Dubai's Careem starts bus service in Saudi Arabia, eyeing umrah pilgrims
- 16 May 2019
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The ride-hailing company Careem has launched a bus-booking service in Saudi Arabia, catering mainly to the millions of pilgrims visiting the kingdom each year.
According to the Dubai-based company, which was recently bought by US-based Uber Technologies for $3.1 billion, its goal is to capture traffic from religious visitors and Saudi residents performing the umrah. Unlike the haj, which occurs once a year, umrah journeys can be taken all year round.
Careem will provide direct rides between Jeddah and Makkah for 25 riyals ($6.70) each way, a distance of about 85 kilometres (53 miles). Users of the Careem Bus app can select their pick-up and drop-off location and track the bus along dedicated routes. The service will start with 13-seat buses.
The holy sites of Makkah and Medina attract millions of pilgrims every year and form a major component of Saudi Arabia's non-oil economy as well as the tourism industry. According to the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, plans are underway for the 2030 season with the aim of targeting 30 million pilgrims.
Careem had announced plans to introduce a bus-booking service in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in December 2018, when it launched a similar service in Egypt.
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