Saudi Arabian based Blockchain enabled Insuretech platform TakaDAO has won 2nd place at Meet the Drapers Season 6, winning $500K in funding.

Sharene Lee, Co-Founder of TakaDao stated on LinkedIn, “ We’re thrilled to announce that Takadao has secured 2nd place on Meet the Drapers Season 6 and clinched a whopping $500k in funding! It’s a testament to the hard work, dedication, and ingenuity of our incredible team. We couldn’t have done it without the unwavering support of our amazing Takatribe and the relentless efforts of every member of our team. Your belief in us has been our driving force, and we’re profoundly grateful for each and every one of you.”

Meet the Drapers, is a global entrepreneur show, where startups can pitch their ideas and win funding. Tim Draper is the host of the show. In its Season 6 it carried out a show in Saudi Arabia.

This is not the first funding received by TakaDAO. The company received a strategic investment from Cardano accelerator Adaverse in January 2024.

Adaverse focuses on scaling Web3 solutions. This came at the heels of Adaverse’s expansion into Saudi Arabia with the opening of an office in Riyadh. Adaverse is now the first venture capital fund in the KSA to specialize in Web3 and blockchain early-stage investing. In 2024, the company plans on investing $10 million in local Saudi Web3 startups.

Furthermore in October 2023 Takadao, raised $1.6 million in pre seed round led by Draper Associates. Other investors include BIM, Core Vision ventures, Prince Sultan Bin Fahad bin Salman Al Saud.

In a recent LinkedIn post, Anthony Butler, senior advisor to Saudi Central Bank ( SAMA) an expert in Blockchain and digital assets, called for DLT ( Distributed Ledger Experts) or Blockchain experts, as well as AI ( Artificial Intelligence), Machine Learning and software engineers to apply for positions in some world class projects in KSA.

According to Butler there are exciting opportunities in KSA. He states, “There are some world class projects that have an impact in KSA.”

In June 2023, Butler had made a similar call for talents for blockchain, AI and digital assets experts for jobs in KSA. At the time he mentioned roles for software engineers with experience working with DLT protocols and applications. According to Butler the role required experience implementing solutions using tech such as Ethereum, Hyperledger Besu, Hyperledger Fabric, and/or R3 Corda.”

KSA has been launching and investing in digital economy projects across the country.

They had launched a nationwide CBDC project in 2022 which is still underway.

In addition last week, KSA based Marhaba Blockchain Information Systems (MRHB) a blockchain web3 Infrastructure,  partnered with Saudi Arabia’s Digital Economy Centre (DEC)  an institution driving the digital transformation of Saudi Arabia’s economy in alignment with Vision 2030. The collaboration focuses on Blockchain, DLT and Artificial Intelligence (AI), initiatives.

Even Saudi Arabia’s Muqassa, a subsidiary of Saudi’s Tadawul Group, specialized in settlement of trades, signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Swiss Blockchain enabled Instimatch, a cash management platform for institutions across industries and geographies to interconnect. The MOU will work to launch a repo trading platform to enhance the financial structure of the Saudi Capital Market.

Blockchain enabled entities such as Crysp Farms, a UAE based innovator and operator of decentralized blockchain enabled vertical farms, secured a $2.25 million ‘Pre-Series A’ round structured and led by Gate Capital with participation from regional investors, including those from the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Additionally AI and Blockchain enabled Tribal Credit, founded by Egyptian entrepreneurs, will be expanding into Saudi Arabia, and using a renewed and increased debt facility of $150 million with Partners for Growth.

Swiss based The Hashgraph Association (THA), for Blockchain DLT digital enablement signed a strategic partnership with the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA) to launch a “DeepTech Venture Studio” in Riyadh worth $250M USD over five years (2024-2028).

Blockchain has even infiltrated the LEAP 2024 Tech Exhibition and Conference, taking place between March 4th-7th 2024, in Riyadh KSA. Already many blockchain and DLT entities have announced their participation at the event, including names such as Antematter, who specialize in crafting cost-effective, innovative solutions in AI, Blockchain, and Cloud Development, iBLOCKCHAIN, who are fostering blockchain adoption across governments, enterprises, and the public sphere,  and companies such as BitWits, will be showcasing their web game, blockchain, and AI development.

