If you live in Abu Dhabi, you can now request an Emirati to drive you around in his or her luxurious car wherever you want to go within the UAE – and it will cost you the same as a government taxi!
Careem, in collaboration with ITC, has opened its doors to the first batch of Emirati “captains” who will be driving their own cars in either a full-time or a part-time capacity – depending on their convenience.
They drive comfortable, high-end cars including Range Rovers, Hyundai Genesis, Cadillac Escalade, and Nissan Patrol, among others.
All you need to do is download the Careem app, choose Go Emirati from the list of car options, and confirm your pickup.
What’s in it for Emiratis?
The initiative not only creates jobs for UAE nationals but also provides them with a flexible income even if they already have a job. The Emirati Captains can choose whenever they want to make themselves available on the Careem app and can earn money based on the rides.
Careem has processed more than 150 applications, with hundreds of UAE nationals including men and women still registering on the company’s portal drive.careem.com. The screening process is rigorous and includes a detailed application, interviews, character references, and background checks, including accidents, fines, and other aspects of their driving history. Emiratis have to be above 23 years of age and must have a minimum of five years of driving experience in order to meet the basic requirements of becoming a Careem captain.
Out of the hundreds of applications received, 14 Emiratis have acquired the necessary ITC clearances and permits. More than 30 others are being prepared to add to the fleet in the coming weeks. Eight UAE nationals have already begun picking up and dropping tourists, expats and nationals using the Careem app.
Abdulla Alamri is one of the new Careem Emirati Captains who holds a PhD degree, has a full-time job, and drives people around in his Nissan Patrol for two to three hours every evening.
"When a visitor arrives, I introduce him to my country, to my culture. I show him what we are doing here. We are in the "Year of Tolerance", so I speak about what this "tolerance" means and what's going on here. This is the first part of why I want to be a captain. The second part is that it is a good income for us. Yes, we are employed with good salaries, but if we can get something extra, then why not?" Abdullah Alamri said.
"When people expect a normal cab or a taxi and they see a nice car with an Emirati in Emirati clothing coming to pick them up, they start to ask about us and about this program. They take videos of us and our cars. Some people have even been here in the UAE for a long time but have not had the opportunity to talk with an Emirati due to their busy work environments. So, when they meet an Emirati local and talk to us, they begin to learn more about us," Alamri added.
In an effort to upskill its captains, Careem also conducts training sessions on how to use Careem technology; best driving practices; vehicle and road safety; and customer service. Careem offers all its captains additional benefits including support for applying for a vehicle, health insurance, personal finance training, and discounts on fuel and groceries.
Building a welcoming community
Not only does the GoEmirati initiative create jobs and churn the economy, but it also adds promise to UAE’s vision of economic diversification and socio-cultural integration.
“This is a major step towards supporting the transport sector in Abu Dhabi and offering new job opportunities for Emiratis who will now benefit from earning an income and serving their community at the same time. Together we will continue to invest in and leverage the advanced technology available to secure comfort and safety for our society,” said Mohammed Darwish Al Qamzi, General Manager of Integrated Transport Center.
The road forward …
AMEinfo spoke exclusively with Bassel Al Nahlaoui, Managing Director of Careem Gulf, about expansion plans, community initiatives, new ventures and more …
On expansion plans:
"We have a very long list of opportunities on our table that we are exploring. Yes, from having drivers on the platform all the way to having rental car services. At the end of the day, the way we look at it is that we put the customer first and we think of how we can serve them the best and how we can create synergies with the different services. That's how we prioritize what we work on and what we create."
On tapping into youth potential:
"This is a great ingredient for us. The region we look after is just over 600 million, from Pakistan to Morocco, up to Turkey and down to Sudan. The proportion of young people in the region is growing. What young people do well is to stay connected, which creates a better opportunity for us to serve them through our application. Today, it is ride-hailing, food, payments, but you can imagine a lot more verticals hopefully will be introduced soon."
On new venture with RTA Dubai:
"We will use
Careem technology and capabilites to dispatch taxis. That will be run by a separate private-public-partnership (PPP) company between Careem and the RTA. This will add convenience, reliability and comfort to the customers. Online payments will make the process smoother. We are hoping that we can bring the ETA time down to two minutes anywhere in Dubai."
"Our mission is simplifying and improving the lives of people. We are doing it by creating a platform that today acts as a marketplace between demand and supply. My ultimate goal is to create more options for customers."
On upskilling the community and competition:
"The One Million Arab Coders is just one of the many programs that we have decided to participate in. We are mentoring and giving internship opportunities to coders."
"We are also working towards the goal of building an organization that inspires. I don't think Careem will succeed if it's the only unicorn in this region. Our goal is to inspire entrepreneurs; to prove to local entrepreneurs in the region that they actually can build a unicorn. So we would also like to see a lot of our peers also build their companies and become the same size. Apart from being a role model, we also want to give back to the community through training, mentorship programs and more."
On helping the Pakistani community of UAE Careem drivers:
"We try to support in a lot of different areas. Sometimes it can vary from: how do we help them get better deals for their major costs – whether it's fuel, maintenance programs – but it can also involve better education for the captain's family and children. We are also working with the Pakistani government to see what kind of programs we can create to add even further value to our captains, other than the earnings and other benefits that we provide them."