Standard Chartered’s  venture capital firm, SC Ventures, opens office in ADGM (Abu Dhabi Global Market) Abu Dhabi UAE, after setting up a digital asset joint venture with Japanese SBI Holdings in the UAE.

SC Ventures office will engage the fintech and startup ecosystem in Abu Dhabi and the region; identify venture-building capabilities and partnerships with UAE’s venture capital community; invest in promising growth opportunities, collaborate with local universities and explore new technologies and business trends. The ADGM office will follow SC Ventures’ four high-conviction themes that include Online Economy & Lifestyle, Digital Assets, SMEs & World Trade and Sustainability and inclusion.

SC Ventures aims to tap into the region’s vibrant technology and business innovation ecosystem, venture building capabilities and access to local talent. Gautam Jain, member of SC Ventures, is slated to lead the new Abu Dhabi office.

Gautum Jain stated, “UAE’s global tech ecosystem experienced a 134% growth in Ecosystem Value — the sixth fastest globally and the biggest in the Middle East and North African region. SC Ventures sees strong opportunities in the regions’ potential to help rewire the DNA in banking through its top-notch talent and capabilities in venture building and investment mandate — specifically in the areas of fintech, digital assets and data.”

He added, “In Q3 2023, ADGM’s assets under management (AUM) increased 52% from Q3 2022. This remarkable growth has solidified ADGM’s reputation as a trusted financial hub. SC Ventures looks forward to tapping into this community of innovation as we continue to rewire the DNA in banking to best serve clients and meet society’s needs.”

“We are pleased to see additional international financial institutions choosing ADGM and Abu Dhabi as their home for business development and regional growth. We welcome SC Ventures’ strategic decision, and we look forward to witnessing its positive contributions to the financial ecosystem as well as working with broader eco-system including Hub 71, the venture capital community in ADGM and beyond, as it continues to thrive and expand its business operations and services offerings,” said Arvind Ramamurthy, Chief of Market Development at ADGM.

“ ADGM is a hotbed of innovation as the UAE is methodically building the ecosystem, aiming to develop more than 8,000 SMEs and startups by 2030 and with the goal of creating 20 startups valued at more than US$1 billion by 2031 as part of its Entrepreneurial Nation initiative. We are excited to join and will contribute to the best of our abilities, as we continue to build our portfolio of ventures to rewire the DNA of banking and financial services in the region,” said Alex Manson, CEO, SC Ventures. 

Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Oraseya Capital, launched from the Dubai Integrated Economic Zones Authority (DIEZ) will fund high technology startups from initial seed investment to Series B. The $136 million fund is aligned with the objectives of the Dubai Economic Agenda, D33 which aims to develop SMEs. Their investment tickets go up to $3 million but startups have to have some form of presence in Dubai, UAE.

The fund will serve as a strategic partner for startups, providing guidance, support, and the necessary tools to navigate the challenges of growth and innovation. Oraseya Capital is poised to play a significant role in shaping the future of technology startups, contributing to the sustainable development and progress of Dubai’s economy.

This launch comes days after Saeed Al Darkmaki, a UAE national well known in the crypto, blockchain and DeFi circles as an entrepreneur and investor joined BoCG, a Venture firm focused on an Arabian Peninsula Fund in MENA region, to oversee the growth of blockchain-based venture portfolios seeking the next stage of growth through their Venture Operating Model (VOM).

In early October, Deus X Capital with offices in the UAE launched with $1 billion in assets according to an article published in CoinDesk. As per the article the family office backed investment firm launched on October 2nd with Tim Grant as CEO.

NEOM has inaugurated its strategic investment arm, the NEOM Investment Fund (NIF), NEOM’s wholly owned subsidiary which is set up to support the buildout and development of NEOM’s 14 priority sectors of which technology and digital are an integral part.

NIF will invest globally through Mergers & Acquisitions and venture capital in technology startups, with a clear focus on pioneering growth companies and next-generation industries.  NIF will also develop Joint Ventures and partnerships with large multinationals, institutional investors and innovators within NEOM.

