Didi Chuxing said Monday that it will set up a joint venture (JV) in the Middle East in a partnership with local investors, as the company expands its global footprint.

Why it matters: The deal is Didi’s latest push into countries within the Middle East and North Africa two years after it invested in the Dubai-based online taxi service platform Careem.

  • The Chinese ride-hailing giant has been actively expanding the overseas market amid tightened regulations and rising costs in its home market. The company said earlier this month that it expects to invest RMB 2 billion ($300 million) to address safety issues on its ride-hailing platform in China this year.

Details: Didi will form a JV headquartered in Abu Dhabi in a partnership with Symphony Investment, an Asia-focused investment firm mainly funded by Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Dubai real estate giant Emaar Properties.

  • At the current stage, the JV will deliver products and services related to the sharing economy with an aim to “contribute to economic collaboration” between China and the region, according to a statement.
  • The company said that Abu Dhabi’s state investor Mubadala Investment is also considering joining the partnership. Mubadala had reportedly invested in Didi in late 2017, and was a major sponsor of SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund with a commitment of $15 billion earlier that year.
  • It is unknown whether Didi will expand its presence launching ride-hailing or bike-rental services under its own brand in the Middle East. A Didi spokesman declined to comment when contacted by TechNode on Tuesday.
  • Didi and Symphony Investment signed the agreement on Monday at the UAE-China Economic Forum in Beijing. Chinese vice minister of commerce Yu Jianhua and Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansoori, minister of economy of the UAE, attended the meeting.

Context: The Chinese ride hailing giant has invested or partnered with seven overseas rivals, including Uber, Lyft, and India’s Ola, since it embarked on its global business expansion in 2015.

  • Didi acquired 99, a ride-sharing company in Brazil in a $1 billion deal in early 2018, and just launched its ride-hailing services in Chile and Colombia last month.

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @yushan_shen

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