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DUBAI: Careem launched a delivery service on Monday covering everything from takeaway food to pharmaceuticals, diversifying from its core Middle East ride-hailing business and increasing competition with rival Uber Technologies.

The company has expanded its car service business to more than 120 cities in 15 predominantly Middle East countries since launching in 2012.

“We believe the opportunity for deliveries in the region is even bigger than ride-hailing,” Chief Executive and Co-Founder Mudassir Sheikha said at Careem’s headquarters in Dubai. It plans to spend over $150 million developing the delivery business, starting with food delivery services in Dubai and Jeddah.

“Once you see us prove the model in the UAE and Saudi [Arabia], you will see us very quickly go to new markets,” Sheikha said. “Egypt and Pakistan will come next and then very soon the rest of the footprint will follow.”

Careem, whose investors include German car maker Daimler and China’s largest ride-hailing company DiDi Chuxing, has trialled food delivery since acquiring an online restaurant listing platform in February.

Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2018