UAE's Careem's has just scored an investment from Uber's largest global competitor, Didi Chuxing, in a move that replicates what the Chinese giant has been doing for the past year. The startup, China’s most powerful ride-hailing platform and the world's second highest valued startup, Didi has been battling the rise of Uber around the globe, purchasing the ridesharing behemoth’s rivals around the world, one by one. Now, its proxy war has just expanded to the Middle East, with a major investment for an undisclosed amount in Uber’s primary MENA rival.      

Careem is the last in a series of global investments and acquisitions; just last week, Didi purchased an eight-figure stake in Estonian-based startup Taxify, which operates in Europe and Africa, including Egypt as of February 2017. Didi has also invested in Uber’s other major global rivals: USA’s Lyft, Southeast Asia’s Grab, India’s Ola, and Latin America’s 99.  In 2016, Didi purchased Uber’s business in China. The American company had been losing over a billion dollars each year battling its Chinese rival, until Uber sold its business to Didi for an undisclosed amount and bowed out of the Chinese market. Since its win in China, Didi’s expansion has been relentless.

Uber’s MENA rival, Careem, has also seen growth over the last year. The ridesharing company, 12 million users strong, closed a $500 million round of funding in July led by Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding. Just a few weeks later, Careem made its first investment in Egyptian bus-sharing startup Swvl.

The partnership between Didi and Careem will lead to further development of a booming industry. The two companies will join forces in further research in transportation technology and product development. “Didi Chuxing brings leading edge AI capabilities, insight and expertise to our organization as we enter our next phase of growth,” said Careem’s CEO Mudassir Sheikha in a statement. “This evolution in our long relationship will enable Careem to more effectively pursue growth opportunities through continued innovation and sustainability.”

What impact the deal will have on Uber’s role in the Middle East remains to be seen. The corporation’s acquisition of Egyptian-founded app developer Swipe Labs just a few weeks ago signals that Uber is choosing its next moves carefully. 

Photo by @MO4Network's #MO4Productions. 

Photographer: Seif Mansour.