Fortnightly, 13 December 2017

Fortnightly, 13 December 2017

December 13, 2017


13 December 2017
25 Kislev 5778
25 Rabi Al-Awwal 1439




1.1  Israel – Europe Gas Pipeline MoU Signed
1.2  Israel Joins ‘Power Africa’ Initiative
1.3  Israel & Japan Sign New Agreement Facilitating Investments
1.4  Katz Signs Regulation Permitting Ridesharing
1.5  Finance Ministry Announces $227 Million Tax Cuts on Consumer Items


2.1  Viola Announces a New Global FinTech Fund
2.2  Aurora Labs Raises $2.7 Million
2.3  Seebo Extends Series A Round to $16.5 Million for Connected Products Analysis
2.4  SuperCom Selected for Deloitte 2017 Technology Fast 50
2.5  IRONSCALES Raises $6.5 Million
2.6  Deskforce One of Deloitte’s Fastest Growing Technology Companies in Israel
2.7  Guardian Optical Technologies Raises $5.1 Million to Accelerate Sensor Development
2.8  AnyClip Makes Deloitte’s List of 50 Fastest Growing Startups in Israel Again
2.9  Mellanox Among Deloitte’s 50 Fastest Growing Technology Companies in Israel
2.10  Alcide Announces $5.2 Million Seed Round Led by Intel Capital and Elron
2.11  Checkmarx Fastest Growing Cybersecurity Company in Israel Five Years in a Row
2.12  Israel Aerospace Industries Opens Mexico Office
2.13  OurCrowd Summit to be Israel’s Largest Investment Conference Ever
2.14  Ecoppia Completes $13 Million Funding Round


3.1  Bahrain Signs $10 Billion in Trade Deals with US Companies
3.2  Dubai Fund Invests in US Farming Tech Start-Up
3.3  Topgolf Global Expansion Continuing with Dubai Location
3.4  Arby’s Signs Development Agreement for 50 New Restaurants in Egypt
3.5  Turkey’s Kordsa to Buy Two US Companies for $100 Million
3.6  Israel Signs Deal with Turkey Worth €18.6 Million


4.1  Egypt’s 16 New Solar Power Plants Enrich Renewable Energy Sources


5.1  Lebanon’s Fiscal Deficit Contracted by $1.14B by August 2017
5.2  United States and Jordan Sign $475 Million Cash Transfer
5.3  Jordan Ranked 7th Most Prosperous Country in Arab Region, But Losing Ground Globally

♦♦Arabian Gulf

5.4  Moody’s Analytics Expects GCC Economic Growth of 2.5% in 2018
5.5  Rail Driving Growth in UAE Transportation Infrastructure
5.6  UAE Launches Plan to Send Four Emirati Astronauts Into Space

♦♦North Africa

5.7  World Bank Approves $1.15 Billion Development Policy Loan for Egypt
5.8  Egypt to Retain Tariffs on Steel Rebar from China, Turkey & Ukraine For 5 Years


6.1  Turkey Reportedly Laying Basis for Satellite Launch Vehicle Program
6.2  Over 22 Million Cars & Trucks on Turkish Roads
6.3  Athens to Vote on Bill Allowing Casinos in Tourist Destinations



7.1  Chanukah Celebrated in Israel & the World Over


7.2  Saudi Arabia Says First Cinemas to Open in Early 2018
7.3  Some 73% of Women in Morocco Face Harassment in Public Spaces


8.1  New Facility for Lampados’ 3D Sweetener
8.2  EarlySense Recognized as a Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Company for Second Year Running
8.3  Mitra Biotech Partners with Gotect Diagnostic in Israel
8.4  ChemomAb Raises $10 Million in Series B Funding
8.5  Therapix Biosciences Announces Enrollment of Phase IIa Study for Tourettes
8.6  Atox Bio Closes $30 Million Investment
8.7  Check-Cap Announces Advancement in GE Healthcare Manufacturing Collaboration
8.8  Ayala Pharmaceuticals Agreement with BMS to Develop Cancer Treatments
8.9  iCan:Israel-Cannabis to Bring FDA Approved Nebulizers to the Medical Cannabis Market


9.1  Inomize to Support Development of 3D Camera & XR ASIC Using TSMC 12nm FFC Technology
9.2  Mellanox & NEC Deliver Innovative High-Performance & Artificial Intelligence Platforms
9.3  The Phoenix Innovates by Selecting TestCraft’s Cloud-Based Solution for Software Testing (QA)
9.4  AudioCodes Selected by Thailand’s True Corporation for All-IP Transformation
9.5  Inuitive and SoftBank to Collaborate on AI and IoT
9.6  Lumus Deal with Quanta to License & Mass Manufacture AR Optics at Consumer Price Points
9.7  KDDI Selects Gilat’s Satellite Based Solution for Nationwide LTE Network in Japan
9.8  Elbit Systems Selected to Provide and Operate Simulators for IAF Transport Aircraft
9.9  BGU Develops Software Enabling Standard Cameras to Capture Hyperspectral Images
9.10  Secret Double Octopus Included in Gartner’s 2017 Market Guide for User Authentication


10.1  Israeli Startups Raised Over $300 Million in November
10.2  Israeli Home Purchases Down Over Last Four Quarters


11.1  ARAB MIDDLE EAST: Easter in Winter – The “Arab Spring” Seven Years Later
11.2  ARAB MIDDLE EAST: Chinese Tech Moves into the Middle East
11.3  EGYPT: Challenges Ahead for Egypt’s Economy


1.1  Israel – Europe Gas Pipeline MoU Signed

On 5 December, Ministers of Energy from Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy signed in Cyprus a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the laying of an underwater gas pipeline from Israel to Italy, Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources announced.  During the summit in Nicosia, the four ministers put out a joint statement that this is a strategic infrastructure project representing the shared interests of the countries and the EU regarding natural gas.

The planned pipeline will be 2,100 kilometers long, cost NIS 25 billion, and will be completed by 2025.  The planned pipeline will allow Israel to sign long term deals to export gas to Greece, Italy and other European markets.  The four Energy Ministers also pledged cooperation on research regarding construction of the pipeline.

EU representatives estimate that Europe will need to import 100 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually more than it imports today because of falling North Sea production.  Europe sees Israel and Cyprus as a safe source of future natural gas supplies.  The four energy ministers will meet again to discuss the principles of the final agreement, which should be signed in 2018.

The planned pipeline will connect Israel’s Leviathan gas field and run via Cyprus’s Aphrodite gas field through the waters of Crete, mainland Greece and Italy.  The initial estimate of the cost of the pipeline, which will be able to convey 12-16 billion cubic meters (BCM) of gas annually, is $6 billion.  If further large fields are found in Israel or Cyprus, a double pipeline conveying 30 BCM annually could be laid.  (Globes 05.12)

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1.2  Israel Joins ‘Power Africa’ Initiative

On 4 December, Prime Minister Netanyahu attended the signing ceremony for Israel’s accession to the USAID Power Africa initiative.  The agreement, made between the Prime Minister’s Office and the US Government, was also attended by Economy Minister Cohen (Kulanu), US Ambassador to Israel Friedman, Prime Minister’s Office Director General Groner, Power Africa Coordinator Herscowitz, African ambassadors to Israel, US administration representatives in Israel, Power Africa representatives and leading Israeli energy companies.

Under the agreement, Israeli companies will be able to take part in the Power Africa initiative and will receive various tools to advance projects for generating electricity and connecting consumers on the continent.  To these ends, companies will have increased access to government officials and receive monetary grants, ties with financial elements will be advanced, professional and legal advice will be made available and feasibility studies will be conducted.

Netanyahu noted that African countries saw the greatest value in partnering with Israel. According to him, Israel is developing “not only a partnership of governments, but of peoples” with Africa.  “We believe in Africa. I believe in Africa,” he said. “I believe in the partnership with Africa and what better partnership can we have than having USAID, the US government, Israel and the African countries working together to secure a better future.”  (Arutz Sheva 04.12)

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1.3  Israel & Japan Sign New Agreement Facilitating Investments

Minister of the Economy Cohen was in Japan at the head of business delegation comprised of 11 Israeli cyber firms.  The Minister signed a first-of-its-kind agreement allowing Israeli advanced manufacturing companies to work with companies from Japan, whose economy is the third largest in the world.  An operational plan was included in the agreement, whose aim was to increase investments and trade between Israel and Japan via delegations, exhibitions, conferences and business meetings between Israeli and Japanese firms.

The agreement will support the creation of an accelerator for Israeli companies in Tokyo, in collaboration with Japan’s largest firms.  The accelerator will concentrate on cyber defense, a field Israel excels in both in relation to number of active companies and to homegrown technological capabilities.  The agreement also includes increasing cooperation with the Osaka ATR (Advanced Telecommunications Research) Institute, which employs Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, world renowned for developing the Actroid humanoid robot.  (Ynet 01.12)

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1.4  Katz Signs Regulation Permitting Ridesharing

On 4 December, Minister of Transport & Road Safety and Intelligence Katz signed a new regulation permitting for the first time vehicle owners meeting conditions set by the Ministry of Transport to make non-profit ridesharing trips in their vehicles.  Under the new regulation, private car owners can make two ridesharing trips a day in their cars.  The number of passengers on the ride cannot exceed four, in addition to the driver.  The car owner can carry only prearranged passengers and cannot pick up unplanned passengers.

Under the new regulation, the maximum amount per kilometer in a journey is NIS 2 and the direct expenses will be shared equally among all the passengers in the ride, including the driver.  The regulations will take effect with 30 days of their publication in the official gazettes.

Katz said that the new regulation was likely to increase the number of passengers in each vehicle and reduce the number of vehicles on the roads in the framework of measures being taken by the Ministry of Transport to lessen road congestion.  Several months ago, Katz signed a regulation allowing taxicabs to conduct shared rides, so that the passengers in the taxi would be able to share the ride with other people traveling on the same route.  (Globes 04.12)

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1.5  Finance Ministry Announces $227 Million Tax Cuts on Consumer Items

On 11 December, Finance Minister Kahlon announced that Jerusalem will reduce customs and sales taxes on dozens of items, a move he said would save Israeli consumers over NIS 800 million ($227 million) annually.  Under Kahlon’s plan, the prices of electrical appliances, clothing and textile items, perfumes and even inflatable swimming pools will be drastically reduced.  Sales taxes amounting to NIS 245 million ($69 million) would be canceled and customs duties totaling NIS 555 million ($157 million) would also be dropped, apparently by January.  Kahlon said tax cuts on such a scale had not been implemented in Israel since the 1990s and stressed that “in order to bring down prices, bold steps must be taken.”  He said every Israeli would feel the reduction in prices.

The plan is set to go into effect as soon as Kahlon signs the necessary ministerial orders, as the tax cuts do not require the approval of the government or the Knesset Finance Committee.  Kahlon said Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is on an official visit to Europe, has been briefed on the move.  However, the plan may prove to be only temporary, as it would need to be reassessed ahead of the 2019 budget to see whether it has indeed led to a reduction in consumer prices.  (IH 12.12)

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2.1  Viola Announces a New Global FinTech Fund

Viola announced an initial closing of $100 million toward a target of $120 – $150 million, for a new global FinTech fund.  The fund is backed by selected leading global banks, insurance companies and asset managers from North America, Europe, APAC and Israel, including Scotiabank, The Travelers Companies and Bank Hapoalim.

Viola FinTech is a cross-stage venture fund that invests globally in FinTech companies alongside leading venture investors with the mission to bridge the gap between the worlds of financial institutions and innovative startups.  The fund works closely with its investors to accelerate Fintegration (the implementation and adaption of innovative solutions by financial institutions) and to guide startups in the regulatory and corporate environment.  The new fund is an independent fund and is part of the Viola group, Israel’s leading technology-oriented multi-strategy investment group, with over $2.8 billion in assets under management.

Herzliya’s Viola is Israel’s leading technology oriented investment group with over $2.8 billion in assets under management.  Founded in 2000, Viola’s team includes over 30 investment professionals and 40 support staff, and has invested in over 200 technology companies. It is comprised of focused separate and independent investment arms, including: Viola Ventures – a technology focused early stage investment fund, Viola Growth – a technology focused growth capital fund, and Viola Credit – a venture debt arm, as well as other dedicated vehicles.  It now adds Viola FinTech as its global co-investment FinTech fund.  (Viola 06.12)

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2.2  Aurora Labs Raises $2.7 Million

Tel Aviv’s Aurora Labs has raised $2.7 million from Maniv Mobility, MizMaa Ventures, Expansion Venture Capital, and Trucks Venture Capital.  Founded in 2016, the company has developed a solution to proactively manage and significantly reduce the costs of multibillion-dollar software recalls in the automotive industry.  The company is developing a self-healing platform for connected cars and is already running several live projects with major OEMs.

