Saudi Billionaire Alwaleed, Daimler Invest in Uber-Rival Careem

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's Kingdom Holding will get a seat on Careem's board.

Photographer: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty Images

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has joined Daimler AG, the world’s biggest luxury-car maker, as an investor in a $500 million-fundraising by a Dubai-based ride-hailing company.

Alwaleed’s investment vehicle, Kingdom Holding Co., will get a seat on Careem Networks FZ’s board as part of the deal, Careem said in a statement. DCM Ventures and New York-based Coatue Management LLC also took part in the second round of fundraising, which valued the company at $1 billion, the ride-hailing company said.

Careem raised $350 million from investors including Japan’s Rakuten Inc. and Saudi Telecom Co. when it announced the results of its first round of fundraising in December. The company could consider selling shares to the public by 2019, Chief Executive Officer Mudassir Sheikha said in a TV interview with Bloomberg at the time.

Investment is flowing into Middle Eastern technology startups with companies seeking to profit from the region’s wealthy consumer base and high smartphone penetration rates.

Saudi Telecom has created a $500 million fund to be run by ex-Google executive Abdulrahman Tarabzouni that will invest in technology such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Dubai-based business-tycoon Mohamed Alabbar also is increasingly focusing more on technology investments. He acquired a “large stake” in venture-capital firm Middle East Venture Partners last month, and has raised $1 billion from investors including Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to create e-commerce firm Noon.

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