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Melissa Hancock

Associate Editor

Melissa has covered the Mena region for 15 years, during which time she has written for a range of well-known publications. Her past specialism lies in reporting on the region’s banking and finance industry. She has travelled the region extensively and lived and worked in Dubai

Melissa Hancock
money transfer, remittance

Rising cost of living boosts Mena remittance flows by 73%

The higher global cost of living in the Middle East and North Africa has resulted in a 73 percent increase in the remittance of money across the region, according to new research published this week. US global money transfer company Western Union found that 79 percent of those receiving funds in the Mena region between […]

People, Person, Man

Gulf donors contribute a third of non-profit Spark’s funding

GCC donors account for more than one-third of funding for Spark, a non-profit international development organisation that supports startups in fragile and conflict-affected countries in Mena.  “The GCC is our second-largest source of funds owing to a mix of state donors, philanthropic foundations, charitable organisations and Zakat,” Spark’s founder and CEO, Yannick du Pont, told […]

Burger Index founders (L) Wassim Berro (R) Maurice Karam

Burger Index raises $1.3m as Gulf F&B sector is hungry for data

Food and beverage data analytics platform Burger Index has raised $1.3 million to cater to rapidly growing demand across the GCC. The Madrid-based firm’s recent funding round was led by Flat6Labs, the Cairo-based seed and early-stage venture capital firm. Launched in January 2022, Burger Index provides market, competition and consumer intelligence in real time to […]

Tony Douglas, CEO of Riyadh Air

Riyadh Air set to spark price war among regional rivals

Saudi Arabia’s new national airline is bound to intensify the rivalry between Gulf carriers, analysts have said, and price wars are likely. Riyadh Air, which is wholly owned by the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, was launched on Sunday and will be run by aviation veteran Tony Douglas. The carrier’s first international flight will take off […]

UAE financial crime

UAE remains on Financial Action Task Force grey list – for now

Last month the Financial Action Task Force upheld the decision to keep the UAE on the grey list, a status it had assigned to it in March 2022.  In its February ruling, the international watchdog dedicated to fighting financial crime said the UAE had made “significant progress” on three of seven recommendations to get off […]

Global Ventures has previously invested in agtech companies including RedSea, which last year announced an $18.5m strategic fund to support its global and regional expansion plans

Bright outlook but no more ‘growth at all costs’ for startups

The challenging venture capital market means Mena startups are focusing on short-term profit rather than “growth at all costs”, according to a VC expert specialising in emerging markets. Simon Sharp, partner at Global Ventures in Dubai, said that the lower funding expectations of founders has had an impact on valuations. “That leads into the conversation that it […]

Xlinks intends to generate power for 7 million UK homes from its $18bn solar and wind farm in Morocco

Xlinks looks to Europe as UK-Morocco deal stalls

Xlinks is in talks with another European country to develop a second renewables project, as it awaits final sign off from the British government on its planned first venture to supply seven million British homes with Moroccan solar and wind power. “There will be an announcement very shortly, but we’ve already set up another company […]

Masdar's base of Masdar City is focused on sustainability

Masdar pledges $1.2bn for UK’s battery storage industry

UAE state-owned renewable energy giant Masdar has reaffirmed its commitment to developing the UK’s battery storage industry with a $1.21 billion capital investment.  Speaking on the second day of International Energy Week in London, Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, CEO of Masdar said: “I’d like to announce that we have committed to deploy £1 billion across […]

Clothing, Glove, Adult

UAE firms on recruitment drive to support Saudi events boom

British boxer Tommy Fury achieved a close victory over American rival Jake Paul in Riyadh on Sunday, in front of celebrities such as Mike Tyson and Cristiano Ronaldo. The bout was the latest footnote in Saudi Arabia’s goal to become a global hub for entertainment and sporting events. With the kingdom launching the Events Investment […]

Ukraine Saudi

Saudi foreign minister signs $400m aid deal with Ukraine

Saudi Arabia and Ukraine signed aid deals worth $400 million during a surprise visit to Kyiv by Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Sunday.  The memorandum of understanding includes the financing of oil derivatives worth $300 million as a grant submitted by the government of Saudi Arabia through the Saudi Fund for […]

Asian Agri's Buatan oil palm plantation in Riau, Indonesia. Apical is one of the largest exporters of refined palm oil in the country

