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MENA Digest: The Digital Hotelier, Camb AI, Rize, Bookr raise funds

By Dilasha Seth

  • 09 Feb 2024
MENA Digest: The Digital Hotelier, Camb AI, Rize, Bookr raise funds
Credit: 123RF.com

A slew of early-stage deals led the funding activity in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region this week. These included seed rounds of $1-4 million by UAE-based startups The Digital Hotelier and Camb AI, and Saudi proptech Rize. Kuwait-based SaaS marketplace player Bookr also secured bridge funding.

The first month of the calendar year, however, saw a 34% decline in startup investments in the MENA region on a year-on-year basis in value terms. About $86.5 million worth of funding was raised across 33 deals in January, according to data compiled by Wamda. The UAE led the funding activity with 10 of its startups raising $47 million, followed by Saudi Arabia, which saw 15 startups raising $11 million.

The Digital Hotelier
Travel tech startup The Digital Hotelier secured a $1 million seed funding, led by Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm Plug and Play, to expedite product development and expand market presence. Other key investors in the UAE-based SaaS platform include Bahrain’s Hope Funds and a group of angel investors.  Founded by Qutaiba Alali and Ali Fouad in 2022, The Digital Hotelier provides multilingual hotel software that optimizes the guest reservation procedure. It allows tourists to book and pay for services at hotels such as room service, spas, food, and entertainment, among others, besides catering to hotel apartments and holiday homes offering short stays. 

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Camb AI
Dubai Future District Fund-backed generative AI technology company Camb AI raised $4 million in seed funding, led by New York-based Courtside Ventures to scale operations and facilitate global expansion. Other investors in the AI dubbing startup include TRTL Ventures, Blue Star Innovation Partners, and Ikemori Ventures. Founded by Avneesh Prakash and Akshat Prakash, the startup provides a solution for the instant localization of video content into any language through a combination of specialized deep-learning models. It allows instant dubbing of any content in over 100 languages, dialects, and accents using the original voices with their nuances.  Camb AI had recently secured early-stage funding from UAE’s evergreen fund DFDF, which aims to deploy half of its investments into venture capital funds with a local focus and the other half directly into startups.  The startup aims to disrupt the global localization market for content, including voice dubbing and audio translation services.

Rize
Proptech platform Rize raised $2.9 million in a seed round from a slew of regional venture capital firms and angel investors, including Seedra Ventures and Hala Ventures, to expand its presence across Saudi Arabia.  Other investors participating in the round include JOA Capital, RZM Investments, Bonat Investments, and Nama Ventures. Founded in 2021 by Ibrahim Balilah and Mohammed AlFraihi, Rize offers the rent-now-pay-later platform, which allows tenants to pay their rent in flexible monthly installments. Rize has also raised funds through debt to bolster its investments in the real estate sector.

Bookr
Bookr, a Kuwait-based SaaS-enabled marketplace for beauty services, raised a bridge round of an undisclosed amount from Plus VC to scale business operations and fuel regional expansion. Founded in 2018 by Zaina Al Bader, Bookr is a one-stop digital solution that connects customers with multiple beauty services, such as hair salons, groomers, spas, and stylists. The startup aims to deploy additional capital to grow its marketing activities, enhance the customer experience, expand the team size, and scale regional expansion within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The startup has so far collaborated with 500 partners and booked more than 168,000 scheduled appointments of a value of US$6.5 million in over 10 cities in the GCC region
 

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