DUBAI 25 March 2019: US-based global transportation major Uber Technologies is said to be in advanced discussions to acquire seven-year-old Dubai-based start-up Careem Networks – for a whopping US$3.1 billion, according to a Bloomberg report.
If the acquisition goes through, Careem will join other Dubai start-ups like Souq.com and Maktoob, which have been acquired by global majors like Amazon and Yahoo respectively. In March 2017, Amazon acquired Souq.com, the Dubai-based online retail and marketplace platform for a reported $700 million. Earlier, in 2009, Yahoo had acquired Dubai-based Arab-language internet portal Maktoob.
Founded by two ex-McKinsey & Company consultants, Careem was valued at about $1 billion in a 2016 funding round, making it one of the most valuable technology startups in the Middle East. Careem is the brainchild of Mudassir Sheikha and Magnus Olsson who met in Dubai after being posted to the region with global consulting major McKinsey.
Starting as an executive car service, Careem rapidly grew into a full-fledged ride-hailing operation with 30 million users across 15 countries. The Dubai Media City-based company has seen a massive growth of 30% month-on-month. Careem, whose investors include major international institutions, has raised almost $600 million.
Over the last decade, Dubai has steadily transformed itself into a technology and innovation hub with the strong impetus provided by both government and semi-government institutions, as well as the support of a host of incubators and accelerators Dubai’s technology industry is today closely watched by major VC funds in the US and Europe for new opportunities, with many prominent institutions having already invested here.
Other examples of technology success include Dubizzle, a free classified website founded in 2007, which is now present in markets across the Middle East, Jabbar Internet Group, the creators of the Middle East’s biggest e-commerce platform and Bridg, a mobile-to-mobile payment platform that leverages Bluetooth.