Ride Hailing ,

A brief overview of the ride hailing market in the Middle East

A brief overview of the ride hailing market in the Middle East

Updated on March 25, 2022
8 min read


The rise of Uber in 2009 has revolutionized the global taxi-hailing business. It allowed its customers to book a cab in a few clicks on their smartphones. As per statista, revenue in the ride-hailing segment will grow at approximately 461 million USD in 2020. From this, we can say that the taxi-hailing industry would be going to see massive growth.


After witnessing a huge potential in the taxi-hailing business, various players are looking for creating the best ride-hailing solution for their startups. The ease of booking and enhanced passenger comfort is also the key reasons for this growth.

Why is there a demand for ride-hailing businesses in the Middle East?

Middle East countries have attracted the attention of the global ride-hailing industry due to its reputation of being a center of economic development. The tourism industry is the fastest growing industry in the Middle East. As per statista, the total contribution of the travel and tourism sector is estimated at around 486.1 billion US dollars (approx.) by 2028. With such remarkable growth in the tourism sector, it has become easy for the ride-hailing business to reap the profits.

The presence of technical centers, businesses, entertainment hubs has created immense opportunities for the ride-hailing business of the Middle East. Due to this, the population is increasing in the country. This tremendous growth in the population of the Middle East has also created traffic issues.

The government of the Middle East is also working on improving the regulations for taxi-hailing operators to cope with traffic congestion and increasing demand in the tourism sector.

Let us get more information about the current players and their position in the taxi business of the Middle East.

Who are the key players in the ride-hailing business of the Middle East, and where do they stand?

The acquisition of the ride-hailing company Careem has tremendously disrupted the taxi industry. But there are also other players in the taxi-hailing market of the Middle East.

Let us look at the key players in the ride-hailing business of the Middle East :

Careem is operating in more than a hundred cities across fourteen countries and has created more than one million opportunities in the region.

Talixo offers you to choose from options like economy cars, business cars, and luxury cars. Each service level comes in smaller and larger size cars fitting up to 7 passengers.

Bolt is another taxi-hailing app in the Middle East. The rides offered by Bolt are in real-time, which means you cannot book the taxi in advance. As Bolt uses the surge pricing method, its fare will keep fluctuating as per the demand.

Uber is offering services in Dubai in four verticals which are as follows :

  • Uber black offers you a high-end luxury sedan with a seating capacity of up to 4 persons.
  • Uber Taxi is a traditional taxi-hailing service offered by Uber in Dubai.
  • Uber X is an economy taxi service of Uber that comes with a seating capacity of up to 4 persons.
  • Uber XL possesses a seating capacity of 6 persons.

Launched in 2014, Otaxi is the fastest-growing ride-hailing service in Oman. It offers a hassle-free service to its customers 24*7. It develops innovative tax-hailing solutions for its customers.

Read More: Expand your business beyond ride-hailing with a Super App

How will the acquisition of Careem by the uber affect the ride-hailing business in the Middle East?

The acquisition of Careem by Uber is the biggest deal in the Middle East, and it will drive further development in the region’s ride-hailing business.

The Middle East regions have a strong inclination towards their local brands. It might not be simple for an international player to enter the Middle East market. But, Uber has created an open culture towards accepting international brands in the Middle East with the acquisition of Careem. This acquisition will allow young entrepreneurs to explore the possibility of developing a ride-hailing app in the future.

The reputation and the brand value that Careem has built over the years will also help Uber to earn huge profits in the future.

This merger will be going to raise the fares in the future as no other option for taxi-hailing is currently available.

People will get enhanced ride-hailing services as both Careem and Uber will be the big players in the MENA region. Both companies have been offering improved services and advanced features. But this merger will also raise immense pressure on these companies as the customer expectations will be going to raise.

Careem has also partnered with the Visa for boosting the digital payments for its captains. With these mergers with Visa, Careem will cope up with the issues that occurred due to the coronavirus pandemic. This partnership will facilitate the Careem captains to access the earnings of their daily trips in real-time. They will also be allowed to transfer funds directly to their bank accounts. Captains can also access to the cheaper modes of money remittances from anywhere in the world.

