Tried and tested: Uber vs Careem

Published October 12th, 2016 - 12:07 GMT
For years we relied solely on the government-run yellow cabs, but Uber and Careem have shaken up the market. (File photo)
For years we relied solely on the government-run yellow cabs, but Uber and Careem have shaken up the market. (File photo)

We've had a look at how people order food, now let's see how tech has influenced the way we get around. Owning a car is a luxury many can't afford, so we rely on the public transport network to navigate a very walker un-friendly city.

Amongst the metros, buses and trams on offer there are of course taxis. For years we relied solely on the government-run yellow cabs, but since the introduction of car booking apps Uber and Careem, the market has somewhat opened up.

Here we look at the services to compare and contrast our experiences therein.


In our opinion this is the pinnacle of how a car booking service should run. It's easy to download the app, you can use it anywhere in the world, in Dubai the cars and drivers are generally of the highest standard and it doesn't cost a million times more than a regular taxi.

What we find refreshing about Uber is the commitment to customer service. Cars are very nearly always five minutes or fewer away (a company goal is always to get to your door in under 300 seconds) and when they arrive drivers are friendly and communicative. The mapping technology at the drivers' disposal to get you to your destination is also unparalleled. No need for cash, no need for chat if you're feeling a bit tired, just tap, hail, sit and be chauffeured in, more often than not, a top of the range Lexus. Or you can order a helicopter if you're in a real hurry. Magic.


Pick-up: 3 mins
Distance covered: 11km
Time taken: 14 minutes
Price: Dhs34.82
Rating: 5/5


There are no two ways about it. Careem compared to Uber just seems a little underwhelming. Imagine you're looking forward to a nice long surprise weekend in Paris from your partner, but unfortunately got the wrong end of the stick and end up in Paris Gallery for most of Friday. Now Paris Gallery is still a nice place to be, but even they would be the first to admit it's not equivalent to strolling down the Champs Elysees.

The two services are pretty comparable in terms of what they offer. For now both only deal with limo cars (although Careem is set to change that). Cars tended to take longer to come and pick you up when we tried the app out. The app itself somehow isn't as slick either. It looks a bit economy to Uber's first class. It's also slightly more expensive. The base rate for a Careem economy car is Dhs9 whereas Uber's is Dhs8. The free cancellation period for Careem's cars after you book them is two minutes. Uber sets it at five minutes.

Overall both are similar, it is just the tinsel Uber provides that we prefer.


Time to pick-up: 7 minutes
Distance covered: 11km
Time taken: 17 minutes
Price: Dhs 37.76
Rating: 3/5


The old faithful yellow cabs. They have been getting us around for years. Either being hailed on the street or called for, they have eventually always picked us up and dropped us off in varying states of comfort. Let's say one thing for them, they are cheaper. An 11km journey costs under Dhs30. It's just getting the car to come and find you that can be a problem along with the lack of any navigation aid, besides the passenger's knowledge, if the destination is unknown. Not any more though. Careem has tied up with the RTA and soon all taxis will be available to app users as well as the Lexus limos. This can only be a more economical option, which we welcome.

By David Light

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