The Middle East based Uber competitor Careem is closing to a $500 million funding. The ride-hailing app was backed by investors such as the Japan’s Rakuten Inc. and the Dubai-based company Saudi Telecom Co (STC) who announced on Sunday in a stock exchange that it bought the company’s 10 percent stake for $100 million.

Careem Networks FZ is a Dubai-based Uber competitor; the ride-hailing app raised a total of $350 million from investors. The company began its operations since early 2012 and is currently seen in 47 cities across 11 countries, most of them in the Middle East but some are also present in Turkey, Pakistan, and parts of North Africa. The ride-hailing cab currently employs 150,000 drivers all across its locations, which they address as “captains”, and a close to 6 million app users. According to recent reports, the company has raised $72 million on a previous fundraising, making this recent fundraising a milestone in the company’s financial history.

The company eyes on widening their scope, the recent expansion Careem made is entering the Turkey market. Careem reportedly revealed their plan on reaching 15 new cities across Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt in this month alone. They also wanted to create more jobs and opportunities by increasing their territory and opening the app in other cities and also pledged to put some funds into the R&D.

CEO and co-founder of Careem, Mudassir Sheikha said in a statement, that they are delighted to work with world-class strategic partners such as the Rakuten, and that the partnership adds more than the institutional backup but also giving the company a global technological leadership and deep local experience that can possibly inch the company closer to their mission of improving the lives of everyone in the region.


STC, Other Investors, and Unicorn Status

The most recent fund boost Careem got was from the Dubai-based telecom company Saudi Telecom Co. (STC); the company invested $100 million which totals a 10 percent on Careem’s stake. Other notable companies that funded Careem’s are Rakuten, Abraaj and Al Tayyar joined the company’s growing investors.

According to STC, the company invested in Careem as part of a strategy to enter the innovative digital world. This big investment for STC as the cab-hailing apps sees better revenue in Saudi Arabia, the Sunni-ruled kingdom where women are not allowed to drive. Recently, Uber revealed that the 80 percent of the company’s passenger in Saudi Arabia are women.

The growing investors are eyeing to start-up their investments in the region’s wealthy consumer base and high smartphone penetration rates. The first online marketplace that rose to a unicorn status is Souq; the firm was valued up to $1billion with last year’s fundraising. The term “unicorn” in business means that a start-up company with no established performance record gains a valuation or an estimated value of more than $1 billion.

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