12:52 GMT03 August 2020
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    Uber taxi firm has not been short of criticism over the last 12 months and this is also the case for Saudi Arabia, who has faced harsh condemnation over its role in the Yemen conflict. Now, it has been announced that Uber has received a US$3.5bn payment from the Saudi Arabian government.

    The Saudi government announced on 2nd June 2016 that they will invest over USD$3bn into Uber, giving them an automatic cash boost and securing the Saudi investment fund manager a direct seat on their board of directors. Yasir Al Rumayyan will join the likes of Arianna Huffington and Travis Kalanick on the Uber board.

    The extra funding will hopefully enable Uber to provide more taxis and will no doubt strengthen their global empire, allowing for better presence amongst the competition and also permitting the taxi company to operate in more countries giving it even more of a global standing. 

    The Saudi Arabian investment fund manager, Yasir Al Rumayyan, believes that this investment will increase the countries global presence. It appears the Middle East is looking to invest money in other ventures apart from oil, aiming to diversify their portfolio.

    Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, also believes that this investment will help expand the company's business offering.

    "We appreciate the vote of confidence in our business as we continue to expand our global presence. Our experience in Saudi Arabia is a great example of how Uber can benefit riders, drivers and cities and we look forward to partnering to support their economic and social reforms," Kalanick said in a statement.

    This cash boost will make Saudi Arabia one of Uber's largest investors and it is for this reason that the move has come under fire, as critics point out that the country has strict laws that forbid women from driving and Uber has women drivers who operate across the globe.

    "Of course we think women should be allowed to drive… In the absence of that, we have been able to provide extraordinary mobility that didn't exist before — and we're incredibly proud of that," said Uber spokeswoman, Jill Hazelbaker, told the New York Times.

    This latest investment from the Saudi government appears to be small change for the country, as it stands their Public Investment Fund is valued at US$100 billion. Could Saudi Arabia's money possibly be put to better use, such as the redevelopment of Yemen or investment in human rights?


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