Uber in UAE operating in legal vacuum


Uber in UAE operating in legal vacuum

Dubai - Company forced to partner with limo companies in the UAE.


Mustafa Al Zarooni

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Published: Thu 22 Oct 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 22 Oct 2015, 6:30 PM

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai and Uber - a private company that offers transportation to customers through a smart app - are yet to find a solution for the company to operate in the emirate within the country's legal framework.

Uber at a glance
> Launched in Dubai in September 2013
> 25 employees in UAE (as at January 2015)
> Online taxi service available only in Dubai and Abu Dhabi
> 80% of its business comes from residents and the rest from tourists
> 1,000 plus partner drivers in the UAE
> 1,000 plus trips every day > Offers two services in the UAE - premium Uber Black and low-cost Uber X
> Minimum fare for Uber Black is Dh20 and for Uber X it is Dh13
> Fare for Uber Black is Dh1.9 per km and 30 fils per minute, while for Uber X it is Dh1.75 per km and 30 fils per minute
Dubai does not permit Uber to operate since there are no specific legislations governing such companies in the emirate.
Uber operates here by hiring drivers of registered limousine companies in the country. This, however, contradicts the policy followed by the company around the world of employing qualified individuals with private cars to offer hassle-free rides to interested passengers.
The RTA has said legislations to govern such companies will come into effect next year.
Karima Berkani, marketing manager of Uber, told Khaleej Times that Dubai is the only city in the world where its fare is much higher than those of local taxis. She said the company had to partner with some limousine companies - and not individuals as usually done in other countries - since prevailing rules prevent individuals from taking up such jobs.
"The UAE is the only country in the Gulf that does not let individuals to work with us," said Berkani.
In a meeting she had with the RTA recently, the authority made it clear that it cannot approve the company's service as the rules governing employment visas are "very clear". It is not possible for individuals to take up multiple jobs at the same time, she was told.
Berkani expressed "astonishment" at the fact that the UAE does not allow companies "like ours" that use smart applications to start a business in the country.
Read: Emiratis don't mind working as Uber chauffeurs
The UAE, she said, is considered to be one of the most advanced countries in the Mena region in terms of technology and innovation.
Uber's market value is worth $51 billion, Berkani noted, adding that the company specialises in smart applications, and the private taxi services it offers.

She said Uber is registered in the Dubai Internet City and licensed by Tecom.
"We have contracted with many limousine companies here," she said. She clarified that Uber provides customers with a safe and reliable ride as the company keeps a record of drivers, who need to get a 'letter of good conduct' from a competent authority and have a clean police record.
Additionally, Uber customers can post their feedback about chauffeurs through the company's smart application.
Uber can operate in Dubai from next year
Adel Shakri, director of planning and business development at the RTA's Public Transport Agency, said the authority cares about the convenience of passengers. The authority also cares about Dubai's reputation. The RTA, he said, is keen on introducing services such as those offered by Uber as per best international standards.
The RTA is studying the company and the services it renders, he added. Shakri said: "The RTA has conducted studies and put in place legislations that will let companies like Uber operate in the emirate from next year.
"The RTA is studying the ... latest developments in offering smart services, which provide convenience to residents and visitors to the emirate of Dubai."

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