>> It's one of the biggest startups in the Middle East, but the founders of Careem think their business, which is valued at over $1 billion, is only getting started. The Dubai based ride hailing app gott the backing of Chinese counterpart DiDi Chuxing in August, as the pair looked to ramp up pressure on U.S. rival Uber.
>> I think what DiDi did was quite remarkable in China, markets are similarly hotly contested. And yes, when we sit down we discuss things that competition is doing and how to counter them.>> Careem won't reveal the amount invested by DiDi, but says it's looking to learn from the firm's experience in essentially pushing Uber out of the world's most populated country, along with its investment in new technologies like artificial intelligence.
Having rolled out operations here in 2012 Careem has a one year first mover advantage on Uber, but the competition remains fierce. The San Francisco based firm received $3.5 billion in funding from the Saudi Arabian government last year and says it's looking to expand further.>> We've seen great growth coming out of the region, Saudi Arabia is a great example.
One of our goals for 2020 was to onboard 100,000 Saudi drivers, we're almost 12 month in and we're gonna hit our target way, way earlier.>> According to research only one in four people in the Middle East in north Africa's cities are using their smartphones to order cabs, it's that untapped potential that makes this region important.
And with similar rivalries to Careem and Uber's being played out from southeast Asia to North America what happens here will be watched closely by industry players around the world.