Ride-hailing app Careem will now start testing food delivery services in the U.A.E. after the acquisition of online restaurant reserving and food delivery platform RoundMenu for an undisclosed amount, the company said.

The investment signifies Careem’s ambitions to diversify within a competitive market. The startup, which is Uber’s rival in the region, has so far picked up Saudi Arabia-based food delivery service Enwani and Morocco’s taxi-booking service Taxii. Recently it launched Box, a delivery service that allows users to have items such as keys and documents delivered at a certain location. The service is similar to what companies such as Fetchr and Aramex offer.

Careem’s buyout of RoundMenu would further help it to expand its footprint in the region’s lucrative food delivery space—a market where its rival Uber has a presence in form of Uber EATS.

Launched in 2012, RoundMenu serves in 18 cities across nine countries and raised a total of $3.1 million funding from investors MEVP, Beco Capital, HoneyBee Tech Ventures and Horeca Trade. Although it is unclear how many users RoundMenu has, its app on android has about 100,000 downloads—still minimal compared to what other leading restaurant listing websites such as Talabat and Zomato clock. But unlike the other mainstream food listing websites, RoundMenu does not have an option to order online but only provides the contact details of a restaurant to users.

However, the deal is instrumental for Careem as it helps the company to secure a spot within the Middle East’s over crowded but still profitable online food ordering websites. A report by KPMG in 2017 showed that about 31% of the consumers in the U.A.E. used food apps to order food, while 21% used them to find new restaurants to try from.

Other international food delivery websites too have been vying to get a slice of this market. U.K.’s food delivery site Deliveroo made its U.A.E. debut in 2015 while Uber EATS launched in 2016 in Dubai.


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