BIM Ventures, the Saudi Venture Studio, which has invested in Saudi Web3 startups such as TakaDAO has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with SBI Holdings to establish a $100 million joint investment fund dedicated to nurting startups and investing in the Saudi market. The collaboration was facilitated in partnership with the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA).

The MoU was officially signed during the Saudi Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum in the presence of their excellencies from Saudi Arabia; the Minister of Energy, HRH Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Minister of Culture, HH Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, the Minister of Investment, HE Eng. Khalid Al-Falih, the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, HE Eng. Abdullah Alswaha and from Japan, Ken Saito, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. In addition to representatives from the Ministry of Investment and both companies.

SBI Holdings has set up in the region and has been investing in digital asset ventures and startups. SBI Holdings entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Saudi Arabian Aramco, one of the leading energy and Chemicals Company, after SBI Holding established a digital asset venture in UAE with Standard Chartered.

In a statement to Argaam media, the company said this strategic partnership underscores the mutual commitment of Saudi Arabia and Japan to reinforce bilateral economic relations. The primary objective is to support innovative startups in the Saudi market by providing essential financial and logistical support to foster sustainable growth in this vital sector.

The fund is designed to assist startups by offering crucial funding during their establishment and growth phases. Additionally, it will provide expert guidance and mentoring to ensure the success of these emerging companies. The fund also aims to attract foreign investments into the Saudi market, creating a supportive and innovative investment environment.

Mohamed Amine Merah, Managing Partner and CEO of BIM Ventures, commented on the agreement, saying, “The partnership with SBI Holdings reflects our dedication to enhancing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Kingdom. We aim to provide opportunities for startups to achieve growth and innovation, fostering bilateral relationships between Saudi Arabia and Japan. Our primary goal is to work with the Ministry of Investment to attract local and international partnerships, thereby positively impacting the Kingdom’s economy.”

Yoshitaka Kitao, Representative Director, Chairman, President & CEO of SBI Holdings added, “SBI Group positions the Middle East as a strategically important region and plans to strengthen deployment of management resources in this region. Together with MISA and BIM, SBI Group is honored to support venture companies in Saudi Arabia and contribute to the economic growth of the Kingdom by leveraging the global network and experience in venture investment accumulated since its establishment in 1999.”

UAE regulated Laser Digital, Nomura’s digital asset subsidiary has strategically invested in MANTRA Chain, a Layer 1 blockchain solution for Real World Assets (RWA).

In March 2024 MANTRA Chain raised $11 million led by UAE based Shorooq Partners with investors including Three-point capital, Forte Securities, VirtuZone, Hex Trust and GameFi Ventures. At the time it was noted that Mantra Chain was in the final stages of receiving licenses from Dubai’s crypto regulator, VARA.

As per the press release, “This new investment aims to accelerate MANTRA towards its goal of becoming the de-facto RWA tokenization Layer 1 blockchain for Middle East and Asian markets and marks a collaboration with Laser Digital, bringing their complementary expertise and pertinent experience of RWA tokenization to the partnership.”

Jez Mohideen, CEO of Laser Digital, stated, ” We are excited to support MANTRA’s journey as it pioneers new frontiers in RWA and digital finance.”

John Patrick Mullin, CEO and Co-Founder of MANTRA, expressed his enthusiasm about the partnership, “We are incredibly excited to welcome Laser Digital as a strategic partner. Laser Digital’s investment is not just financial but an endorsement of our mission to make RWA accessible and operable through blockchain technology. Laser’s expertise and network in the financial sectors will be invaluable as we expand our technological footprint.”

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has signed an MOU with SmartCrowd Holding Ltd, the parent company of SmartCrowd Ltd., licensed by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), a digital platform specializing in real estate investment and crowdfunding across the Middle East and North Africa.