So it would seem that KSA is definitely becoming a blockchain, DLT, and digital economy hub.

Saudi Arabia based Muqassa, a subsidiary of Saudi’s Tadawul Group, specialized in settlement of trades, signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Swiss Blockchain enabled Instimatch, a cash management platform for institutions across industries and geographies to interconnect.

The MOU will work to launch a repo trading platform to enhance the financial structure of the Saudi Capital Market.

A repo is a repurchase agreement, which is defined as short-term lending mechanism that involves a bank selling securities, usually government bonds or other debt instruments with steady values, to an investor and then buying them back a short time after at a slightly higher price.

Muqassa works to reduce post-trade risk by introducing new mechanisms to guarantee the settlement of trades.

The signing was held during Saudi Capital Market Forum (SCMF), held in Riyadh between 19 and 20 February.

Under the MoU, Muqassa will conduct central clearing for all repo transactions on the new platform. Instimatch which leverages blockchain technology, working with Blockchain platforms such as R3 and AlGorand, will be responsible for continually enhancing the trading platform in collaboration with Muqassa, ensuring its adaptation to the evolving requirements of its users.

The MoU will also allow both parties to cooperate in order to introduce new products and services in the Saudi capital market. This will support the efforts exerted for the development and diversification of the market, which come in the context of Vision 2030.

Instimatch’s mission is to establish a global network of trust, enabling counterparties across the globe to conduct money market trades transparently and frictionless. This will facilitate the global flow of liquidity between counterparties, leading to a more efficient, stable and diversified money market system

In 2021, Instimatch Global, and Algorand, blockchain powering secure and efficient frictionless exchange, partnered to disrupt the regulated payment networks with advanced solutions powered by blockchain. Prior to that in 2020, Instimatch had partnered with R3 and also opened up its regional MENA office in Qatar.

KSA based Marhaba Blockchain Information Systems (MRHB) a blockchain web3 Infrastructure, has partnered with Saudi Arabia’s Digital Economy Centre (DEC)  an institution driving the digital transformation of Saudi Arabia’s economy in alignment with Vision 2030.

The collaboration focuses on Blockchain, Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), initiatives.

MRHB, Founder Naquib Mohammed noted “This collaboration has created several opportunities focused on leveraging Blockchain solutions for public sector entities within the kingdom. DEC CEO Dr. Hasan Al Ameer added “This partnership will bring MRHB’s pioneering products and services to Saudi companies looking to explore blockchain & AI technologies. The unique shariah compliance of their platform is also particularly suited to the Kingdom.”

Both MRHB and DEC are dedicated to identifying and pursuing potential projects that resonate with Vision 2030’s objectives, bringing innovative solutions to the forefront in Saudi Arabia.

MRHB has also recently partnerd with Limar Technologies to localize MRHB’s Souq NFT platform for KSA and GCC markets

In the midst of Saudi Arabia, in Jeddah to be exact, a city is emerging, a smart city that is built on Blockchain. The city is called Mayasem

Mayasem is a smart city construction project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that covers 1.6 million square meters strategically located in Obhur, the thriving new heart of north Jeddah.

Saudi based Shamayel United Development Company; a Jeddah based real estate developer founded in 2010, is the master developer of a 1.6 million sqm plot in the district of Obhur north of the city of Jeddah. The development is an integrated sustainable mixed-use community.

The site of the smart city built on Blockchain, lies adjacent to the development of the Kingdom Tower poised to be the world’s tallest skyscraper.

In Mayasem city, Blockchain technology is not just a concept but the core foundation. It is not just the physical features of the city that are future looking and innovatively designed but as per the developers it is integrated into the blockchain.

The technology in Mayasem is providing an improved standard of living and a new level of data control.

As per the Youtube video on Mayasem, “Every brick, every tree, every drop of water is part of a larger interconnected network. It is not just a city it’s a smart City. It uses data to change the way cities are run and that’s why it is the city of the future but what makes Maysem unique is the blockchain.”

According to the developers, the blockchain technology is the lifeblood of this city, it keeps the heart of the city pumping.

