Although taking on a global brand such as Uber may seem like madness, regional ride-hailing service Careem has successfully accomplished that. Co-founded in Dubai in 2012 by ex-McKinsey & Company management consultants Mudassir Sheikha and Magnus Olsson, Careem launched as an app-based service for corporate car bookings and grew to become a transportation network company that offers car hire for everyday use.

Following the financial support of STC Ventures in 2013, Careem has established itself as a reliable and convenient transportation services provider in over 53 cities in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. In Dubai, Careem offers users the unique option of booking any taxicab and limousine operating in the emirate through its mobile app.

The company is also known for its prolific community initiatives, which include serving food to labourers every Ramadan in the UAE, delivering clothes to children in Saudi Arabia, providing food to orphans in Morocco, and purchasing books for underprivileged children in Pakistan.

Careem’s ambitious expansion plans include growing its global footprint and diversifying its services, and will bring it closer to achieving its mission of moving the whole region towards better living, simplifying lives, and building an institution that inspires those who dare to dream.

But taking on Uber is no longer the strategy: San Francisco-headquartered Uber Technologies has confirmed that it will acquire Careem for $3.1 billion in the first quarter of 2020, in the Middle East’s largest technology transaction.

The end result, once the deal goes through, is Careem will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Uber, but will continue operating as an independent company under the Careem brand. Uber will acquire all of Careem’s mobility, delivery, and payments businesses across the Middle East including in Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.