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Despite all the challenges it brought along, it looks like the COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t dent the overall health of the startup ecosystem in MENA by much. We can reach that conclusion based on newly released data that shows that startups in the region collectively raised $65.5 million in the month of December, which brings the corresponding figure for all of 2020 to $654 million.

Yes, it’s undisputedly not as impressive as the billion-dollar investment mark MENA startups had recorded in 2019. However, if we carry out a year-on-year comparison, the investment figures have shrunk by no more than ~7%.

Overall, startups in the region collectively bagged 363 deals, of which nearly 50% were already signed during the first three months. This shows that things were moving just in the right direction until the brunt of the pandemic hit hard on a global scale.

On the brighter side, however, the data shows that the number and value of the deals signed in the last two months of 2020 were comparatively higher. This could be seen as a sign that after months of exercising utmost caution, investors are ready to get the business side of things back into order.

If we focus on Dec 2020 specifically, the number of deals surged by a sizeable 77% month-on-month. Sector-wise, the mobility sector saw a heightened level of activity in the period with seven startups — most of them in the car-rental and car-sharing markets — raising fresh capital.