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Uber CEO to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Believe In The Great Potential In Middle East

Uber CEO to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Believe In The Great Potential In Middle East

Tuesday, 16 April, 2019 - 07:30
A Saudi woman uses the Careem app on her mobile phone in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 2, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser.
Dubai – Mossaed Al-Zayani
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are pioneers in the transportation industry, said Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber.

“Both countries are ready to invest and introduce technology to help with land transport and infrastructure services.”

He added that the necessary component in order to build any industry in a country was access to the appropriate transport network.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Khosrowshahi said: “When you look at this region, especially Dubai, you will find that Dubai is a leader in air transport, as well as for Saudi Arabia...and others. I believe that land transport is important in transportation.”

Careem CEO Mudassir Sheikha, for his part, said that governments in the region were among the most important stakeholders in building urban infrastructure.

“We fully believe in working with governments to make sure we are helping them formulate the right regulations for the new projects and partnerships that are taking place here. We are also working with them to develop user services that will not only enrich the experience of the population but will also enable us to develop solutions that help people in remote areas have access to mobility services,” he said.

“Indeed, we have started this path with the Dubai government and are seeking to replicate that experience with other governments in the region,” he underlined.

Asharq Al-Awsat interviewed the CEOs of Uber and Careem after Uber announced last month that it would pay $1.4 billion in cash and $1.7 billion in convertible notes in a deal that gives it full ownership of Careem. The deal is expected to be completed during the first quarter of 2020.

On whether Careem’s strategy to expand into new markets will continue after the deal, Sheikha emphasized that the company’s vision and strategy would remain the same.

“We continue to believe that the region is rich in opportunities, not only in transport but also in consumer services over the Internet. As we always say, we will redouble our efforts to provide transport services by developing solutions that suit the people of the region,” he stated.

Asked about the added value of the agreement, Uber CEO highlighted the importance of including “one of the most innovative companies in the Middle East” to the Uber family, as well as the great investment opportunities in the region.

“We have great faith in the potential of the region, which has a population of more than 600 million, including 65 percent under the age of 30,” Khosrowshahi said.

Asked about any change in the pricing policy of the two companies, Sheika noted that transportation services offered by Careem at the present time were suitable for only 2% of the population.

“This means that 98 percent of them are still unable to access the services of the company. Therefore, our main objective is to provide affordable services to make them accessible to all and to cover a large proportion of the population,” he stressed.

On Uber’s vision for the future transport industry, Khosrowshahi said: “Our dream is to integrate all means of transport together; whether it is by car or vehicle sharing.” He added that the company’s goal was to provide public transport; from buses, metro and trains, through the application.

He noted that auto-driving cars were a very important technology, in which Uber invests hundreds of millions of dollars.

“I think it will contribute to a safer and less expensive transport,” he said.

Asked about challenges facing the company, Uber CEO said: “The biggest challenge is to use technology capabilities to ensure that transport services are not only available to everyone and at reasonable prices; but, more importantly, they are also safe. This challenge, despite its size, is a great opportunity for us to move forward with our business.”

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