The MoU aims to develop a Blockchain NFT ( non-fungible token) digital platform, to attract investments for real estate and public facilities that RTA plans to establish and implement in the Emirate of Dubai in the future, such as rest areas, which include retail stores and various service centers with continuous investment returns.

The official signing event was held at RTA’s Head Office, with Ahmed Hashim Bahrozyan, CEO of RTA’s Public Transport Agency, representing RTA, and Siddiq Farid, Founder and CEO of SmartCrowd.

Bahrozyan commended SmartCrowd for spearheading evolution in real estate investing by leveraging regulations and smart applications of the latest technologies, such as blockchain. This MoU was signed on the back of SmartCrowd’s efforts to pilot a blockchain-based platform in Pakistan in 2022, aligning with RTA’s commitment to adopt trending technologies across its applications and services.

“The signing of this MoU is a significant step that marks RTA’s entry into the realm of investment in digital and non-fungible assets for public facilities and real estate. The move is expected to open new opportunities for RTA to increase and diversify its revenues and enable a wider segment of the community to enter in these investments, which do not require large capital,” Bahrozyan said.

“This initiative forms an integral part of RTA’s partnership with the private sector and is poised to enhance Dubai’s profile as a regional economic powerhouse in the landscape of a global economy. It will also develop RTA’s ambition to achieve financial sustainability as a key strategic goal and foster partnerships with the private sector, known for its innovative and creative potential, especially in the digital economy.”

Siddiq Farid, Founder and CEO of SmartCrowd stated, “This partnership validates our futuristic thinking as we keep up with fast-evolving technology. SmartCrowd has consistently been at the forefront of innovation, establishing the region’s first digital real estate platform from both regulatory and technological standpoints. Looking ahead, we are strategically leveraging emerging technologies to take our initiatives to the next level.

“We feel blessed to be in a country where innovation is not only fostered but championed. Partnering with a government entity that shares the same vision is especially exciting, as it allows us to deliver unique opportunities for everyone to be a part of this city’s tremendous growth.”

RTA is not the first governmental transportation entity to utilize blockchain, Oman Transport Ministry is also piloting a blockchain solution.

Singaporean Blockchain venture fund and Cardano accelerator, Adaverse, with offices in KSA, UAE, has strategically invested in Sorbet, a Saudi Arabian startup geared towards helping freelancers to manage and transact with clients. Sorbet uses Circle Payment services, better known as stablecoin USDC to help clients and freelancers carry out instant payments.

The investment, part of a $10 million initiative to foster venture-building in the region, aligns with the economic upswing projected for the region’s digital economy.

The MENA digital freelance market is currently values at $4 billion and while expected to grow it faces inefficient payments systems which according to the press release affects 40 million self employed workers.

Sorbet’s vision is to onboard all creatives onto web3 by removing the technical barriers traditionally associated with dApps. The tool leverages blockchain technology to provide a seamless payment solution using stablecoins.

Rami Djebari, co-founder of Sorbet, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership: “Receiving support from an experienced partner like Adaverse will accelerate our development and enhance our market strategy. This collaboration is a milestone in breaking down financial barriers and enabling limitless growth opportunities for professionals in the region.”

Sorbet Beta will further refine the freelancing experience by integrating project management tools and streamlined payment processes. As per Sorbet website, it charges 2.5% when clients send money to freelancers.

Vincent Li, founding partner at Adaverse, commented on the investment stating, “Sorbet exemplifies the potential of blockchain to enrich and enhance economic systems. We are excited about the potential Sorbet holds for economic upliftment in line with Saudi Vision 2030.”

The Sorbet Beta, launching this May, will introduce essential features to improve the freelancing experience. This suite of work tools will focus on streamlining project management, simplifying payment processes, and facilitating better client interactions, all designed to help freelancers transition smoothly into a more connected and efficient digital workspace.

In March 2024, Adaverse, signed an MOU with Saudi based ASFA Ventures to drive Web3 innovation in KSA and beyond. Adaverse has also invested in Saudi Arabian Blockchain Insurtech startup TAKADAO, in addition to Nuqtah NFT marketplace.

