Uber-rival Careem expands services into Sudan

DUBAI (Reuters) – Middle East ride-hailing firm Careem said on Sunday it had started a service in Sudan, one of few international companies to enter the country since U.S. economic sanctions were lifted last year. Sudan is grappling with an economic crisis as a foreign currency shortage and an increasingly expensive black market for dollars weakened its ability to import and made prices soar. Careem, which said its services were now available in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, has hired 10 Sudanese employees and signed up hundreds of drivers to its app to launch operations. The company expects to have as many as 30 employees in Sudan and be present in at least one other city in the northeast African country by the end of the year. “My goal and aim is to cover as many (cities) as possible in the next one or two years,” Careem’s Managing Director for Emerging Markets Ibrahim Manna told Reuters by phone. Sudan has the potential to be one of Careem’s biggest markets in terms of number of trips taken due to the population size and demand for transportation services, he added. Careem will compete against several local ride-hailing apps, such as Tirhal, but not Uber Technologies itself, which does not operate in the country. Dubai-based Careem is Uber’s main Middle East rival, competing in most of the region’s major cities including Cairo, Dubai, and Riyadh. Last year it became the first ride-hailing firm to operate on the Israeli-occupied West Bank. [nL8N1K81VK] Careem plans to reinvest revenue earned in Sudan back into the country over the next two to three years as its grows its business there, Manna said. Remitting cash from Sudan can be difficult due to the country’s hard currency shortage. 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it had started a service in Sudan, one of few international companies to enter the country since U.S. economic sanctions were lifted last year.u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eSudan is grappling with an economic crisis as a foreign currency shortage and an increasingly expensive black market for dollars weakened its ability to import and made prices soar.u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eCareem, which said its services were now available in Sudanu0027s capital Khartoum, has hired 10 Sudanese employees and signed up hundreds of drivers to its app to launch operations.u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eThe company expects to have as many as 30 employees in Sudan and be present in at least one other city in the northeast African country by the end of the year.u003c/pu003enu003cpu003e”My goal and aim is to cover as many (cities) as possible in the next one or two years,” Careemu0027s Managing Director for Emerging Markets Ibrahim Manna told Reuters by phone.u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eSudan has the potential to be one of Careemu0027s biggest markets in terms of number of trips taken due to the population size and demand for transportation services, he added.u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eCareem will compete against several local ride-hailing apps, such as Tirhal, but not Uber Technologies itself, which does not operate in the country. u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eDubai-based Careem is Uberu0027s main Middle East rival, competing in most of the regionu0027s major cities including Cairo, Dubai, and Riyadh. Last year it became the first ride-hailing firm to operate on the Israeli-occupied West Bank. 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