RAMADI, Irq. – Saudi billionaire and entrepreneur Ahmed Bin Talal recently joined forces with former Hezbollah bomb maker Khaled Al-Asad to create VeBied, a car service loosely based on the Uber platform. VeBied launched in February of this year and is available exclusively in the Middle East. Nicknamed “The Official Escort Of The Jihad,” the company is already reporting huge profits in countries like Iraq, Syria, and Libya.
Similar to American companies like Uber and Lyft, users can gain access to the car service simply by logging into the VieBied app through their smartphones. Using GPS, the app lets users know which vehicles are available within a desired radius of their location. Payment is made upon delivery using a third-party Bitcoin service.
“We offer our clients three pricing tiers,” Bin Talal told the Washington Business Journal. “Our lowest and most popular option is a compact car or sedan containing roughly five kilograms of plastic explosives in the trunk.” From there, prices and vehicle size increase significantly. The third tier option is a box truck packed with five hundred kilograms of ammonium nitrate fuel oil and fertilizer, which, according to the VieBied app is “enough to level a five-story apartment building.”
“This is a really impressive business model,” says CNNMoney contributor Michael De Santa. “Definitely one of the better ideas to come out of the Middle East in the last quarter-century.” Potential investors are keeping a watchful eye on VeBied should the company eventually decide to go public. “They’ve really managed to capitalize on Mid East consumerism here,” De Santa says.
Bin Talal says the company is working to expand its operations in 2016 by adding more vehicle options, including pickups with mounted machine guns and flatbed trucks sporting anti-aircraft weaponry.