Aurora Labs monitors on-board vehicle software to detect anomalies before they lead to malfunctions in critical systems.  By generating entirely new datasets for diagnostic purposes, Aurora Labs is able to proactively detect and repair software flaws in cars before they turn into malfunctions.  Once identified, their platform helps providers dispatch first-of-its-kind, universal Delta Over-the-Air (OTA) updates for any vehicle system, by only replacing the functionality which needs to be repaired. The vendor and device agnostic solution removes the current barriers to adoption.

With the vast majority of new cars expected to be connected by 2020, manufacturers are faced with the complex problem of providing swift and efficient software maintenance for on-board devices and are increasingly focusing on OTA updates as the solution.  Until now, the utilization of proprietary software was a major impediment for developers of OTA services, requiring a solution compatible with each individual provider’s software.  (Globes 01.12)

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2.3  Seebo Extends Series A Round to $16.5 Million for Connected Products Analysis

Seebo announced an $8 million extension of its Series A funding, for a total of $16.5 million.  The investment, which brings the Company’s total investments to $22 million, will support Seebo’s industrial IoT (IIoT) platform, with business solutions addressing product resilience, produce efficiency, and data-driven product innovation.  Additionally, the funds will be used to help extend the Company’s recently signed and soon-to-be announced strategic partnerships.  The new investments come from existing investors TPY Capital and Viola Ventures, as well as Pritzker Group Venture Capital and Japan’s Global IoT Technology Ventures.

Seebo’s software uniquely combines IoT modeling, simulation and execution tools to quickly and cost-effectively turn existing machinery into smart, connected systems that report their health and usage data. Behavioral analytics are automatically layered on top of this big data to provide insights that drive ongoing product improvement and new business value to customers.

Over the last six months, Seebo has significantly enhanced its offering, including IoT Simulation and Behavior Analytics, closing the IoT development loop, and powering data-driven services, user insight, and product resilience.

The company serves manufacturers from dozens of industries, including Multotec, Oseco, Durabrite, and Stanley Tools.  Established in 2012, Seebo has offices in San Francisco, Tel Aviv, and Shenzen.  Seebo was named a 2017 Gartner Cool Vendor in the Internet of Things.  (Seebo 29.11)

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2.4  SuperCom Selected for Deloitte 2017 Technology Fast 50

 SuperCom was selected as one of Israel’s fastest-growing companies in the Deloitte 2017 Technology Fast 50 program.  This award recognizes SuperCom as one of the 50 fastest-growing technology companies in Israel, based on the company’s revenue growth from 2013 through 2016.

Herzliya’s SuperCom has been a global provider of traditional and digital identity solutions, providing advanced safety, identification and security solutions to governments and organizations, both private and public, throughout the world.  Through its proprietary e-government platforms and innovative solutions for traditional and biometrics enrollment, personalization, issuance and border control services, SuperCom has inspired governments and national agencies to design and issue secure Multi-ID documents and robust digital identity solutions to its citizens and visitors.  SuperCom offers a unique all-in-one field-proven RFID & mobile technology and product suite, accompanied by advanced complementary services for various industries including healthcare and homecare, security and safety, community public safety, law enforcement, electronic monitoring, livestock monitoring, and building and access automation.

The Deloitte Technology Fast 50, one of Israel’s foremost technology award programs, ranks the country’s fastest-growing technology companies based on their growth percentage over the last four years.  The Fast 50 ranking honors business growth and technological innovation as well as Israeli entrepreneurial spirit.  Qualified entrants of Israel’s Fast 50 program will be promoted to the “EMEA Fast 500” (Europe, Middle East& Africa).  (SuperCom 30.11)

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2.5  IRONSCALES Raises $6.5 Million

On 5 December, IRONSCALES announced that it has completed a $6.5 million Series A financing round led by K1 Investment Management, with participation from existing investor RDC.  After three consecutive years of triple digit revenue growth, IRONSCALES will use the capital investment to accelerate its channel partner program, expand its global sales team and expedite R&D for its machine learning threat detection, incident response and intelligence sharing technologies.  IRONSCALES, which was recently featured by Momentum Partners as one of the top 10 cybersecurity companies to watch, has now raised more than $8 million since 2015.

IRONSCALES enables organizations to mitigate the risk associated with the technological, operational and human challenges inherent to phishing attacks. Its multi-layered and automated approach to prevent, detect and respond to phishing emails combines micro-learning phishing simulation and awareness training (IronSchool), with mailbox-level phishing detection (IronSights), automated incident response (IronTraps) and real-time automated actionable intelligence sharing (Federation) technologies. By providing protection at every stage of an email phishing attack, IRONSCALES’ customers reduce false positives and the time from email phishing attack discovery to enterprise-wide remediation from days, weeks or months to just seconds, with little to no security team involvement.

IRONSCALES also announced it will open its North American headquarters in the first three months of 2018.  Its VP of Sales will be based in Atlanta, while 10-15 new jobs in marketing, business development and HR will be hired at its new office location.  R&D will remain in Israel.

Ra’anana’s IRONSCALES is the leader in anti-email phishing technologies.  Using a multi-layered and automated approach to prevent, detect and respond to today’s sophisticated email phishing attacks, IRONSCALES expedites the time from phishing attack discovery to enterprise-wide remediation from months to seconds, by significantly reducing the workload on incident responders.  (IRONSCALES 05.12)

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2.6  Deskforce One of Deloitte’s Fastest Growing Technology Companies in Israel

Deloitte has crowned Deskforce, formally Innitel, as one of Israel’s fastest growing technology companies, following their revenue growth of 710% over the past 4 years (2013-2016).  The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 ranking comes days after its release of version 4.2 of its innovative Atomic Dialer.  Deskforce Software is a creative blend of Chat, Voice, Email, SMS integrated within the CRM of the SME, scoring tools and big data analysis, increases the productivity of the team, accelerates the engagement process in B2C models while increasing the retention of employees within their company.

Deskforce, formally Innitel, is a self-funded Jerusalem-based startup with a branch office in Sofia, Bulgaria.  Focused on cloud-based Call Center software, Deskforce equips businesses with a full ecosystem of cloud-based software that consolidate the business process and strengthens business intelligence efforts.  (Deskforce 30.11)

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2.7  Guardian Optical Technologies Raises $5.1 Million to Accelerate Sensor Development

Guardian Optical Technologies announced the launch of breakthrough, patent-pending sensor technology for automobile manufacturers, supported by $5.1 million in Series A funding from Maniv Mobility and Mirai Creation Fund.  The company will use the funding to accelerate and expand the technological development of its new stand-alone automatic system, built from the ground up to work with automotive hardware and software.  Combining video image recognition (2D), depth-mapping (3D), and micro- to macro-motion detection, the solution enables car makers to produce safer, more convenient “passenger-aware” cars.

Guardian Optical Technologies provides cutting-edge optical technologies that can monitor a car’s entire interior cabin with just one sensor, which protects drivers and passengers by scanning and tracking occupants and objects anywhere inside a vehicle at all times.  Working in conjunction with seatbelts, airbags, and other built-in safety systems, it detects the slightest movements, including every heartbeat in the vehicle, and identifies the location and physical dimensions of every occupant.  Developed with the first technology to detect micro vibrations using low-cost, automotive-grade components, the sensor can also distinguish between people and objects.  It can also detect the presence of objects without a direct line of sight, thanks to its micro-meter sensitivity.

This marks the first time the Mirai Creation Fund, operated by SPARX and funded by 20 companies, including Toyota Motor Corporation and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., has invested in an Israeli company.

Tel Aviv’s Guardian Optical Technologies is dedicated to enabling “passenger aware” cars with cutting-edge sensor technology that makes cars safer and more convenient.  Just one sensor combined with advanced 2D, 3D and motion analysis protects drivers and passengers by constantly scanning and tracking occupants and objects anywhere in the vehicle.  These technologies work with a car’s seatbelts and airbags to sound immediate alerts.  (Guardian Optical Technologies 04.12)

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2.8  AnyClip Makes Deloitte’s List of 50 Fastest Growing Startups in Israel Again

AnyClip has been included in the Deloitte Israel Technology Fast 50 list, a program recognizing and honoring the 50 fastest growing technology companies in Israel, for the second year in a row.  The Deloitte Israel annual Technology Fast 50 program recognizes and honors the 50 fastest growing technology companies in Israel (private and publicly-held).  There are an estimated 7,500 active startups in Israel today.

Givatayim’s AnyClip, the AI-driven video content data and monetization pioneer, is reshaping the digital video ecosystem.  AnyClip’s ultra-premium content library contains hundreds of thousands of clips from leading content owners.  These clips are analyzed and enriched with metadata by Luminous, a proprietary AI content analysis engine that automatically tags, analyzes, categorizes, and produces meaningful insights about each clip in near-real-time.  Leveraging content, metadata, and technology, AnyClip’s revolutionary platform enables content owners to safely monetize their assets digitally, offers publishers relevant content that perfectly matches their sites and is monetized at premium prices, and allows advertisers to contextually target safe, premium content.  (AnyClip 30.11)

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2.9  Mellanox Among Deloitte’s 50 Fastest Growing Technology Companies in Israel

Mellanox Technologies announced that the company has been ranked by the international accounting and consulting firm Deloitte as among the 50 fastest growing technology companies in Israel.  Mellanox’s smart interconnect solutions, based on Ethernet and InfiniBand, are used by many of the world’s largest and leading corporations and organizations, including hyperscale companies, enterprises, leading government institutes, national universities, global banks and others, to enable essential global efforts in artificial intelligence, autonomous cars, deep learning platforms, climate research, computer imaging, national security and more.

Yokneam’s Mellanox Technologies is a leading supplier of end-to-end InfiniBand and Ethernet smart interconnect solutions and services for servers and storage.  Mellanox interconnect solutions increase data center efficiency by providing the highest throughput and lowest latency, delivering data faster to applications and unlocking system performance capability.  (Mellanox 30.11)

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2.10  Alcide Announces $5.2 Million Seed Round Led by Intel Capital and Elron

Alcide emerged from stealth mode launching the industry’s first universal network security platform designed to meet the complex needs of the modern data center, including hybrid, multi-compute and multi-cloud data environments.  The seed funding round of $5.2 million, led by Intel Capital and Elron, is indicative of a pressing need in the market, tied to the rapid evolution of data centers.  Alcide also announced its exclusive preview program, which already includes select mid and large scale U.S. enterprise software companies.

Alcide addresses a gaping hole in existing data center security solutions, finally offering a product that meets the needs of all stakeholders responsible for operating and protecting the data center: the development, operations and security teams.  It seamlessly integrates with all combinations of legacy and emerging platforms, including cloud, container, VMs and bare metals.  Alcide unites SecOps and DevOps, breaking them free of their silos.  By providing real-time panoramic and granular visibility of operations, along with deep analysis and control to manage and secure the rapidly evolving data center, Alcide empowers DevOps and SecOps teams with the tools they need to more efficiently and effectively protect the modern data center from malicious attacks, including internal threats and data exfiltration.

Tel Aviv’s Alcide delivers a cloud workload protection platform designed for any combination of container, VM and bare metal data centers operated by multiple orchestration systems. Alcide empowers DevOps, Security and Engineering teams with simplified and autonomous control to manage and secure the evolving data center and hybrid cloud, at any scale.  Offering real-time, aerial visibility and granular perspectives of both infrastructure and applications, Alcide secures the data center against cyber attacks, including malicious internal activity and data exfiltration.  (Alcide 06.12)

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2.11  Checkmarx Fastest Growing Cybersecurity Company in Israel Five Years in a Row

Checkmarx has been selected for the fifth year in a row as one of Israel’s fastest growing companies in Deloitte’s Fast 50 2017 awards program.  Recognized for sustained revenue growth and a deep understanding of the cybersecurity market, Checkmarx is the highest-ranking cybersecurity company, placed 15th on the overall Fast 50 list.  There are only a few other companies that were listed in the top 50 list five years in a row, indicating the sustainability of Checkmarx’s business and the fast growing market for application security.  During the last three years, Checkmarx grew almost five-fold, and throughout the last eight years the company grew a whopping 28,000%.

