Israeli-backed UAE scooter start-up expands to Turkey

August 02, 2021

By Lisa Barrington

FENIX, a United Arab Emirates-based e-scooter company backed by Israeli venture capital funding, has acquired Turkish scooter company PALM for $5 million, it said on Monday, as the start-up expands across the Middle East into its fifth country.

With almost 10,000 e-scooters in 13 cities, FENIX has the largest fleet in the Middle East and North Africa.

It was the first UAE start-up to get Israeli VC money after the two countries normalised relations last September, receiving $3.8 million from Israel-based venture capital firm Maniv Mobility in November as part of its $5 million seed funding.

Undisclosed additional funds have been raised since and FENIX aims for series A fundraising later this year, FENIX Co-Founder and CEO Jaideep Dhanoa told Reuters.

Moving into Turkey, which has milder summers, will help to offset the impact on scooter hires of the Gulf's scorching mid-year temperatures, Dhanoa said.

FENIX also operates in Bahrain, which similarly normalised with Israel in September, and in Qatar and Saudi Arabia - which do not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Pre-pandemic in 2019, McKinsey predicted the expanding global e-scooter market would be worth $300-$500 billion by 2030.

At the height of lockdowns, when everyone moved less, development slowed, but McKinsey now expects it to exceed previous expectations as concerns about infection make many view e-scooters as a relatively safe option.

Critics have objected to vehicles cluttering pavements and raised concerns about the risk of accidents, prompting governments to work on legislation.

Dubai, one of the UAE's seven emirates, in March 2019 banned companies renting out e-scooters while it develops regulations, and Turkey in April enacted e-scooter regulation, which encouraged the PALM acquisition, Dhanoa said.

FENIX in different countries offers shared e-scooters, the region's first private e-scooter subscriptions and has launched a 10-minute grocery delivery service in Abu Dhabi to utilise the down time on its fleet and enhance profitability.

Dhanoa said the company also hopes to introduce other vehicle types this year.


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