Uber has planned to offer an IPO in 2019. Uber used to be inconsistent with laws, so this merger of Uber with Careem can be an effective strategy to change its image, which would be going to help Uber at the times of IPO.

Why has Careem withdrawn itself from Oman?

Careem has started its ride-hailing operations in Oman in 2017, but the government has shut down its business and told the company to work with the licensed taxis first. After then, Careem has partnered with Marhaba Taxi to provide its taxi services in Oman in 2018.

Careem is going to withdraw its operations in Oman from February due to the lack of a proper regulatory framework needed for a healthy investment environment. But Marhaba Taxi will continue to work as per its license norms.

The ride-hailing scenario in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has the most developed and integrated transportation ecosystem. It also has the most diversified mobility services in the region. Diversification of mobility has become a top-notch priority for the government authorities of Saudi Arabia. That’s why they are planning to invest extensively in the transportation industry.

As per statista, the revenue in the taxi-hailing business of Saudi Arabia will grow at 1,061 million dollars (approx.) in 2020. User penetration will reach at 28.5 percent approximately by 2024. The expected annual growth rate (CAGR) in the period of 2020-2024 will be 16.6 percent.

The Saudi Arabian government has lifted its ban on driving taxis for women. Due to this, the ride-hailing business of Saudi Arabia is witnessing a tremendous increase in the workforce with the growing participation of women in it. As per statista, the number of female drivers in Saudi Arabia will be more than 800 thousand (approximately) in 2020.

Many women are becoming part-time taxi drivers to support their studies or family. Such inclusion of women in the taxi-hailing business indicates an evolution in the social attitudes of the citizens of Saudi Arabia.

Recently the government of Saudi Arabia has announced to restrict the entry of foreign nationals in the taxi business. The government took this step to decrease unemployment in their country.

The ride-hailing apps are riding the economy of Bahrain

Getting a taxi in Bahrain is a tough task for its residents and tourists, which is the reason behind the rise of taxi-hailing apps in Bahrain. Let us look at the key players in the taxi business of Bahrain :

Arabiantaxi is a joint initiative of the Economic Development Board of Bahrain and Bahrain Development Bank. It offers various employment opportunities to Bahraini women and men. It will develop public transport in Bahrain.

Orange Taxi Bahrain is the group of experienced taxi drivers providing white and orange taxis. Its drivers speak different languages like English, Hindi, Persian, Urdu, Russian, Thai, etc.,

Al Bader Car is a chauffeur driver taxi-hailing service that provides luxurious limousine cars to its customers. It also gives his services in cities like Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, Ras Tanoura, etc.

So, these are some of the key players in the taxi-hailing of Bahrain. The shortage of taxi-hailing services is a vast opportunity to expand your taxi-hailing business in Bahrain. You will surely be going to reap the profits in this country if you are ready to provide your services to a large number of customers.

Wrapping Up

The reception of new-age vehicles is going to disrupt the taxi industry in the Middle East in the upcoming years. The merger of Careem and Uber has created an opportunity for various countries to exchange their ideas and cultures without any hesitation.

Thus the traditional taxi-hailing service providers need to improve themselves to stay competitive in the long term. The Government authorities in the Middle East need to chart out the suitable regulatory frameworks to facilitate this new wave of taxi-hailing solutions to cater needs of consumers. If handled wisely, this disruption in the taxi-hailing business could result in a new kind of harmony in the troubled mobility playing field.

I hope this blog has provided you with enough insights for a profitable business decision. Keep reading this space for more such information like this.


Mushahid Khatri

Mushahid Khatri is the Chief Executive Officer of Yelowsoft, one of the leading taxi dispatch and on-demand delivery solution providers. He is a visionary leader who believes in imparting his profound knowledge that is leaned on business and entrepreneurship.

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