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Uber: luxury car pickup app launches in Abu Dhabi

  |  December 3, 2013

A handout photo of the service offered by Uber (Courtesy: Uber)
A handout photo of the service offered by Uber (Courtesy: Uber)

A car pickup app, which launches in the capital tomorrow, guarantees a luxury ride within 10 minutes of booking one.

It's midnight on a weekend and you are stranded on Saadiyat Island, waiting almost an hour for a taxi to take you home. Not an unfamiliar situation to be in.

A technology driven company, which launches in the capital tomorrow, promises it will get you a ride in not more than 10 minutes, albeit at a higher cost.

Uber, the mobile application company that launched its Middle East operations with their Dubai service in September, is expanding to Abu Dhabi this month.  The web-based start-up links passengers directly to drivers in the area they are based in.

It began in California in 2009 and now runs in  60 cities and 22 countries around the world. “We have seen such a growth in demand in Dubai that Abu Dhabi had to be our next stop,” says Sebastien Wakim, the general manager for Uber, Abu Dhabi.

“We saw a demand from people who commute between Dubai and Abu Dhabi and decided it was an essential market. “There city is opening up, with Saadiyat and Yas Island and people need convenient, reliable and safe options to move around.”

What do you have to do?

It is as simple as signing up for any application that can be downloaded on a smartphone, he says. “We use technology to connect users to the driver. The driver has the application to receive a request from a passenger and the user uses their smartphone to track the whereabouts of the driver.

You register for the service with contact information and credit card details and can book transport for pick up and drop off anywhere in the city. Wakim says the wait time is between five and 10minutes, depending on the location and route taken.

Passengers can view background details of the driver and monitor the time and location he is at.

They are picked up in a black Lexus, Mercedes or Audi and are offered water before the journey begins. There is no physical payment involved, as the amount, along with a tip for the driver, is deducted from the passenger's credit card. A journey can cost between Dh50 and Dh70, which is more than the taxi fare for the same distance.

The company is only a facilitator tied up to other providers, and does not own the cars and drivers hired. “But users can send in complaints if they are dissatisfied with the service and we  respond within 24 hours,” says Wakim. Drivers, quality of service and the cleanliness of the car can be rated through the app.

In countries where the service has been operational for a few years, more choices are available, such as a motorcycle, taxi or the type of car they prefer. Wakim says those options are driven by demand and and it was too early to offer them in UAE. “We are studying ideas and would like to provide our services in the other emirates in the future.”

For more information about the app, visit: www.uber.com/cities/abu-dhabi