As part of its inauguration, NIF is announcing new investments in companies including Pony.ai, Regent, Boom Technology, BlueNalu and Animoca Brands, details of which will be shared in the coming days. These investments, which add to those NIF has led to date, illustrate its role working alongside NEOM sectors to support their strategies for growth, enabling new technologies, establishing businesses, and creating a thriving economy in NEOM.

Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of NEOM said: “The vision of NEOM is to address global challenges that redefine livability, conservation and business. As NEOM’s strategic investment subsidiary, NIF will play a critical role in converting NEOM’s vision to reality. NIF will enable NEOM to sustain its contribution to realizing the ambitions of the Kingdom over the long term, cementing its position as a key driver of economic diversification and job creation.”

Majid Mufti, CEO of NEOM Investment Fund, said,“The NIF strategy is designed to align NEOM’s development objectives with those of innovators and institutional investors, de-risking opportunities for them to participate in creating core global growth businesses and a thriving economy in NEOM. To date, NIF has invested in several technology companies within the 14 priority sectors of NEOM that will accelerate technologies critical to the NEOM project and have a major impact on the future of living and sustainability. Replicated over time, this approach will position NEOM as a model for sustainable economic development.”

As a catalyst for change, NIF actively seeks deep partnerships with likeminded investors and bold entrepreneurs working on the world’s most complex problems, in line with NEOM’s vision. It aspires to create regional and global champion companies across NEOM’s 14 economic sectors by investing in commercially viable projects and ‘moonshot’ ideas enabled by cutting edge technologies. To accelerate the change, NIF will focus on developing investment opportunities for the private sector to participate in and will directly invest to unlock solutions that would be piloted and scaled-up in NEOM, and eventually exported to the world.

As part of its mandate, NIF will also be assuming the role of portfolio manager for NEOM’s sector assets and companies. This role will safeguard returns for the shareholder and investors through portfolio synergies and will underpin NEOM’s long-term financial sustainability.

MENA based Silverline, leading technology company specializing in innovative solutions for public and private sector in the MENA  focusing on security, data integrity, and digital transformation, in partnership with BSV Blockchain are hosting an event at Gitex 2023 to showcase latest innovations in security, data integrity, digital passports, payment services, governmental solutions, that will be running on BSV Tera node solution with over 2.9 billion transactions since 2018 and the new unbounded scaling up to 1 million transaction per second in 2024.

GITEX Global, the world’s largest tech event, will provide the perfect platform for this groundbreaking event. From October 16th to 20th, at the Dubai World Trade Centre, attendees will have the opportunity to explore the transformative power of technology and witness how blockchain is revolutionizing industries and talk to the BSV web3.0 integrators that will be available on the stand (Silverline, Nchain, Smart Ledger, Vaionex, Unisot, Elas, Timechain labs, Gate2Chain, Certhash, Capital  tegmant, Manufact, Neucron).

BSV blockchain and Sharjah University launched its blockchain pilot to develop a blockchain metaverse system to preserve the UAE culture and heritage.

Zero Two, an ADQ sovereign wealth fund  entity, has launched its digital assets business in Abu Dhabi UAE to offer latest generation technologies. Zero Two will build and operate data center and offer digital asset management services as part of ADQ’s digital asset strategy. The name “Zero Two” is derived from the significance of the numerals 0 and 2 in Web3 technology.

Zero Two aims to become a trusted partner to companies seeking to capitalize on the broad innovative scope and transformative potential the technology offers. The company’s services range from developing power infrastructure to sourcing and testing latest generation technologies, to building and operating data centers, and providing digital assets management services.

Zero Two was created to develop, operate and invest in best-in-class technologies accelerating and supporting the digital asset and Web3 ecosystem in the region, which comprises concepts such as decentralization and token-based economics.

Commenting on the start of the company’s operations, Ahmed Al Hameli, Chief Executive Officer at Zero Two, said: “Digital assets hold vast potential that is only beginning to be explored and leveraged. Zero Two enters the market with a robust and broad business model catering to rapidly emerging demand and a demonstrated commitment to meeting the highest standards of security and compliance. We are confident that our offering that utilizes excess power from the local power grid, which is the first of its kind in the UAE and the wider region, will not only meet the needs of our clients but also exceed their expectations with regards to the various benefits that can be derived from deploying distributed ledger technologies.”

