Dubai-based Careem starts Saudi bus service

A Careem Networks FZ driver waits for a ride-hailing customer while a Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) taxi drives past skyscrapers standing on the skyline beyond in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photographer: Christopher Pike/Bloomberg

Careem Networks FZ, the Dubai-based company recently acquired by Uber Technologies Inc. for $3.1 billion, started a bus service in Saudi Arabia as the ride-hailing firm expands into mass transport.

The company, which started a similar service in Egypt in December, will provide a direct ride between Jeddah on the Red Sea to the holy city of Mecca for 25 riyals ($6.7) each way. The distance between the two cities is about 85 kilometers (53 miles.)

The service aims to capture traffic from millions of religious visitors and residents of Saudi Arabia performing Umrah, Islam’s minor pilgrimage. It will start with 13-seat buses, Careem said in a statement.

Careem has also branched out into into food and package deliveries, scheduled rides as well as credit transfers. Uber announced the acquisition in March but the deal allows Careem to continue to operate as a standalone brand.