Dubai-based ride-hailing service Careem, which is backed by Uber, has announced that it will cease its operations in Qatar with immediate effect from 28 February 2023.
The announcement came as a surprise, particularly given the country’s recent hosting of the 2022 World Cup. Careem played an important role in Qatar’s World Cup by expanding its fleet in the country by 50% in November, while growing its business in neighboring Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Careem also offered inter-country round-trip rides from Saudi Arabia and the UAE to Qatar for the soccer tournament, which allowed customers to travel to matches by car across the Gulf. However, despite Uber’s acquisition of Careem in 2019, the ride-hailing app’s business in Qatar is not owned by Uber.
According to Uber, the two companies operate independently, with Careem focusing on its “Super App” which offers food delivery, groceries, cleaning services, bike rentals, and electronic payments. Careem’s operations in Qatar began in 2013 in the capital city, Doha, and initially only offered ride-only services, but later expanded to include food delivery services last February.
The company has played a significant role in the region’s transportation sector, operating in over 80 cities and 10 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Morocco.
It was established in 2012 by co-founder and CEO Mudassir Sheikha, and has grown from a Dubai-based ride-sharing company to a “Super App” platform, which is used across the Middle East.
The company has also been a game-changer for many women in the region, pushing to hire female “captains” in Saudi Arabia when it became legal for women to drive in 2018.
While Careem’s exit from Qatar may be seen as a blow to the country’s transportation sector, it remains to be seen how this will affect Qatar’s economy in the long run.
Careem has expressed pride in having served customers and captains in Qatar and contributed to the growth of the Qatari economy. However, the company’s departure may create an opportunity for other ride-hailing services to fill the void left by Careem’s exit.