The Deloitte Technology Fast 50, one of Israel’s foremost technology award programs, ranks the country’s fastest growing technology companies based on their growth percentage over the last four years.  The Fast 50 program honors business growth and technological innovation as well as Israeli entrepreneurial spirit. It is part of a national and international program run by Deloitte.

Ramat Gan’s Checkmarx is an Application Security software company, whose mission is to provide enterprise organizations with application security testing products and services that empower developers to deliver secure software faster.  Amongst the company’s 1,400+ customers are 5 of the world’s top 10 software vendors and many Fortune 500 and government organizations, including SAP, Samsung, and  (Checkmarx 30.11)

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2.12  Israel Aerospace Industries Opens Mexico Office

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) opened a new representative office in Mexico.  The launch was marked at an event attended by local Mexican officials and the Israeli ambassador to Mexico.  IAI considers Latin America, and specifically Mexico, as an important market, with significant potential, both in the defense and commercial markets.  The new office in Mexico is in step with IAI’s strategy to bring its technological solutions to the customer’s door, offering solutions that answer the customer’s precise needs, and providing real-time available and accessible services.  IAI indicated that Mexico’s arms imports grew by almost 200% in four years, between 2012 and 2016, placing the country as the 2nd largest importer of defense systems in Latin America during this period.  (NoCamels 05.12)

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2.13  OurCrowd Summit to be Israel’s Largest Investment Conference Ever

OurCrowd announced that it will host its fourth annual OurCrowd Global Investor Summit on 1 February 2018, in Jerusalem, Israel.  It will be the largest investor event in the Middle East and the biggest equity crowdfunding event in the world.  Over 10,000 people are expected to register from over 80 countries, including 300 startups, 200 VC representatives and 250 Multinational Corporations such as GE, Honda, DuPont, and Samsung, along with entrepreneurs, investors, government officials and members of the press from around the world.  The Summit Agenda will include engaging content from the innovative startup ecosystem.

Jerusalem’s OurCrowd is the leading global equity crowdfunding platform for accredited investors. Managed by a team of seasoned investment professionals, OurCrowd vets and selects opportunities, invests its own capital, and brings companies to its accredited membership of global investors.  OurCrowd provides post-investment support to its portfolio companies, assigns industry experts as mentors, and takes board seats.  The OurCrowd community consists of almost 20,000 accredited investors from over 112 countries. OurCrowd has raised over $500M and invested in 130 portfolio companies and funds.  (OurCrowd 12.12)

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2.14  Ecoppia Completes $13 Million Funding Round

Ecoppia announced the completion of a $13 million round of funding, led by both existing investors – Swarth Group, GlenRock and Gandyr, and Israel’s largest insurance group, Harel Group Insurance and Finance.  Ecoppia’s solutions gained unparalleled experience cleaning over 200 million solar panels worldwide working with some of the largest energy players in the world including Engie Group, EDF, NTPC, Actis Group, Adani Power, SunEdison/Terraform and more.  The Company’s pipeline is expected to top 2GW in 2018.  The closure of this most recent round of funding came on the heels of Ecoppia’s ranking in the top ten of Deloitte’s 2017 Technology Fast 50.  With a growth rate of over 1600% in the past four years, Ecoppia is currently the fastest growing cleantech company in Israel.

Herzliya’s Ecoppia designs and produces innovative photovoltaic panel cleaning solutions to cost-effectively maximize the performance of utility-scale installations.  The company’s water-free, automated technology removes dust from panels on a daily basis to ensure peak output, even in the toughest desert conditions.  Supported by a robust control unit, systems can be remotely programmed and managed to minimize O&M costs.  (Ecoppia 12.12)

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3.1  Bahrain Signs $10 Billion in Trade Deals with US Companies

Bahraini companies signed $10bn in trade agreements with US companies in energy, aviation and commerce sectors during a recent visit by the Crown Prince, Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, to the US.  The agreements were signed during a reception attended by the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), the American Chamber of Commerce and the Bahrain American Business Council.  Prince Salman said a 10 year free trade agreement has boosted bilateral cooperation between the two states across a range of economic and commercial areas.  Bahrain has over 200 American companies currently operating in the kingdom, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), which recently announced plans to open its first regional headquarters in Bahrain.

In an effort to diversify their economy, Bahrain is taking steps to transform the public sector into a private sector regulator and partner, Prince Salman added.  During the meeting, a number of MoUs were signed including a ‘modernization program’ between Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) and sub-sea specialists Technip, signed by Bahrain’s Minister of Oil and the CEO of Technip.  Another deal clinched between Alba Mineral Resources and Bechtel, one of the world’s largest industrial contractors, for Alba’s line 6 expansion project, will help see Alba become the world’s largest single-site aluminum smelter.  (AB 02.12)

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3.2  Dubai Fund Invests in US Farming Tech Start-Up

Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), the emirate’s investment arm, has completed a major investment in US-based farming technology start-up Indigo Agriculture.  The Dubai fund was the largest investor in its Series D funding round which raised a total of $203 million.  Indigo did not give a figure for the ICD investment.  Indigo, a company dedicated to harnessing nature to help farmers sustainably feed the planet, said in a statement that ICD will hold a board observer seat at Indigo.

The Series D round will support Indigo’s global commercial expansion, along with its continued investment in the plant microbiome and development of software and data tools.  It will also help to promote the widespread adoption of Indigo’s microbial technology, as the company works to discover and commercialize products that increase agricultural yields, while decreasing reliance on synthetic fertilizers and agricultural chemicals.

Indigo, founded by Flagship Pioneering, is headquartered in Boston, with commercial operations based in Memphis and international offices in Sydney, Australia, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (AB 06.12)

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3.3  Topgolf Global Expansion Continuing with Dubai Location

Dallas, Texas’ Topgolf announced its new partnership with Dubai Golf to open a venue in the United Arab Emirates.  The partnership signifies Topgolf’s first location in the Middle East.  Scheduled to open in 2019, the Topgolf Dubai venue will be located in the heart of New Dubai at Emirates Golf Club.  The Club is the home of the annual Omega Dubai Desert Classic, one of the flagship events on the European Tour, in addition to the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic, the season-ending Ladies European Tour event.  The three-level venue will be 60,000 square feet and situated on approximately 12 acres of land.

Through the premium experience of play, food and music, Topgolf inspires people of all ages and skill levels – even non-golfers – to come together for playful competition.  Guests can enjoy point-scoring golf games using microchipped balls that instantly score themselves, showing players the accuracy and distance of their shots on a TV screen in their hitting bay.  Topgolf venues feature a chef-driven menu, top-shelf drinks, big screen TVs and music in climate-controlled hitting bays for all-seasons comfort.  Year-round programming includes events for kids and families, social leagues, groups, golf tournaments and instruction.

Topgolf Dubai will closely resemble the Topgolf venues in the United States, with a stunning rooftop terrace offering spectacular views over the marina and city skyline.  Dubai Golf, a leisure subsidiary of wasl Asset Management Group, will manage the venue on a day-to-day basis working closely with Topgolf to ensure the culture, fun and excellent hospitality that are authentic to Topgolf are brought to the city.  (Topgolf 04.12)

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3.4  Arby’s Signs Development Agreement for 50 New Restaurants in Egypt

Arby’s Restaurant Group (ARG) announced a development agreement with Vantage Egypt for Tourism and Entertainment (Vantage Egypt) to build 50 new Arby’s restaurants in Egypt.  The new restaurants will begin to open in 2018.  Vantage Egypt has more than a decade of experience owning and operating several restaurant concepts and international brands throughout Egypt.  This agreement will add to Arby’s growing footprint in the region, where the brand is also opening new restaurants in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia through its franchisee, Kharafi Global.

Arby’s, founded in 1964, is the second-largest sandwich restaurant brand in the world with more than 3,300 restaurants in seven countries. The brand is headquartered in Atlanta, Ga.

Vantage Egypt for Tourism and Entertainment was founded in 2006.  The company owns and operates several restaurant concepts and international brands in Egypt, including Papa John’s Pizza.  Vantage Egypt is a subsidiary of Halawa Group, founded in 1995, one of the largest dairy producers in Egypt, with over 6,000 employees.  (Arby’s 12.12)

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3.5  Turkey’s Kordsa to Buy Two US Companies for $100 Million

Turkey’s Kordsa announced on 6 December that its U.S. affiliate decided to acquire two U.S.-based companies, which supply composite materials to the aerospace industry, in a $100 million deal.  Kordsa, an affiliate of the conglomerate Sabanci Holding, is a leading provider of tire, construction reinforcement and composite technologies.  The deal is expected to help increase Kordsa’s composite revenue by around $80 million in 2018, the company said in a statement to the Public Disclosure Platform (KAP).  The company said it aims to be a key global composite player with the acquisition of Fabric Development and Textile Products.  The deal is still subject to approval by U.S. and Turkish regulators and is expected to be completed in the next three months.  (Various 06.12)

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3.6  Israel Signs Deal with Turkey Worth €18.6 Million

Israel has signed a deal worth nearly €18.6 million with Turkey’s Anadolu Isuzu, a joint automotive manufacturing venture between Turkey’s Anadolu Group and Japan’s Isuzu Motors, to buy buses.  The submittal of the delivery is planned to begin in 2018 and is expected to be completed by 2019.  Anadolu Isuzu produces 25 different models within five segments in Turkey.  While the greatest capital is spared to the midibus, which compromises one-fourth of the production share, the D-Max pick-up follows with 12%.  In 2016, a total of 5,240 vehicles were produced, of which 666 were exported, by the company headquartered in Istanbul.  (DS 08.12)

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4.1  Egypt’s 16 New Solar Power Plants Enrich Renewable Energy Sources

As part of its $500 million framework to support Egypt’s renewable energy development, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is financing 16 new solar power plants in the country with a capacity of 750 MW.  The plants are located at a solar site in the vicinity of the Benban village in Upper Egypt, which once completed will be “the largest solar site in Africa,” with a capacity of 1.8 gigawatts.  The new plants are expected to reduce Egypt’s carbon dioxide emissions by 900,000 tonnes per year.  These will also be the first private utility-scale renewable projects in a sector that is otherwise dominated by the use of hydrocarbons.

In June, the EBRD approved the $500 million framework to finance renewable energy projects in Egypt under the Egyptian government’s feed-in-tariff program. The program aims to encourage private investment in wind and solar power in the country.  Meanwhile, in a new report by Bloomberg Climatescope released earlier this week, Egypt was ranked second among countries having made most progress in the transition to renewable energy since last year.  Assessing 71 counties in emerging clean energy markets, Egypt climbed 23 places, settling on place 19 from last year. This makes Egypt the second Arab nation after Jordan in the ranking’s top-20 list.  (ES 30.11)

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5.1  Lebanon’s Fiscal Deficit Contracted by $1.14B by August 2017

Lebanon’s fiscal deficit narrowed from $2.53B by August 2016 to $1.39B by August 2017.  The contraction is mainly attributed to the 14.85% annual increase recorded in public revenues, which also outweighed the 4.64% year-on-year (y-o-y) uptick in government spending.  During the same period, the total primary balance displayed a substantial surplus, which rose from $405.11M by Aug. 2016 to $1.74B by Aug. 2017.

In fact, total government revenues amounted to $7.37B by Aug. 2017, compared to $6.42B by Aug. 2016.  Tax revenues (82.19% of total public revenues) increased by 21.7% y-o-y to stand at $6.06B.  In details, revenues from the Value Added Tax or VAT (grasping a 26.31% share of total tax receipts) rose by an annual 7.7% to reach $1.59B by Aug. 2017.  In their turn, revenues from the Lebanese customs (composing 15.74% of tax receipts) added a yearly 3.35% to $953.28M over the same period.  Meanwhile, non-tax revenues declined by 8.75% y-o-y to $1.31B, out of which telecom revenues (7.2% of total government revenues) slipped from $797.5M by Aug. 2016 to $530.67M during the same period this year.

