Why Careem is bigger than Uber in the Middle East

global gateway careem_00010608
global gateway careem_00010608

    JUST WATCHED

    Careem: The Uber of the Middle East

MUST WATCH

Careem: The Uber of the Middle East 01:42

Story highlights

  • Ride-haling company Careem is Dubai's answer to Uber
  • Valued at over $1bn it's one of just two 'unicorns' in UAE
  • The company has expanded to 10 countries

Dubai (CNN)It's called Careem and it's the ride-hailing company that's bigger than Uber in the Middle East. It's also one of only two billion-dollar start-ups -- or "unicorns" -- in the region.

Based out of Dubai, it was founded by Mudassir Sheikha, from Pakistan, and Swede Magnus Olsson.
    With a user base of six million customers and a network of 150,000 drivers, Careem has become the region's largest ride-hailing platform. Its success is down to a combination of a head start over Uber, local knowledge, and home-field advantage.
    With its first cars taking to the streets in 2012, one year before Uber hit the market in Dubai, Careem is well suited to the local market. In a region where accurate addresses and reliable maps aren't always available, Careem built its own mapping system to make it easier for drivers and customers to find destinations, and each other.
    And Sheikha says his businesses has also benefited from local support.
    "The region has cheered us as a home-grown story, as a local home-grown champion and that helped us in many different ways -- all the way from helping us with ideas, helping us open doors, helping us with funding; pretty much helping us with anything we needed help with," he says.
    Watch the video to see the full story.