November 19, 2019

Why Did Uber Spend $3.1 Billion On A Middle Eastern Rival?

By acquiring Careem, Uber can become a key player in the Middle East region according to iMENA’s Founder, Khaldoon Tabaza. Uber can claim significant region outside of North America, where they are true dominant players. Therefore, the latest takeover of Careem in the Middle East will be a massive win similar to that of the Amazon takeover of Souq in 2017. Khaldoon Tabaza also highlighted that Careem has been operating in a number of countries in the Middle East which gave it a head start on Uber. This will be an opportunity for both companies to rapidly expand and capitalize on the region’s under-penetrated mobility opportunity and rapidly growing digital economy. Tabaza articulated that the local teams that Careem had in various markets had more entrepreneurial approach and they were able to negotiate and talk with regulators and work out deals on their own.Most importantly, in certain countries such as Saudi Arabia, Careem implied the need to have cash payments and enabled that feature before Uber.


The Middle East is the fastest growing internet market in the world, with approximately 400 millionpeople with very high smartphone penetration that reaches 97-98 percent incountries such as Saudi Arabia and UAE. And hence, the growth rate and need forservices like Careem and Uber is high indeed. Strategic sectors in the MiddleEast that are drivers for growth have already been “taken by internationals”and urged investors in the Middle East to move faster. This is a realbreakthrough for Uber and Careem as well as it being great for the localbusiness in the region to expand the greater Middle East regional opportunity.Uber will acquire all of Careem’s mobility, delivery, and payments businessesacross the greater Middle East region. This will unquestionably inspiredomestic investors to take on local startups, this is the second leading techdeal since Amazon acquired Tabaza believes that in the next two orthree years, we will see many cases like Careem and if Uber plays it right, theMiddle East could be the most profitable region for them on the longer term.

Watch the full interview with CNBC and iMENA's founder Khaldoon Tabaza here.