Careem Launches Ride-Hailing Service in Gaza City and Nablus

  • Uber rival in Middle East working with Palestinian Authority
  • Dubai-based company seeks to spur Palestinian innovation

A Careem Inc. driver waits for a customer in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on Dec. 12, 2017. 

Photographer: Asad Zaidi/Bloomberg

Ride-hailing company Careem Inc. expanded its services in Palestinian cities in a bid to create job opportunities for youths and encourage other regional businesses to invest in Palestinian areas.

Ibrahim Manna, managing director of emerging markets, said the company was working closely with the Palestinian Ministry of Transportation and other government officials. Services were added in Gaza City -- a first in the Hamas-run enclave -- and in Nablus in the West Bank.

Careem is Uber Technologies Inc.’s top rival in the Middle East. It made its initial Palestinian foray last year in Ramallah, a launch that was well-received by residents but antagonized regulators who said rules weren’t in place for the company’s business platform. In the region, Careem offers anyone with the right credentials and a driving license to apply to be trained and join its fleet.

Mohammad Hamadan, spokesman for the Transportation Ministry, said Careem was welcome to work with licensed and registered taxi drivers, and that the Dubai-based business had agreed to the terms. 

“We believe innovation is best delivered through partnership between the public and private sectors, which is why we are pleased to work with taxi drivers in Palestine as they are the backbone in the transportation sector, especially given their exceptional experience in providing transportation services in difficult and unstable conditions,” Manna said in a press release.

Careem is one of the most visible technology companies in the Middle East, a region drawing increased interest from investors. It is also the region’s only unicorn company, counting Rakuten Inc., Kingdom Holding Co., China’s Didi Chuxing and Daimler AG among its investors.

In its press release, Careem said it hopes to accelerate growth and innovation within Palestine, a market it believes to have significant untapped potential.

The Palestinian technology sector has more than doubled in value over the past decade, currently employs 8,500 people, and represents 5.6 percent of Palestinian gross domestic product, according to Portland Trust, a British non-profit whose mission is to promote peace and stability between Israelis and Palestinians through economic development.

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