UAE based Param Labs, an independent Web3 Blockchain gaming and technology studio raises $7 million in strategic funding round led by Animoca Brands. Other investors included Delphi Ventures, Mechanism Capital, P2 ventures, Merit Circle, TRGC, MH Ventures, and UAE based Cypher Capital.

,Param Labs boasts a fairly robust online community. The company said it has more than 2.5 million followers on X across all its pages, in addition to 500,000 Discord users, according to a statement. The platform also has 300,000 daily active users, said Param Labs.

“This collaboration aligns with our shared vision to redefine the gaming landscape, ensuring that gamers are the true owners of their digital assets,” Animoca Brands co-founder and executive chairman Yat Siu said in the statement.

The availability of funds of this type will play a significant role in strengthening blockchain enabled Param Labs’ efforts to create a gaming world solely for native PARAM tokens. This supports the general mission to open the gates to the luminary members of the gaming world to own their assets.

Anthony Anderson, founder and CEO of Param Labs and Kiraverse, emphasized the importance of the strategic investment and partnership with Animoca Brands: “This investment marks a significant milestone for Param Labs’ ecosystem development and the broader Web3 gaming landscape. Our vision is aligned with that of Animoca Brands and we’re thrilled to collaborate on the creation of valuable products at the forefront of gaming’s innovative shift to digital ownership. With our new funding, we’ll continue to invest in building out and scaling our current products while also advancing our ecosystem initiatives and fostering community involvement.”

The investment in Param Labs announced today further expands the presence of Animoca Brands in MENA, following a partnership with NEOM to drive Web3 in the region, and with King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology to establish a physical office and Web3 hub in Riyadh.

Param Labs aims to build a gaming ecosystem that will be governed by its native PARAM token, which will soon be launched, the company also said. The company’s first game, “Kiraverse,” is a play-to-earn, multiplayer shooter.

Startup Wise Guys, one of the most active accelerator funds in Europe and Africa, investing in Web3, SaaS, Fintech, cybersecurity, XR, sustainability, and Proptech verticals in more than 60 countries, has partnered with Saudi Arabia’s SEEDRA Ventures and under the sponsorship of KSA’s National Technology Development Program (NTDP), launch of the first Construction Tech Specialized Fund and Accelerator Program in Saudi Arabia.

The Construction Tech specialized fund, spearheaded by Startup Wise Guys, boasts two seasoned General Partners, Jourdan Younis and Aya Zaghnin. “We are thrilled to pioneer this transformative venture in Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning startup ecosystem,” remarks Jourdan Younis, General Partner, highlighting the fund’s commitment to driving meaningful change through technology.

“Aligned with the pivotal projects of Saudi Vision 2030, We are steadfast in our commitment to nurturing an environment primed for innovation and expansion within a sector craving transformative advancements, cost efficiencies, and scalability. Our aim is to actively contribute to providing cutting-edge technologies within the sector, fostering the growth and development of built assets in Saudi Arabia.” adds Aya Zaghnin, emphasizing the fund’s alignment with the nation’s vision for economic diversification and technological advancement.

The collaboration between Startup Wise Guys and SEEDRA Ventures marks a new update in Saudi Arabia’s startup ecosystem as well as its impact in the global startup ecosystem. The partnership combines Startup Wise Guys’ extensive experience as one of the most active accelerator funds in Europe and Africa with SEEDRA Ventures’ deep understanding of the Saudi Arabian market.

This initiative is further bolstered by the partnership between Startup Wise Guys and WZMH. WZMH will be working towards establishing a first satellite research and development lab – Sparkbird – in Riyadh and will focus on developing existing technologies for implementation in MENA and starting several new concepts working closely with government, private industry, and the educational sector in Saudi Arabia.

