Uber, Mastercard deals mark coming of age of Middle East's tech startups

Uber, Mastercard deals mark coming of age of Middle East's tech startups

A Careem Networks FZ driver waits for a ride-hailing customer while a Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) taxi drives past skyscrapers standing on the skyline beyond in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photographer: Christopher Pike/Bloomberg

When it comes to technology and venture investing, the Middle East hasn’t historically ranked as a top destination for companies looking to deploy capital. But a series of recent deals could be a sign that the nascent sector is finally coming of age.

The first signs were in 2017, when U.S. e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc. agreed to buy Souq.com, a Dubai-based online retailer little-known outside the region, for about $600 million. On Tuesday, the largest-ever tech deal in the region was struck as ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc. agreed to acquire its regional competitor Careem Networks FZ for $3.1 billion in a cash and stock deal.

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