Transportation-focussed tech startup Swvl is going public through a merger with Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, tweeted congratulations to Arab entrepreneur Mostafa Kandil, for his vision to establish a $1.5 billion green-focussed mass transport company in Dubai.

“Dubai-headquartered Swvl is the first Middle East $1.5 billion unicorn to list on Nasdaq US, founded by Mostafa Kandil, 28-year-old entrepreneur. Dubai's impact on the global start-up scene shows the vision and spirit of the region’s youth in shaping tomorrow’s businesses,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted.

Swvl is going public through a merger with Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital. Founded in 2017, Swvl provides ridesharing services in emerging markets that don’t always have reliable public transportation. The company’s proprietary algorithm identifies the most efficient and cost-effective routes, thereby reducing emissions while lowering costs for riders.

Earlier in the day, the Wall Street Journal reported the deal was in the final stages. The mobility company is merging with Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital, a SPAC [special purpose acquistion company] created earlier this year. Its CEO Victoria Grace is the founder of New York-based VC fund Colle Capital.

The two companies entered into a definitive agreement for a combination that would result in Swvl listing on NASDAQ. Swvl will be the second Middle Eastern company to take the SPAC route to public markets.

Mass transport needs

The company has built a parallel mass transit system offering inter- and intra-city services, as well as B2B and B2G transportation in 10 cities across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Customers can book their rides on the pp with varied payment options and access private buses and vans that operate according to fixed routes, stations, times, and prices.

Swvl was co-founded by Kandil, who began his career at Rocket Internet, where he launched the car sales platform Carmudi in the Philippines, which became the largest car classifieds company in the country in just six months. He then served as Rocket Internet’s head of operations.

In 2016, Kandil joined Careem, a ride-sharing company and the first unicorn in the Middle East. He supported the platform’s expansion into multiple markets. Careem is now a subsidiary of Uber, with operations across 100 cities and 15 countries.

“Mass transit systems in cities around the world are riddled with deficiencies, resulting in congestion, environmental concerns and reduced productivity," said Kandil. "To address these problems, we founded Swvl with a simple but ambitious goal – to empower all people to go where they want to, when they want to, and to feel comfortable doing it.”