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Israel-UAE first: Israel's Maniv in $3.8m "seed round investment" for Fenix mobility start-up

'Fenix is committed to the Middle East region - to transform the way our cities move. ' (Photo: Courtesy)

November 18 - Maniv Mobility LP, the Israel-based venture fund that is "dedicated exclusively to mobility tech", announced a $3.8 million seed round investment in Fenix, a new micro-mobility venture focused on the Middle East. Maniv said it "marks the first investment by an Israeli venture capital fund in a UAE-based tech startup since the normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE and the largest pre-launch funding round in the history of the UAE tech ecosystem."

The announcement comes as Bahrain's foreign minister visited Israel on Wednesday and during a month of numerous first-time events for Israel and the United Arab Emirates. According to a report from Maniv, Fenix startup founders Jaideep Dhanoa and IQ Sayed "will soon launch electric kick-scooter service operations in Abu Dhabi, to be followed by other Emirates and Gulf markets in the coming months. The company enters the market with the largest fleet of electric vehicles in the region, delivering faster, more affordable and better-connected journeys so people are empowered to do what they are meant to."

Maniv Mability is a venture capital fund that invests globally in early stage startups that make the movement of people and goods more convenient, affordable, safe and clean. THe fund said that "limited partners in the fund include large global auto manufacturers, suppliers and industry players. Maniv's portfolio includes companies developing sensors, software, simulation, autonomous systems, mobility services, micromobility, and more. Founded in 2015, Maniv is headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel with an office in San Francisco."

“The challenges and opportunities of mobility cross all borders – Maniv now has portfolio companies in six countries. When it comes to finding safe, affordable, and clean ways of moving people around cities, the same solution sets apply to Tel Aviv, London – or Abu Dhabi. We are delighted to be the first Israeli VC to invest in a UAE-based tech company,” said Maniv Mobility founder and managing partner,Michael Granoff. “Maniv Mobility sees huge potential in the GCC region as a new market for micro-mobility and we were incredibly impressed by the team at Fenix and their drive to change the mobility future across the region. At Maniv Mobility, we eat, breathe and sleep mobility, so we are able to support the team as they bring their service to market and rapidly expand across the Middle East.”

Jaideep Dhanoa, co-founder and CEO of Fenix spoke about the new friendship that has emerged since the peace deal with Israel. “When we started Fenix, we sought the most value-adding investors that could support our mission of unleashing urban potential and propelling communities forward. As a result of the new friendship that has emerged since normalization between the UAE and Israel, we were grateful to meet the team at Maniv Mobility and now benefit from working with some of the most talented and experienced global investors and tech entrepreneurs in the mobility space. It is no secret that Israeli mobility companies have enjoyed global success - Waze and Mobileye are just the tip of the iceberg. We hope this investment is just the start of a cross-pollination of talent, capital and innovation between the nations that can only be an accelerant in the development of a true middle-eastern tech ecosystem that will greatly benefit the region and its people at large.”

Granoff on a Fenix scooter in Dubai in September. (Courtesy Michael Granoff)

IQ Sayed, Co-Founder of Fenix said that Fenix wants “to transform the way our cities move and ignite impactful commerce by making mobility easier, cheaper, and quite simply redesigned, so we can all reach our potential."

Granoff is excited about the new era. "It is with tremendous pride that I can share the news that Maniv Mobility has invested in the kick-scooter sharing start-up Fenix, headquartered in Dubai and planning to serve the UAE and the GCC region. We believe this is the first time an Israel-based fund has invested in a technology start-up in the Arab world," he wrote.

According to Maniv, following the investment, Maniv Mobility founder and managing partner, Michael Granoff, will join the board of Fenix.

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