As the global community continues to grapple with the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Atlantic Council is open for business. Our business, meetings, and events, however, are occurring virtually. For more information, please read an update from our President and CEO.

Mudassir Sheikha and his colleague Magnus Olsson left McKinsey in 2012 to start Careem with the mission to simplify and improve the lives of people in the Middle East. Today, the company is the largest ride-hailing company in the Middle East and operates in more than 100 cities across 13 countries. The spectacular rise of the company resulted in the creation of more than one million jobs and many millionaire employees. The company was acquired by Uber in January 2020 for $3.1 billion, making it the most successful startup in Middle East history and the region’s only “unicorn.”

On November 17, 2020 empowerME at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East hosted a discussion moderated by CNBC Reporter & Anchor Hadley Gamble with Careem Co-Founder & CEO Mudassir Sheikha about his path to success and ways to boost entrepreneurship and innovation in the region. Longtime regional venture investor and empowerME Director Amjad Ahmad joined the conversation to reflect on how to build a more productive entrepreneurial ecosystem to create more unicorns.

Read key takeaways


Mudassir Sheikha
Co-Founder & CEO

Amjad Ahmad
Director, empowerME, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
Atlantic Council

Moderated by

Hadley Gamble
Anchor and Reporter

Welcome remarks by

Frederick Kempe
President and CEO
Atlantic Council

empowerME at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East is shaping solutions to empower entrepreneurs, women, and the private sector and building influential coalitions to drive regional economic integration, prosperity, and job creation.