On the expenditures side, budgetary spending, which includes general spending and debt-servicing, reached $8.53B during the first 8 months of 2017.  Transfers to Electricité du Liban (EDL) particularly rose from $521.2M by Aug. 2016 to $841.51M during the same period this year and this is largely attributed to the rise in average oil prices, which stood at $42.65 per barrel by Aug.2016 compared to $52.14 per barrel by August this year.  Moreover, interest payments on government’s debt added 6.96% y-o-y, amounting to $3B, owing it to an annual 8.8% rise in interest payments on domestic debt to $2.04B, which in turn outweighed the 3.29% yearly uptick in interest payments on foreign debt, which stood at $966.5M.  (CAD 05.11)

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5.2  United States and Jordan Sign $475 Million Cash Transfer

On Sunday, 3 December, Jordanian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Fakhoury and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director Barnhart, signed an agreement to transfer $475 million to the Government of Jordan.  The $475 million is part of $812.35 million appropriated by the U.S. Congress to Jordan in the U.S. FY2017 budget.

USAID and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan maintain a long-standing partnership to support economic stability, strengthen democratic governance, and improve essential service delivery to meet the needs of the people of Jordan.  Together, the United States and Jordan provided more than two million people access to fresh water and sanitation services.  Bilateral trade has increased by 800% following Jordan’s accession to the World Trade Organization and the implementation the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement.  The U.S. economic assistance program to Jordan is the largest in the world.  The United States government, through USAID, has provided foreign assistance from the American people to Jordan for more than 60 years.  (USAID 3.12)

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5.3  Jordan Ranked 7th Most Prosperous Country in Arab Region, But Losing Ground Globally

Jordan has been ranked 7th in the Arab region and 92nd worldwide in the 2017 Global Prosperity Index recently issued by the British Legatum Institute, which measures the prosperity of countries in terms of material wealth, personal and social well-being.  However, the Kingdom’s overall prosperity has declined compared to previous editions of the ranking, having moved 17 positions down since the index’ first issue in 2006 and three since last year.

Economist Isam Qadamani attributed the prosperity decrease to “the decline in economic growth, coinciding with the large increase in the population due to hosting refugees beyond the endurance of Jordan”, adding that “the refugee crisis has placed economic and social pressures on resources, and strained the labor market as a result of the increase in population”…The average per capita income reflects the economic well-being of any country, and what the decline in the classification of Jordan means is the decrease in the standard of living of citizens and the poor distribution of income.”

The biggest positive change for Jordan was registered in the education pillar, where the Kingdom ranked 82nd worldwide, gaining four places compared to last year.  However, Jordan saw its safety and security ranking drop by 11 places when compared to last year, which the index report attributed to “increases in battlefield deaths and terrorism” and “the conflict in Syria spilling over national borders”.  The lowest scores were registered in the personal freedom pillar, where the Kingdom ranked 126th despite “signs of increasing liberalization, as more and more people feel able to engage politically through voicing their opinion”, according to the index report.

At a regional level, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region ranked 6th in world prosperity, witnessing a decline in overall prosperity for two consecutive years.  As per the region, the United Arab Emirates ranked 39th globally, followed by Qatar (47th), Bahrain (62th), Oman (73th), Saudi Arabia (78th) and Kuwait (80th).   The majority of MENA’s decreased prosperity in 2017 was registered in safety and security with Egypt, Turkey and Libya being the worst performers, while data from several indicators reflected that women are far less engaged in society in MENA than in the rest of the world.  (JT 01.12)

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►►Arabian Gulf

5.4  Moody’s Analytics Expects GCC Economic Growth of 2.5% in 2018

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region’s economy will grow near 2.5% in 2018, according to new forecasts from Moody’s Analytics, a leading provider of economic forecasts and data.  Stable energy prices will underpin this growth, with the price for Brent crude oil fluctuating in a tight range of $50-60 per barrel.   “OPEC’s likely extension of production cuts, coupled with growing oil demand from emerging markets, will lead to a decline in global oil inventories, supporting oil prices in 2018,” said Chris Lafakis, Moody’s Analytics Energy Economist.  “Oil prices will be capped; however, OPEC countries may not adhere to production cuts. U.S. shale oil producers will in turn ramp up oil exploration, ensuring that oil trades within a range.”

Improved current account positions as a result of replenished oil reserves will support investment in non-oil sectors of the economy as the Gulf countries attempt to diversify away from dependence on hydrocarbons.  In Saudi Arabia, recent anti-corruption efforts in the country underscore the commitment to the country’s Vision 2030 economic transformation program.

Meanwhile, security and refugee concerns in the region will continue to hamper growth in other economies in the Middle East. Heightened ecurity fears have severely damaged tourism in Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan, while low oil prices have curbed remittances from the GCC countries.  “Regional political instability remains the main risk to the Middle Eastern and North African economies,” said Juan Licari, Moody’s Analytics Chief International Economist.  “An increase in geopolitical tensions could escalate the region’s refugee crisis, increase government spending on security and undermine investment.”  (Moody’s 04.12)

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5.5  Rail Driving Growth in UAE Transportation Infrastructure

Investment and construction in the UAE’s transportation infrastructure will remain robust over the coming decade, with the expansion of rail being a key driver for growth, according to a new outlook from BMI Research.  According to BMI, the UAE has the second largest transport pipeline in the Middle East, with a total of 71 projects collectively worth $54.6 billion currently under construction or in planning, which is larger in value than the UAE’s energy, utilities and social infrastructure pipelines.  While road projects account for nearly half of all active projects in the UAE, they account for less than 8% of the total pipeline value, reflecting the small size of individual projects.

With a number of long-distance and high-value projects having been completed in 2016 and 2017 and construction expected to slow down in 2018, the report notes that a potential area for growth in the UAE road infrastructure sector is in sensors and supporting equipment for autonomous vehicles to meet demand as autonomous and electric vehicles are increasingly used.  Railway projects account for the second largest component of the UAE’s transport infrastructure projects, with BMI identifying 15 ongoing and upcoming railway projects worth $13.9 billion as of November 2017.

BMI also predicts that the UAE’s airport infrastructure segment will continue as one of the strongest components of the overall transport sector, as both Dubai and Abu Dhabi pursue massive airport expansion and redevelopment programs.  (AB 28.11)

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5.6  UAE Launches Plan to Send Four Emirati Astronauts Into Space

The UAE on 6 December launched its ambitious plan to send four Emirati astronauts into space.  Young Emiratis have been invited to register for the UAE Astronaut Programme by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE’s Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.  The move is part of the UAE space program that aims to reach Mars in 2021 and build first settlement on the Red Planet in 2117.  In a series of tweets, Sheikh Mohammed said: “On this day, a new chapter in our history begins with the launch of the first UAE Astronaut Programme, dedicated to sending four Emirati Astronauts into space.  Sheikh Mohammed said that the most competitive applicants will be selected to be ambassadors for the UAE in space exploration.

The UAE is investing in science programs to help serve national interests in the future, actively participating in global space exploration, and exploring the prospects of human life in space, including the possibility of inhabiting other planets.  The UAE Astronauts Programme will support the UAE’s mission to become a hub for the space sector in the region and to become global leader in space exploration over the next 50 years.  The top students will be screened before four Emirati astronauts will be selected to form the UAE’s Astronaut Team.  The four will join the International Space Station on the first UAE space mission ever, to share knowledge and experience with other global astronauts.  (AB 05.12)

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►►North Africa

5.7  World Bank Approves $1.15 Billion Development Policy Loan for Egypt

The World Bank Group said its executive board approved on 5 December a $1.15 billion development policy loan for Egypt to support the country’s economic reform programs.  The loan is the last in a series of three annual loans totaling $3.15 billion issued from 2015 to 2017.  The $1.15 billion loan, which supports Egyptian economic reforms aimed at creating jobs, ensuring energy security, strengthening public finances and enhancing business competitiveness, includes financing contributions of $500 million from the World Bank Group, $500 million from the African Development Bank and $150 million from Britain.  (WB 05.12)

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5.8  Egypt to Retain Tariffs on Steel Rebar from China, Turkey & Ukraine for 5 Years

Egypt will maintain tariffs on steel rebar from China, Turkey, and Ukraine for a period of five years, the trade ministry said on 6 December, extending a temporary tariff imposed earlier this year.  The tariff was first implemented in June to protect local manufacturers and set at 17% for Chinese steel, 10 – 19% for Turkish steel and 15 – 27% for Ukrainian steel.  (Reuters 06.12)

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6.1  Turkey Reportedly Laying Basis for Satellite Launch Vehicle Program

The Turkish Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications is reportedly preparing to launch a national satellite launch vehicle (SLV) program in 2018.  The Space Probe Rocket and Launch System (BURAK) program aims to end Turkey’s reliance on foreign SLV providers.  Turkey is already undertaking domestic satellite development and production through the TURKSAT-6A program.  The BURAK is expected to be undertaken in line with Turkey’s broader 2023 objectives, which also include flying a domestically made 5th-generation fighter (TFX), launching a helicopter carrier and other goals.

As with its other marquee and strategic programs, Turkey is expected to collaborate with an experienced overseas partner to bring the BURAK into fruition.  Turkey signed an agreement with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to test materials developed in Turkey on the Japanese Experiment Module (KIBO) on the International Space Station (ISS).  Japan launched the first of Turkey’s equipment in 2016 and is currently testing it onboard the ISS. In 2018, the KIBO is expected to deploy the first of Turkey’s CubeSat platform.  Turkey’s space development ambitions include the deployment of both military and commercial satellites.

Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is leading the development and production of the TURKSAT-6A satellite communication (SATCOM) system.  The TURKSAT-6A, which is scheduled for launch in 2020, will comprise of 20 Ku-band and two X-band transponders, with the latter for military usage.  In September, TAI also announced the development of lightweight geosynchronous equatorial orbit (GEO) SATCOM satellites. Weighing one-ton, the GEO satellite will use 22 transponders.  TAI is positioning it for commercial purposes for domestic and overseas markets.  (Quwa 04.12)

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6.2  Over 22 Million Cars & Trucks on Turkish Roads

 The number of registered vehicles on Turkey’s roads surpassed 22 million in October 2017, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) announced on 12 December.  In October, a total of 110,743 vehicles were registered, including both old and new models.  Cars made up 54% of the total number of vehicles, and small trucks constituted 16.4% in the month.  Overall, cars accounted for 58.8% of the total number of vehicles; small trucks constituted 17.3%; motorcycles 12.6%; tractors 7.2%; trucks, minibuses and buses 4.1%.

In October, the number of road motor vehicle registrations increased by 28% since the previous month.  Cars, small trucks, trucks and tractors increased by 42.6%, 46.9%, 16.3% and 26.6%, respectively.  The number of minibuses, buses, motorcycles and special purpose vehicles decreased by 7.3%, 27.5%, 16% and 31.3%, respectively.  The number of road motor vehicles registered increased 13.1% in October compared with the same month of the previous year.  (TUIK 12.12)

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6.3  Athens to Vote on Bill Allowing Casinos in Tourist Destinations

Greek lawmakers are preparing to vote on a bill that would legalize three casinos in the popular tourism destinations of Crete, Santorini, and Mykonos, and also allow the country’s current gambling establishments to relocate.  The latter is perhaps the more important part of the legislation, as the Regency Casino Mont Parnes; the only gambling floor in the Athens area, could move down off the mountain and into the ancient capital.  The Greek Parliament is expected to vote on the measure before Christmas.  According to reports, the casino bill has the adequate support required in order to be passed.

Should the bill become law, the Hellenic Gaming Commission would take on a greater responsibility in overseeing an expanded casino market.  The commission would be tasked with licensing the three properties, and regulating any relocation requests.  The gambling statute would also amend the country’s current gaming tax on operators to a flat tax, with its specific rate to be determined at a later date.  Casinos presently share between 22% and 35% of their gross gaming revenue with the government.

Greece is home to nine gambling venues, two of which are casino cruises.  With over 700 slot machines and 50 table games, the Regency Casino Mont Parnes is the country’s largest gaming floor.  The casino and hotel is located about 40 kilometers away from the center of Athens.  ( 07.12)

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7.1  Chanukah Celebrated in Israel & the World Over

Tuesday evening, 12 December, the Jewish world began the observance of the eight day Chanukah holiday.  From the Hebrew word for “dedication” or “consecration”, Hanukkah marks the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the forces of Seleucid Greeks and commemorates the “miracle of the container of oil”.  The re-dedication followed the liberation of Jerusalem by the Jewish forces, or Maccabees, who were fighting to regain their independence against the Greek invaders.  There was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day.  Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate fresh olive oil.  The holiday also celebrates the military victory and the restoration of Jewish independence.  The holiday lasts until 20 December.

