The India and Middle East relations have always been in talks at least for the last half-decade. 2019 was evidently a cornerstone year of building avenues for the ever-booming startup ecosystems of India and MENA.
So without further ado, allow me to present the biggest feature on LAFFAZ -drifting you through the headlines that boosted trade, connect and growth between India and MENA.
30 Headlines bringing India and MENA together
The list encompasses headlines of news and stories related to partnerships, funding deals, startup accelerators, incubators and more that happened between India and MENA countries.
Note: The following headlines are listed in the chronological order.
Feb 2019: Saudi Arabia PIF and SoftBank sketch India startup playbook
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia, has put in $45 billion into SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund, which, in turn, has already invested $10 billion into Indian startups.
Feb 2019: Oil-rich Kuwait plans to double investments in India; eyes joint projects in third nation
Oil-rich Kuwait is planning to double its investments in India from the current five billion dollars taking advantage of the country’s growth story and also exploring third country joint projects with Delhi.
Mar 2019: Bahrain invites Indian fintech firms to set up base
In a bid to promote Bahrain as financial tech hub, the Middle Eastern country is seeking participation from Indian firms to become a part of the growing fintech space in the region.
Mar 2019: Delivery Hero acquires Zomato in MENA
Delivery Hero Group (“Delivery Hero”), one of the leading global online food ordering and delivery marketplaces, announced today that it entered into an agreement with Zomato Media Pvt. Ltd. (“Zomato”) to buy its food delivery business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) through Delivery Hero’s fully owned subsidiary Talabat Middle East Internet Services Company LLC (“Talabat”).
May 2019: Bengaluru-based Woman gets Global Asian Award in Dubai
Hema Divarkar, a Bengaluru-based doctor has been honoured with the Global Asian award of the year 2018-19 in Dubai for her immense contribution towards women healthcare ecosystem in India. The award was given by the Director of Trade Promotion, UAE – Mohammed Naser Hamdan Al Zaabi at the Asian Business & Social Forum 2019.
June 2019: Arzooo.com Raises $1 Million from Dubai’s Jabbar Internet Group
Arzooo.com, the Indian reverse auction-based e-commerce platform launched by the two Flipkart’s former executives Khushnud Khan and Rishi Raj Rathore – has raised $1 million in a Pre-Series A funding round by Dubai’s Jabbar Internet Group.
June 2019: MENA-based ACTS enters into partnership with India’s Duocrete
Mena-based testing, inspection, and certification firm Advanced Construction Technology Services (ACTS) has tied up with Duocrete Engineering Services in Pune, India in a “strategic partnership” to scale up its operations in the Asian country.
June 2019: Dr. Ahmed Al Banna, the UAE Ambassador to India, encourages Indian startups to come to Dubai and collaborate with local entrepreneurs
Dr. Ahmed Al Banna, the UAE Ambassador to India, thinks that Indian startups can have the advantage of using UAE’s position as a strategic trade hub to expand in new markets, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and Middle East. He also addressed the UAE government’s Startup and Innovation Strategy and its role in creating an effective business model.
June 2019: Dubai Startup Hub Roadshow in India: Startups To Compete For Free Office And Business Setup In Dubai
Innovative startups from India stand the chance to win office space in Dubai with company setup support and a complimentary business license as part of the first-ever Dubai Startup Hub Roadshow to be hosted in Delhi and Bangalore, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced in a statement on Thursday.
July 2019: Byju’s raises funds from Qatar Investment Authority
Indian Edtech unicorn Byju’s on June 10 made the announcement about its $150 million funding round led by Qatar Investment Authority and Owl Ventures (an investor in edtech).
July 2019: Abu Dhabi Capital Group invests $9.99 million in Grofers
Big news for the Indian startup ecosystem – Delhi-NCR-based Grofers raised $9.99 million from Capital Investment LLC – an investment arm of Abu Dhabi Capital Group (ADCG). This is yet another deal strengthening India & Middle East trade partnership.
July 2019: OYO revealed its plans to create 5,000 jobs in Saudi Arabia
Back in February, Saudi kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) signed a memorandum of understanding with OYO Hotels & Homes to tap co-investment opportunities, create new jobs and augment hospitality sector in Saudi Arabia.
July 2019: Dubai’s Jabbar invests in OLA
Dubai’s Jabbar Internet Group who invested $1 million in India’s Arzooo.com – has recently invested in India’s ride-hailing unicorn Ola. This is indeed a yet another step of making India & Middle-East trade partnership stronger.
July 2019: OYO launches Capital O in UAE
OYO Hotels and Homes is the world’s third-largest hospitality chain. The company on Tuesday announced the launch of its premium offering for business travellers named Capital O in the UAE.
July 2019: India’s SonyLiv launched in the Middle East
Yet another big story paving way forward to building a joint India-Middle East ecosystem i.e. the launch of India’s VOD (Video on Demand) platform SonyLIV in the Middle East.
