Saudi marketplace Gathern closes pre-Series B round

KSA: Jeddah-based peer-to-peer vacation rental marketplace Gathern has announced the closing of a pre-Series B investment round.

The round was led by Shurafa Real Estate Development, with participation from Al Majdia Residence and Al Ajlan Riviera, Al Safa Real Estate Development, and STV. The amount raised was not disclosed.

It follows Gathern’s $6 million [SAR22 million] Series A funding round almost one year ago, which not only marked the largest Series A round in the history of Saudi Arabia for a women-led firm, but also Gathern’s achievement to become the first peer-to-peer platform authorised by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Tourism.

To make use of the fresh funding, the company will continue to invest in accelerating its expansion across Saudi Arabia, enhancing its product and attracting the top talent to develop further innovative solutions for the short-term rental market and aid the customer journey.

Founded in 2017, Gathern is now available in more than 180 cities around the Kingdom, including the capital city of Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Abha, Al-Baha, Taif, Al-Ula, and Umluj. It also lists more than 25,000 units, allowing its users to rent anything from chalets to resorts, villas, apartments, camps and farms, as well as mobile options such as caravans and yachts, for short-term and extended stays.

According to the company’s founder, Gathern is also seeing up to a tenfold growth in hosts and owners listing their private housing units around the Kingdom as opposed to some previous years, and occupancy rates on its units have reached 95 per cent in peak seasons.

Latifah Altamimi, founder and CEO of Gathern, said: “We are happy to have the most prominent real estate development companies in the Kingdom join us on our journey as strategic partners, with whom we will work to raise awareness of the culture of shared housing, which has helped many countries increase the offerings and the diversity of tourist accommodation facilities. Thus, enhanced the discovery and experience of cities closely, which contributed to the increase in visitor spending to 2.1 and the increase in the length of stay to 2.1.

“Therefore, we will work to enable the people in Saudi Arabia, to rent out their housing across regions for visitors and tourists and obtain an excellent additional monthly income,” she added.

Mohammed Al-Ajlan, CEO of Mohammed & Musaab Abdullah Al-Ajlan Investment Co., said: “We are pleased to announce our partnership with Gathern, the first licensed shared accommodation marketplace since we realise the importance of digitalisation, accessibility and proptech solutions in providing accommodation services. We look forward to developing new horizons towards optimised short-term accommodation solutions, as we strive to create more opportunities for a unique customer experience.”

Saudi Arabia is making a point to drive inbound international and domestic tourism as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which is a blueprint to welcome up to 100 million international and domestic visitors by 2030.

Furthermore, since opening up to international tourists in September 2019, a number of large-scale tourism driving projects have been announced, including a $530 million mega fund to develop attractive destinations across Saudi Arabia. Moreover, Riyadh is pledging to increase the tourism sector’s contribution to Saudi Arabia’s GDP from three per cent to ten per cent in order to reduce the Kingdom’s reliance on oil for its economy.