The developers state that the entire construction project has DLT technolog woven into its very fabric. It manages the data from the high end apartments to the shopping malls, luxury parks, up to the lagoons.

The technology is giving the people of the city control over their data and in turn a better standard of living. It is reinventing the way cities are run by offering empowerment, transparency ad progress.

Recently, more and more blockchain projects are being built in Saudi Arabia. For example, blockchain enabled Crysp Farms, a UAE based innovator and operator of decentralized blockchain enabled vertical farms, has secured a $2.25 million ‘Pre-Series A’ round structured and led by Gate Capital with participation from regional investors, including those from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and is planning to launch in KSA.

While most recently, the Hashgraph Association and the Saudi Ministry of Investment signed a partnership to launch a $250 million Deep tech studio for emerging technologies.

The Saudi Arabian, Communications, Space, and Technology Commission  has extended the registration period for the Emerging Technologies Regulatory Sandbox to March 31, 2024. The Emerging Technologies regulatory sandbox is open for technologies such as Blockchain, IoT, and cloud computing, space technology, AR/VR/XR and 3D printing.

This decision supports the nation’s commitment to innovation and technological advancements, offering entrepreneurs and innovators the opportunity to experiment with cutting-edge products, solutions, and business models within a flexible regulatory framework.

By allowing additional time for registrations, the CST is inviting a broader spectrum of innovators to leverage this platform, thereby enhancing inclusivity and diversity in the market. This initiative is part of a broader effort to foster a conducive environment for launching innovative business models, solutions, or services, with the ultimate aim of supporting entrepreneurs and innovators in bringing their visions to life.

The commission’s recent collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the announcement of the winners of the Internet of Things Challenge 2023 are prime examples of its active involvement in nurturing talent and encouraging technological innovation.

This comes at the heel of the signing of the Deep tech Venture Studio between The Hashgraph Association and Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment.

All this is a reflection of the Kingdom’s aim to attract more emerging tech startups and companies to the country.

Thailand based, Nakamoto Games is entering the Saudi Arabian market through four key partnerships that will include the launching of tournaments, hackathons, educational content in a drive to increase adoption o Web3 Blockchain gaming. Nakamoto will be collaborating with Arabian Gaming Guild.

According to the press release, this initiative marks an important step for the play-to-earn arcade gaming platform as it enters the Middle East’s largest market.

Nakamoto and Arabian Gaming Guild will bring a series of GameFi tournaments to Saudi Arabia, anticipated to be some of the most substantial play-to-earn events in the region. This effort is expected to drive further adoption of Web3 gaming among local players.

Education plays a critical role in Nakamoto Games’ strategy, with a partnership with Yalgamers designed to inform the local population about blockchain gaming benefits. This includes campaigns on crypto, GameFi, and play-to-earn mechanisms, with support from the Arabian Gaming Guild for streaming and onboarding.

Local offline gaming events are also on the agenda, facilitated by Nakamoto Games’ partnership with GamifierSA. These tournaments, hosted in top gaming stadiums across the region, aim to draw large audiences and feature well-known Saudi players on the blockchain gaming platform.

In addition, there are plans for a series of hackathons focused on blockchain game development is planned in collaboration with HackathonX. These events, expected to be the largest in the region, will be supported by notable Saudi media and the government, with the goal of introducing new games to the Nakamoto Games platform through these Web3-centric hackathons.

According to a recent interview by Zawya, with, Bandar AlTunisi, Head of Development at Binance in Saudi Arabia, high level digital currency regulation could come out in Saudi Arabia tomorrow or in a month’s time.

He states, “With discussions on cryptocurrency ongoing at several Saudi government bodies, Saudi Arabia, is looking forward to possible “high-level” regulation for digital currencies in the country this year.”

AlTunisi said there had been growth over the past seven years.  “It could be tomorrow, it could be in a month’s time, but once they’re ready, they will move quickly, which is what excites us about the Saudi market. I am hopeful about this year, but it is dependent on a lot of different factors,” he said.

