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Egypt prepares for digital transformation despite challenges



It’s been two years since the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Egypt announced its plans of industrial digitalisation in a bid to prepare for the 4th industrial revolution. The Ministry has taken a series of steps to enhance sustainable development and address issues that may arise because of the digital transformation of industries. The digital transformation of Egyptian industries hinges on a few underlying strategies, which include: infrastructure development, investment in the form of human capital, creating a business environment, supporting entrepreneurial ideas especially by women and creating smart cities. The aim of the digitalisation is to streamline Egypt’s industrial growth and to ensure the country is equipped to compete on an international level. Digitalisation would lead to increased competitiveness, and improved quality and productivity of industrial goods. Maha Saleh, Executive Director EEC (Engineering Export Council of Egypt) while talking to Daily News Egypt mentioned how digitalisation can impact the economy of Egypt by helping the industry. She also talked about Fintech, saying “as for fintech, this emerging industry, with its new applications, processes, products, and business models, can help companies better manage and improve their financial operations, and enhance their growth rates.”

 In accordance with the Programme Action Plan 2019-2020, the ministry has also started a new programmed called the Industrial Modernization Center (IMC). The purpose of the IMC would be to facilitate digital transformation and fintech in Egyptian companies. The IMC would assist in the comprehensive digital transformation of Egyptian companies’ financial assets in value-added chains. This digitalisation would lead to cost reduction, increased revenues, and boosted production efficiency. Under the “Egypt Exports through Product Innovation” programme, funded by the European Union and implemented by EEC, Egyptian industries are looking to increase their export by improving and innovating their products so that they can compete in the European Markets. Many engineering companies are also becoming part of this programme in an effort to improve their export capacity.  

Apart from these benefits, the ministry of trade and industry has also kept its eyes on the many challenges that digitalisation has to offer such as: – It is an expensive process – Developing the infrastructure will take time – Not all companies can afford digitalization

Even with these drawbacks, the ministry believes that digitalisation will have a long-lasting positive impact on the industry of the country. Ultimately, this would lead to an increase in exports to African markets. Moreover, the development of financial inclusion will increase the pace of transformation toward digitalization and fintech.

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Dubai Startup Hub hosts its 4th networking session to focus on startup expansion



Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently introduced the fourth edition of its weekly networking series in collaboration with Area 2071, bringing together various stakeholders from the Dubai startup ecosystem.

The program will be held at the Emirates Towers for a period of 10-weeks until November 13th. The event plans to highlight and cover several sectors such as science and technology, artificial intelligence, data science, and social issues including education, talent, and social impact. 

Dubai Startup Hub plans to schedule conferences to discuss trends and technological advancements that could prove to be beneficial in establishing strong economic developments in Dubai. It plans to particularly focus on start-up expansion and scaling up.

Dubai Startup Hub will provide the resources along with the assistance of the business community by offering panel forums for discussions, hosted by representatives from distinguished business incubators who will provide their services for the start-ups looking to expand. Business accelerators and government spokespeople will also contribute to the conferences in their respective area of expertise.

“We are very encouraged by the strong interest and turnout for the first networking event of the season, and look forward to hearing from a variety of innovative start-ups that are making their mark on industries, as well as our eco-system partners who are offering valuable knowledge and resources to our members,” said Natalia Sycheva, Manager of Entrepreneurship at Dubai Chamber.

Sycheva outlines the Dubai Startup Hub networking events as a program for start-up businesses to engage directly with the ecosystem players such as business incubators, co-working spaces and accelerator programmes.

Area 2071 is an initiative introduced by the Dubai Future Foundation, as a long-term plan of the United Arab Emirates to establish itself as one of the central nations by 2071. The Dubai Startup Hub networking series is associated with the Area 2071’s initiative and presents itself as a place for collaboration between business tycoons, entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers.

