The companies have suspended their operations after 50 driver were arrested over the weekend
Ride hailing companies Uber and Careem have suspended their services in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, due to “unforeseen circumstances” that the companies had to face with the regulators. However, both the companies hope to resume their operations soon in the region.
The services were suspended after 50 drivers were arrested by local authorities over the weekend. It wasn’t clear why the drivers were arrested and according to “an operations manager whose company provides limousine services to Uber and Careem," the authorities haven’t said why the arrests took place nor have they allowed company officials to meet or speak to the drivers.
According to a report by Reuters, some of the drivers were been arrested over breach of regulations. Careem VP Marketing and Communications, Christian Eid said that its drivers have been arrested by local authorities due to licensing issues. He further added that the company has decided to temporarily suspend its operations in Abu Dhabi due to "nervousness and lack of clarity" over the arrests.
Uber and Careem both launched their operations in UAE back in 2013. Although the companies have suspended their services in Abu Dhabi, they are still operating in Dubai, which is a hotspot for tourism. The Abu Dhabi Police and Center of Regulation of Transport for Hire Cars have not responded to queries about the arrest of the drivers.
UAE has strong regulations for ride companies that operate in the country including the pricing mechanism. Companies can only hire licensed drivers from the 18 registered limousine services and they have to keep their prices in accordance with limousine services. Moreover, ride hailing companies cannot directly compete with taxi companies in the country.
Uber has already identified the Middle East as a strong potential market. It believes that it’s one of the fastest growing markets in the world and has plans to invest more than $250 million in the region to improve its services and add more cars to its fleet in the region.
With the Middle East getting tourists from all around the world, excluding Syria and Iraq obviously, it gives an added advantage to riders who can use the Uber app in the same manner they use it in their countries to book a ride.