Though business is permitted during this holiday, the week in Israel is marked by many leaving work early to be with the family at nightfall, in time to light the chanukiah or menorah, an eight branched candelabra.  The primary observance is to light a single light each night for eight nights.  As a universally practiced “beautification” of the mitzvah, the number of lights lit is increased by one each night.  There is also a custom of eating foods fried in oil as a culinary way of commemorating the Chanukah miracle after the Maccabees won the war against the Greeks, liberating Israel.  While the favored fried Chanukah treat of Israelis is the jelly doughnut, most North American Jews prefer latkes, a grated potato-and-onion pancake fried in oil and served with sour cream or apple sauce.

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7.2  Saudi Arabia Says First Cinemas to Open in Early 2018

On 11 December, the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information (MOCI) announced that commercial cinemas will be allowed to operate in the kingdom in 2018, for the first time in more than 35 years.  The Board of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM) passed a resolution allowing it to grant licenses to cinemas, including commercial providers.  The measure comes as part of the Vision 2030 social and economic reform program under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  The decision to license cinemas is central to the government’s program to encourage an open and rich domestic culture for Saudis.  The move follows a variety of economic and social reforms including the announcement in a September Royal Decree by King Salman that women would be allowed to drive as of June 2018.  This is the first time that cinemas have been licensed since their ban in the early 1980s.

Vision 2030 aims to increase Saudi household spending on cultural and entertainment activities from 2.9% currently to 6% by 2030.  It is anticipated that by 2030 the kingdom will have opened over 300 cinemas, with over 2,000 screens.  It is estimated that the cinema industry will stimulate economic growth and diversification by contributing more than $24 billion to the GDP, creating more than 30,000 permanent jobs and more than 130,000 temporary jobs by 2030.  GCAM said it will announce more details on licensing and regulations over the next few weeks.  (MoCI 12.12)

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7.3  Some 73% of Women in Morocco Face Harassment in Public Spaces

Despite the existence of multiple anti-harassment campaigns and organizations, gender-based violence remains a challenging issue in Morocco.  A study by the National Observatory on Violence Against Women has revealed alarming findings on this issue.  According to a report issued in 2016 by the National Observatory, violence in public spaces represents 73% of all sort of struggles faced by women.  This number represent an increase of 6.1% compared to a year earlier.  The report was presented during the 15th national campaign against violence, under the theme of “violence against women in public spaces.”  The data came to consolidate the findings of a study by the High Commissioner for Planning (HCP), which confirmed that urban public spaces are the most dangerous places for women.

The HCP report added that out of a population of 5.7 million, 40.6% of women were victims of violent acts during the 12 months preceding the investigation.  Psychological abuse, which is considered the most prevalent violence in Morocco, affects 1.9 million women.  An investigation conducted by HCP after a graphic sexual assault in a public bus occurred in Casablanca in August reveals that physical violence affects 808,000 victims, representing 14.2% of women.  Concerning the attacks on personal liberty and sexual violence, the survey reveals that they affected 372,000 victims in urban areas.  Women aged between 18 and 20 represent 58.3% of women abused in the public sphere, followed by women aged 50 and 64 with 25%.  (MWN 12.12)

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8.1  New Facility for Lampados’ 3D Sweetener

Lampados International is completing a new plant expansion for the production of Liteez – a vegan, egg-free 3D meringue kiss sweetener for hot drinks.  The larger facility will allow the company to meet the rapidly growing demand.  The facility will produce 8,000 retail packages per day in the first stage, and will double production within a few months.  The company invested more than $500,000 to increase production of the sweetener, which is available as either a stevia- or sucralose-based product.  The plant is BRC- and kosher-certificated to meet food manufactures’, retailers’, and consumers’ highest standards of requirement.  Two Liteez contain only two calories, versus 20 calories in one teaspoon of table sugar.

Caesarea’s Lampados, a family-owned company, was founded in 1975.  The company specializes in tabletop sweeteners and health products, such as sugar-free syrups.  Following substantial technology development and investment in plant facilities, including new equipment and automatic packaging systems, the manufacturing site has received BRC Grade A certification.  (Lampados International 05.12)

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8.2  EarlySense Recognized as a Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Company for Second Year Running

EarlySense has been named a Deloitte 2017 Technology Fast 50 company.  This is the second consecutive year that EarlySense has been included in the Fast 50, an annual program that recognizes the 50 fastest growing technology companies in Israel, based on revenue growth during the last four years.  EarlySense had a Composite Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 111% in revenue from 2013-2016, resulting from increased global adoption of its analytics and sensing solutions for hospitals, post-acute care facilities and the consumer health market.  The achievement highlights the success of EarlySense’s InSight platform for medical facilities, and comes on the heels of two new consumer products, Live™ for the aging population and Percept for couples who are trying to conceive.

EarlySense’s technology uses a wireless sensor placed under a bed mattress, or within a chair, to track real time health data, including heart rate, breathing rate, sleep cycles, stress levels and movement.  The FDA-cleared medical solution assists health teams with early detection of patient deterioration to prevent adverse events and improve health outcomes.  The consumer solutions leverage the same hospital-proven technology in an easy-to-use interface, enabling users to effectively monitor their wellbeing and make better health choices.

Ramat Gan’s EarlySense has partnered with leading global technology companies including Samsung, Welch Allyn, iFit and Beurer.  EarlySense® provides contact-free, continuous monitoring solutions for the medical and consumer digital health markets. EarlySense’s integrated sensor utilizes Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data analytics to provide actionable health insights and improve clinical outcomes.  (EarlySense 30.11)

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8.3  Mitra Biotech Partners with Gotect Diagnostic in Israel

Boston’s Mitra Biotech, a global leader in advancing the personalization of cancer treatment, announced an agreement with Gotect Diagnostic for the exclusive right to represent Mitra in Israel.  Mitra’s CANscript platform recreates a patient’s own tumor microenvironment in vitro, measures multiple parameters to determine whether a tumor is responding to physician-selected treatments, and then converts these parameters into a single score that predicts clinical response to each of the physician-selected therapies.

Bnei Brak’s Gotect and supports technological and scientific innovation in the pursuit of improving patient health in Israel as well as other Mediterranean markets.  (Mitra 29.11)

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8.4  ChemomAb Raises $10 Million in Series B Funding

ChemomAb has completed a $10 million fund raising round led by OrbiMed Israel and Peter Thiel.  SBI Japan-Israel Innovation Fund and Milestone Venture also participated in the round.  This was the second round of investment for ChemomAb which had previously raised $5 million from OrbiMed Israel and private investors.  ChemomAb’s leading product, which is currently in phase 1 clinical trials in Israel, is a first in class monoclonal antibody, directed against a key protein in the control of cellular response in a disease state.  The protein was first identified by ChemomAb as being crucial to the progression of fibrotic as well as inflammatory mechanisms in disease state and in being significantly overexpressed in diseased tissue.

The antibody is designed to treat patients with fibrotic and inflammatory diseases through a novel dual mechanism of action that interferes with fibrosis processes directly as well as attenuates the inflammatory process that supports the fibrotic milieu and disease progression.  The first of such diseases to be targeted by ChemomAb is nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a chronic liver disease associated with steatosis, or accumulation of fat within the liver, that can lead to inflammation, progressive fibrosis and cirrhosis.  The company is also planning to examine the product’s efficacy in several fibrotic orphan indications in humans, following proof of concept data from animal studies that revealed highly efficacious results with the drug.

Ramat HaChayal, Tel Aviv’s ChemomAb was founded in 2011. The area of the company’s focus is monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of inflammatory and fibrotic disease.  To date, the company has raised $15 million in two fund-raising rounds from venture capital funds and private investors.  (ChemomAb 04.12)

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8.5  Therapix Biosciences Announces Enrollment of Phase IIa Study for Tourettes

Therapix Biosciences announces the completion of enrollment in its investigator-initiated Phase IIa study at Yale University evaluating its investigational compound THX-110, a therapeutic compound consisting of FDA-approved dronabinol (synthetic ?-9-tetrahydracannabinol) and palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) , for Tourette syndrome.  Sixteen patients have been enrolled in the study.  Top-line results are currently anticipated in the first half of 2018.

The Yale study is a single-arm, open-label study, in which subjects receive once-daily oral treatment of the investigational drug for 12 weeks.  The objective of the clinical study is to prove the safety, tolerability and efficacy of the combination of dronabinol and PEA in adult patients with Tourette syndrome.  The primary efficacy endpoint is the change from baseline to the end of the 12-week treatment in the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale Total Tic Score (YGTSS-TTS), which is a clinical measure designed to provide an evaluation of tic severity.  Secondary efficacy endpoints include demonstrating the safety and tolerability of the dronabinol and PEA combination and to evaluate its benefit on premonitory urges, quality of life, disease severity and comorbidities including ADHD, OCD, depression and anxiety.

Israel’s Therapix Biosciences is a specialty clinical-stage pharmaceutical company led by an experienced team of senior executives and scientists.  Their focus is creating and enhancing a portfolio of technologies and assets based on cannabinoid pharmaceuticals.  With this focus, the Company is currently engaged in the following drug development programs based on repurposing an FDA approved synthetic cannabinoid (dronabinol): THX-110 for the treatment of Tourette syndrome (TS) and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA); THX-130 for the treatment of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI); and THX-150 for the treatment of infectious diseases.  (Therapix Biosciences 04.12)

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8.6  Atox Bio Closes $30 Million Investment

Atox Bio has raised $30 million.  The round was led by Arix Bioscience plc with participation from Adams Street Partners, Asahi Kasei Corporation and additional undisclosed investors.  Existing investors SR One, OrbiMed, Lundbeckfonden Ventures, Becker and Integra Holdings also participated in the financing.  Atox Bio will use the proceeds of the financing to advance the clinical development of Reltecimod, its lead product, into Acute Kidney Injury (AKI), a major unmet clinical need in critically ill patients with severe infections.  Atox Bio plans to initiate a Phase 2 clinical study in this indication during 2018.  Reltecimod is currently being studied in ACCUTE, a Phase 3 clinical study, in patients with Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections (NSTI).

Ness Ziona’s Atox Bio is a late stage clinical biotechnology company that develops novel immune modulators for critically ill patients with severe infections.  Atox Bio has an ongoing contract No. HHSO100201400013 with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) supporting the development of Reltecimod in NSTI.  The Company was established by Prof. Raymond Kaempfer and Dr. Gila Arad from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Yissum.  (Atox Bio 04.11)

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8.7  Check-Cap Announces Advancement in GE Healthcare Manufacturing Collaboration

Check-Cap entered the next phase of its manufacturing collaboration with GE Healthcare (GE).  The new phase involves GE final assembly, packaging and shipping of C-Scan capsules initially to support the Company’s US pilot trial expected in 1H2018.  Check-Cap will supply GE with supporting calibration and final assembly methodology and equipment.

Isfiya’s Check-Cap is a clinical-stage medical diagnostics company developing C-Scan, the first capsule-based system for preparation-free colorectal cancer screening.  Utilizing innovative ultra-low dose X-ray and wireless communication technologies, the capsule generates information on the contours of the inside of the colon as it passes naturally.  This information is used to create a 3D map of the colon, which allows physicians to look for polyps and other abnormalities.  Designed to improve the patient experience and increase the willingness of individuals to participate in recommended colorectal cancer screening, C-Scan removes many frequently-cited barriers, such as laxative bowel preparation, invasiveness and sedation.  The C-Scan system is currently not cleared for marketing in any jurisdiction.  (Check-Cap 05.12)

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8.8  Ayala Pharmaceuticals Agreement with BMS to Develop Cancer Treatments

Ayala Pharmaceuticals has entered into an exclusive worldwide license agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb for two gamma secretase inhibitors in development for the treatment of cancers with altered Notch genes.  Under the terms of the license agreement, Ayala will have exclusive worldwide development and commercialization rights for BMS-906024 and BMS-986115, two gamma secretase inhibitors previously developed by BMS as a Notch inhibitor for oncology indications.  In connection with the license, BMS received an upfront payment, became a shareholder of Ayala and is eligible to receive certain development, regulatory, and sales-based milestones, as well as tiered annual net sales royalties.  Ayala is responsible for all future development and commercialization of BMS-906024 and BMS-986115.