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Fintech Saudi hosts first ever GCC Fintech Roundtable and Summit



Fintech Saudi hosted the first ever GCC Fintech Roundtable and Summit in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Global Market (“ADGM”) (Abu Dhabi), Bahrain Fintech Bay. (Bahrain) and DIFC Fintech Hive (Dubai) in Riyadh.

The Roundtable was attended by senior representatives from all four fintech hubs and provided an opportunity for the hubs to discuss key topics such as data sharing and open banking as well as areas of collaboration such as how to support fintech companies to scale into the other markets and how to develop local talent. In the evening, Fintech Saudi hosted a GCC Fintech Summit at KAFD Conference Centre that was attended by over 150 people including senior representatives from government agencies, banks, investors, universities and fintech companies. The summit consisted of presentations from the fintech hubs on their activities followed by a panel discussion and a networking session.

The fintech industry, which reached a record $120bn in investment globally last year, is driving the future of the financial services industry, supporting the development of new business models and supporting to tackle key issues such as financial inclusion and transition to a cashless society.

Across the GCC, regulators and government agencies have been launching initiatives to support the development of fintech activity in their local markets. The four largest fintech hubs in the GCC are ADGM (Abu Dhabi), Bahrain Fintech Bay (Bahrain), DIFC Fintech Hive (Dubai) and Fintech Saudi (Saudi Arabia).

The GCC provides an attractive environment for fintech development including a market of 54 million people, a young tech savvy customer base, government support for entrepreneurship and the potential to scale into Europe, Asia and Africa. However despite these qualities, fintech development in the GCC is still in its infancy. According to MENA Research Partners, between 2008 and 2018, Gulf-based fintech startups received only $150m, which is a fraction of the global investment into fintech.

The fintech hubs are working closely together to look at ways in which they can support fintechs scale across the GCC. “By reducing barriers to entry, the fintech hubs are collectively seeking to support the growth of the GCC fintech industry, increase the industry’s attractiveness for investment, support the development of local fintechs that can compete internationally and attract the top international fintech companies to the GCC” said Nejoud Almulaik, Director of Fintech Saudi.

With this in mind, on 17th September 2019, Fintech Saudi hosted the first ever GCC fintech Roundtable and Summit in collaboration with ADGM, Bahrain Fintech Bay and DIFC Fintech Hive in Riyadh. The sessions were concluded by agreements on various action points that will support the development of fintech in the region and future collaboration between the fintech hubs.

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Startups can benefit from experience and understanding of the industry at the World Energy Congress



The 24th World Energy Congress took place in Abu Dhabi between 9th-12th September under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE. The final rounds of the discussion focused on the need for bold entrepreneurship to deal with future energy issues. Participants also conducted discussions on the usage of 5G to foster the drive towards a sustainable ecosystem, which facilitates faster collaboration. Members also agreed to speed up the process of producing cheaper and better energy to meet the global demands.

The membership of the congress comprised many prominent figures from various industries. With over 15,000 participants initially rolled out for attendance, the Congress was a high-profile flagship event of the World Energy Council. It welcomed over 250 high-level speakers, 72 ministers and some 500 CEOs and over 1000 media attendees across the entire energy spectrum. On the final day, the keynote speech was delivered by Khalifa Hassan Alshamsi, Etisalat Group Chief Corporate Strategy and Governance Officer. He explained how modern frameworks of mobile technology can be utilised more efficiently to promote sustainability in the energy sector. The focus of his speech was on leveraging 5G to speed up the drive towards sustainability and encourage entrepreneurs to pay more attention to innovations in the energy sector.

Alshamsi said: “5G is a new piece of technology that can revolutionise new industry. It is not only about speed but yes it will be phenomenal for VR and AR experiences”.

One of the sessions on the last day ‘Start-up Energy Transition: The power of the bold’ consisted of discussions by a panel of experts, including the winners of this year’s Start up Energy Transition Award, on topics related to the future energy strategies and the sustainability of 5G among many others. Marwan Bin Haidar, Executive Vice President of Innovation & The Future, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, DEWA met the participants to discuss the onslaught of new business models that can set technological frameworks in motion to enable disruptive innovation in the industry.