This is not the first digital assets entity to be owned by ADQ. ADQ also registered FSI ( FS Innovation) which entered into an agreement with USA based Marathon digital holdings, a digital asset mining entities to establish and operate one or more mining facilities for digital assets. The business entity will be in the field of digital asset/crypto mining. The initial phase will consist of two digital asset mining sites comprising 250 MW (megawatts) in Abu Dhabi UAE. Marathon Holdings will own 20% of the joint company in UAE only. The cost of the project will be $406 million.

In September 2022, Abu Dhabi’s ADQ and Further Ventures, an investment firm back by ADQ launched a $200 million fund focused on Fintech, digital assets and supplychain.  As per the news, entrepreneurs and experienced executives who choose to launch their next venture with Further will have access to product and engineering resources for concept development; seed capital required to take the business to Series A; and reserved capital for following on through multiple rounds of funding beyond capital investment.

Two announcements recently for C-level positions in the GCC region, showcased how blockchain is helping to fast track appointments up the corporate ladder.

The first announcement was that of The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), the Arab world’s second-largest bourse by market value, who appointed Abdulla Al Nuaimi as its new chief executive. Al Nuaimi had previously held the position of COO at ADX.

In the announcement it stated, “ Al Nuaimi played a key role in the development of the ADX’s trading platform, helping establish the first application of blockchain technology in the UAE’s financial sector.” He will seek to further accelerate the range of products and services at the ADX, the statement added.

His appointment comes at a time of heightened market activity on the ADX. The exchange has experienced a rush of initial public offerings (IPOs) in recent years. Companies that listed on the bourse last year include Borouge, the Abu Dhabi Ports Group, Abu Dhabi healthcare provider Burjeel Holdings and Bayanat, a geospatial data products and services provider owned by artificial intelligence and cloud computing company G42.

Then another C-level announcement was made by Tata Steel for its appointment of Shuja Haque, a 23 year steel industry veteran, as Regional General Manager for the Middle East region. Once again in their announcement they mentioned his role in building and executing the first ever blockchain transaction in the steel industry.

As the press release stated, “ He has contributed tangibly to the detailed mapping of several countries including Saudi Arabia, resulting in the current order book being highly skewed to the Kingdom with some key wins including the Makkah Haram expansion and some of the largest malls, hotels, airports and parks in KSA. He also played a crucial role in executing the first ever Blockchain transaction in the steel industry, a testament to his forward-thinking mindset and approach.”

In his new role he will oversee the Middle East and North Africa business with responsibilities as varied as People’s Health & Safety (EHS), P&L growth, and plant operations. Current Tata Steel projects include a few upcoming museums in the UAE, various airport expansion projects across the GCC and unique projects like Sindalah Island at NEOM in Saudi Arabia.   

These two announcements show how important blockchain and having implemented blockchain projects are in the track to C-level positions.

KSA Web 3 NFT Marketplace, NuqtahNFT sponsors LEAP tech convention that will be taking place in Riyadh Saudi Arabia from February 6th-9th 2023. 

LEAP is one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest annual tech events. A yearly 3-day tech convention held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It is the largest debut tech event as of 2022, with over 100,000 attendees worldwide. It is co-organized by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Informa Tech, and the Saudi Federation For Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones.

Wajd Badawi, Head of Operations at NuqtahNFT, commented: “We are very excited about this partnership. Part of our mission is to enable individuals and institutions in Saudi with Web 3.0 technologies, and LEAP is a great platform for us to showcase the different use-cases through the NFTs activations we are providing.” 

This agreement is pushing the current boundaries of the Saudi NFTs scene with various activations powered by NuqtahNFT. Such as Digital Collectibles to be gifted to VIP attendees as Photography NFTs of a curated collection of photographs by Saudi photographers’ that showcases the beauty of Saudi Arabia’s landscape from all around Saudi. NuqtahNFT are also providing LEAP with variety of NFTs to be displayed at the exhibition. Additionally, NuqtahNFT developed a “Community Pass”, an exclusive collection with variety of utilities for LEAP’s community in which they can benefit from at LEAP 2024.

