Uber's Mideast Unit Says It's in Talks With Saudi to Ease Ride-Hailing Restrictions

A screen displays the company logo for Uber Technologies Inc. on the day of it's IPO at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 10, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Uber Technologies Inc's subsidiary in the Middle East, Careem, says it is in talks with authorities in Saudi Arabia to ease restrictions, including those that have limited driver numbers and led to long waits for rides.

The oil-rich kingdom in recent years has restricted driver jobs on ride-hailing platforms to citizens, while also limiting the types of cars that can be used, introducing new fees and hitting the companies with large retroactive tax bills.

Careem Chief Executive Mudassir Sheikha said that, due to the changes there, the Dubai-headquartered firm could not attract enough drivers to meet demand in the kingdom but he was confident a solution would be found relatively soon.

"We are in very collaborative discussions ... to see how we can loosen up some of those constraints in order for us to get the right amount of supply on board," he told press on Thursday.

Easing of rules on who could drive on the platform, on the types of cars that could be used and on pricing and taxes were all being discussed with authorities in the kingdom, he said.

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