By Jamie Goodwin
A source in Abu Dhabi said drivers had been detained over violations of regulations
As many as 50 drivers from Uber and Careem were detained in Abu Dhabi before the ride-hailing companies withdrew services in the UAE capital on Saturday evening, according to local media reports.
The suspension of service remains in place, with one Abu Dhabi source familiar with the situation telling Reuters that some drivers had been detained over violations of regulations, but did not specify how many drivers or describe the violations.
Christian Eid, vice-president of marketing and communications for Careem, a Dubai-based company, said many of its drivers were being stopped by authorities in Abu Dhabi, apparently over licensing issues, and as a result had become nervous and were staying off the roads. This had forced Careem to halt services there, he said.
“A few of our cars have been stopped by authorities in the capital,” said Eid, in a statement to Arabian Business.
“Until we have further clarification on the situation, Careem has decided to temporarily limit services in Abu Dhabi to avoid any inconvenience this may cause both our customers and captains.”
The companies were attempting to resume operations as soon as possible, according to a spokesperson from Uber.
"As you may know, Uber and Careem decided to suspend their operations due to unforeseen circumstances,” said the spokesperson.
“We want to let you know that this was a decision taken by both companies, and our goal is to resume operations in Abu Dhabi as soon as possible. Please note that Uber’s services in Dubai are running as usual, we will have more information on Abu Dhabi in the next two days."
Arabian Business attempted to contact Abu Dhabi government's Centre for Regulation of Transport by Hire Cars, the Abu Dhabi taxi regulator, by both email and through social media, on Sunday but received no reply.
The centre oversees about seven taxi operators and 18 limousine operators, some of which are partly government-owned.
Despite rumours that services would also be suspended in Dubai, both firms insisted they would continue to pick up passengers in the emirate.
Uber, which launched services in Abu Dhabi in 2013, said last year that the Middle East and North Africa contained some of its fastest-growing markets and that it planned to invest $250 million to expand in the region.
With input from Reuters