Bader Al Kalooti, Head of Binance Middle East, Africa and Southern Asia (MEASA) and Turkey, said: “It is still very early. Relatively speaking, this is a nascent industry. The way these things tend to work, you will have disruptive technology roll out, then it takes a while to demonstrate that there is a product market fit, that people want this technology, then the regulations catch up.”

Dubai and Bahrain were early movers, he said, and other markets will catch up, although it will not happen overnight.

Bodies involved in studying potential crypto regulation include the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA), the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), which will be involved from a blockchain point of view, and the Capital Markets Authority (CMA).

Saudi Arabia also launched the Financial Sector Development Programme in 2018, under which the development of cryptocurrency regulation could also fall.

The creation of such regulation would be followed by a period of understanding how the regulations will be applied, AlTunisi said. Saudi is a priority market for crypto in general as well as Binance, he said.

“There is no other major exchange that has boots on the ground in Saudi in the way Binance does,” he adds, “Saudi is one of those places where once they move, they move big/. We really anticipate that there is going to be movement soon, and once they do, it is going to be a huge catalyst for growth in the industry.”

LaraontheBlock spoke withNaquib Mohammed, Founder and CEO of MRHB Network, who recently started operations in KSA, explained, ” We have been in meeting with stakeholders from SAMA ( Saudi Central Bank) on a regular basis. SAMA is working on regulations, but there is nothing happening anytime this year.”

MENA is home to three of the top 30 countries receiving crypto in Chainalysis index: Turkey (12), Morocco (20), and Iran (28). However, Turkey dominates in terms of raw transaction volume, but interestingly Saudi Arabia comes in third in terms of crypto value received, with UAE coming in at number two and Turkey taking number one place.

The Hashgraph Association (THA), the Swiss-based organization at the forefront of global Blockchain digital enablement, has during the Swiss Economic Mission to Saudi Arabia in the presence of the Swiss Federal Councillor, Guy Parmelin,signed a strategic partnership with the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA) to launch a “DeepTech Venture Studio” in Riyadh worth $250M USD over five years (2024-2028).

As part of the Swiss Economic Delegation traveling to Saudi Arabia under the patronage of Guy Parmelin, Head of the Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), The Hashgraph Association, which fosters the Hedera Blockchain ecosystem, will launch a custom-designed DeepTech Venture Studio to enable local Saudi companies, as well as international portfolio companies seeking to establish operations in the Kingdom, to develop innovative solutions, leveraging deep tech such as AI, DLT, Robotics, IoT, VR, and Quantum Computing.

Dr. Munirah Alaboudi, General Manager, Human Capital & Innovation at the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia, stated, “The Ministry of Investment welcomes the launch of a DeepTech Venture Studio in Riyadh by The Hashgraph Association. With human capital and innovation at the heart of the Saudi Vision 2030, we look forward to the empowerment of entrepreneurship for a vibrant society in Saudi Arabia.”

The DeepTech Venture Studio, which aims to onboard and empower over 500 companies during the five-year program, will receive dedicated support from the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia through the facilitation of entrepreneurial licenses and the entrance of companies under Saudi laws and regulations, including connecting with key government stakeholders, strategic partners, and investors. With an investment commitment of $50M USD, THA will be working closely with MISA to onboard other co-investors to participate in this global deep-tech venture-building studio.

Kamal Youssefi, President of The Hashgraph Association, adds, “We are delighted to sign this major strategic partnership with the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia. We are committed to investing in a digital future through our DeepTech Venture Studio in Riyadh that will positively contribute to the three pillars of Vision 2030 and foster a thriving digital economy in Saudi Arabia.”

The DeepTech Venture Studio, which will provide technical engineering, training and certification, project delivery, product development, business strategy, commercialization, marketing, legal and regulatory compliance, and venture capital investments – including IPO listing support on the Saudi Exchange (“Tadāwul”) – will be managed by The Hashgraph Group (THG). THG is the service delivery organization of The Hashgraph Association that currently oversees the delivery of the Hashgraph Innovation Program, a professional training and innovation program launched out of Canton Schwyz worth $165M USD over five years (2022-2026). The program is focused on enabling startups, enterprises, and government institutions to develop enterprise-grade solutions and decentralized applications on the Hedera DLT/ Blockchain network. The partnership will also include a cross-border “Entrepreneurship Exchange Program” to facilitate knowledge-sharing and the exchange of entrepreneurial, engineering, and management experience.

