Uber to introduce lightweight app for Middle East

30 January, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Dubai: Uber will soon launch its latest product, Uber Lite, throughout the Middle East, as the ride-hailing company intensifies its drive into the region ahead of its landmark initial public offering (IPO) later this year.

Facing stiff competition from local rival Careem, Uber is investing heavily in its Middle East and North African operations, the company’s fastest growing region globally, report agencies.

In a wide-ranging interview with members of the press, Uber’s new general manager in the region, Abdellatif Waked, said that the IPO would not affect the company’s growth in the Middle East, and it would continue to re-invest its profits across the Middle East.

He also described how the company is currently seeking to unblock one of the greatest challenges it faces: Smartphone penetration and accessing new customers.

“There’s a group of potential [customers] who find it difficult to download the app, whether it’s because of they don’t have a smartphone, or if the technology they have just doesn’t allow them to access Uber,” said Waked.

In response to this hurdle, Uber developed Uber Lite for its Indian operation. It is now rolling out the new app, which is — in digital terms — light as a feather at only 5 megabytes (mb), around the same size as a downloadable song, across the Middle East.

Already live in Lebanon, Qatar and Kuwait, the general manager said the app would be live across the region by the middle of 2019 at the latest.

“The app is designed to be very easy to use, it takes only four taps to get through the whole process, and works on any Android device, and with low network connectivity,” Waked said.

“We looked at what the challenges of people ordering Uber here in the region were, and we thought about potential solutions, and Uber Lite is one of the most innovative things we’ve done,” he added.

It would provide a lot more access to Uber across the region, Waked said.