Saudi Arabia has made a name for itself in being very strict with what women can and cannot do. Driving cars, for instance, could be the basis for flogging if you are a woman. Is there a conflict of interest then that Uber just received a $3.5 billion check from Saudi Arabia?
The investment is from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. Uber currently values itself at $62.5 billion, and CEO Travis Kalanick said that Saudi's check was a “vote of confidence in our business.”
The fact that females cannot drive has made women a lucrative demographic for Uber in Saudi Arabia. Over there, secure transportation is a problem and women actually have trouble keeping jobs because of this.
Huffington Post reported that even hired drivers are not the solution. A teacher named Amal B. told Al Bawaba that “Every time I get in the car with my driver, I feel scared because of the way he drives.”
Another teacher named Soad Al-Harbi has a similar sentiment. “I’m scared he will get angry and stop driving me to work. As women, we need drivers and we have to put up with all the trouble they cause us,” she said.
Considering that it would probably be a while before female drivers could freely drive around the country, Uber's services in the Middle Eastern country would be a valuable conveniece for females. Until women can drive, a spokesperson said, Uber is there to provide a valuable service.
Forbes noted that Uber has continued to surprise everyone by the simple fact that it continues to raise larger and larger sums of money. This has made them avoid going to public markets which have been the bane of tech companies. It also means that there is very little incentive for the company to back off competition with Lyft, Didi and the rest of ride-sharing services overseas.
Since it was founded in 2010, Uber has already raised more than $12.5 billion. It also currently has an impressive $11 billion on its balance sheet. Uber recently took an undisclosed investment from Toyota and raised over $2 billion from Tiger Global Management, T. Rowe Price, and private wealth clients from Morgan Stanley and Bank of America.