ECONOMY

Uber and Careem banned from airport pickup in Saudi Arabia

A Saudi woman shows the Careem app on her mobile phone in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 2, 2017. (File photo: Reuters)

Picking up passengers from airports using private cars or ride-hailing services such as Uber and Careem is considered a traffic violation that is punishable by law, according to the General Directorate of Traffic.

Saudis using private vehicles are also banned from picking up passengers at the airport.

Uber and Careem are banned from operating at the airport, spokesman of the General Directorate of Traffic Col. Tareq Al-Rubaiaan was quoted as saying by Al-Madina Arabic daily on Wednesday.

Airports are under the jurisdiction of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA). They have their own rules of taxi operation at the airport, he said.

Col. Al-Rubaiaan said the Traffic Department will punish illegal taxi drivers found transporting passengers to or from the airport.

Of late Uber and Careem have made big inroads in Saudi Arabia thanks to mostly women passengers.

Women account for around 80 percent of Uber and Careem’s passengers, the companies say.

Saudi Arabia hopes its plan to bring 1.3 million more women into the workforce by 2030 will be given a lift from ride-hailing apps Uber and Dubai-based rival Careem.

The Kingdom has invested in both companies. Saudi sovereign wealth fund put $3.5 billion into Uber in June 2016, while Saudi Telecom Co. announced on Dec. 18 that it bought 10 percent of Careem for $100 million.

The state investment is partly aimed at bolstering the employment of Saudi youths. The Ministry of Transportation in November said Uber and Careem must “limit the jobs to Saudi nationals.”

“The percentage of Careem captains who are Saudi has jumped from effectively zero to 60 percent in the last 12 months, and we aim to employ 70,000 Saudis by end 2017,” Abdullah Elyas, co-founder of Careem, has been quoted as saying.

Uber and Careem say they will create up to 200,000 jobs for Saudi men in the next two years.

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Last Update: Thursday, 2 March 2017 KSA 12:42 - GMT 09:42
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