The investment arm of Abdul Latif Jameel, a Saudi Arabian family-owned conglomerate, invested in Joby Aviation, a company in Santa Cruz that aims to shuttle passengers in electric air taxis above congested city streets.
Jameel Investment Management Company participated in Joby Aviation’s $590 million (Dh2.16 billion) Series C funding round, Abdul Latif Jameel said, without disclosing the size of its investment.
The funding round was led by Japanese carmaker Toyota and includes new backers Baillie Gifford alongside previous investors Sparx Group, Intel Capital, Capricorn Investment, JetBlue Technology Ventures and AME Cloud Ventures.
“Air taxi service is still in the early stages of commercialisation, but one that has the potential to completely transform the future of mobility,” Hassan Jameel, deputy president and vice chairman of Abdul Latif Jameel, said.
Entrepreneurs and government entities in Saudi Arabia are increasingly investing in the technology sector as part of efforts to diversify their portfolios. The country’s sovereign wealth fund, known as the Public Investment Fund, is also pivoting to tech investments. It is the single-biggest investor in Softbank’s $100bn Vision Fund, a technology-focused investment vehicle.
Joby Aviation’s air taxi is a piloted, five-seater vehicle capable of flying 320 kilometres per hour and cover a distance of 240km on a single charge.
The aircraft is 100 times quieter than conventional aircraft during take-off and landing, and near-silent when flying overhead, the company said.