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E-scooter firm Lime plans aggressive Middle East expansion

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Mobility start-up Lime is planning to launch its e-scooter and e-bike rental service across the Middle East over the next two years.

Lime CEO Wayne Ting told CNBC’s Dan Murphy that the company is running a small trial in Dubai and that it plans to launch permanent operations in the next couple of months.

“Our vision is to invest in the Gulf states,” Ting said during an interview in Dubai on Thursday. “I’d love to bring something more permanent to Dubai, Abu Dhabi. But that’s right at the very, very beginning of investing in the region.”

A man riding a Lime e-scooter in Berlin, Germany on June 21, 2019.
Thomas Trutschel | Photothek via Getty Images

The San Francisco-headquartered company raised $523 million last month ahead of an anticipated stock market listing. The funding round was led by UAE-headquartered investment firm ADQ but included other investors including Alphabet venture firm GV, formerly Google Ventures.

Ting said the Middle East region is young, dynamic and forward-looking, adding that it has a huge commitment towards sustainability.

While some of the 30-plus countries in the Middle East have made sustainability commitments, the region is also home to some of the most oil-rich countries in the world including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait.

On Saudi Arabia, Ting said the country wants to invest in the future, adding that the new city of Neom is particularly exciting.

“When you talk to people thinking about Neom, they’re saying, how do we build a city without cars?” Ting said. “This is a huge core to our mission, which is building a transportation system that is different from today.”

“When you talk to young people, they know when they look at their own carbon footprint that one of the biggest sources is from transportation and they’re demanding a change to their own behavior. When I look at places with a big, young population, who are committed to the environment, those are perfect markets for what we’re building.”

Lime launched in 80 new cities in 2021 and Ting claims it’s now the biggest micro mobility company in the world, ahead of the likes of Bird, Tier, Voi and Jump.

It intends to go public at some point in 2022, Ting said, adding the the company’s size and scale means that it is ready. “Whether or not it makes sense or not, we’re going to be looking at market conditions,” he said, adding that it could be a SPAC or a traditional IPO.

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