DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, May 10, 2017 (ENS) - The global rise of ride-sharing services is a challenge to the traditional market dynamic of urban mobility, but for one Dubai company when the market gets challenging, the creative go upscale.
The car-booking app Careem allows passengers to easily book a chauffeur-driven vehicle. Founded in 2012, Careem is available in 32 cities across the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia.
Careem Co-Founder and Managing Director Mudassir Sheikha, born in Pakistan, says that over the past four years the company has grown "substantially."
Careem users can now book chauffeur-driven cars in 32 cities in the Middle East and North Africa region and Pakistan. Sheikha says the business expanding more than 30 percent month-on-month.
"Right now, Egypt is our fastest developing market, due to the slump in tourism after the revolution. By becoming Captains with Careem, many unemployed people are now able to earn a steady income to support their families," said Sheikha in an April interview for the International Association of Public Transport's publication "Public Transport Trends 2017."
Careem is popular with business travelers and their companies, who have "gained tremendous efficiencies from our service," Sheikha said.
Business travelers can now book and pay for reliable ground transport throughout the region via Careem's website, call centre, or mobile app.
While Careem has many business users, other customers use the service to go shopping, visit friends, or travel to and from work.
Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and this has created customers for Careem. Today, 80 percent of Careem's users in Saudi Arabia are women, says Sheikha.
"Through research, we found that approximately three to four million women are unable to work in here because they lack reliable transport. Today, Careem enables them to do so by providing a reliable means to get to and from their place of work," he said.
In November, Careem introduced "Ameera,” Dubai’s first premium female chauffeur service operated exclusively by female drivers, called captains.
Arabic for princess, Ameera offers executive cars with tinted windows, Wi-Fi and phone chargers.
A fleet of executive cars with a crew of 15 highly trained female captains from Dubai Taxi Company’s Pink Taxi will provide the first phase of an all-new service operated for women, by women. Where currently the Pink Taxi service is limited to Dubai airport pick-ups, Ameera cars are fully accessible any time of day and anywhere in the city.
Aura Lunde, GM UAE, Careem said, "Ameera creates new career pathways for women in the UAE. By launching this service for women, in partnership with Dubai Taxi Corporation, we hope to inspire them to break through barriers and seek opportunities beyond traditional roles."
"Ameera cars will be operated exclusively by female Captains," said Lunde, "further contributing to the empowerment of women in our country and responding to the needs of the female community in Dubai today, whether that relates to safety and security, cultural sensitivity or simply personal preference."
"Launching the new exclusive Ladies Limo service is a further evidence that Dubai Taxi is committed to delivering best-in-class services to customers, and enriching the 5-star experience to unprecedented levels. The service will be appealing to VIP ladies in quest for privacy and comfort aboard deluxe transit means,” said Dr. Yousef Al Ali, CEO of Dubai Taxi Corporation.
To protect the taxi business, the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority requires Careem's fares to be at least 30 percent higher than those of taxis. But in many markets the Careem service is cheaper than traditional taxis.
Sheikha says Careem is committed to reshaping the future of urban transportation.
"Not only will transportation continue to witness technological transformation, but it will continue to improve the lives of people in the region," he said. "Careem is committed to continuing to aid the future transformation of urban transport."
Careem plans to invest US$100 million (€96m) in R&D, which includes growing the company in the UAE and Pakistan and opening new R&D centres in Egypt and Germany.
"With this investment," he said, "we hope to accelerate innovation in transportation-related technology infrastructure for the region, as well as keeping Careem at the forefront of this dynamic new industry."
PHOTO: An Emirati Careem captain on the road in Dubai (Screengrab from video by Khalid Al Ameri via YouTube)