Urs Durrer – Head of Office for Economy, Canton Schwyz, said: “We welcome this strategic partnership between THA and MISA to launch a DeepTech Venture Studio in Riyadh, fostering knowledge-sharing and technology innovation through a Swiss-Saudi entrepreneurship exchange program out of Canton Schwyz.”

The initial phase (Phase A) of the Venture Studio will focus on ramping up local operations within 12 months and onboarding the first batch of 100 projects. The second phase (Phase B) will focus on accelerating the Venture Studio over 24 months and ensuring steady-state operations, while onboarding and investing in a new batch of 200 projects. The final phase (Phase C) of the five-year program will focus on scaling up the Venture Studio operations into new strategic markets globally, and onboarding the next and final batch of 200 projects. Startups qualifying for the program will receive up to $250,000 USD in venture capital investment, with enterprises receiving up to $500,000 USD.

Stefan Deiss, Co-Founder & CEO of The Hashgraph Group, noted “We are excited to launch our Swiss/Saudi government-endorsed DeepTech Venture Studio in Riyadh that will empower the next generation of Web3 entrepreneurs through technological, business, and capital-enablement programs, while leveraging the power and convergence of deep technologies.”

With an experienced team of over 40 professionals and practitioners, THG will begin recruiting and onboarding local talented engineers, industry experts, and professionals, as well as forming a robust local ecosystem of leading Saudi-based technology partners, academic institutions, and international organizations, including leveraging its existing partnerships with IBM, BCGX, and many other leading firms. Interested applicants, partners, and investors, can already register their interest on the registration webpage of the DeepTech Venture Studio:

The Hashgraph Association, also partnered with Tunisian Dar Blockchain to nurture projects, facilitate growth, and profoundly shape the MENA technology landscape

Crysp Farms, a UAE based innovator and operator of decentralized blockchain enabled vertical farms, has secured a $2.25 million ‘Pre-Series A’ round structured and led by Gate Capital with participation from regional investors, including those from the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The homegrown ‘Farming as a Service’ provider builds and operates bespoke onsite hydroponic farms catering to hospitality groups, healthcare facilities, restaurants, and hypermarkets. Notably, its high-quality produce is served in venues recognized by the leading awards and guides, such as Gault & Millau and Michelin.

The funding round will focus on scaling the company’s expansion strategy across the region and delivering committed contracts internationally.

Crysp Farms,is  the only Blockchain enabled hyperlocal farming provider in the region. Each farm provides continuous access to onsite fresh produce and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, supporting the outcomes of COP28. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), between 30 and 40% of total food production is lost before it even reaches the consumer. Through Crysp Farms, there is close to zero spoilage.

With the current funding round, Crysp Farms will continue its strategic expansion, introducing new farms in prestigious hotels and resorts managed by global leaders like Hilton Worldwide, Jumeirah Group, and Marriott International, among others.

 In the last month, Blockchain enabled Crysp Farms partnered with five new properties, bringing its sustainable farms to more than 20 locations across the UAE, with many more in the pipeline across regional and international destinations, including the Seychelles and Maldives.

As per the press release, the business will target expansion into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, enabling and enhancing local food production through innovative technology, in line with Saudi Vision 2030. The business aims to support the hospitality and healthcare sectors across major cities and new development projects in the Kingdom.

Speaking about the investment round, Maan Said, CEO and founder of Crysp Farms, said, “This financial and strategic investment opens up opportunities and enables the business to scale exponentially across our target markets. Through our partner relationships, we are eager to create a more sustainable world through hyperlocal farming. We are proud to receive the support of Gate Capital and other leading investors in this round, as we look forward to sustainably scaling our operations.”

Munther Hilal, Chief Executive and Founder of Gate Capital, said, “Crysp Farms has grown from an innovative idea to disrupt agriculture into a tangible green investment opportunity, with sturdy unit economics and a strong foundation paving the way for scalable growth. Gate Capital’s continuous commitment to ESG-led businesses is a testament to identifying impact investment opportunities.”