RIYADH: Dubai-based Careem has expanded beyond its original avatar of a ride-hailing app to become a ‘Super App’ that includes a wide range of services such as food delivery, grocery shopping, cleaning, shipping and bike rentals. And this is just the beginning.
“The pandemic came as a deep hit, but we diversified quickly. We are now merging as a ‘Super App’ that could do many more things than just ride-hailing. Careem would be something one could use daily,” Mudassir Sheikha, co-founder and CEO of Careem, told Arab News at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress held in Riyadh.
Careem’s creative transformation toward being a ‘Super App’ differentiates it from its parent company Uber Technologies which still focuses on mobility.
“Careem’s vision in the region is quite different from Uber, which alleviates conflict between the two,” he added.
Uber bought Careem in 2019 for $3.1 billion, and even though Uber has full ownership, both companies operate independently.
“These decisions are never easy because they are so big. Once you make the decision, you can’t get out of it. What made it easier is that we knew we have the right to remain independent,” Sheikha said.
The acquisition had given hope to many startups in the region who dreamt of becoming the next unicorn, utilizing the facilities offered by the Kingdom toward nurturing the entrepreneurship sector.
“It’s incredible. There is belief in the ecosystem. There is top talent moving into startups. There is large capital investing into startups, so once you solve the talent and the capital issue, the rest is all relatively straightforward,” Sheikha added.
Careem today operates in almost a hundred cities in the MENA region. It now plans to expand the ‘Super App’ in other countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, and the rest of the GCC in the next two years.