DUBAI (Reuters) - Ride-hailing app Careem has closed the first part of a $500 million funding round backed by investors including Japan's Rakuten Inc and Saudi Telecom Co (STC), the Dubai-based company said in a statement on Monday.

Uber's [UBER.UL] chief competitor in the Middle East and North Africa region said the tranche was worth $350 million and that it was advised by Credit Suisse on the financing.

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The cash would be used to help with its expansion plans, the statement added.

STC said on Sunday it has agreed to buy a 10 percent stake in Careem for $100 million.

(Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by David French)