Top Gulf banks help raise $787m in sustainable credits

Two leading Gulf banks have helped arrange nearly $800 million in sustainability-linked loans for a leading agricultural producer based in Singapore, as local institutions prioritise green lending in their portfolios.  First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), the UAE’s largest bank by assets, and National Bank of Kuwait, the country’s biggest financial institution, acted as lead arrangers, […]

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched The Line last year, one of several giga-projects increasing the value of construction contract awards

Value of Saudi project contracts doubled to $24.6bn in 2022

The value of giga-project related contracts awarded in Saudi Arabia in 2022 grew by 103 percent to $24.6 billion from $12 billion the previous year. As the kingdom accelerates activity towards achieving its Vision 2030 economic diversification goals, Neom saw the highest number and value of awarded contracts, especially on infrastructure works on The Line. […]

Wahed aims for 8 million customers in global expansion

Islamic fintech firm Wahed is on a global growth drive with its sights set on a presence in 50 countries, from its current 10, over the next decade.  Launched in the US in 2017 Aramco-backed Wahed serves more than 300,000 customers in the UK, US, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Kyrgyzstan, the UAE, South Africa, Nigeria and […]

KPMG launches Saudi metaverse investment fund

KPMG has launched a co-investment fund for metaverse use-cases in Saudi Arabia, as the kingdom ramps up its commercialisation of the new technology.  The consultancy firm will work with Saudi public and private partners on expediting metaverse-based technology for practical use. “We’re optimistic about the future of metaverse and Web3 technologies in the kingdom,” said […]

People, Person, Woman

PIF’s $5.5bn green bond sets tone for ‘strong pipeline’ in Mena

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund has raised $5.5 billion through its latest green bond issuance, supporting expectations of a strong year for sustainable bonds in the Middle East.  The issuance was more than six times oversubscribed – with books exceeding $33 billion – and will be used to finance or refinance eligible green projects, […]

Demand for Zoom video conferencing is shrinking now that employees are going back to the office

Zoom connects with Saudi Aramco despite global hang-ups

As Zoom Video Communications announced it was laying off 15 percent of its workforce, the Californian firm is set to partner with Saudi Aramco to build its first data centre in the Gulf state. Announcing the news on Tuesday at the Leap 2023 technology conference in Riyadh, Aramco president and CEO Amin Nassersaid: “Our new […]

Saudi's Wa’ed Ventures, which recently invested in Japan's Terra Drone Corporation, is increasing funding for the kingdom's own tech startups

Aramco venture capital arm boosts tech startup funding by $300m

Wa’ed Ventures, the venture capital arm of Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco, has announced a $300 million increase in funding aimed at boosting the growth of tech startups in the country.  The size of the fund grows to $500 million and will be directed towards local investments in mid and growth-stage startups, especially underserved areas […]

Startup academy

New academy to help Mena startups tap into Africa

As competition within the Middle East’s startup sector intensifies, a new academy is offering free advisory services, especially those looking to scale up in the African market. The DAI Magister Academy, founded last summer by boutique investment bank DAI Magister, has already helped several startups in Africa. It now hopes to develop across the Mena […]

Dubai Holding will support Abu Dhabi' Aldar Properties as it takes responsibility for residential development

UAE master developers partner for 9,000 Dubai homes

UAE mast developers Aldar Properties and Dubai Holding have formed a partnership to develop 9,000 residential units across prime locations in Dubai, with the first phase of launches planned to start this year. The joint venture will oversee the development of new communities in three locations along the E311 and E611 corridors – in the […]

Shoppers at the Galleria mall

Where the mall meets the metaverse

“We’re working on a number of initiatives that start to blur the boundaries between Web3, the metaverse, and how that is implemented in a physical space.” This is not how retail bosses used to talk a few years ago – but the digital habits that shoppers developed during the pandemic are here to stay, so […]

Chinese shoppers at a mall in Sanya, Hainan province, on January 25. Analysts expect China's economy to recover quickly after the lifting of Covid restrictions

Beijing and Brussels ‘go head to head in fight for Mena oil and gas’

The Middle East and North Africa will be one of the main beneficiaries of China’s decision to drop its zero-Covid policy, as Beijing competes with Europe for limited energy resources, according to analysts at Bank of America. “From a macro-perspective, it’s very easy to be bullish on the Mena region,” said Jean-Michel Saliba, a director […]