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China's Didi invests in Dubai-based ride-sharing platform

Deal with Careem extends company's reach into Middle East and North Africa

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Logo of Didi Chuxing is seen at its headquarters building in Beijing.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- China's largest ride-hailing service provider Didi Chuxing is investing in Dubai-based ride-sharing platform Careem, it said on Tuesday.

Under the strategic partnership, the two companies -- which declined to comment on the size of the investment -- will cooperate on smart transportation technology, product development and operations.

The move pushes Didi's reach into the Middle East and North Africa, where Careem boasts 12 million users, with a fleet of more than 250,000 drivers. The Chinese company hopes to tap into regions where the internet economy holds "significant potential," according to Didi founder and chief executive Cheng Wei.

Cheng said in a press release: "Growing urban populations and economic and social diversity in MENA (the Middle East and North Africa regions) present enormous opportunities for the ride-hailing economy."

The strategic partnership comes as Didi's latest move in its aggressive expansion, mainly through partnerships with local ride-hailing companies. It recently announced a total $2 billion of investments in Southeast Asia's Grab, and in Taxify, a taxi-hailing operator in Europe and Africa. The company has also been partnering with Lyft, Uber Technologies' rival in the U.S., since 2015.

Didi dominates China's ride-sharing market, after acquiring Uber's Chinese operations in 2016.

Careem, established in July 2012, operates in more than 80 cities in 13 markets, including Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Qatar and Palestine. Its mobile app provides services in languages including English, French and Arabic. The company is backed by Japan's e-commerce giant Rakuten, and German automaker Daimler.

Nikkei staff writer Mariko Tai in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

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