Dubai-based ride-hailing service Careem has announced the first close in its $500m funding round.

The investment of $350 million is co-led by Japan’s Rakuten Incorporated and Saudi Telecom Company (STC).

Rakuten executive and head of ride-sharing and fintech investments, Oskar Mielczarek de la Miel, and an STC Group executive will also join Careem’s Board of Directors.

The transaction was supported by Credit Suisse.

Other investors include Abraaj Group, Al-Tayyar Group, Beco Capital, El-Sewedy Investments, Endure Capital, Lumia Capital, SQM Frontier and Wamda Capital.

Careem says the funds will be used to enhance transport services in existing and new markets, accelerate innovation, and help it achieve its goal of creating one million jobs in the region by 2018.

Established in 2012, Careem now operates in 47 cities across 11 countries and has over 6 million users and 150,000 drivers in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region.

In June, US-based ride hailing service Uber raised $3.5bn from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), a move that will help the company’s expansion in the Middle East and North African (Mena) region.