Egypt leading Careem’s Mideast covid-19 recovery
Uber’s Middle East subsidiary Careem posted its fastest recovery from the pandemic here in Egypt, Careem Egypt General Manager Haitham Essam told Enterprise. “We were able to reinstate 67% of operation rates, which is the highest recovery rate among the Arab world,” after seeing an 80% plunge in activity during the first wave of the pandemic, Essam said. Careem Egypt expects to recover to pre-covid activity levels in 2021, he said.
What the company did to nudge along the recovery: In response to the pandemic, Careem launched new transport options that ensure social distancing, such as Go Aman in Egypt, in which vehicles install a plastic shield between the driver and the passenger. Careem also slashed the prices of its standard Go services by 10% and — in response to the massive uptick in online shopping demand from Egyptians during the pandemic — tapped into last-mile delivery, as well product delivery services, Essam told us.
In the wider MENA region, Careem is forecasting a return to pre-pandemic business activity closer to the end of the year, after previously expecting a quicker recovery, CEO Mudassir Sheikha said in a year-end forecast, according to Reuters. While demand has slowed of late, the business “was nine times larger than at its lowest point last year” but still remained below its performance before the pandemic. Sheikha believes that what Careem may lose in margins in the short- to mid-term, it can make up for in volumes over time