Careem, which was acquired for $3.1 billion by Uber in March, will provide direct rides between Jeddah and the holy city of Mecca for SAR 25 ($6.70) each way, a distance covering about 85 km.
Wednesday 15, May 2019
(Bloomberg) –Dubai-based Careem Networks, is expanding it's Saudi Arabia operations with a bus-transport service tailored to the millions of religious pilgrims flocking to the Kingdom each year.
The Middle Eastern ride-hailing company which started a similar service in Egypt in December, has been expanding into mass transit and aims to offer bus routes throughout the region.
Careem also acquired Indian bus-shuttle app Commut in September 2018 and is also moving into other areas.
In Saudi Arabia, a goal is to capture traffic from religious visitors and residents of Saudi Arabia performing Umrah.
In a statement, Careem said that it will start with 13-seat buses and unlike Hajj, which occurs once a year, Umrah journeys can be taken year-round.
Saudi Arabia expects the number of visiting pilgrims, which makeup the vast majority of the country’s tourism industry, to jump to an annual 30 million by 2030 from eight million now.
The government is promoting the industry as part of a broader effort to lessen the Kingdom’s dependence on oil.
The Careem service will ultimately allow San Francisco-based Uber to further cement its presence in the Middle East’s biggest market and potentially counter any market drop-off from the perid Saudi Arabia lifted a ban on women driving in September 2017.
Careem has also branched out into into food and package deliveries, scheduled rides as well as credit transfers.