July 2019: DP World launches India-UAE bridge
DP World, UAE Region launched “The India-UAE Bridge”, a major initiative that will attract Indian trade and investments to its flagship Jebel Ali Port and Jafza by offering end-to-end (e2e) solutions to companies and entrepreneurs.
July 2019: Investcorp established its presence in India
Investcorp, the Bahrain-based alternative investment manager, raised $142 million (Dh521.1m) for its first-ever private equity fund in the country, as it looks to expand its portfolio of investments in Asia’s third-largest economy.
July: Noon revealed plans to expand to India
The Riyadh based EdTech startup, Noon Academy, is prepared to expand into India as it has announced the largest ever Series A funding round in the MENA EdTech market, valued $8.6 million.
July 2019: DIFC furthers collaboration with India and signs deal to back FinTech startups
Dubai International Financial Centre’s (DIFC) mission to India has secured several deals to back local FinTech startups. The mission is led by Essa Kazim, governor of DIFC, and Arif Amiri, CEO of the DIFC Authority. The mission hopes to advance financial collaboration with the strong regional ally.
July 2019: UAE capital has a lot to gain from the vibrant Indian ecosystem: Omar Khan of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry
The Dubai Chamber had launched the Dubai Startup Hub back in 2016, to serve as an online platform that connects startups, developers, entrepreneurs, students and venture capitalists. It is a semi-government initiative that aims to “provide clarity and direction in the journey of startup entrepreneurs” and make them aware of new opportunities in the UAE.
July 2019: New Delhi-Based ShipsKart and Bangalore-based Loktra Declared Winners Of The Dubai Startup Hub Roadshow In India
Organized by Dubai Startup Hub and Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (Dtec), a wholly-owned tech startup hub by Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, the competition received entries from more than 200 startups in India.
Aug: UrbanClap raises funds from Dubai’s Vy Capital
The funding spree continues for UrbanClap. On Friday, the Gurugram-based home services startup announced that it had raised $75 million in a Series E fundraise led by Tiger Global Management, the US-based investment major.
Aug 2019: OYO hires new CEO to scale operation in the Middle East
India’s hospitality chain OYO Hotels and Homes yesterday made the announcement of the appointment of Mandar Vaidya as the CEO for Middle East and South-East Asia effective from 1 August 2019.
Sep 2019: India’s Bitbns announces AED-based crypto trading
Indian cryptocurrency exchange Bitbns on Saturday, 31 Aug made the announcement about enabling UAE-based crypto traders to buy and sell cryptocurrency on its platform in AED (Arab Emirates Dirhams).
Sep 2019: Indian Billionaire Businessman Divyank meets HH Sheikh
Divyank Turakhia, the former founder & CEO of Dubai-based ad-tech Media.net met the ruler of Dubai, also the Vice President of UAE HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Maktoum. In the meeting, the ruler described Dubai as the ‘Silicon Valley of The Middle East’ for its efforts and rapid growth in terms of creating new tech entrepreneurs and startup ecosystem.
Sep 2019: OYO reveals its plans to expand in Saudi Arabia
India-based global hospitality chain, OYO Hotels & Homes, will invest $1 billion to expand its operations in Saudi Arabia by adding luxury and upper-budget/mid-segment hotels to its chain in the coming months.
Sep 2019: Dynamic Producer Gaurang Doshi Announces Joint Venture with the Royal Family of Abu Dhabi
Anees Bazmee to direct Aankhen Returns, Neeraj Pathak to direct Happy Anniversary and Abbas Mustan to direct Indians in Danger Are The First Three Projects Greenlit.
OCT 2019 – Flat6Labs Bahrain in talks with two Indian start-ups to acquire stakes
Flat6Labs Bahrain is in advanced talks with two Indian start-ups to acquire minority equity stakes, a senior executive associated with the deal has said.
Nov 2019: Bahrain’s Investcorp invests in India NephroPlus
The global manager of alternative investment products for private and institutional clients on Monday invested $45 million in the Hyderabad headquartered dialysis services provider NephroPlus in a Series D funding round.
A noteworthy mention from 2018
NASSCOM signs MoU with Dubai Internet City to help Indian startups expand to MENA
Dubai Internet City (DIC), the leading technology community in the region, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), a non-profit trade association and an apex body of the Indian IT Business Process Management (BPM) industry. The MoU is the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and aims to attract and encourage Indian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to the UAE.
Over to you
2019 was indeed a benchmark year for boosting relations between the startup ecosystems of India and MENA – with India’s hospitality unicorn OYO building some of the biggest strategic ties with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia throughout the year, followed by Zomato by getting its operations taken over by Delivery Hero in the UAE; Bahrain opening doors for Indian tech startups, and Bahrain’s Investcorp setting up base in India and also investing in Indian startups.
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