“The collaboration with SWG paves the way for bringing Sparkbird’s innovations, particularly those tailored for the Saudi construction market, into new partnerships with local institutions. Our inventions, including recent developments inspired by Saudi Arabia’s unique VISION 2030, align with the region’s demand for advanced Proptech and Contech solutions. This initiative represents a critical juncture where our commitment to smart building technologies and the specific requirements of Saudi Arabia meet, promising real groundbreaking advancements in the sector.” noted Mohammed Al Atheri and Zenon Radewych from WZMH about the initiative.

Accompanying the fund, Startup Wise Guys will be introducing their signature accelerator program in the region, which includes Web3. “With our extensive experience and robust network, we are poised to empower entrepreneurs and innovators in the Construction Tech space,” states Cristóbal Alonso, CEO at Startup Wise Guys, underscoring the accelerator program’s dedication to supporting startups in their growth journey.

Haitham Alforaih, Founding Partner at SEEDRA Ventures added “Saudi Arabia exemplifies the transformative power behind rapid development, and its construction sector serves at the forefront of this extraordinary progress. With substantial investments in infrastructure and mega-projects including NEOM and the Red Sea Development Project, the Kingdom is witnessing constant growth in construction activities. This growth presents opportunities for construction companies, specializing in cutting-edge technologies that increase productivity, improve safety and coordination, to support the Kingdom’s transformative era.”

Startups participating in the Accelerator Program will also have the opportunity to collaborate with experts and mentors from Startup Wise Guys’ extensive network, gaining valuable insights and guidance to scale their businesses globally.

The program which will include investments in Web3 startups, will be launched in Q3 of 2024. More information on how to apply will be launched soon.

This announcement comes after The Hashgraph Association partnership with the Ministry of Investment in KSA to launch a deep tech venture studio.

 Token Bay Capital limited(“Token Bay”) is expanding its venture capital footprint in the capital of the UAE and has been granted an in-principle approval (IPA) from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) to carry out regulated activities that include managing both token and equity investments in early stage crypto start ups in the ADGM.

Subject to final regulatory approval for the grant of the Financial Services Permission (FSP), Token Bay brings niche capabilities to manage both token and equity investments in early-stage crypto start-ups under the FSRA’s Venture Capital Fund Manager (VCFM) framework.

Founded in 2021, Token Bay is a Crypto Venture Capital Fund that has adopted a regulatory-first approach from day one. Token Bay invests in start-ups building next-generation blockchain infrastructure and decentralized applications for Web3. Building on the success of its first fund, Token Bay is now launching its second fund and will continue to back outstanding entrepreneurs building infrastructure solutions for the new token economy.

In addition to Abu Dhabi, Token Bay also has offices in Hong Kong, and is strategically positioned across digital assets hubs in both the Middle East and Asia.

Founder and Managing Partner of Token Bay, Lucy Gazmararian stated, “This marks the first phase of global expansion for Token Bay, and we’re excited to have been granted the IPA in ADGM for venture capital investment in tokens as well as in equity. Blockchain technology has the potential to drive innovation through tokenization, and as blockchain networks continue to evolve, it is important that as venture capitalists we are fully equipped to support talented founders building in Web3 by directly participating in these networks and taking an ownership stake through tokens. We extend our sincerest thanks to the regulator for their forward-thinking approach and open dialogue so that we were able to reach this important milestone and establish Token Bay in one of the world’s leading international financial centers and digital assets hub.”

ADGM’s progressive regulatory framework, English common law legal framework, status as a leading centre for financial innovation and vibrant blockchain and digital assets ecosystem have attracted Token Bay to set up offices in the capital of the UAE.

Arvind Ramamurthy, Chief of Market Development at ADGM said, “We extend a warm welcome to Token Bay Capital as they join ADGM’s international financial centre and commence their establishment in Abu Dhabi, marking the beginning of their global expansion journey. ADGM is dedicated to cultivating innovation and excellence in the financial sector, particularly within the virtual asset space. With progressive regulatory frameworks that facilitate companies like Token Bay Capital, ADGM’s vibrant ecosystem stands as the optimal platform for initiating their global growth trajectory.”

