Features
4 oct 22

Here are the Middle East’s top mobility startups

Want to get a handle on the mobility landscape in the Middle East? Arab News recently obliged by publishing a list of the 10 most funded mobility startups in the region. 

The list is a quick overview that serves as an excellent introduction to the local mobility ecosystem – if nothing else, by demonstrating the absolute dominance of the regional mobility landscape by the United Arab Emirates (UAE; pictured: Dubai). And by demonstrating that outside the top five, the players are relatively small. Here’s the abbreviated list. 

1. Careem

  • Funding: $771.7 million
  • HQ: UAE

Ride-hailing giant Careem is one of the first, and one of the biggest home-grown mobility players in the Middle East. Founded in 2012 as a car-booking service and acquired by Uber for $3.1 billion in 2020, it has since branched out into food delivery, among others, and now calls itself a ‘super app’. 

2. Swvl

  • Funding: $264 million
  • HQ: UAE

Founded in Egypt in 2017, Svwl offers mass-transit solutions within and between cities, for corporate and governmental transport services. The company, now headquartered in the UAE, operates in 20 countries across four continents. Like Careem, Swvl is a ‘unicorn’, i.e. with a market value exceeding $1 billion.

3. Yassir

  • Funding: $43 million
  • HQ: Algeria

Yassir offers ride-hailing, last-mile delivery and other on-demand mobility services across the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia), as well as in Canada and France. The company started out as a ride-sharing platform but has now also expanded into a ‘super app’, even offering financial services to its customers. Yassir has plans to expand further into Europe, and into West Africa. 

4. ekar

  • Funding: $34 million
  • HQ: UAE

Ekar offers on-demand car-sharing, leasing via subscription, peer-to-peer rentals, and other mobility services. Founded in 2017, the company now operates in the UAE and in Saudi Arabia. It is a regional pioneer in fully contactless car-sharing. Having launched in Thailand in 2022, ekar plans to expand into Malaysia, Turkey and Egypt soon. 

5. Udrive

  • Funding: $17.3 million
  • HQ: UAE

Founded in 2016, Udrive offers pay-per-minute car rentals in the UAE, both for locals and tourists. The company has already racked up two million customer trips. Udrive plans to improve its technology and expand into the wider Middle East.

6. Fenix

  • Funding: $5 million
  • HQ: UAE

Founded by two former Careem execs in 2020 (and thus the youngest company on the list), Fenix offers subscriptions to e-scooters. It aims to become the main micromobility operator in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. 

7. Telgani

  • Funding: $4.2 million
  • HQ: Saudi Arabia

Rent a car via the company app, and you get the vehicle of your choice delivered to your doorstep. That’s the idea behind Telgani, founded in 2018. As a business model, it seems uniquely attuned to the means and expectations of wealthy Saudi customers; which may be why the company has as yet not expanded beyond that country’s borders.

8. Ousta

  • Funding: $3.1 million
  • HQ: Egypt

Founded in 2016 to compete for market share with other ride-hailers like Uber and Careem, Ousta has remained tight-lipped about its operations since its initial fundraising of $1.5 million. 

9. KOI Ride

  • Funding: $3 million
  • HQ: UAE

Founded in 2015, KOI Ride is a B2B ride-hailing startup offering end-to-end ground transport by connecting online booking with licensed transportation providers. The company offers services in Dubai and a number of Turkish cities, but also London, New York, Las Vegas and Cancun. 

10. Urent

  • Funding: $1.5 million
  • HQ: UAE

Dubbed the ‘Airbnb for cars’, car rental provider Urent offers platform-based peer-to-peer vehicle sharing. With this ‘community of trust’, it hopes to revolutionise car rental across the Middle East. 

Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Frank Jacobs