Bin Haidar explained that all companies must “innovate or stagnate” and that incorporating brave and bold new ideas developed by start-ups is key to a successful future for established firms.

Startup Energy Transition, or SET, constitutes a global platform for innovation where ideas about energy transition are discussed and supported. Almost 10 startups were selected from a group of 450 applications from 80 countries. Their ideas were discussed with investors and members of the business community. In the end, the Minister of Energy and Industry of the UAE took the chance to thank all the participants for making the event a successful one. He also showed appreciation for the sponsors who helped stage one of the most important energy conferences in the world.

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Lebanon skyrocket 589 places in startupblink ranking report



by Maan Barazy

Lebanon’s ecosystem gained a significant push in the startup blink ranking report topping the annual 300 list, after skyrocketing 589 locations up – Now it is ranked among the first 100 in the world

the report editor wanted to build an ecosystem ranking syetm; they asked Have you ever wondered how the strength of your local startup ecosystem compares to others?  What about the vital factors that help empower a growing ecosystem? comprehensive, global startup ecosystem map and research center provides users with all the data they need to draw comparisons, view rankings, and make better informed business decisions. Our startup ecosystem rankings feature the strongest startup hubs in the world, while also giving smaller cities and countries the chance to be highlighted.  

Welcome to the top 100 Lebanon the web version of the report said

What makes the StartupBlink platform so unique and impactful is the treasure trove of data available on hundreds of locations across the globe. We don’t only map startups, but also focus on all other relevant startup ecosystem players including coworking spaces, accelerators, investors, tech reporters and much more.

StartupBlink has launched the Startup Ecosystem Rankings Report 2019 that now ranks 1,000 cities and 100 countries worldwide. This is the first report to track both momentum and trends within the global startup ecosystem.

Most of the data used while generating the rankings was either accumulated on StartupBlink over the past 5 years or was sent to us by our ecosystem partners in cities around the world.

StartupBlink’s map is carefully curated and updated to assist startup founders, governments and investors in their quest to better understand what makes a healthy startup ecosystem. We also help corporates with data that supports their open innovation activities when connecting and supplying resources to relevant startups.

The report quoted

After increasing 19 spots, Lebanon has joined the club of leading countries and its top is now in the top 300 list, after skyrocketing 589 locations up. Despite the fact that Lebanon has a small market, the public and private sectors see the importance in supporting the startup ecosystem by creating many accelerators and spaces, including Berytech, Speed@BDD, the UK Lebanon Tech Hub, and AltCity.

Also, the nation has high tech literacy and boosts with many funding avenues, like Banque du Liban (BDL) that injected $400 million into the Lebanese enterprise market. Lebanon has witnessed several exits, among others, are Cleartag, Diwanee, and As for the startup ecosystem, the main focus should go maintaining the good momentum of Beirut and bring form an additional startup hub.

The algorithm analyzes tens of thousands of data points and is powered by our global partners such as Crunchbase, and SimilarWeb. We also analyzed data gathered from more than 50,000 members throughout the Global StartupBlink community.

Specifically for Crunchbase, our partnership allowed us to locate hundreds of unicorns around the world and include them as a critical part of the algorithm. Unicorns are vital success stories that increase money flow to the local startup ecosystem. They also encourage the local population to join the startup revolution.

New entrants to the top country rankings

The top 10 countries list as compared to the 2017 rankings has welcomed 3 new entrants: Australia, the Netherlands, and Spain, as seen in the table below.

StartupBlink Report: Top 10 Rankings

The top 11-30 list has been a real battlefield for some countries due to the changes in the algorithm. Some of the major changes include Denmark (falling 9 places down to the number 16th) and India (skyrocketing to the 17th spot, after passing by 20 rivals). Additionally, Singapore (leaving the top 10 and declining to 21), New Zealand (jumping 20 positions up to the 26th), and China (15 places down and ranked at 27 now).

