Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has signed a deal with ride hailing app Uber to explore the introduction of cheaper journeys for customers that reduce the number of cars on the emirates’ roads.
Under the deal, Uber will be able to offer more than 14,000 RTA taxis and limousines through its app in a similar agreement to the one the authority signed with local rival Careem last year.
Although it is understood regular Dubai taxis will not be bookable through the Uber app.
“According to the agreement, Uber would deploy more than 14,000 taxis and limousines in Dubai via its smart App as per the laws governing the operation of taxis and limousines in Dubai emirate, highlighted by dealing with vehicles licensed for this type of business and chauffeurs trained on limo service, and working together to search and study the feasibility of finding an economic transit solution to support Dubai Vision 2021 and its innovative strategy,” HE Mattar Al Tayer, director general and chairman of the RTA.
The two will also conduct a six-month study that could see new vehicles deployed on Dubai’s roads, according to Uber Middle East regional manager Anthony Khouri.
“For the first three months, we will study the viability of more economical taxi solutions and in the next three months we will be piloting a few vehicles. If the study proves successful we are going to roll out the vehicles in six months,” he told Gulf News.
Khouri added that the partnership could lead to products including its UberPool ride sharing service and eventually driverless being introduced in the emirate.
To date both Uber and Careem have been prevented from offering cheaper journeys in Dubai by regulation requiring their services to charge 30 per cent more than traditional street taxis.
Despite this, Both Uber and Careem attracted funding from the region last year, with the former drawing $3.5bn from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and the latter closing the first part of a $500m funding round believed to value it at $1bn.
Careem also announced plans to test driverless pods in Dubai this year.