Token Bay’s Venture Funds offer institutions, multi-national companies, private banks, family offices and high-net-worth individuals the opportunity to invest in an emerging asset class right at the start of a multi-decade cycle. 

backed by $30 million in capital. Triton Liquid a digital assets hedge fund, with its global headquarters in Abu Dhabi and has received an In-Principal Approval for an FSP, from the Financial Services Regulators (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM).

As per ADGM press release, the launch will provide a best-in-class, tailored platform for Middle Eastern investors seeking to capitalize on the growth of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency adoption.

Seeded with $30M from Tier 1 VC, FJ Labs, Triton Liquid is backed by New York-based FJ Labs which has previously invested in Alibaba, Stripe, Revolut, Klarna and financial wellness company ABHI.

As the UAE emerges as a globally recognized centre for digital assets innovation and demand for tokens grows, Triton Liquid is poised to provide investors with access to token liquidity, rigorous data-driven digital assets analysis, and robust portfolio diversification.

Founded by MIT and Princeton alumni, Triton Liquid’s methodology combines fundamental venture capital (VC) principles with deep proprietary data analysis to invest in liquid tokens across the entire digital asset landscape. The result is a portfolio that generates venture-like returns with public markets’ liquidity.

Their investment edge is that they have built proprietary dashboards over the past two years that track relevant metrics across 24 digital asset verticals and combine it with ⁠VC-style due diligence with 20+ page deal memos for each project. Unlike traditional venture and equity investment models, where performance projects are based on retrospective quarterly or half-yearly earnings, Triton Liquid tracks live, open-source data, generating real-time insights and forecasts, equipping investors with far greater oversight and transparency.

This strategy was developed by their digital assets-native team that has built crypto products, decentralized exchanges, and digital asset hedge funds prior, where the fund partner has invested across three crypto investment cycles.

As of March 2024, Triton realized a 108% return since inception, after increasing their market exposure from 20% to 100% since November 2023.

Fabrice Grinda, Founder Partner at FJ Labs, comments; “Digital assets is the ultimate network effect business and a perfect complement to our core efforts. We believe that Triton’s proprietary evaluation process will offer venture-style returns in this emerging asset class, and we are delighted to be part of the Triton story in ADGM’s burgeoning digital assets ecosystem.”

Chris Keshian, Founder and CIO of Triton Liquid – and formerly FJ Labs’ Head of Liquid Digital Assets – is the architect of the fund and its liquid token strategy. Based in Abu Dhabi, Chris will be responsible for building and scaling operations in the region and driving the overall growth of the business.

Chris a true digital asset native, has been an active investor and trader in the cryptocurrency space since 2013. In 2014, he co-founded the first fiat gateway onto Ethereum, showcasing his acute understanding of emerging blockchain technologies. Building on this success, Chris further established a long/short cryptocurrency-focused hedge fund in San Francisco in 2016. Today, he is bringing his extensive experience to Abu Dhabi’s thriving digital assets ecosystem

Chris Keshian, Founder and Chief Investment Officer at Triton Liquid says: “The liquid digital assets market has evolved rapidly over the last ten years, and now sits at the cross-section of venture investing and public equity investing. Most projects are early stages but have an actively traded token that represents ownership or value accrual for the company. As such, through applying a venture style research process with a public equity style data due diligence and rebalancing process, we have created a strategy which we believe provides the best exposure to the growth and liquidity of this asset class.”

“The UAE is undoubtedly becoming the global hub for digital assets and the broader DeFi industry,” Chris adds. “The fintech ecosystem in the UAE is more vibrant than ever, and we look forward to playing an active role in its continued evolution. The UAE’s visionary leadership, financial services pedigree and constant drive for fintech innovation make this market a perfect fit for us. Our launch today marks a major milestone for our company and a crucial inflection point in our growth journey, one which we are delighted to share with our partners at ADGM.”

