 with startups like RentSher, HiGuests, CarSwitch, Mumzworld, Joi (Enhance), Eyewa, and The Listraising significant investments. Many financial services and logistics startups including liwwa, Maliyya, MoneyFellows, BitOasis, Armada, and Wasel Leealso raised investments.

UAE continues to lead the chart with 21 deals, 11 of which were Series A ($1 million – $4.99 million) while Saudi Arabia came in second with 6 deals, 5 of which were in the $100,000 – $499,000 bracket. 45% of all the deals were in the $100,000-$499,000 bracket, suggesting strong interest in early stage companies. 28.5% of the deals were in the $1 million-$4.99 million bracket mainly because the seed rounds in UAE where the million dollar seed round is becoming a norm.

UAE accounted for 21 out of 42 deals which meant 50% of the count but in terms of value, its $31.36 million accounted for 89% of the total value. Saudi Arabia was second in terms of the number of deals with six of them but in value it lagged behind primarily because only 3 of those 6 deals were disclosed. Egypt was third in terms of the number of deals and value with 5 deals (4 disclosed) bringing in $830,000.

Together the top ten venture capital investment deals brought in $30.3 million which accounted for almost 86% of all investments by deal value. 9 out of these 10 deals were from UAE along with Tamatem from Jordan.

500 Startups continued to be the most active VC in the region but were joined at the top by Saudi-based Vision Ventures. Wamda Capital was also active in the first two months of 2018; announcing four investments. Techstars Dubai finally announced their first cohort with three startups from UAE. As part of the acceleration program, each of the three startups received an investment. Financial Horizon Group (fairly new to the scene) and iNet were the two other VCs from Saudi Arabia that were active in the first quarter. Samih Toukan’s Jabbar Internet Group and Abu Dhabi-based Shorooq also made 2 investments each.

Among the major deals were the acquisition by Samsung of Egyptian artificial intelligence startup Kngineto improve its virtual assistant Bixby. Careem acquired Dubai based restaurant listing platform RoundMenuto expand into food delivery while Dubizzle acquired two Dubai-based startups, ExpatWheels and WeWashAnyCar.

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