Israel Biotech Fund identified the opportunity, led the due diligence and syndicated with aMoon and Harel Insurance in 2017 to form Ayala.  The new company intends to develop BMS-906024 as a precision medicine for niche orphan patient populations harboring Notch activating mutations.

Rehovot’s Ayala Pharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing targeted cancer therapies for people living with genetically defined cancers.  The company was founded in November 2017 with an experienced global management team and a strong investor base.  (Ayala Pharmaceuticals 06.12)

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8.9  iCan:Israel-Cannabis to Bring FDA Approved Nebulizers to the Medical Cannabis Market

iCAN:Israel-Cannabis and New York’s Aura Medical have joined forces to bring FDA approved nebulizers to the burgeoning medical cannabis market.  The Aura’s Portable Nebulizer is widely acclaimed and recommended by the nation’s top Pulmonologists and Respiratory Therapists for use in treating asthma and COPD and now will be used by millions more worldwide.  The device will be marketed under the brand name Nebican.

Utilizing specially developed controlled dosages, the Nebican portable nebulizer is a perfect delivery system for medical cannabis.  Nebican is the answer to medical practitioners and patients worldwide as demand turns towards medical cannabis to alleviate numerous ailments.  Designed with patented Vibrating Mesh Technology (VMT), Nebican is an innovative form of atomization that emits extremely thin and fog like vapor.  Like air, the mist released from the inhaler can easily penetrate deep into the lungs. Pocket sized, it is portable, discreet, convenient and easy to use.  Nebican & ican.sleep are expected to launch in California in mid-2018 with the Canadian market to follow.

Beit Shemesh’s iCAN is a globally recognized Israeli company focused on the medical cannabis industry. iCAN operates across all verticals including: consulting, business development, mentoring, investment strategy, network and media, compliance and regulation, CRO, commercialization, formulation and international distribution.  (iCAN 12.12)

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9.1  Inomize to Support Development of 3D Camera & XR ASIC Using TSMC 12nm FFC Technology

Inomize announced that Inuitive, a developer of innovative technologies for augmented and virtual reality that improve user experiences for latest-generation mobile applications, had selected Inomize to support their new ASIC design program.  Inuitive has partnered with Inomize and introduced the NU4000 (using 12nm low power technology at TSMC), a superior multi-core vision processor that supports 3D Imaging, Deep Learning and Computer Vision processing for Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, Drones, Robots and many other applications.  This next generation processor enables high quality depth sensing, “On chip SLAM”, Computer Vision and Deep Learning (CNN) capabilities; all in affordable form factor and minimized power consumption, leading the way for smarter user experiences.

Netanya’s Inomize is a professional Research & Development firm specializing in the design and delivery of hardware solutions.  Inomize offers a wide range of services tailored to meet your project needs and product constraints in terms of cost, performance and power consumption.  Inomize successfully delivers ambitious projects on time and on budget.  Inomize gets the maximum out of the available technology and, when necessary, pushes it to the limit using the latest advancements to meet the customer’s project needs.

Ra’anana’s Inuitive is the leading 3D imaging, computer vision and deep learning in a single chip (NU4000).  Inuitive is optimizing consumer experiences and enhances competitive advantages in the areas of Augmented & Virtual Reality, Drones, Robots and Autonomous Cars, among others.  Inuitive combines algorithms, ASIC, and System solution to realize the AI practice enabling devices to acquire more human capabilities.  With AI at its core, Inuitive’s platform includes a 3D Depth Sensing Computer Vision processor and powerful deep learning capabilities enabling smart devices to become smarter.  (Inomize 05.12)

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9.2  Mellanox & NEC Deliver Innovative High-Performance & Artificial Intelligence Platforms

Mellanox Technologies announced in collaboration with NEC Corporation support for the newly announced SX-Aurora TSUBASA systems with Mellanox ConnectX InfiniBand adapters.  A typical Aurora server platform includes from one to four InfiniBand adapters.  The top-of-the-line Aurora platform utilizes 32 ConnectX adapters to support 64 vector engines in a single system.  The NEC SX-Aurora TSUBASA systems leverage general-purpose vector-based NEC coprocessors and Mellanox in-network computing interconnect accelerators to achieve the highest application performance and scalability.  Mellanox InfiniBand solutions deliver the highest efficiency for high performance, artificial intelligence, cloud, storage and more infrastructures.  InfiniBand accelerates all of the computer architectures – X86, Power, GPU, ARM, FPGA and Vector-based compute and storage platforms – delivering highest flexibility and best return on investment.

Yokneam’s Mellanox Technologies is a leading supplier of end-to-end InfiniBand and Ethernet smart interconnect solutions and services for servers and storage.  Mellanox interconnect solutions increase data center efficiency by providing the highest throughput and lowest latency, delivering data faster to applications and unlocking system performance capability.  (Mellanox 04.12)

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9.3  The Phoenix Innovates by Selecting TestCraft’s Cloud-Based Solution for Software Testing (QA)

The Phoenix Insurance Company, one of the largest insurance companies in Israel, chose TestCraft, a codeless test automation SaaS platform as its next-generation software testing platform.  The Phoenix will use TestCraft to automate much of its manual software testing operations.  This forward-thinking move will allow The Phoenix to develop its applications faster and better relying on modern agile development and deployment methodologies.  Further automation of testing also results in safer applications, reducing risks of breaches.  To clear the hurdle, TestCraft had to provide substantial security proofs and certifications, including an ISO 27001 certification.  After a detailed POC, The Phoenix reports that the implementation has been successful and it is now in the process of expanding test automation gradually to other organizational arms.  The Phoenix is already showing a dramatic improvement in testing and application monitoring productivity.

With TestCraft’s codeless test automation platform The Phoenix is looking to expedite its development process and be able to update its websites on an ongoing basis.  The Phoenix has already cleared its first hurdle on the way to test automation by getting the TestCraft cloud solution approved by their strict security regulation, a breakthrough approval in the Israeli insurance industry.

Tel Aviv’s TestCraft is a SaaS test automation platform for regression and continuous testing, as well as functional monitoring of web applications.  With TestCraft testers can visually create automated, Selenium-based tests using a drag-and-drop interface, and run them on multiple browsers and work environments, simultaneously.  No coding skills required.  TestCraft allows for faster test creation, execution, and maintenance, as it creates a dynamic test model that can be easily updated to reflect changes to your app.  (TestCraft 04.12)

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9.4  AudioCodes Selected by Thailand’s True Corporation for All-IP Transformation

AudioCodes announced that its products have been selected by True Corporation, one of Thailand’s largest telecom operators.  True will be deploying AudioCodes’ session border controllers and media gateways to facilitate the planned migration of its fixed-line business customers to a state-of-the-art VoIP infrastructure over the next two years.  With one of the largest fixed-line networks in Thailand, True Corporation has embarked upon a major IP transformation project, focusing initially on providing its large business customer base with SIP trunk connectivity.  With a variety of legacy TDM and IP-based on-premises equipment deployed by its customers, True needed a comprehensive solution that would enable its customers to migrate smoothly and easily.  AudioCodes’ broad offering of session border controllers (SBCs) and media gateways deliver the necessary flexibility, scalability and interoperability to ensure that businesses of all sizes can be integrated into the new network.  In addition, AudioCodes’ centralized management and voice quality monitoring tools ensure efficient operation of the new network with the ability to promptly detect and troubleshoot potential issues.

Lod’s AudioCodes is a leading vendor of advanced voice networking and media processing solutions for the digital workplace.  AudioCodes enables enterprises and service providers to build and operate all-IP voice networks for unified communications, contact centers and hosted business services.  AudioCodes offers a broad range of innovative products, solutions and services that are used by large multi-national enterprises and leading tier-1 operators around the world.  (AudioCodes 04.12)

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9.5  Inuitive and SoftBank to Collaborate on AI and IoT

Inuitive and Japan’s SoftBank Corp. have agreed to collaborate through the development of artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning (DL) and advanced 3D sensing with computer vision capabilities for future IoT.  This collaboration will draw from the expertise of both companies in AI by leveraging Inuitive’s existing and future vision processors and its AI framework with SoftBank’s IoT platforms, which offer advanced heterogeneous processing capabilities for embedded products.  The companies expect the collaboration to drive the popularity and development of smart IoT devices and systems.

Currently, SoftBank is focused on optimizing the high-end platforms to accelerate AI products use cases in the areas of computer vision and neural networks and is researching broader executions in the areas of Objects recognition, Scene reconstruction, SLAM and power management.  Inuitive is a leading company in vision processing and its applications. It plays an important role in deep learning algorithm innovation.  The company’s leading technology in deep learning makes it possible to innovate and develop a variety of algorithms with low cost and fast response time.  Inuitive has also made breakthroughs in sensing technologies. Its strategic collaboration with SoftBank is expected to drastically improve the speed and efficiency of combining system with chipset, making Inuitive’s AI technology more pervasive.

Ra’anana’s Inuitive is the leading 3D imaging, computer vision and deep learning in a single chip (NU4000).  Inuitive is optimizing consumer experiences and enhances competitive advantages in the areas of Augmented & Virtual Reality, Drones, Robots and Autonomous Cars, among others.  Inuitive combines algorithms, ASIC, and System solution to realize the AI practice enabling devices to acquire more human capabilities.  (Inomize 05.12)

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9.6  Lumus Deal with Quanta to License & Mass Manufacture AR Optics at Consumer Price Points

Lumus has entered a major agreement with Taiwan’s Quanta Computer, one of the world’s largest original design manufacturers (ODMs), to license several augmented reality (AR) optical engine models.  The licensing agreement is the largest agreement to date for Lumus, and marks a significant step toward mainstream adoption of AR eyewear.  Lumus has licensed several of its advanced optical engines to Quanta in an agreement to produce and market AR headsets featuring Lumus Vision.  Under this agreement, Quanta will also be mass producing Lumus optical engines for other Tier 1 ODMs and top consumer tech brands.  The deal follows Quanta’s investment in Lumus in November 2016 and represents an important moment for the AR industry.  As one of the most important production plans for AR headsets to date, the Lumus agreement with Quanta reflects the proximity of mainstream adoption of AR eyewear.  Quanta-built AR headsets with Lumus optics are expected to be available in the market within 12 to 18 months.

Ness Ziona’s Lumus believes the future is looking up, and is working with today’s leading augmented reality (AR) and smart eyewear manufacturers to free the world from the limitations of screen-based living.  Lumus develops and produces exceptional transparent AR displays that fuse digital and physical worlds like never before.  Lumus optics are the core foundational technology on which top global OEM brands are basing their products.  Lumus’ patented LOE optical technology enable true see-through performance and a wide field of view in the most natural-looking, sleek and compact design possible today.  Lumus optics are battle tested with military aviation, health care, and logistics among the industries utilizing the company’s optical engines.  (Lumus 05.12)

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9.7  KDDI Selects Gilat’s Satellite Based Solution for Nationwide LTE Network in Japan

Gilat Satellite Networks announced that KDDI chose Gilat’s unique satellite based LTE cellular backhaul solution to extend reach and resilience with high speed data and high-quality voice over LTE (VoLTE) throughout Japan.  KDDI has chosen Gilat’s LTE cellular backhaul solution to provide voice, data and video services at true LTE speeds and high voice quality. Gilat’s VSATs will be installed in fixed sites as well as on deployable vehicles for emergency response – cellular on wheels (COW).  The solution leverages Gilat’s patented LTE backhaul solution and leading mobility features to support continuous service for public safety, in addition to the outstanding performance provided in fixed LTE cellular sites.  Hundreds of Gilat’s VSATs will be deployed in Japan nationwide.

