First close of $350m will create a million jobs, expand services geographically, and fund research and development. Careem, the leading ride-hailing service in the Middle East and North Africa, announced today a first close in its $500 million funding round. The investment of $350 million is co-led by Rakuten, Inc., a global leader in internet services and innovation headquartered in Japan, and Saudi Telecom Company (“STC”), the largest telecom operator in the Middle East. New and existing investors include Abraaj Group, Al Tayyar Group, Beco Capital, El Sewedy Investments, Endure Capital, Lumia Capital, SQM Frontier and Wamda Capital among others. Rakuten executive and head of ride-sharing and fintech investments, Oskar Mielczarek de la Miel, and an STC Group executive will also join Careem’s Board of Directors.

A local company established in 2012, Careem now operates in 47 cities across 11 countries and hosts over 6 million users and 150,000 Captains (drivers) in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region. The fundraise, supported by Credit Suisse, is one of the largest for a technology company in the Middle East’s history and a strong indicator of Careem’s ambitious vision. The funds will scale up Careem’s transport services in existing and new markets, accelerate innovation across its platform of high-frequency transactions, and help Careem achieve its goal of creating one million jobs in the region by 2018.

“We are inspired and humbled to work with world class strategic partners like Rakuten and STC” said Mudassir Sheikha, co-founder and CEO of Careem. “They not only bring significant institutional backing for Careem’s new horizons, but also global technology leadership and deep local experience bringing us closer to achieving our mission of improving the lives of everyone in the region.”

“The MENA region has a growing, connected, urban population with great potential for ride hailing and other e-commerce services,” said Oskar Mielczarek de la Miel, Executive Officer at Rakuten. “This investment directly aligns with Rakuten’s vision for global innovation as Careem has demonstrated its ability to scale to one of the largest shared economy platforms in the region, and to accelerate the adoption of new transit solutions.

“We are excited to continue a strategic partnership that began in 2013 through STC Ventures’ first investment in Careem, and help build a mobility platform across the MENA region,” said Dr. Khaled Biyari, CEO of STC. “Our investment is a clear bet on the future of mobility, strategic adjacencies, and Careem’s technology leadership in the region.”

About Rakuten
Rakuten, Inc. (TOKYO: 4755) is one of the world’s leading internet services companies, offering a wide variety of services for consumers and businesses with a focus on e-commerce, finance, and digital content. Since 2012, Rakuten has been ranked among the world’s ‘Top 20 Most Innovative Companies’ in Forbes magazine’s annual list. Rakuten is expanding worldwide and currently operates throughout Asia, Europe, the Americas and Oceania. Founded in 1997, Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, with over 12,000 employees worldwide.
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About STC
Launched in 1998, STC empowers around 100 million customers across the globe with customer-centric, cutting-edge solutions at the forefront of the knowledge economy with a fiber-optic cable network spanning 158,000 kilometers across Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. STC in Saudi Arabia, the group’s core business, runs the Middle East’s most modern and biggest mobile network, covering more than 99% of the country’s populated areas and enables 4G mobile broadband services to more than 85% of the population across Saudi Arabia.
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