Taxi app Uber has announced plans to invest $250m into the Middle East and North Africa markets to boost its presence in the region.
The company, which launched in the United Arab Emirates two years ago, now operates in 13 cities across nine countries in the MENA region.
“Our experience since launching in Dubai two years ago has shown that there’s tremendous potential to improve the lives of riders and drivers, as well as the quality of life in cities in the region,” Uber said in a statement.
Currently, over 70 per cent of Uber’s riders in Saudi Arabia are women, it said. In Egypt, almost 40 per cent of the drivers using Uber were unemployed earlier.
Uber also helped pickup 2.2 tonnes of waste during the trash crisis in Beirut earlier this year, it added.
“Our goals for that investment are simple: to increase the number of drivers who use the Uber platform, expand access to the Uber platform to new cities and launch innovative new products that can shift the transportation landscape across the cities in which we operate,” it added.
Dubai remains the largest city in the Middle East in terms of gross bookings and is especially popular among tourists. From the beginning of the year until now, about 50 per cent of riders were from abroad, Uber confirmed.
Driver partner earnings in the emirate have also grown by over 50 per cent compared to a year ago, while supply has grown by four times in last year and 10 times in the last 18 months.
Founded in 2009, Uber – valued at roughly over $50bn – is one of the fastest growing companies at present and now operates in around 60 countries worldwide.
However, it has faced several regulatory and legal obstacles across the world. In its hometown of United States alone, Uber has been involved in at least 173 lawsuits since October 2012, Reuters reported earlier this month.