Careem, The Middle East’s first unicorn

When Mudassir Sheikha and Magnus Olsson, two ex-McKinsey & Company consultants, launched their website-based service for corporate car bookings in 2012, little did they know that their Dubai-based venture would quickly evolve into the USD $1 billion “unicamel”, one of the Middle East’s first startup unicorns.

Careem, initially envisioned as a transportation solution for Dubai, rapidly became a regional giant ride-hailing app fiercely competing with global protagonist, UBER. Today, Careem boasts over 33 million registered users and 1.2 million drivers in more than 100 cities around the Middle East and North Africa. 

Today careem boasts over 33 million registered users and 1.2 million drivers in more than 100 cities around the Middle East and North Africa

The home-grown advantage of Careem was key to its rapid growth. Shortly after its launch, the company attracted well known investors like Dubai’s Abraaj Group, Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding, Rakuten, Daimler, and more. 
In 2019, Careem was acquired by UBER for a staggering $3.1billion in 2019. 

This Dubai-based success story is a true testament to the offerings of Dubai as a key destination for global innovation, entrepreneurship, and business. 

Headquartered in Dubai Media City, one of Dubai’s economic zones, Careem was able to leverage Dubai’s state of the art entrepreneurial environment to grow rapidly and create a global impact by attracting the investment interest of international giants.

The Careem success story is only one illustration of how Dubai’s innovation-driven economy is a magnet for bright talent that flock to Dubai to utilize the city’s integrated infrastructure, ICT connectedness, smart solutions, vibrant and welcoming ecosystem for entrepreneurs and innovators, to not only plan, implement and realize their ventures, but also make an impact in the global innovation scene.

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