Petah Tikva’s Gilat Satellite Networks is a leading global provider of satellite-based broadband communications.  With 30 years of experience, Gilat designs and manufactures cutting-edge ground segment equipment, and provide comprehensive solutions and end-to-end services, powered by our innovative technology.  Delivering high value competitive solutions, their portfolio comprises of a cloud based VSAT network platform, high-speed modems, high performance on-the-move antennas and high efficiency, high power Solid State Amplifiers (SSPA) and Block Upconverters (BUC).  (Gilat 06.12)

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9.8  Elbit Systems Selected to Provide and Operate Simulators for IAF Transport Aircraft

Elbit Systems was selected by the Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMOD) to provide and operate flight simulators for the upgraded C-130H and C-130J transport aircraft of the Israeli Air Force (IAF).  The contract value will be in an amount of $74 million dollars for a thirteen-year period which includes a set up phase of approximately three years and a ten-year operating period.  Elbit Systems will set up and operate the IAF upgraded C-130H and C-130J training center, providing two inter-connected flight simulators that enable both single and squadron training and a ground crews simulator that enables high fidelity training of aircraft maintenance procedures.

Haifa’s Elbit Systems is an international high technology company engaged in a wide range of defense, homeland security and commercial programs throughout the world.  The Company, which includes Elbit Systems and its subsidiaries, operates in the areas of aerospace, land and naval systems, command, control, communications, computers, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, unmanned aircraft systems, advanced electro-optics, electro-optic space systems, EW suites, signal intelligence systems, data links and communications systems, radios and cyber-based systems.  (Elbit Systems 06.12)

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9.9  BGU Develops Software Enabling Standard Cameras to Capture Hyperspectral Images

New software developed by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers enables standard cameras to capture hyperspectral images and video – a faster and more cost-efficient approach than what is commercially available today.  The game-changing software captures the spectral signature of every pixel in a single image – a significant improvement over the current spectrometric technology, which can only measure one point or line at a time.  It can also create hyperspectral videos, instantly collecting hyperspectral information on non-static objects.  The software can be installed in existing cameras, including smartphone cameras, turning them into extremely low-cost and fast-working hyperspectral cameras.

Existing hyperspectral cameras capture the entire electromagnetic spectrum and are used to detect specific materials and identify qualities in these materials, such as analysis of the earth’s composition, vegetation, the existence of oil or impurities in water.  Yet these cameras are expensive and cumbersome to use; and can take up to a minute for photographing each frame.  BGN Technologies has patented the invention and is working with the researchers to commercialize the invention.

BGN Technologies is the technology transfer company of Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheba.  BGN Technologies brings technological innovations from the lab to the market and fosters research collaborations and entrepreneurship among researchers and students.  To date, BGN Technologies has established over 100 startup companies in the fields of Biotech, Hi-tech and Cleantech and initiated leading technology hubs, incubators and accelerators.  (BGU 05.12)

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9.10  Secret Double Octopus Included in Gartner’s 2017 Market Guide for User Authentication

Secret Double Octopus was included in Gartner’s 2017 Market Guide for User Authentication as one of the report’s Representative Vendors in the user authentication category.  Secret Double Octopus’ proprietary phone-as-a-token solution enables password-free authentication for workforce use cases, including Windows PC and network login, and access to applications.  The Company’s solution uses multichannel techniques to protect against authenticator cloning, man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks and key theft.  The Company currently has customers in Europe, the U.S. and Asia/Pacific.

Beer Sheba’s Secret Double Octopus has developed the world’s only password-free, keyless authentication technology to protect identity and data across cloud, mobile and IoT environments.  Based on Secret Sharing algorithms, originally developed to protect nuclear launch codes, Secret Double Octopus’ technology prevents cyber attackers from accessing enough critical information to be useful for attacks, eliminating brute force, man-in-the-middle, PKI manipulation, key theft and certificate authority weaknesses.  (Secret Double Octopus 07.12)

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10.1  Israeli Startups Raised Over $300 Million in November

Israeli startups raised more than $300 million during November, according to press releases issued by companies that have completed financing rounds.  The figure may be more as some companies prefer not to publicize the investments they have received.

Startups raised a record $3.8 billion in the first nine months of 2017, IVC-ZAG reported, and a further estimated $550 million in October.  This means that Israeli startups have raised at least $4.65 billion in the first eleven months of the year and are on course to beat 2016’s record startup raising of $4.8 billion.

The new trend by which fewer startups are raising more money was less evident in November, which was characterized by a relatively large number of startups raising amounts below $5 million.

However, there were some major financing rounds with consumer review platform company Yotpo raising $50 million.  Other substantial financing rounds closed in November included $30 million raised by heart valve developer Mitrassist, $25 million raised by storage company Excelero, $25 million raised by social engagement platform Spot.IM, $23 million raised by algorithmic service operations solutions company Big Panda and $23 million raised by log management company  (Globes 01.12)

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10.2  Israeli Home Purchases Down Over Last Four Quarters

According to the Ministry of Finance’s chief economist, the slowdown in Israel for home sales continued in the third quarter of 2017 and the trend of a decline in the number of transactions has lasted a full year (four successive quarters).  In Q3/17, 23,700 homes were bought, including purchases under the Buyer’s Price program.  In comparison with the third quarter of last year, this represents a decline of 17%.  If Buyer’s Price transactions are excluded, the decline amounts to 21%.  The third quarter figures mean that there have been four successive quarters in which the number of transactions has declined, in comparison both with the corresponding quarter and with the preceding quarter.  By historical comparison, this is an exceptional series of figures.  Since the beginning of the previous decade (the earliest figures we have available), such a negative trend has been seen only once before, between Q2/11 and Q1/12, against the background of the social protest in that period.

The Ministry of Finance survey does not cover prices, but only the number of transactions in the sector, among other things because of the decision by Minister of Finance Kahlon that only the Central Bureau of Statistics would be authorized to publish figures on home prices.  The review does however state: “Although in this survey we focus on changes in numbers of transactions and not price changes, we would point out that research shows that these two trends are not dissociated.  In boom times in the market, it is usually more ‘liquid’, with more and more frequent transactions in any given period.  In periods of falling prices, the pace of transactions slows and the time spent by homes ‘on the shelf’ lengthens.  All the same, the correlation is not immediate, and of course additional factors are at play.”

In other words, the Ministry of Finance is continuing its efforts to influence the market and to change expectations by hinting that a prolonged slowdown in the pace of transactions will at some stage have an effect on prices.  This is despite the fact that so far the Central Bureau of Statistics’ figures have continued to indicate that the price trend remains upwards, albeit at a declining rate.  (Globes 05.12)

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11.1  ARAB MIDDLE EAST:  Easter in Winter – The “Arab Spring” Seven Years Later

On 6 December, Jose V. Ciprut wrote in BESA Center Perspectives that the time has come to stop peddling misleading and empty political metaphors and to refrain from predicating alternative futures on facile inferences that serve only to add confusion to ambiguity.

Triggered by a dispossessed and humiliated street vendor‘s self-immolation in Tunisia on 17 December 2010, the “Arab Spring” destroyed everything in its path, from Libya to Yemen to Syria.  Each of the countries and peoples affected experienced its own self-liberationist pseudo-version of a season that never arrived.

In Tunisia, the flight of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali led to a divisive and palpable soul-searching that ultimately yielded a semblance of inclusive, if religiously biased, political consensus.  Tunisia has been the only non-loser of the international havoc that began there.

In Algeria, popular violence erupted to protest government corruption, state repression of citizens’ freedoms, and substandard living conditions, eliciting prompt palliatives.  The country managed to remain intact thanks to rapid government action to boost employment and combat political corruption coupled with tighter policing to maintain order and stability.

In Morocco, King Mohammed VI quickly offered concessions, including a referendum to bring about constitutional changes, which caused protests to die down by the end of 2012.

The NATO-supported, hasty, messy and ugly overthrow of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi in Libya in August 2011 was supposed to install Western-style governance in a jiffy.  A parliament would be elected and order restored in no time, according to a French pundit.  That is not how events transpired.  The General National Congress, which took power in August 2012, was forced to take refuge in Tobruk while a rival government took power in Tripoli.  The country remains in a shambles, with unified control dependent on the elimination of ISIS and other Islamist militias.  Qaddafi’s madness had a method that Western wisdom failed to grasp.

The 18 days of protest in Egypt’s Tahrir Square that began on 25 January 2011 led the government of Hosni Mubarak to censor internet access in an effort to thwart citizen organization.  By 10 February, the level of violence had led to Mubarak’s resignation.  Parliament was dissolved by the military; Essam Sharaf was appointed and then dismissed as civilian leader; and on 22 November 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Muhammad Morsi was sworn in as president.  This was followed by Morsi’s incompetent and prejudiced rule; his overthrow by the military; and the reversal of Mubarak’s sentence.  Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s efforts to minimize the huge damage caused Egypt by the prolonged upheaval; to try and halt the unrest, towards stabilizing the country’s internal and external environments; to take a fresh approach towards Hamas (the Palestinian off-shoot of the Muslim Brotherhood); and to suppress, possibly even eradicate, Islamist terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula, opened a new (if still far from top-down democratic) era for Egypt.

Trouble in Yemen started on 27 January 2011 in Sana’a, when 16,000 angry citizens took to the streets to protest high unemployment, poor economic conditions and state corruption.  On 3 February, activist politician Tawakel Karman called for a “Day of Rage.”  Though 20,000 protesters demanded President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s swift resignation, it took an assassination attempt to get him to flee to Saudi Arabia on 3 June (he eventually returned to Sana’a and was assassinated there on 4 December 2017).  Saleh’s vice president, Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi, who succeeded him in February 2012, had to run for his own life in 2015 owing to the Shiite rebel uprising initiated by Abdul-Malik al-Houthi in 2014.

The Iran-affiliated Houthis took control of the capital despite attacks from a Saudi-led Sunni coalition.  Ever since then, the Houthis and the Saudi coalition have been engaged in an internationalized armed conflict – a struggle for regional supremacy that has become a tug of war from which it is increasingly difficult for any party to be the first to withdraw.  With 17 million starving and many dead, Yemen’s “Arab Spring” has turned into a self-prolonging, cruel winter.

In Bahrain, citizens gathered peacefully on 14 February 2011 to call for human rights and political freedoms.  They were violently dispersed by the police.  On 20 February, some 150,000 people demonstrated at the Pearl Roundabout.  Many were killed or injured.  In March, the government arrested 3,000 people, many of whom were allegedly tortured.  Human rights groups and the media were denied access to the detainees.  The same month, the Saudi military entered Bahrain on behalf of the governing Sunni minority.  When calm was restored, the Bahraini government tore down the Pearl Roundabout, stripping the place from its historicity.  An indelible shadow fell on the future of Bahrain’s grip on its Shiite majority at a time when Iran’s regional clout keeps hardening.

Qatar’s internal and external politics immunized it against local protests, despite its activism in Libya and elsewhere.  Its rapprochement with Iran and active support for the Muslim Brotherhood (and Hamas) led to its formal estrangement from most of the other GCC countries and Turkey’s initiatives in Qatar promise to complicate the region’s power equations even further.

In Kuwait, a summary dismissal of the government helped redress the effects of the protests fostered by “the Arab Spring” between 2011 and 2012.  The al-Sabah family acts as official mediator in the bitter conflict that ranges Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE against circumstantially Iran-friendly Qatar.

Introverted Oman outmaneuvered its own internal unrest in 2011 by creating a Public Authority for Consumer Protection.  It has also managed to avoid being drawn into either the GCC’s dispute with Qatar or the armed conflict between its immediate neighbors, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.  In the United Arab Emirates, pro forma calls for democratic freedoms were easily stifled by the government’s competitive pursuit of prosperity and international connectivity.

Saudi Arabia used a carrot and stick approach – by enacting generous measures and swift retribution – to fend off complications from the “Arab Spring” during a menacing period of great tension.  The kingdom engaged in a military incursion against the uprisings in Bahrain, and sent its military into the fray of Yemen’s fratricidal war, at a time when brusque, belated reforms and weaker oil revenues coincided with a power transfer at home.  Riyadh has had to contend with Iran’s nuclear ambitions, ballistic missile pursuits and hegemonic striving in the region; rival Sunni fundamentalisms abroad; Qatar’s alleged betrayals; and worries over the perception among Muslims and Arabs of the Saudis’ legitimate leadership role.  As Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman swiftly acted to consolidate power, shaking Saudi religious and financial circles in the process, the House of Saud found itself hamstrung between nominal alliances with the West and practical pursuits with Russia.

