MANTRA Chain a Layer 1 blockchain for real world tokenization, has raised $11 million led by UAE based Shorooq Partners with investors including Three-point capital, Forte Securities, VirtuZone, Hex Trust and GameFi Ventures. The news which was published in Coindesk stated, that Mantra Chain was in the final stages of receiving licenses from Dubai’s crypto regulator, VARA.

John Patrick Mullin told CoinDesk, “These approvals will be essential in MANTRA’s plans to build and host a suite of compliance-minded tools for issuing and trading RWAs.”

MANTRA’s network isn’t yet live, meaning no one can issue or trade RWAs quite yet. But it is planned for Cosmos, a network of closely linked albeit independent blockchains. Cosmos doesn’t yet have a designated so-called app-chain for trading tokenized RWAs, according to MANTRA’s documents.

Once live MANTRA will focus on the “crypto native” crowd, which is to say, the people already familiar with crypto, decentralized exchanges, on-chain borrowing and lending and so-forth.

Earlier this week, Layer 1 blockchain, MANTRA had announced that it has applied for a license in both the UAE and HongKong as it aims towards making real world asset tokenization mainstream. MANTRA’s layer1 blockchain, known as MANTRA Chain, is designed to facilitate the issuance and trading of tokenized RWAs. MANTRA is on a mission to onboard financial organizations and other commercial enterprises that seek to tap into the many benefits tokenized RWAs have to offer.

The Saudi Venture Capital (SVC) has invested $30 million in the $150 million Bedaya Fund II, managed by UAE Shorooq Partners to back early-stage startups with a focus on fintech, digital assets, Web3, Metaverse, DeFi, and other areas.

At the launch of Bedaya Fund II, in a press release Shane Shin founding partner at Shorooq Partners stated,  “We have always been early movers, be that robo-advisory, crowdfunding, SME lending, open banking, card issuer processing, and so forth. We believe Web 3.0 models like DeFi, NFT, Metaverse are going to be the key players in the next iteration of online business.”

Bedaya Fund II is an early stage venture capital fund managed by Shorooq Partners. The fund is located in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and invests in Northern Africa, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan. The fund targets investments in the fintech and software sectors.

On Pitchbook they benchmark the Bedaya II fund against EchoVC Chain Blockchain Fund,  an early-stage venture capital fund managed by EchoVC Partners, located in Lagos, Nigeria which invests in Africa. The fund targets cryptocurrency/blockchain sectors.

The subscription agreement between Saudi Venture Capital and Shorooq Partners was signed by Dr. Nabeel Koshak, CEO and Board Member at SVC, and Mahmoud Adi, Founding Partner at Shorooq Partners.

Dr. Koshak commented: “The investment in Bedaya Fund II by Shorooq Partners is part of SVC’s Investment in Funds Program to support the growth of the VC ecosystem in Saudi Arabia for all stages and to fill financing gaps for early stages. SVC’s expansion in investing in early-stage funds comes as a result of the recent support from the SME Bank to increase the investment capital of SVC, leading to a total investment capital of $1.6 billion.”

Mahmoud Adi added: “We are privileged to have SVC as a strategic investor to Bedaya Fund II, again after our partnership in the prior fund (Bedaya Fund I). This commitment highlights the increasing confidence in Saudi Arabia’s thriving startup ecosystem. With our persistent focus in Saudi Arabia and leadership position across the Middle East, Bedaya Fund II is well-positioned to support the growth and innovation of early-stage startups.

SVC is a government investment company established in 2018 and is a subsidiary of the SME Bank, one the development banks affiliated to the National Development Fund. SVC aims to stimulate and sustain financing for startups and SMEs from pre-Seed to pre-IPO by investing $1.6 billion through investment in funds and co-investment in startups. SVC invested in 38 funds that have invested in 674 companies through 1,257 deals.

UAE Dubai Future District Fund, e&Capital ( formerly known as etisalat group) as well as other well renowned VC funds have invested $20 million in Web3 metaverse social app content provider VUZ. The series B investment round included international investors such as Caruso Ventures, Vision Ventures VC Fund, SRMG , Panthera Capital, Faith Capital and Webit Investment network.

In addition to the new investors, VUZ formerly known as 360VUZ is backed by investors such as Knollwood Investment Advisory, AlTouq Group, Impact46, UAE Shorooq Partners, KBW Ventures, Media Visions, Hala Ventures, 500Startups, DAI, Al Falaj, Magnus Olsson, Samih Toukan, Jonathan Labin, DTEC Ventures, Plug and Play Ventures, Al Rashid family and other strategic angel investors.

With this round, VUZ is now backed by a mix of investors based in the US and EMEA that will play a major role in supporting VUZ in its international expansion.

VUZ bridges the gap between the physical and virtual worlds to offer premium immersive content library in the world with more than 20,000 hours of immersive content covering entertainment, creators, and sports segments, and XR, VR, and AR experiences from virtually anywhere in the world. VUZ’s vision is bringing people together and connecting the world by providing authentic immersive experiences while removing the constraints of (TTA) Travel, Time, and Access to billions of people around the world.

Khaled Zaatarah, the founder of VUZ, stated,  “Our mission is to build a hyper connected product to teleport, empower, and entertain millions of users globally. We are very thankful to have some of the strongest international investors as part of our journey to build a global social immersive platform while leading the new technology revolution, accelerating the future of media and trends such as the Metaverse, and XR (AR and VR) while building strong sustainable growth.”

