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Careem Raises US$350 Million In Funding To Expand Services And Create Jobs In MENA MENA-based ride-hailing app Careem has closed 2016 with a bang, with it becoming the latest unicorn in the Middle East tech ecosystem

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Left to right: Careem co-founders Magnus Olsson, Dr. Abdullah Elyas, and Mudassir Sheikha

MENA-based ride-hailing app Careem has closed 2016 with a bang, with it becoming the latest unicorn in the Middle East tech ecosystem. Careem announced that it has closed US$350 million in funding in a round co-led by Japanese tech enterprise Rakuten and Saudi Arabian telco Saudi Telecom Company (STC). According to a statement by Careem, this investment is the first part released from a larger $500 million round raised from various investors, and advised by Credit Suisse. Careem's announcement follows Bloomberg reports attributing Saudi stock exchange filings that STC's board has approved a 10% stake buy in Careem, raising the startup's valuation to over $1 billion. Rakuten executive Oskar Mielczarek de la Miel, and an unnamed STC Group executive are set to join Careem's Board with this investment.

Commenting on the usage of the funds, Careem says that the funds will be utilized to scale its transport services in existing and new markets, accelerate innovation across its platform, and help the company "achieve its goal of creating one million jobs in the region by 2018." Mudassir Sheikha, co-founder and CEO, Careem, expects the support of investors such as Rakuten and STC to bring "institutional backing" for Careem's operations with "the global technology leadership and deep local experience" enabling Careem to further improve the ease of transportation services in the region. Careem's investors in previous rounds include The Abraaj Group, STC Ventures, Al Tayyar Group, BECO Capital, El Sewedy Investments, and Wamda Capital among others. Launched in 2012, Careem operates in 47 cities across 11 countries and claims to serve over 6 million users with their network of 150,000 captains (drivers) in the MENA and South Asia region.

Related: Careem: It's Full Speed Ahead For This Middle East Startup

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