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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 August 2018

Car-booking app Careem lands $10m in funding

Founded in Dubai in 2012, Careeem now serves 14 cities across the Middle East and Asia including Beirut, Cairo, Doha, Dammam, Karachi and Lahore.
Mudassir Sheikha, left, and Magnus Olsson, founding partners of Careem, a smartphone-based booking app for limousine services in the UAE. Antonie Robertson / The National
Mudassir Sheikha, left, and Magnus Olsson, founding partners of Careem, a smartphone-based booking app for limousine services in the UAE. Antonie Robertson / The National

Careem, the taxi-booking mobile application launched in the UAE, has secured US$10 million investment in a second round of funding led by Al Tayyar Travel Group and existing investor STC Ventures.

Founded in Dubai in 2012, Careem now serves 14 cities across the Middle East and Asia including Beirut, Cairo, Doha, Dammam, Karachi and Lahore.

The company has been growing at rate of 30 per cent month-on-month, and it now plans to use the cash to expand into new markets.

“Our mission now is to go and open up in the rest of North Africa … we have aspirations to get into India,” said Mudassir Sheikha, the co-founder and managing director at Careem.

Careem would also seek to become the market leader in Saudi Arabia and would begin to explore “platforms and types of logistics other than just transport”, he said.

Like Uber, Careem allows customers to book a car through a mobile app. Using GPS technology, the app finds the customer’s location and calculates an approximate price for the ride.

When a driver accepts the booking, the customer sees the driver’s name, location, reliability rating and an estimate of how long it will take to arrive at the pickup point. Careem users can also book a car for a specific time in the future.

Careem is focusing more on the residents of the region as well as businesses, but it is also looking to build up its use among tourists.

“The investment in Careem is aligned with our strategy to embrace new technologies in how we serve our customers,” said Nasser Al Tayyar, the vice chairman and managing director at Al Tayyar Travel Group.

“In Careem we found … a much-needed solution to ground transportation and logistics in the region.”

Al Tayyar operates a car rental fleet that serves more than 1,600 government and corporate clients through 400 branches. In September 2013, STC Ventures, the venture capital arm of Saudi Telecoms, led a $1.7m round to fund Careem’s expansion into Saudi Arabia.

Separately, Easy Taxi, a similar application created in Brazil in 2011 and now currently operating in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan has reported the most extravagant items left behind in the cars by passengers.

They included Dh1.2m in diamonds and cash, a laptop bag with 106,500 Nigerian naira (Dh2,141) and a bag with Dh36,000 in cash left behind by a Saudi Arabian passenger.

All the items were delivered back to their rightful owners.

thamid@thenational.ae

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