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China’s DiDi Invests in Middle East Ride-Hailing Service Careem | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Ride-hailing app Careem. (AFP)

China’s largest ride-hailing firm DiDi Chuxing has invested in Careem, the Dubai-based Middle East online taxi service.

This new partnership deal marks Didi’s latest international expansion against rival Uber.

DiDi is seeking to turn up the heat on ride-sharing pioneer Uber via a string of partnerships with regional players in Southeast Asia, Europe and Africa and now the Middle East. It has previously done similar deals in Latin America as well as with Uber’s US rival Lyft.

DiDi said on Tuesday it would invest in Careem to strengthen its market position across the region. The two companies said they would cooperate on smart transportation technology, product development and operations.

Careem and DiDi declined to comment on the size of the Chinese company’s investment in Careem.

Founded five years ago, Careem has 12 million customers in 80 cities ranging from Pakistan to Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco.

It is ahead of Uber in Pakistan and a strong second player to Uber in other regional markets, according to research firm SimilarWeb, which tracks consumer mobile and web usage habits.

DiDi’s ride-hailing system covers cities representing 60 percent of the world’s population in 1,000 cities in North America, Southeast Asia, South Asia and South America, it said.

Over the past few weeks, DiDi has announced a similar investment in Estonian-based ride-hailing firm Taxify to help it to expand in Europe and Africa.

DiDi and its backer SoftBank Group have also said they would contribute the bulk of a new $2.5 billion investment into Grab, a major online taxi player in south east Asia.

DiDi is the world’s second most valuable venture-backed start-up after Uber, having last been valued at $50 billion according to venture investment tracking firm CB Insights, having raised $13 billion in funding over the past five years.

In July, Kingdom Holding Company of billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal invested $62 million in Careem.

The Kingdom Holding Company announced the roughly 7 percent acquisition of the ride-hailing service, giving it a seat on app’s board of directors.

The Kingdom Holding Company has a broad range of global investments, including in other technology firms such as Lyft, Uber’s competitor in the US.

Last year, the Saudi government’s sovereign wealth fund invested $3.5 billion in Uber.