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Sun 31 Aug 2014 02:05 PM

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Saudi's Mobily launches VC fund for tech start-ups

Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) fosters its position of innovation in Saudi Arabia by launching its venture capital arm to support tech start-up ecosystem

Saudi's Mobily launches VC fund for tech start-ups

A new venture capital fund to invest in high-tech start-ups in the telecommunication, IT, media and entertainment sectors has been launched by Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), Saudi Arabia’s second-largest telecommunications company.

Mobily Ventures is established as the corporate venture capital arm of Mobily to focus on early stage and growth stage start-ups in a number of areas.

As a strategic investor, Mobily Ventures will be interested in e-commerce and retail innovation, mobile financial services and payment, digital advertising, digital content and entertainment as well as IT and cloud services.

The aim is to build the technological and economical synergies between the selected start-ups and Mobily, and enable start-ups to leverage Mobily’s assets to accelerate their growth.

Khalid Al-Kaf, CEO of Mobily, said that the new fund would foster entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia, and added:  “Mobily Ventures will further strengthen our company’s position in the ICT sector through the adoption of innovative products and services from the start-ups.”

The fund has already announced its first two investments in mobile apps start-ups – Easy Taxi and Anghami.

Easy Taxi is was founded in 2011 in Brazil and has since expanded globally allowing three million users to book a taxi to come to their location via a smartphone app.

In 2013 Easy Taxi’s tech incubator Rocket Internet partnered with iMENA, an investor in the Middle East and North Africa, to develop the best taxi-app business model for the area.

Anghami was launched in 2012 by the Lebanese partners Elie Habib and Eddy Maroun. The music-streaming start-up’s mobile application provides millions of Arabic and Western songs to listen to and download for free.