Startup Blink: 10-30 Rankings

Top city ecosystems

As for the cities, the top 10 list remained relatively stable with only Boston, Tel Aviv, and Berlin shifting positions. Moscow also joined the top 10 club after moving 4 positions up the ranking.

Startup Blink: Top 1-10 City Rankings

Nonetheless, the top 11-20 cities list was slightly more dramatic. Bangalore (ranked 11) almost hit the top 10 and Tokyo moved 15 positions up to the number 14. New Delhi and Sydney also rose 5 and 6 positions up accordingly.  

StartupBlink: Top 11-20 City Rankings

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Median ticket size for Qatar residential houses stood at QR2.8mn



Median ticket size for residential houses in Qatar stood at QR2.8mn in the second quarter of this year, research and consultancy firm ValuStrat said in a report. As many as five largest ticket sizes were seen in The Pearl, New Salata, Lusail and Abu Hamour for dwellings ranging from 1,400sq m to 5,500sq m, ValuStrat said in its ‘Qatar Real Estate Market 2nd Quarter 2019 Review’.

Median transacted ticket sizes for houses increased by 12% quarterly and 3% annually, it said. Quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) increase in median transacted prices can be attributed to larger ticket sizes of housing transactions experienced in areas such as Al Kharaitiyat, Al Markhiya, Lusail, Abu Hamour, Madinat Al Khalifa and Rawdhat Al Hamama, the report said.

Transactional volumes for houses declined 25% QoQ and 14% year-on-year (YoY). As many as 53 transactions were recorded for residential buildings in the second quarter with Rawdhat Al Khail, Al Sadd, Najma, Al Wakrah and Muaither having the ‘largest transacted prices. As of May this year, transactional volume in The Pearl and West Bay Lagoon was 274 units with a total value of QR612mn, ValuStrat said. Residential median asking rents declined 5.6% YoY and 1.5% QoQ, while the median monthly asking rent for apartments fell 1.1% quarterly and 5.4% annually.

Secondary apartment locations such as Al Wakrah, Old Airport, Najma and Al Mansoura experienced highest annual declines in rents of up to 13%. Median monthly asking rent for villas fell by 4% QoQ and 7.1% YoY. Villas in Muraikh, Al Gharrafa, Ain Khaled, Abu Hamour, Al Khor and Umm Salal Mohammed experienced annual falls in rent up to 12%, ValuStrat noted.

In terms of supplies to the industry, ValuStrat said an estimated warehousing space of 500,000sq m gross leasable area (GLA) is projected to be completed by end- 2019. The average asking rent for dry/ambient warehouses in Qatar was QR34 per sq m, fell by 5% QoQ and 12% YoY.

In temperature-controlled warehouses (intended for food and chemical storage), average asking rent fell by 3% QoQ and 11% YoY. The average asking rents for cold storage (being leased per unit wise) ranged from QR8,000 to QR14,000 per month in Doha Industrial Area, where average unit sizes scaled from 50-80sq m, the review said. Net tonnage of bulk cargo more than doubled with Ras Laffan and Hamad Port receiving the highest traffic until May 2019, ValuStrat said citing data from the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics (MDPS).

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Abu Dhabi’s Kizad slashes fees to attract industries, investments



The industrial zone has attracted more than 500 investors and more than 65 billion dirhams in investment
Abu Dhabi will offer 75 percent of its services free of charge and will reduce fees of other services by up to 75 percent at Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD) from this month to boost investments into the emirate. The move to reduce charges by KIZAD, an Abu Dhabi Ports subsidiary, is in line with Abu Dhabi Government’s drive to boost the emirate’s non-oil industries. “We continue to support the government initiatives to build an investor-friendly environment by providing our partners and customers with the incentives they need for their businesses to grow,” said Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports.

The exemptions are aligned with Ghadan 21, the three-year, AED 50 billion Development Accelerator Programme for the emirate.

