Ride-hailing bulwark Uber Technologies on Wednesday said it received a fresh $3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia's sovereign investment fund at it looks to the Middle East for its next wave of growth.
San Francisco-based Uber, which is privately held, said the investment from the country's Public Investment Fund was part of its most recent fundraising that valued it at $62.5 billion. The new investor isn't getting a piece of any current investor's stake in exchange for the injection.
"We appreciate the vote of confidence in our business as we continue to expand our global presence," said Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in a statement.
Uber said the investment will help strengthen its activities in Saudi Arabia where it said 80% of its customers are women. The company plans on investing $250 million to expand in the Middle East as competition increases from the likes of Lyft and Chinese company DiDi Chuxing, which just two weeks ago lured $1 billion from tech giant Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report as part of a broader fundraising.
Uber is the biggest of the current herd of unicorns -- companies with valuations over $1 billion in venture-speak.
In the Middle East, Uber said it now has 395,000 active riders, a fivefold increase over last year, and 19,000 drivers. The Saudi fund isn't the first public Middle East investor on its books - the Qatar Investment Authority also took a stake in the company in 2014.
For Saudi Arabia, the investment is part of its efforts to expand beyond oil as the commodity remains under pressure.
"As the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's sovereign investment arm, we're focused on achieving attractive long-term financial returns from our investments, while supporting Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, the blueprint for diversifying our economy away from oil," said Yasir Al Rumayyan, a managing director with the Saudi Arabian invest.
Al Rumayyan will also get a seat on Uber's board.