The funds will be used to fuel VUZ’s expansion plans in growing its core, accelerate the growth of 10% growth month over month in its recurring subscription revenue, investing in top content, hiring additional key senior hires, new social features, launching Web3 products, NFT projects to own and trade virtual assets derived from the metaverse and scaling with asset-light operations into 8 additional new international markets, following its partnership and integration with 45 Telecom Operators globally.

Zaatarah  adds, “Our plans for the future are 10X stronger than what we have been building for the past 6 years. We have built the base and now we are ready for sustainable scalability and growth at a scale-up stage. Special thanks to everyone that believed in us and to every member of our team.”

 The extended reality immersive platform VUZ reached over 1 Billion Screen Views and is aiming to reach 3 Billion Screen Views in 2023.

VUZ, an Endeavor global network company built a lean and scalable business model providing an important revenue mix, driving value as well as growth and has strong plans to scale its platform. Some of the mega plans for VUZ is building on its current IOS and Android social mobile applications are new features such as the video immersive live chatting, social in-app gifting, social commerce for creators, creators monetization and gamification plans, XR virtual technology, launching it’s SDK, scaling on the full ecosystem with META/Oculus and Qualcomm, Immersive Avatars, as well as launching its Web Platform that is expected to reach 2Bn Screen Views per year, and its Smart TV platform.

Kushal Shah, Head of Venture Capital, e& capital, commented “We are excited about investing in a tech company like VUZ that supports the creation of virtual content as well as enables futuristic immersive experiences. This is in line with our commitment to collaborate with visionary tech businesses that we believe will contribute to building a better and brighter digital future. We will continue to invest into the company’s success, partnering with them to help them achieve growth and enable meaningful progress that moves this digital world forward.”

After KSA based Nuqtah, Blockchain enabled NFT Marketplace raised its pre-Seed round led by UAE Shorooq Partners in November 2021; the company is now looking to raise an additional 5 million USD in a new funding round. Founder and CEO Salwa Radwi spoke to AlSharq on this.

Salwa Radwi plans to make Nuqtah become the de-facto platform for the Saudi and MENA digital creative economy. In the first round of financing, Shorooq Partners, along with KSA Sanabil a subsidiary of KSA Public Investment Fund participated in the pre Seed round. Nuqtah participated in the second cohort round with 500 MENA seed accelerator.

Nuqtah recently hired Dr. Majid Al Mansouri as Head of strategy. Al Mansouri has more than 8 years experience in Blockchain, AI, and VR space. He has advised, led and invested in more than 40 blockchain companies globally. He also founded the Blockchain Research Institute in various Saudi Universities in collaboration with Oxford University.

In the new funding round Nuqtah looks to use the funds for attracting human resources, developing technologies and products, and enhancing the marketing process of the company’s activity locally and regionally.

Nuqtah enables MENA users to publish and sell their work seamlessly and will serve as a global platform for buyers keen on acquiring the latest NFTs by renowned and emerging MENA artists. Nuqtah plans to build on the thriving NFTs space, and utilize the underlying blockchain technology to spearhead innovation in other verticals such as media and entertainment.

In the previous round, Shane Shin, Founding Partner at Shorooq Partners, said, “Ever since moving to Saudi, I have witnessed first-hand the tremendous evolution of the creative and cultural landscape, led by passionate young Saudis. The Kingdom is on an ambitious digital transformation journey, and the creative economy is one of the core pillars of the nation’s long term vision. As we continue to back daring founders and support them in building enduring and sector-leading companies, we are privileged to join Nuqtah as the Kingdoms first NFT platform. We believe in the Nuqtah team’s vision, and are humbled to work with them to take Nuqtah to the global NFT arena, representing the region’s vibrant and rich creative depth.”

Amal Dokhan, Partner at 500 Global said, “We are ecstatic to have Nuqtah be a part of our second cohort at Sanabil 500 MENA seed accelerator. Seeing more female founders take lead in Saudi is truly refreshing and more so in such an exciting intersection between the arts & blockchain in an Arabic enabled NFT platform, we believe in Nuqtah’s founding team and are surely privileged to support their journey towards Growth.”

 “Our goal is to create the ultimate environment for creators in the Kingdom, where they can sell their masterpieces at the value they deserve safely and securely. The Nuqtah founding team is from the core of the creative community in the region, hence, they truly understand what it means to be creative in the kingdom. We are here to transform the industry,” says Salwa Radwi the CEO at Nuqtah.

The Saudi Ministry of Tourism and Saudi Toursim Authority has announced the creation of  NFT (non-fungible token) souvenirs, in a move that reflects the Kingdom’s advancement in digital tourism. His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minster of Tourism of Saudi Arabia BoD Chairman of the Saudi Tourism Authority presented the personalized digital mementos in a first of its kind initiative to the heads of delegations participating in the 116th session of the Executive Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Jeddah, as a token of appreciation for their visit to the Kingdom.​

Recently the Saudi Ministry of Tourism  and Saudi Tourism authority created NFT souvenirs gifted to heads of delegations participating in the 16th session of the Executive Counsil of the United Nations World Tourism Organization. As per the press release, stunning VR 3D Saudi landscapes and landmarks were converted into NFTs 

His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia, said the NFT souvenirs embody the leadership’s vision for the future of the Kingdom. “As technology advances, it is important that we remain at the forefront of innovation. Our tourism infrastructure is designed to embrace new trends, and digital transformation is one of our top priorities. The NFTs serve as a bold statement to the world that Saudi Arabia is developing an unparalleled tourism sector where travelers can expect to see and experience unique and futuristic offerings.”