Ride hailing firm Uber has returned to Abu Dhabi, as local rival Careem expands its offering in the UAE capital.
Uber resumed service in the emirate with 50-100 cars from 12:30pm on Monday following positive talks with the Department of Transport.
The company said that Emiratis would be able to drive on the Uber app using their private vehicles on a full-time or part-time basis following the relaunch.
“We’re proud to announce the relaunch of Uber and bring our technology to all residents and visitors in the emirate,” said Uber Middle East regional manager Anthony Khoury.
“Abu Dhabi is a significant market for Uber and we’re delighted to serve as catalysts for economic growth, and for Emiratis to be able to drive on the Uber app using their private vehicles.”
Uber and rival Careem abruptly withdrew from the UAE capital in August 2016 following a regulatory crackdown. Careem resumed services the following December but Uber held back due in part to rules that meant ride apps would have to charge 30 per cent more than regular taxis.
The National reported these rules would still be in place for non-Emirati drivers but a new service being launched by Careem with Emirati drivers would be able to charge the same rates as taxis and an identical starting fare of Dhs12.
The Emirati driver option is expected to be available to customers from early next year, with Emirati nationals and the children of Emirati women both applicable for the roles if they are aged 23 or older and have a minimum of five years’ driving experience.
“Careem and TransAD are taking a bold step in enabling Emirati participation in the ride-hailing economy with their own private vehicles and at no premium to taxis,” Samir Satchu, senior director of government relations and public policy at Careem, told the publication.
Uber’s announcement appeared to indicate it would be launching a similar service.
Separately Uber is said to be continuing talks to acquire Careem with the hope of becoming the dominant platform across the Middle East and North Africa.