California based taxi booking app Uber made a comeback to the UAE in December last year, after two years of absence. The company abruptly shut its operations in the Emirates after facing regulatory pressure in Abu Dhabi, forcing a rate 30% higher than the standard taxi rates. However, the US firm’s revival plans seem to be working for good.
Uber had signed a deal with the UAE transport authorities after elongated negotiations in November. The deal saw Uber agreeing to allow Emiratis to become drivers using their vehicle. On Sunday, Uber announced that first group of UAE nationals has started accepting bookings on the Uber app in Abu Dhabi, using their private vehicles. This is first of its kind approach by Uber and is being viewed as a key milestone in providing dynamic economic opportunities to the Emiratis, by using their cars to provide computing services.
The company is confident that the number of Emiratis joining its initiative will increase over the due course of time, especially, those who seek Uber to make a flexible income. General Manager of Uber for the Middle East and North Africa, Tino Waked, said that the company is proud for the progress since Uber announced its return to the Emirates in December. The first Emirati driver partner on the app has already ventured his first trip in and around Abu Dhabi.
Waked also added that the UAE capital has always been an important market for Uber and that they have collaborated with Integrated Transport Centre (ITC), which shows their commitment to support the city’s efforts in providing flexible employment opportunities, ensuring better urban mobility. The ITC and Department of Transport in Abu Dhabi issued approval to Uber in November, allowing Emiratis to become Uber drivers either on a part-time or full-time basis.
In the third quarter of 2018, Uber posted a loss $1 billion, with revenue growth of 38%, half of what it was 6 months ago. Following its exit from a number of Asian countries, the company had promised to invest on an indefinite basis in the Middle East and North Africa. It was also in talks to acquire its apex rival in the region, Careem, which did not materialize. Careem, which also reinstated business in the UAE after two years, had a similar deal with the ITC to accommodate Emiratis.
These developments in the passenger transport sector will be a key to create employment opportunities, and with the backing from the ITC and transport authorities, the future of Uber looks promising in the Emirates. Currently, the Middle East and India continue to be the most important markets for Uber, as sales continue to fall back home.