Careem is an Uber rival in the Middle East.
Photo by KHALED DESOUKI AFP — Getty Images
By Madeline Farber
December 19, 2016

Careem, an Uber competitor in the Middle East, announced Sunday that it raised $350 million in an investment led by Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten (rkunf) and Saudi Telecom Company (STC). The investment brings the ride hailing company’s total valuation to $1 billion.

The valuation is a major financial boost for the four-year-old company, which just finished its Series D funding round, according to TechCrunch.

Careem’s ride-hailing services are already available in seven cities across 11 countries—mostly in the Middle East, but also in Pakistan, parts of North Africa, and, most recently, Turkey. That city count could grow, however, as the company plans to expand its market further with the new money, TechCrunch reports. Before January, Careem intends to widen its driver pool to 15 new cities across Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt—an effort it hopes will create one million jobs in the Middle East.

As of now, the ride-hailing company boasts 150,000 drivers and about six million users.

 

Careem’s most recent valuation brings it into the global spotlight and makes it a rising competitor for Uber, which is present in more than 400 cities worldwide, including in the Middle East. Uber also has financial ties in the region, according to TechCrunch. In June, the U.S. ride-hailing company announced it received a $3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s main investment fund, Public Investment Fund (PIF), at a valuation of about $62 billion.

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