Abu Dhabi-Headquartered Anghami Becomes The First Arab Tech Company To List On NASDAQ New York

With the transaction expected to close in the second quarter of 2021, it pegs Anghami at an initial pro-forma enterprise valuation of approximately US$220 million.

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This article was co-written with Aalia Mehreen Ahmed, Intern, Entrepreneur Middle East. 

Anghami co-founders Elie Habib and Eddy Maroun

In a milestone moment for the MENA entrepreneurial ecosystem, Anghami, one of the region’s leading music streaming platforms and services, has entered into a merger agreement with Vistas Media Acquisition Company Inc., a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company in the United States, that will result in it becoming the first Arab technology company to be listed on the NASDAQ New York stock exchange.

With the transaction expected to close in the second quarter of 2021, it pegs Anghami at an initial pro-forma enterprise valuation of approximately US$220 million. A statement from the company noted that this value has been reached by calculating 2.5x 2022 estimated revenues; one of Anghami’s competitors in this space, the Stockholm-headquartered Spotify, has a current revenue multiple of 6.5x revenue. 

Founded in 2012 by CEO Eddy Maroun and CTO Elie Habib, Anghami was the first music-streaming platform in the MENA region, with it now being one of the leaders in the market, offering more than 57 million songs, to more than 70 million registered users, with around one billion streams per month. It is currently backed by leading MENA venture capital firms and strategic shareholders, including media groups and telecommunications companies, that collectively own approximately 68% of Anghami, with the balance owned by the founders. 

One of its most recent investors, the Dubai-headquartered asset management and investment banking platform, SHUAA Capital, and Vistas Media Capital Singapore, the parent of the sponsor for Vistas Media Acquisition Company Inc., have gathered commitments of a combined $40 million -$30 million from the former, and $10 million from the latter- in PIPE (private investment in public equity) financing for this deal. The listing on NASDAQ is expected to allow Anghami to scale the company’s user base, as well as invest in technology to build on its data play. 

Related: Fueling Growth: UAE's SHUAA Capital Invests In Lebanon-Headquartered Music Streaming Platform Anghami

Talking to Entrepreneur Middle East, both Maroun and Habib were ecstatic not just about what the announcement meant for their company, but also what it signified for entrepreneurs in the MENA region. “For us at Anghami, we just want to inspire people.” Habib said. “That has been our personal journey; we want to be an inspiration to others that you can build something big from scratch, from nothing, by simply innovating, believing in your people, and working hard.” 

“This is a very important and strong message we are sending here to the region,” Maroun said. “We’re used to importing things, and we always look up to the Western world [in this respect], but this time, I think we’re validating the fact that we in the Middle East can also build world-class products, we can have world-class companies, and we can reach the US or any other market. So this is very important for us, this is a very big statement for every dreamer, every believer, in the region that, yes, we can make it happen, and that, really, impossible is possible.” 

For entrepreneurs in the MENA region wanting to follow their lead in terms of building a successful, sustainable business, the co-founders of Anghami doubled down on the importance of having (and remaining true to) a vision aimed at realizing just that. “You have to be obsessed with what you’re doing- it’s more than just believing,” Maroun said. “Be ready to sacrifice a lot, but if your hard work is consistent, I think you can make it happen.” 

Habib agreed with Maroun, adding that Anghami’s listing on NASDAQ also heralds the company’s “Chapter 2,” wherein it aims to become the foremost media and music company across the region and emerging markets. “We are the first Arab tech company to list on NASDAQ, but we hope we are not going to be the last,” Habib noted. “We hope we’re going to be one in a long list of companies that will end up showing new generations here that, yes, you can build and grow successful businesses in this region.”

Related: The Next Frontier: The Changing Face Of Entrepreneurship In The Arab World