Badawi commented: “Our main objective from this partnership is to give a platform to the Saudi and regional Originators, educate global and local attendees about Saudi Arabia’s heritage and support tourism through art and technology and increase the adoption of Web 3.0 applications such as NFTs in the Kingdom. And for that, we want to express our thanks to LEAP for allowing us to be the first Saudi company to provide these solutions.”

During a Bloomberg TV interview at WEF Davos event, Mansoor Al Mahmoud, CEO, of Qatar Investment Authority, reaffirmed the fund’s interest in investing in Blockchain technology, more precisely any application using Blockchain.

Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund will use the current economic turmoil as an opportunity to rebalance its $450 billion portfolio. The Qatar Investment Authority is looking for opportunities in Europe, Asia and the US in sectors such as venture capital, fintech and sports except for crypto.

As Al Mahmoud stated, “We are still not interested in crypto, yet we are interested in investing in Blockchain technology. Any application using Blockchain would be of our interest. This is a technology that came to remain.

The QIA in October agreed to invest $2.5 billion in RWE AG to back the German utility’s purchase of US renewable assets. It was also a cornerstone investor in sports car brand Porsche AG’s IPO and has invested in a string of tech start-ups.

Qatar also launched its Blockchain blueprint in 2022 and Qatar University invested in Maxya Blockchain a project developed by two professors at Qatar university came together to build a blockchain network from scratch that would not only be utilized as a ledger but also as a super computer.

Dubai has officially launched its metaverse strategy which will bring on 5000 blockchain and metaverse companies to the city by 2027. His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council has launched the directives of the Dubai Metaverse strategy. 

As per his tweet, the Dubai Metaverse strategy will add 5 times more Blockchain and Metaverse companies to Dubai within the next five years. Knowing that today Dubai currently has 1000 Blockchain and metaverse entities, this means that by 2027 there should be 5000 Blockchain metaverse companies at least in Dubai UAE.

As Sheikh Hamdan stated, “It will also add 40,000 new jobs in the virtual world and bring in 4 billion USD to Dubai’s economy in the next 5 years.”

He notes, “Today we have launched our metaverse strategy which is the next economic and technological revolution that will play a role in every facet of our lives for the next two decades to come. We currently have 1000 companies in Dubai who are working in this domain and who currently add 500 million USD yearly to our national economy; we expect this will increase in the near future.”

Sheikh Hamdan added that the Dubai metaverse strategy will encourage innovation in the metaverse as well as government utilization of the metaverse while growing the talent base. He states, “Our aim from launching this comprehensive metaverse strategy early on is so that we can be one of the top 10 globally in this field. Dubai has and will continue to remain a pioneer because H.H. Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum has proven over and over again the fruitfulness of his future vision and development.”

Back in March Dubai had announced it would be working on its metaverse strategy. 

UAE based data and location-driven marketing services company, MEmob which utilizes blockchain technology to offer advanced and effective advertising services, is now accepting crypto payments

As per their announcement, MEmob is assisting entrepreneurs, crypto investors, agencies, and brands as well as decentralized apps (DAPPs), data oracles, blockchain firms, and crypto exchanges by offering them the opportunity to pay in cryptocurrencies. Ihab El Yaman, CEO of MEmob stated, “By backing blockchain technology, embracing it, and accepting cryptocurrencies as payments, we are saying that we believe in this long-term.”

MEmob was one of the first tech companies in MENA to integrate blockchain technology into its operations; MEmob is presently well positioned to enhance digital marketing activations & performance and has strict control over data flow and GDPR adherence. MEmob is trusted by top brands to harness their data for growth and ROI maximization.

Ihab El Yaman added, “I believe, Blockchain, with all its implementations, mistakes, and corrections, will become available to every user with access. Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies will surely evolve and power the new internet. As we’ve seen with the internet and its use cases over the last 14 years of innovation, this new technology – blockchain too will evolve, possibly over the next ten years. But I am positive that in the near future, hospitals, governments, and financial systems will embrace this technology and reap the benefits. Blockchain integration empowers businesses to unlock endless opportunities to create a global digital footprint. It’s time that we all take active steps towards near future implementation. Also, it goes without saying that the rise of blockchain will eventually bring about a revolution and change the world as we see it now. The best is indeed yet to come.