Ride-hailing app Careem is to expand its services in Abu Dhabi after the company struck a deal with tourism bosses.
The firm is set to offer "curated route" tours around the capital and will bring in new water taxis to take customers to its islands. It will provide extra cars and use technology to help ease congestion during busy times.
It will also promote events in the city and share technology and information with the Department of Culture and Tourism, under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
The new partnership is significant because app-based taxi services such as Uber have faced restrictions in the emirate.
Uber and Careem both suspended their services in August 2016, after some drivers were stopped and detained by authorities because of concerns over pricing structures, which rules state must be significantly more expensive than standard taxis.
Uber has not operated in Abu Dhabi since the crackdown, although Careem has returned to the roads. It offers an economy service for a minimum charge of Dh19 – compared to a base charge of Dh12 for a standard taxi – as well as limo, children's and wheelchair-friendly services.
Dubai regulates ride-hailing apps separately and there are thousands of Careem and Uber drivers on the roads, although similar pricing rules are in place.
The Abu Dhabi deal means Careem will share intellectual property with the Department of Culture and Tourism, such as on traffic flows at large events and commuter behaviour during rush hours. It will also offer technological support and ride-hailing services to the government.
“This agreement between our two organisations is in line with our desire to constantly improve the visitor experience at all touch points across the emirate, said Saif Saeed Ghobash, undersecretary at the Department of Culture and Tourism.
“Working together with our partners at Careem we will improve accessibility and take another step towards a truly seamless travel experience for our guests. Enhancing transportation provision and efficiency, as well as using Careem to cross-promote events across the emirate, means our guests can concentrate more on enjoying the culture and heritage of Abu Dhabi.
“The experience and knowledge gained from our collaboration will also pay dividends in the future, which will ultimately benefit Abu Dhabi.”
The deal will also enhance journeys to and from Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The parties will work together “to map various data points to better understand commuter behaviour and create solutions to commuter problems,” a statement said yesterday.
Bassel Al Nahlaoui, managing director of Careem Gulf, said the announcement brought his company closer to its mission to “simplify and improve people’s lives”.
“Our partnership with DCT Abu Dhabi reflects our commitment to supporting the cultural and creative scenes of the UAE,” he said.
“We are keen on working closely with decision makers in UAE and sharing knowledge and expertise to look for innovative ways to improve the transport and tourism sectors based on technology, analytics and valuable insights.”
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