Uber and Careem Drivers are banned from Airport Pickups in Saudi Arabia

Not have a car and need to go somewhere? Can’t find a taxi nearby or can’t trust the taxi driver? Have to reach on-time? No problem! You can now book an online taxi, which will arrive at your footstep and drop you off at the place of your destination at very reasonable fares.  Yes, Uber and Careem are multi nation organizations providing ride-hailing services. Careem is a Dubai based service provider currently working in 10 countries while Uber is an American based taxi booking organization having an extensive network in a number of countries.[irp]

Uber and careem operations have grown in the Middle East. People, especially women are availing its services with great joy and comfort. As females of Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive themselves, such services are in great demand by them. According to these companies, 80% of their passengers are females. It has, therefore, a tendency to reap the Vision 2030. the vision 2030 aims at bringing 1.3 million additional females into the workforce. These females can avail these ride-hailing applications as a mean of transportation. Uber and careem have been able to provide a large number of employment opportunities for the young ones.  And in the state where we are facing a roll on in unemployment, these organizations seem to help cope up with the problem.

Careem was initially appointing expatriates; however, since last year, the percentage of Saudi drivers have grown from about zero to 60%. By the end of 2017, Careem aims at employing about 70,000 drivers who are Saudis; this information has been disclosed by the co-founder of Careem, Mr.  Abdullah Elyas.  Uber and careem together are ambitious to employ Saudi nationals as drivers and boost up the employment of young Saudis.

In November 2016, they have been guided by the ministry of transportation to limit job opportunities for Saudis.  The state has invested in both organizations to enhance employment rates. $3.5 billion has been invested in Uber by Saudi sovereign wealth fund while 10% of Careem shares worth $100 had been bought by Saudi Telecom cooperation.

Uber and Careem together are ambitious to create 200,000 jobs for Saudis in coming two years. However, the Saudi law has imposed restrictions on the use of Uber and Careem. One is not allowed to use their services at airports. So, if you had been booking taxis online to be picked up from the airport, you cannot use it now. One is also restricted from using private cars for picking up the passengers from the airport.

General Directorate of traffic has declared it is an act of violation of traffic rules. Therefore, not only Uber and Careem are banned from picking up the passengers from the airport; also, the Saudis using private vehicles are prohibited from picking up passengers from the airport. Col. Al-Rubaiaan declared that anyone found involved in not practicing the law, shall face punishment according to rules.[irp]

Both organizations are playing an important role in the social and economic uplift of the society. The government is well aware of their contribution, but rules are to be followed. They can operate country wide but not the airports as Airports are under the jurisdiction of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) and have their own laws.

Source. Saudi Gazette