Abu Dhabi to introduce new regulations for ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Careem

New regulations in the emirate will ride-hailing apps to register their drivers with the local taxi regulator and stick to enforced pricing.
Careem has resumed services in Abu Dhabi after it paused them when the authoritiesstarted stopping its drivers last month. New regulations in the emirate will require it to register its drivers with the local taxi regulator. Victor Besa for The National
Careem has resumed services in Abu Dhabi after it paused them when the authoritiesstarted stopping its drivers last month. New regulations in the emirate will require it to register its drivers with the local taxi regulator. Victor Besa for The National

Ride-hailing services such as Uber and others will have to register their apps and heed new regulations to operate in Abu Dhabi, a top official at the emirate’s taxi regulator said.

US-based Uber and its regional rival Careem suspended services in the capital on August 27 after many of their drivers were stopped by authorities over violations of regulations.

Careem has since resumed services in Abu Dhabi, although Uber has yet to do so as it awaits clarification on some issues.

The new regulations are coming “very soon” and will include a provision requiring ride-hailing apps to register with the Centre for Regulation of Transport by Hire Cars (Transad), its general manager Mohamed Darwish Al Qamzi said.

“This will help us to control the market easier by blocking any unregulated application with us,” he said. Currently, ride-hailing services are not regulated in the UAE.

Mr Al Qamzi said companies such as Uber and Careem suspended their services after Abu Dhabi began enforcing tighter regulations to curb malpractices and a growing black market.

“There was a black market – many illegal drivers doing part-time work, over-charging customers and not following regulations,” he said.

A spokesman for Careem denied any wrongdoing by the company and its drivers. An Uber spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment, although the company has previously said it complies with all existing regulations.

According to the new Abu Dhabi regulations, ride-hailing apps must work only with luxury private hire companies and strictly follow their price structure. They must also send a list of drivers and cars to Transad, he said.

At the moment, ride-hailing apps work with drivers who operate limousines as well as smaller cars that are not registered with Transad.

Transad works with seven franchisee taxi companies with 7,645 registered taxis operating in Abu Dhabi.

“We are not against the apps’ services,” said Qamzi. “It is the choice of the people. But we need to make sure the cars are safe, drivers are genuine and the safety of customers comes first.”

Uber, which launched services in Abu Dhabi in 2013, said last year that the Mena region contained some of its fastest-growing markets and that it planned to invest uS$250 million to expand in the region.

It said on June 1 that had raised $3.5 billion from an investment by Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Public Investment Fund.

business@thenational.ae

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Published: September 19, 2016 04:00 AM

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