Uber, Silicon Valley’s moral compass, just accomplished perhaps the greatest-ever feat of brand synergy: The New York Times reports that the transit company just banked a $3.5 billion funding round from the Saudi Arabian government, which prohibits women from driving under penalty of lashing.
Not only are Saudi women banned from operating motor vehicles altogether, even accepting a ride from a man who is not your husband or brother can land you in hot water. In 2013, two Saudi women were apprehended after being caught driving, and although they were spared a whipping, they were held in police custody until their husbands could arrive and sign a form promising that they would never drive again.
The investment round comes at a time when U.S. legislators are pushing for the release of a 28-page redaction from a 9/11 post mortem report that possibly indicates Saudi involvement in the terror attack, along with a movement that would allow 9/11 victims’ families to file lawsuits against Saudi Arabia.
The stiflingly oppressive kingdom will now stand alongside the likes of Jeff Bezos, Google, Microsoft, and dozens of other investors who stand to profit immensely from Uber’s vampiric spread across the world, subverting healthy labor norms wherever it goes. Now, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick will welcome a Saudi governmental representative to his board, the Times reports:
As part of the investment, a managing director at the Public Investment Fund, Yasir Al Rumayyan, will take a seat on Uber’s board, joining Uber’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick, and other directors, including Arianna Huffington.
“We appreciate the vote of confidence in our business as we continue to expand our global presence,” Mr. Kalanick said in a statement. “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.”
This statement of values will probably not come as much relief to the women Uber riders who say they have fallen victim to sexual harassment and assault, nor to those who will be riding with Uber in the future.