Gulf Fund Raises $75 Million for Mideast, North African Startups

A Gulf venture capital firm created a year ago has raised $75 million to deploy in startups across the Middle East, as rich Saudi companies and families seek to monetize on the boom in technology firms.

Nuwa Capital, based both in Dubai and Riyadh, has finished the first round of investment in its Nuwa Ventures Fund I and targets reaching the $100 million mark this year, Khaled Talhouni, managing partner at Nuwa Capital, said in a phone interview.

The appetite for tech firms has been increasing among Gulf investors as governments in the region step up efforts to steer their economies away from oil. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which has bet on companies such as Uber Technologies Inc. and Jio Platforms Ltd., is expected to spend as much as $40 billion in the oil-rich kingdom throughout 2022.

Most of the proceeds raised in the Nuwa fund comes from Saudi family business and corporate groups, including the Al Faisaliah Group, Talhouni said.

Talhouni, Sarah Abu Risheh and Stephanie Nour Prince, founding partners at Nuwa Capital, previously worked at Wamda Capital, which first invested in Dubai-based ride-hailing app Careem in 2015. Careem was later sold to Uber for about $3 billion in 2019.

Nuwa Capital will target areas that include software as a service and providers of technologies for traditional industries like food and beverage and health care, Abu Risheh said.

“We like to see companies that go pan-regional, that’s where we see success,” Abu Risheh said by phone.

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