Dubai-based ride-hailer Careem expects to raise more than $500 million. Victor Besa / The National
Dubai-based ride-hailer Careem expects to raise more than $500 million. Victor Besa / The National

Uber's Middle East rival Careem secures $200m in funding

Dubai's ride-hailing app Careem secured $200 million (Dh735m) in a new round of funding from existing investors including Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's Kingdom Holding to spur its regional expansion.

The investment is the first close of a round that is expected to raise more than $500m, Careem said on Thursday. The initial $200m funding takes the company's valuation to approximately $2 billion, a source familiar with the deal told The National.

"Internet-enabled services are having a profound and positive impact on our region, where the consumer internet opportunity is huge and untapped," said Careem chief executive Mudassir Sheikha. "Careem is uniquely positioned to tap into this opportunity by expanding into new verticals."

The new funding comes as Careem is in talks with its rival global ride-sharing giant Uber about a potential tie-up that could see the San Francisco company acquire Careem although no final decision has been made, sources told The National last month.


Read more:

Careem resumes ride-hailing services in Oman with local partner


The $200m was raised from existing investors including Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten, Saudi Arabia's Al Tayyar Group and Saudi Technology Ventures, a VC in which Saudi Telecom Company is an anchor investor.

Kingdom Holding, which has a 7 per cent stake in Careem, is one of the largest investors in Careem.

"The investment in Careem is a continuation of the company’s strategy to invest in new promising technologies," the Saudi investment vehicle said in a separate statement on its website on Thursday.

Careem counts among its global investors the Chinese ride-hailer and technology conglomerate Didi Chuxing as well as German car maker Daimler.

Founded six years ago, the company is increasingly diversifying its operations with forays into package and food deliveries, mass transportation and payments. To that end, it has acquired Dubai restaurant listing start-up Roundmenu in February, purchased Indian bus shuttle service app Commut in September and rolled out mass transport services in Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country.

Careem serves 30 million registered users in more than 120 cities in 15 countries across the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Turkey.

The company sees potential for growth in more than 250 new cities across the Mena as it seeks to become profitable by 2020, Mr Sheikha told The National in January. It is looking to scale its presence in existing markets such as Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia by serving second or third-tier cities in those countries and enter new markets such as Oman, Algeria and Tunisia.

Careem's competitor Uber is planning an initial public offering in 2019 and may be valued at $120bn, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Careem was founded in Dubai by former McKinsey consultants Magnus Olsson and Mr Sheikha. A third co-founder, Abdulla Elyas, joined later when Careem acquired Jeddah-based address coding service Enwani in 2014.

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE



Date started: December 2015

Founders: Kerem Kuyucu and Cagatay Ozcan

Sector: Technology and home services

Based: Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai

Size: 55 employees and 100,000 cleaning requests a month

Funding:  The company’s investors include Collective Spark, Faith Capital Holding, Oak Capital, VentureFriends, and 500 Startups. 


Director: Greta Gerwig
Stars: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Will Ferrell, America Ferrera
Rating: 4/5

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024


Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).


Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).


Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

Which honey takes your fancy?

Al Ghaf Honey

The Al Ghaf tree is a local desert tree which bears the harsh summers with drought and high temperatures. From the rich flowers, bees that pollinate this tree can produce delicious red colour honey in June and July each year

Sidr Honey

The Sidr tree is an evergreen tree with long and strong forked branches. The blossom from this tree is called Yabyab, which provides rich food for bees to produce honey in October and November. This honey is the most expensive, but tastiest

Samar Honey

The Samar tree trunk, leaves and blossom contains Barm which is the secret of healing. You can enjoy the best types of honey from this tree every year in May and June. It is an historical witness to the life of the Emirati nation which represents the harsh desert and mountain environments

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

The bio

Favourite book: Peter Rabbit. I used to read it to my three children and still read it myself. If I am feeling down it brings back good memories.

Best thing about your job: Getting to help people. My mum always told me never to pass up an opportunity to do a good deed.

Best part of life in the UAE: The weather. The constant sunshine is amazing and there is always something to do, you have so many options when it comes to how to spend your day.

Favourite holiday destination: Malaysia. I went there for my honeymoon and ended up volunteering to teach local children for a few hours each day. It is such a special place and I plan to retire there one day.

How England have scored their set-piece goals in Russia

Three Penalties

v Panama, Group Stage (Harry Kane)

v Panama, Group Stage (Kane)

v Colombia, Last 16 (Kane)

Four Corners

v Tunisia, Group Stage (Kane, via John Stones header, from Ashley Young corner)

v Tunisia, Group Stage (Kane, via Harry Maguire header, from Kieran Trippier corner)

v Panama, Group Stage (Stones, header, from Trippier corner)

v Sweden, Quarter-Final (Maguire, header, from Young corner)

One Free-Kick

v Panama, Group Stage (Stones, via Jordan Henderson, Kane header, and Raheem Sterling, from Tripper free-kick)

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

Our legal consultant

Name: Dr Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.


Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

About My Father

Director: Laura Terruso

Stars: Robert De Niro, Sebastian Maniscalco, Kim Cattrall

Rating: 2/5

Company profile

Company name: Shipsy
Year of inception: 2015
Founders: Soham Chokshi, Dhruv Agrawal, Harsh Kumar and Himanshu Gupta
Based: India, UAE and Indonesia
Sector: logistics
Size: more than 350 employees
Funding received so far: $31 million in series A and B rounds
Investors: Info Edge, Sequoia Capital’s Surge, A91 Partners and Z3 Partners