Dubai-based ride hailing app Careem has secured $200 million from existing investors including Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding.
The round is the first close of a new fundraise expected to exceed $500m, and includes other investors such as Al Tayyar Group, Japenese internet giant Rakuten and venture capital firm STV (Saudi Technology Ventures).
Careem said in a statement it will use the funding to expand into mass transportation, deliveries, and payments.
Uber Technologies regional rival had launched a mass transportation service in Egypt in October, and acquired Dubai food delivery service platform RoundMenu in February. Uber had launched its own food delivery app Uber Eats in 2014.
“Internet-enabled services are having a profound and positive impact on our region, where the consumer internet opportunity is huge and untapped,” said co-founder and CEO Mudassir Sheikha.
“As a platform with 30 million users and presence in 120+ cities, Careem is uniquely positioned to tap into this opportunity by expanding into new verticals. We are delighted and grateful that our existing investors are the first to commit additional capital in support of our vision,” he added.
In September, sources revealed Uber is in discussions to buy its Dubai-based rival as the US giant expands in the Middle East. The deal could value Careem at $2.5 billion. The firm was valued at $1bn in December 2016.
However, co-founder Magnus Olsson said in October that the company will remain independent despite interest from Eastern and Western investors such as Uber and Chinese firm Didi Chuxing, which is among the firm’s investors. Didi acquired Uber’s China business in 2016, in a deal which valued the combined company at $35bn.