Uber is a disruptive force and, though it has produced many benefits for consumers, it has also, understandably, generated much hostility.   Thomas White / Reuters
Uber is a disruptive force and, though it has produced many benefits for consumers, it has also, understandably, generated much hostility. Thomas White / Reuters

What is Uber? We are getting closer to an answer

“Thousands of riders request Uber everyday—use your vehicle to cash in on the action”. That is the slogan with which Uber attracts drivers into its pool in one European country. Uber assures drivers that they can make great money and set their own schedule. They will be their own masters – not employees but “partners” of Uber Technologies, which, as the company recently told the European Court of Justice, is an “information society service provider”, not a taxi firm.

Uber's self-description was rejected by the ECJ, which held that the app provider "must be classified as a 'service in the field of transport' within the meaning of EU law". This ruling terminates the easy, unregulated ride Uber has so far enjoyed under the European Union's e-commerce directive by claiming to be a software company. It will henceforth be subject to national and local transport regulations of the EU's member states.


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From London to Luxembourg, Uber's argument that it is nothing more than an intermediary that connects passengers with drivers is crumbling. And this is provoking the worry in some quarters that this will suppress innovation. Uber at its core, say critics of regulation, offers the same service as the apps and websites that help consumers find a cheap bed in a hotel or an affordable seat on a flight. They are providers of the technology that enables people to find what they want – not proprietors or suppliers of the commodity or service that people want.

The reality of Uber, however, is different. It doesn't merely "connect". Its relationship with the drivers is by no stretch of the word a "partnership"; the degree of control it exercises over them – from selecting the route to determining the fare – suggests a relationship more akin to an employer-employee arrangement. Uber is a disruptive force and, though it has produced many benefits for consumers, it has also, understandably, generated much hostility. The question of safety has haunted Uber ever since it debuted, and the fact that the man suspected of murdering a British diplomat in Beirut earlier this month happens to be an Uber driver brings this matter to the fore. Why is there still no feature on the app to alert authorities to danger? Why won't Uber direct its innovative energies into creating an interface that allows passengers to sound the alarm? The question "what is Uber?" is not yet settled internationally. If Uber wants the answer to be to its liking, it should do a great deal more than it is doing right now.

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Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

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Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded


Director: Abu Bakr Shawky 

Starring: Omar Alatawi, Tulin Essam, Ibrahim Al-Hasawi 

Rating: 4/5


• Looming global slowdown and recession in key economies

• Russia-Ukraine war

• Interest rate hikes and the rising cost of debt servicing

• Oil price volatility

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• A resurgence of Covid?

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Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Team Angel Wolf Beach Blast takes place every Wednesday between 4:30pm and 5:30pm


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Industry: AI
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Investors: Self, family and friends

Four motivational quotes from Alicia's Dubai talk

“The only thing we need is to know that we have faith. Faith and hope in our own dreams. The belief that, when we keep going we’re going to find our way. That’s all we got.”

“Sometimes we try so hard to keep things inside. We try so hard to pretend it’s not really bothering us. In some ways, that hurts us more. You don’t realise how dishonest you are with yourself sometimes, but I realised that if I spoke it, I could let it go.”

“One good thing is to know you’re not the only one going through it. You’re not the only one trying to find your way, trying to find yourself, trying to find amazing energy, trying to find a light. Show all of yourself. Show every nuance. All of your magic. All of your colours. Be true to that. You can be unafraid.”

“It’s time to stop holding back. It’s time to do it on your terms. It’s time to shine in the most unbelievable way. It’s time to let go of negativity and find your tribe, find those people that lift you up, because everybody else is just in your way.”

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Key changes

Commission caps

For life insurance products with a savings component, Peter Hodgins of Clyde & Co said different caps apply to the saving and protection elements:

• For the saving component, a cap of 4.5 per cent of the annualised premium per year (which may not exceed 90 per cent of the annualised premium over the policy term). 

• On the protection component, there is a cap  of 10 per cent of the annualised premium per year (which may not exceed 160 per cent of the annualised premium over the policy term).

• Indemnity commission, the amount of commission that can be advanced to a product salesperson, can be 50 per cent of the annualised premium for the first year or 50 per cent of the total commissions on the policy calculated. 

• The remaining commission after deduction of the indemnity commission is paid equally over the premium payment term.

• For pure protection products, which only offer a life insurance component, the maximum commission will be 10 per cent of the annualised premium multiplied by the length of the policy in years.


Customers must now be provided with a full illustration of the product they are buying to ensure they understand the potential returns on savings products as well as the effects of any charges. There is also a “free-look” period of 30 days, where insurers must provide a full refund if the buyer wishes to cancel the policy.

“The illustration should provide for at least two scenarios to illustrate the performance of the product,” said Mr Hodgins. “All illustrations are required to be signed by the customer.”

Another illustration must outline surrender charges to ensure they understand the costs of exiting a fixed-term product early.

Illustrations must also be kept updatedand insurers must provide information on the top five investment funds available annually, including at least five years' performance data.

“This may be segregated based on the risk appetite of the customer (in which case, the top five funds for each segment must be provided),” said Mr Hodgins.

Product providers must also disclose the ratio of protection benefit to savings benefits. If a protection benefit ratio is less than 10 per cent "the product must carry a warning stating that it has limited or no protection benefit" Mr Hodgins added.


This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home.

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