Earlier today, it emerged that Uber is in preliminary talks with rival Careem to combine their Middle Eastern ride-hailing services. The companies have discussed a number of potential deal structures, but are yet to finalise details of an agreement.
We spoke to a selection of Dubai residents to find out what they think about the possibility of a merger between the San Francisco firm and the Middle East’s best-known unicorn.
Nathan, 36, teacher
“I’m not really bothered about a potential merger, but I only use Uber. I ultimately don’t think it would affect the service that I receive, because Uber is the bigger of the two companies, and so they’re more likely to make their mark on Careem rather than the other way around.”
Adam, 43, IT manager
“I don’t think that their levels of service differ that much. Generally speaking, I think these kinds of mergers and consolidation activities happen during times when businesses are suffering, like the aftermath of the 2008 banking crisis – banks were either merged with other banks, or swallowed up by others. Careem had a well-publicised data breach recently, which may have impacted their business, and for Uber to swallow up their only non-government competitor would be a good move for them.
“On the flipside, I believe Careem has had a lot of capital pumped in by venture capitalists, who usually expect to cash in and get their returns over a 3-5 year period, so before the brand reputation suffers any further, they probably want to activate their exit plan. My opinion is that for Dubai, there is already a lack of choice with consumer transportation providers being mainly either RTA Taxis, Careem or Uber. In the interests of the consumer, I would prefer that this didn’t happen.”
Sarah, 31, HR manager
“If Uber and Careem merged then it would effectively create a monopoly, and they could charge pretty much what they liked. It’s been great to see Careem stand out as one of the region’s freshest tech companies, and it would be a shame to see them hand that legacy over to a company that doesn’t have the best reputation for corporate responsibility.”
Ameer, 25, estate agent
“I don’t have a dog in this race – but for what it’s worth I see parallels between this and the Souq-Amazon deal, which I wasn’t necessarily a fan of. For better or worse, global players like Uber will always lead the market over regional start-ups.”
Christina, 33, air hostess
“A merger wouldn’t be a good idea, in my humble opinion. I’m a bigger fan of Careem – the interface is better and customer service is great, plus its partnership with Emirates Skywards is a bonus. I think the interesting development is whether DiDi Chuxing makes a play in the region.”