In Jordan, relatively moderate protests led to the standard palliative reforms.  The few changes in government that King Abdullah II undertook sufficed to restore order.  Yet the sudden arrival of more than 600,000 Syrian refugees and non-refugees as a consequence of Syria’s own “Arab Spring,” and threats to the Kingdom from domestic Islamist militancy, have created problems.  If Tehran succeeds in its efforts to gain access to the Mediterranean Sea (via Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon) and to secure its presence in Bab-el-Mandeb via Yemen, then Jordan could become “an area of interest” for Iran from which it could profitably open yet another military front – this time against archenemy Israel.

In Iran, reverberations of the “Arab Spring” in the form of local, bottom-up agitation had no chance at all. Acting swiftly and ferociously, the regime decisively eliminated all real and suspected sources of such threats.

In Iraq, protests against state corruption in 2011 were relatively light.  The major demonstrations in 2012-13 against the blatant Shiite discrimination that led to the electoral defeat of PM Nouri al-Maliki in 2014 would create latitude for the swift rise and deadly spread of ISIS.  It has taken three long years for the Iraqi army to claim “almost” total victory over Sunni Islamists, after receiving important help from Iran.  Of course, Iran itself poses serious problems to the future of Iraq as a viably sovereign, indivisible political entity.

Syria’s case in the context of the “Arab Spring” has been sui generis.  Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been murdered, millions displaced, the country itself demolished, and the regime disqualified of its legitimacy to govern by its willingness to butcher its own people in its determination to stay in power.  Yet for geopolitical reasons, the leadership still enjoys the support of Iran and Russia, which view Syria as a means rather than an end.  The shift in US foreign policy from abdication to resigned facilitation has not only diminished its leadership image and role in the region, but has created distrust among major and minor stakeholders who still have good reasons for wanting to continue counting on it.

The long-in-coming victory over ISIS is bound to have a complex aftermath.  Complicating factors include the role of Iran (per se, and via Hezbollah and, ironically, Hamas); Russia’s stance; Turkey’s regional security interests, with Iraqi and Syrian Kurds in mind; the longer-term regional strategies of the EU and the US; China’s perception of this part of the Levant’s geography in the patiently ambitious context of its globalizing geopolitical designs; and the unavoidable implications and consequences for Lebanon, Jordan and Israel.

The meticulously tailored if short-lived “surprise” resignation on 4 November 2017, of Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri, “in charge” for less than a year, does not augur well for the tenor of regional geopolitical developments.  The threat to his life, which he claims to have received from “outsiders intervening in Arab affairs,” raises urgent questions about the prospects for peace, security, and prosperity in the Levant.  It would seem imperative at this stage for Lebanon to distinguish friend from foe before it becomes the next victim in what, for it, would be a familiar Sisyphean process of never-ending reconfiguration.

After seven years of destruction, the fertility attributed to the “Arab Spring” seems to have been but a case of boastful frigidity.  The local and international effects of the “Arab Spring” underscore the difficulty of establishing peace in a region where theocracies and autocracies are not only unlikely to disappear overnight, but – short of real revolutions – promise to persist for decades to come.

Jose V. Ciprut is a conflict analyst, social systems scientist, and international political economist.  (BESA 06.12)

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11.2  ARAB MIDDLE EAST: Chinese Tech Moves into the Middle East

Sam Blatteis wrote in Arabian Business on 23 November that the Arab Middle East’s e-commerce fundamentals emerging far more like China’s ecosystem than Silicon Valley’s.

Chinese tech company Tencent just burst into the $500b club in November, surpassing $531b and becoming more valuable than Facebook.  For those of us in the region, the timing is fascinating, coming at a time when Tencent’s subsidiary – e-commerce giant and Amazon rival – just sent its international president to the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s “Davos-in-the-desert” to explore the country’s $8b e-commerce market.

Importantly, the timing comes as US President Trump seems to be adopting a de-facto “withdrawal doctrine” pulling America out of the Paris Climate Accord, re-negotiating NAFTA and de-certifying the Iran nuclear deal.  As these changes are taking place, Chinese premier Xi Jingping is attempting to reshape its relationship with Arab countries according to its new “march west” strategy, becoming the single largest foreign investor into the Middle East last year with $29.5b in foreign direct investments.

Making (Tech) Friends

Those investments are already taking root.  China Arab International Technology Transfer Company, for example, recently signed an agreement with the Sharjah Research, Technology, and Innovation Park to transfer knowledge to Sharjah about 3D printing, digital transformation and industrial modernization.  The park hopes to create a Chinese-Arab innovation center driving R&D, entrepreneurship, and collaboration between government, the private sector, and academia.

Tech giant Huawei, for its part, has developed innovation hubs in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, turning a distant and exotic Chinese company into a real entity delivering tangible projects in the region.

China’s overseas commercial interests in the Middle East have grown exponentially over the past two decades.  Unsurprisingly, energy fueled a key part of Chinese-Arab economic ties for decades.  Now the “new oil” data is rapidly becoming an important part of the relationship, where Chinese tech giants might be better suited to the Middle East than their American counterparts.

In perhaps the most visible symbol of Chinese tech in the region, China’s Hanson Robotics announced it will partner with Etisalat to sell the Chinese firm’s humanoid robots – the famous Sophia – in the region, following widespread international attention to its recent display at the Future Investment Initiative.  This suggests that Chinese companies are moving from having transactional relationships with regional counterparts to one of partnerships.

Chinese internet players have also been placing bets on online-to-offline businesses, with cash on delivery, call-center support, and delivering products from the seller’s cellphone to the buyer’s.

Rival American tech companies have historically been slow to embrace the Arab Middle East.  For the Chinese, this presents an opportunity, as the fundamentals of the Middle East’s e-commerce market are far more like that of China and India than that of Silicon Valley.

While Amazon, Netflix, and eBay thrived off the crutch of America’s low-cost, dependable postal service and clear physical mailing addresses, their Chinese counterparts have proven they can thrive in markets without a reliable post service and physical mailing addresses, which, by coincidence, is similar to that found in this region.  Chinese companies are more comfortable than their U.S. counterparts in working with early-stage markets, and I wouldn’t bet against them.

In many ways, the Arab leaders charged with driving the development of the Gulf’s digital economies may be waking up to the reality that their tech relationships with China are slowly becoming strategic.  A prime example is Saudi Arabia, where rising Chinese influence in the high-tech sector was on full display when the kingdom announced it would be using Chinese expertise to develop its telecom sector.  In the UAE, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology recently signed an agreement with the Ministry of Economy to collaborate on expanding SMEs, which constitute 90% of registered business in the UAE – an enormous opportunity.

Staying Neutral

However, do not expect China to replace America militarily.  Beijing is largely focused on domestic job creation, its own economic development and domestic Chinese politics, as well as an overarching foreign policy principle of “non-interference.”

Beijing exhibits a deep sense of vulnerability in its Middle East engagement and endeavors to protect its expanding interests in the region by assiduously avoiding taking sides in Middle East controversies.  The ‘wary dragon’ is cautious about becoming embroiled in conflicts or getting too close to any one country in the region.

A greater involvement in security matters, China fears, could wreck its remarkable status as perhaps the one external power that remains on good terms with every major Middle East country.  China is worried that greater diplomatic activism and regional security engagement would come at the cost of blood and treasure, and could jeopardize its reputation as friend to all and enemy of none.

At the moment, the future is by no means clear.  But don’t dismiss China.  As soon as 2022, its economy is expected to be 78% the size of America’s and its internet titans, powered by the world’s largest e-commerce market, are well-suited to thrive in the rapidly developing countries of the Middle East.  (AB 23.11)

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11.3  EGYPT:  Challenges Ahead for Egypt’s Economy

Brendan Meighan wrote in Sada on 5 December that Egypt’s foreign reserves have begun to recover, but weak foreign direct investment and accumulating debt could hinder reforms down the line.

In the year following the implementation of an economic reform package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Egypt’s economy has witnessed the rapid unwinding of financial tensions that had been building up for more than a generation.  Shortages of staple goods had been building up for some time, which made the floating of the Egyptian pound all but inevitable.  Adding to the ensuing trauma, consumers saw cuts to fuel subsidies, a cumulative 7% increase in interest rates over the past year, and promises to move forward with tax increases and other austerity measures aimed at jumpstarting the economy.

In return for this dramatic and rare display of prudent policy, Egypt, or at least the financial position of its government, has been rewarded handsomely by multilateral development banks and investors.  Over the past year, the country has received the first tranches of a $12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), more than $18 billion from private investors into Egyptian treasury bills and $7 billion in U.S. dollar-denominated debt.  Overall, debt from private investment and multilateral development banks pushed Egypt’s hard currency reserves to more than $36 billion at the end of October 2017 – an almost $20 billion increase from June 2016.

While these numbers may seem impressive – and the government has been keen to tout them to anyone who will listen – there are still serious questions about the underlying resiliency of the economy and its long-term prospects for growth.  In addition to the myriad political and security challenges facing Egypt in the coming years, three economic issues in particular are prompting investors to hedge their bets.

First, while Egyptian treasury bills and Eurobonds have had no problems finding buyers, foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows have been weaker than expected.  Inflows rose only 6.5% to $13.35 billion during the 2016-17 fiscal year, which ended in June.  In net terms, this amounted to $7.92 billion, more than $2 billion less than the $10 billion target the government had set.  But more importantly, this indicates that while Egypt can generate cash quickly by selling these bonds, the money is not going into long-term business investments.  Treasury bills – short-term government bonds that mature in less than a year – provide quick returns for domestic and foreign investors but are not long-term bets on the Egyptian economy.  While the Eurobonds that Egypt has sold have maturities between 5 and 30 years, these bonds are denominated in dollars and euros, not the Egyptian pound.  This means that investors are still leery of tying up money in the Egyptian economy in the medium and long term, in the Egyptian economy over concerns about the future health of the pound.

The second potential pitfall is rapid accumulation of debt, especially debt denominated in foreign currencies.  The IMF estimates that Egypt’s total debt-to-GDP ratio, which includes both domestic and foreign currency debt, will stand at 101.2% by the end of 2017.  While this is a substantial increase from the 2008 low of 66.7%, the IMF expects the figure to drop in the coming years.  Unlike Egyptian pound-denominated debt, however, where the government can inflate away the costs by simply printing more money to pay back its creditors, dollar- and euro-denominated debt does not lose value if the Egyptian pound depreciates.  Regardless of what fiscal or monetary policy the government chooses to employ, U.S. dollar debt remains at the same value in U.S. dollar terms.

According to the most recent data from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), Egypt’s external debt-to-GDP ratio doubled over the course of the 2016-17 fiscal year from 16.6% to 33.6%.  Part of this increase comes from the debt owed to multilateral organizations such as the IMF and World Bank and is unlikely to pose a problem due to the long maturities, low interest rates, and repayment grace periods.  However, as Egypt has plans to purchase more Eurobonds in the coming year, the government could find itself in difficult position when these bonds mature if the economy fails to grow was expected or the value of the Egyptian pound falls.  Indeed, investors remain skeptical as to Egypt’s long-term prospects, as is evident by the costs for insuring Egyptian debt against default.

The third challenge looming over the Egyptian economy is more easily avoidable if the government opts to be financially responsible and prioritizes its long-term interests.  As natural gas exploration and extraction expands in the Eastern Mediterranean, the government can collect more rents from natural gas sales.  Italian energy firm Eni discovered the massive Zohr field in August of 2015 and the government expects production from the field to satisfy domestic demand by the end of 2018.  Egypt also expects to begin exporting the surplus gas from Zohr and other fields in Egypt’s territorial waters by the end of the decade.  This allows the country to meet its own energy needs and avoid the rolling blackouts and power cuts to heavy industry that have plagued the economy since 2011.  Despite this, if the rents collected begin to make up a substantial portion of government revenues, Egypt’s appetite for reform may wane.  Cuts to subsidies could be postponed and plans to partially privatize Egypt’s natural gas market may end up revised to allow the government to play a larger role than expected.

While the large price surges from the currency devaluation are likely to die down in the coming year, Egypt is not out of the woods yet.  Major obstacles potentially block an easy path toward a stable and growing economy, and it is evident that foreign investors are still tepid when it comes to tying their money up in Egypt.  If, however, Egypt is able to keep its external debt under control, maintain fiscal responsibility and bring in more foreign direct investment – not just from fund managers looking to cash in quickly on high-yield treasury bills – the country has the potential to find its path toward long-term growth.

Brendan Meighan is a macroeconomic analyst focusing on the Middle East.  (Sada 05.12)

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