Uber has raised hopes that its taxis could return to the streets of Abu Dhabi, after the firm revealed that it had held “positive conversations” with transport chiefs.
The ride-hailing firm said it still wanted to resume operations in the Emirate, after Careem, a rival company, developed closer ties to the government by agreeing a partnership deal which will see it offer new services in the Emirate.
Both Uber and Careem suspended operations in 2016 after the authorities launched a crackdown on the companies, amid concerns over their pricing structures. While Careem has since returned in Abu Dhabi, Uber has not. Uber has continued to operate in Dubai.
In June, Uber appeared to downplay the prospects of a comeback, describing pricing rules, which mean taxis have to be 30 per cent more expensive than standard taxis, as “prohibitive”.
However, in an update on talks, a spokesman struck a more upbeat tone.
"We are in positive conversations with TransAD; our ultimate goal is to resume operations with an affordable service," he told The National:
Meanwhile, more details have emerged of Careem’s expansion in Abu Dhabi, as the company also moved to highlight its track record of expanding into challenging areas such as Sudan, Iraq and Palestine, which it said had boosted their economies and created much-needed jobs.
It was revealed last week that Careem would offer new “curated route” services to tourists, provide new water taxis to islands and use its technology and cars to help the government build intelligence by sharing technology and information, to help ease congestion. The new services, which will be available to residents as well as tourists, are expected to be rolled out early next year.
It has now emerged that in future, people could be able to hail Abu Dhabi taxis using the Careem app.
“We are in discussions with TransAD on how we can bring Abu Dhabi taxis on Careem's platform,” said a spokesman for the company.
Since its launch in 2012, Dubai-based Careem has become a rival to Uber in the Middle East and Africa. It said that over the past year it had expanded into states including Iraq, Palestine and Sudan, despite the challenges, as it has a “different set of criteria for measuring impact” which did not solely consider short-term profits.
It said it wanted to create opportunities in the complex territories, despite practical difficulties such as patchy 3G reliability and internet connectivity, regular military checkpoints and the poor quality of some roads. The initiatives had allowed it to create flexible jobs in areas of high unemployment and boost economies that needed most help, the company said.
Ibrahim Manna, Careem’s Managing Director for Emerging Markets, said the company is firm to “tap into the potential” of new markets.
“In complex markets, there is so much untapped potential and talent just waiting to be given an opportunity to exceed expectations,” said Mr Manna.
“For us, being at the entry point of development in these countries is a fulfilling and rewarding experience on all levels, allowing us to embrace these communities and tap into their potential in a way that has a wide-reaching, long-term impact.”