“The cost of setting up and maintaining a successful business at KIZAD is more achievable now than ever before. It is an ideal opportunity for companies of all sizes to benefit from such incentives,” said Al Shamisi. Launched in 2010, KIZAD has attracted more than 500 investors and more than 65 billion dirhams in investment across multiple sectors, including metals, polymers, oil and gas, automotive, food, energy and logistics. Last month, the UAE’s Ministry of Finance announced significant reductions in fees of more than 1,500 federal government services. Three main federal ministries – Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Economy, and the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation – were at the forefront of the cancellation or reduction of fees, including licenses and service charges.

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GCC announces $125bln new projects in first half



Saudi Arabia was the frontrunner, riding high on the back of $63.5bn in project announcements
MANAMA: As many as $125 billion worth of new projects have been announced in the GCC countries during the first six months, including $63.5bn worth of developments announced in the second quarter of 2019, according to a new report.These are part of the estimated 27,000 active projects in the GCC, worth $2.52 trillion at the end of the first half, said regional construction intelligence provider BNC Group in its latest report.Saudi Arabia was the frontrunner, riding high on the back of $63.5bn in project announcements, comprising 50pc of total project released in the second quarter, it stated.
During the first half of 2019, project owners in the GCC countries have also awarded new construction contracts worth $49bn, a 33 per cent jump compared to the corresponding period in 2018.Unveiling the report, BNC chief executive Avin Gidwani said: “GCC project awards during first half of 2019 and the second half of 2018 were consistent, saved by the exponential growth in contract awards seen during the first half of the year and the major spike in utility contract awards during the first quarter of 2019.”“The latest BNC Construction Intelligence provides a robust construction sector – not only in terms of new project announcements, but also new construction contracts and project completion, as the development activities gains momentum despite challenges including geopolitical tension across the region and slow global economic growth forecast,” he added.

The GCC states also witnessed the completion of $88.5bn worth of construction projects in the first half as the region’s construction sector remained robust.The construction project completions across all sectors in the second quarter surged to $46.5bn with the list dominated by the urban construction sector with a 46pc share of the total value of the completed construction projects. The majority of them were registered in the UAE, the second largest Arab economy, said the report.The latest BNC Projects Journal states that the overall GCC construction market expanded 12pc year-on-year, with both Saudi Arabia and the UAE growing by 12pc.“Geopolitics during the quarter added drama and insecurity to construction as regulatory changes in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, to uplift the market and invite stability and prosperity, were revealed,” said Mr Gidwani.

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Positive views on KSA – Residents 81% believe the country is in the right direction



Ipsos, a research company in the Middle East and North Africa, has announced its Saudi Arabia Primary Consumer Sentiment Index (PCSI) for June 2019. Results reveal that the majority of consumers in the Kingdom (81%), still believe that the country is heading in the right direction. However, consumers’ views on different current financial states have become more neutral in comparison to findings published in April 2019.

Consumer sentiment is a key predictor of purchase trends in the market. Despite it being a lagging indicator, if consumer confidence is high, people will make more purchases and the economy will expand.  Today, consumers are less confident with their personal financial situation with only 28% viewing it to be strong in comparison to 38% in April 2019. On the other hand, only 9% of the consumers view the current economic situation of KSA as weak, compared to 11% in the last wave, which is the lowest recorded level in recent years.

After the slight drop in consumers’ confidence on their ability to make a major investment or purchase in April, confidence levels in June have placed KSA in the top 3 highest around the world following China and India, with an index of 62.1 compared to the global average which is 43.3. With that, top 2 concerns for consumers in the Kingdom remain the same, with unemployment (34%) and taxes (31%) topping the list. However, moral decline has joined the top 5 concerns list in June with 21% of consumers in KSA worrying about this issue.

The Primary Consumer Sentiment Index is a global index conducted monthly by Ipsos across 24 countries in collaboration with Thomson Reuters, and measures consumer attitudes towards the current and future state of the local economy, consumers’ personal financial situation, as well as confidence to make large investments and ability to save. The survey has been running monthly in Saudi Arabia since 2010. 

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Ecosystem of the MENA

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