In an interview with Zawya, Keshian stated, “We invest in projects on a category basis. I assess 12 projects that are all competing and trying to do the same thing, then I would decide which of these will win and invest accordingly.” Investments so far include Synthetix – a derivatives liquidity protocol for derivatives trading in decentralized finance – and blockchain platform Solana.

He concludes when asked why he chose UAE, “It will be one of the three jurisdictions along with Hong Kong and Singapore that capture the lion’s share of entrepreneurs and people and funds who want this to see this become a real asset class,” Keshian said.

As per Invest Qatar report The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), Tasmu Smart Qatar invested $1.65 billion in digital technologies, and expects this number to reach $5.7 billion by 2026.

Qatar’s digital investments across different priority technologies, such as Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, cybersecurity systems integration, hardware & software deploy and support, cloud computing, big data analytics, enterprise resource planning, AR & VR, drones, IT consulting, Blockchain, custom application design, and artificial intelligence (AI), is expected to grow from “$1.65bn” in 2022 to “$5.7bn” in 2026.

Invest Qatar revealed this in its report, ‘Smarter Qatar: Embracing Emerging Technologies and Innovation, Improving Lives and Driving a Sustainable Digital Economy’, which it prepared in collaboration with the MCIT.

The report also stated that Tasmu is leveraging emerging technology to drive the Smarter Qatar Strategy.

As per the report, “Key functionality focus areas and microservices are identified based on alignment with national strategies, scan of global smart city/nation platforms, and relevance to proposed platform role,” the report stated.

The functionality focus areas include IoT, cloud, analytics, and AI, while the potential microservices are IoT sensors, marketplace, generative Al, multi-cloud, operation command centre, chatbots, predictive analytics, payment gateway, voice interface, and hybrid-cloud, among many others.

According to the report, the integration of emerging technologies in a smart country landscape leads to transformative changes, enhancing sustainability and the quality of life of citizens, ensuring seamless connectivity, and data-driven decision-making.

Additionally, the integration of IoT with AI-powered traffic management helps analyze real time traffic data and coordinates signals leading to a decrease in congestion, enhanced transit efficiency, and lowered greenhouse gas emissions. On data analytics, the report stated that gathering big data from people, infrastructure, and vehicles empowers city planners to optimize buildings, enhance energy efficiency.

Qatar recently launched its digital asset lab which includes blockchain technology at its core, with companies joining in from around the globe.

UAE based Phoenix Group, an ADX-listed crypto firm has bought 12.5% stake in UAE based Rekt Studios, a Web3 gaming firm that utilizes NFTs. The purchase agreement was approved by Phoenix board in a $2.5 million transaction. The acquisition will be executed through Phoenix’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Phoenix INV Holdings.

Cypher Capital also invested $1.5 million in Web3 Rekt Studios back in December of 2022. There is notably a close affiliation between the founders of Cypher Capital and Phoenix Group.

In February 2024, UAE Phoenix Group, acquired valued at more than half a million dollars ($577,074) in one of its related parties, Phoenix Technology Solutions B.V. based out of the Netherlands.

In addition Phoenix group spent over $500 million in BTC Mining machines.

The crypto conglomerate additionally snagged a 25% stake in UAE-based content monetization platform Lyvely in December 2023, after debuting on the ADX at the start of the month to a strong investor appetite, which saw shares soaring 35% on the first day of trading.

Phoenix Group has also invested in M2 the latest crypto exchange to receive a license in UAE from ADGM.

About Phoenix: The company owns 23 businesses and nine crypto mining facilities in the US, Canada, CIS, and the UAE, with a USD 2 bn crypto mining farm in the UAE, one of the largest in the Middle East.