Uber Has Purchased Its Middle Eastern Rival, Careem

Published on March 29, 2019

Uber announced recently that it has plans to purchase its Middle Eastern rival, Careem. The rideshare company currently has a market stronghold over the United States, but is still growing around the world. In countries like Japan, rideshare apps are still a largely unheard of concept. Uber is working hard to make itself well-known around the world by purchasing smaller rival companies in different areas. Careem, its Middle Eastern rival, is just one piece of that puzzle.

Careem launched in 2012 as a rideshare app serving the Middle East, parts of Asia, and parts of Africa. The app saw a quick rise in popularity among the 15 countries it operated in and soon became the most popular rideshare app in that region. Based out of Dubai, the app has earned a massive value in the rideshare market.


The purchase of Careem marks the biggest tech purchase of a Dubai business thus far. Amazon purchased the e-commerce website Souq back in 2017, which was, at the time, the biggest tech deal to take place in the country. Now, with the purchase of Careem resting at around $3 billion (which translates to $11 bilion UAE Dirham), even UAE leaders are boasting about the merge.

The ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Moktum, took to Instagram to boast the massive purchase of the company when it was announced. “In 1999, many people questioned our idea to establish Dubai Internet City in the desert,” he wrote. “Two years ago, Amazon acquired the multi-billion dirham Souq.com and today, Uber acquired Careem for Dh11 billion. These giant companies flourished from the “desert” of Dubai,” said the Sheikh on Instagram.

Dubai has worked tirelessly to become one of the hub cities of the world for commerce, travel, and entrepreneurship. The bustling desert metropolis has risen to the top of the food chain as a hotspot for some of the world’s most luxurious spots, comparing only to the likes of Doha, Qatar when it comes to Middle Eastern hubs.


Careem isn’t the first foreign rideshare app that Uber has competed with in recent years. While Lyft continues to hold most of the competition stateside, companies like Grab are the only genuine competition in places like Southeast Asia. Uber bowed out of the competition in 2018, when it sold its rights to operate in countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia to Grab.

At the time of the purchase, Grab was valued at nearly $6 billion. The massive rideshare company operates both vehicle and motorbike rides in multiple countries throughout the Southeast Asia region. When the company purchased Uber’s operations in 2018, it took over completely in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. UberEats was also shut down, but was quickly replaced with GrabFood, the equivalent.

It can be a bit confusing to figure out which rideshare apps to download when visiting a new country. Uber clearly hopes to change that for the Middle East, where it will take over operations of Careem in the near future.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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