Being Uber in 2015

The Uber model is quite simple, ‘push a button, get a ride.’ So simple, in fact, that it has spawned similar businesses across the world. The ‘Uber’ of food delivery, the ‘Uber’ of laundry, the ‘Uber’ of logistics, the ‘Uber’ of the Middle East…and the list goes on. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all, but we like to think that nothing is really as good as the original, and this is why we are summing up what being ‘Uber’ means to us.


Everything we do at Uber is about improving efficiency and reliability. We often get asked the question of why we don’t offer prebooking. For us, we strive to be so reliable that at any given point you open the app, you can get a car within minutes. With that kind of efficiency and reliability, who needs pre-booking? Besides, pre-booking is inherently inefficient for both the rider and the driver. When a driver is prebooked, he is not able to work for a set duration of time before the booking to ensure that he is at the pickup location on time. And if the rider is running late, whether it is a flight delay or a meeting running into overtime, that is additional time the driver has to wait, and therefore inefficient. And because all of this extra time has to be taken into account, the rider has to pay a premium for pre-booking. In short, more efficiency means lower prices for riders. This year, we have dropped the average ETA (the estimated time of arrival) to under 5 minutes across all MENA cities we operate in. In some of our cities, like Cairo, we are even as low as three minutes. As we build a larger network of drivers, thus increasing efficiency and reliability, ‘prebooking’ could be a thing of the past!


Fast, reliable customer service is at the core of what we do. Our technology helps us respond to any feedback directly on our platform. It eliminates the need to scramble for a phone number or being put on hold waiting for a representative to pull up the trip. The moment our customer service team receives a feedback form from a rider, they have all the info at hand (route, driver info) to respond making our customer service super efficient. On average, our response time for non-urgent feedback is less than 3 hours. Call centres are also incredibly expensive as they are often outsourced. Proper support online helps reduce inefficient additional spend and ultimately helps make trips more affordable. This is in addition to the safety features we have built into the app such as ‘Share my ETA’ which allows you to share your route in real time with family and friends.


By focusing on making our product as efficient and reliable as possible, our goal is to make the Uber product and experience accessible to everyone. We realize that different cities and different people require different ways to pay for their ride. To meet their needs and the needs of the cities, we are testing cash as a payment method in KSA and Cairo. In addition, the more efficient and reliable Uber becomes, and as more and more riders and drivers join Uber, the more affordable it becomes. In fact, Uber is the most affordable app-based ride service in every city we operate in across the region. Of course, we couldn’t be here without our loyal riders, driver partners and the cities as a whole. We are proud of what we have done in 2015 and excited about what 2016 has in store!

Jambu Palaniappan

Regional General Manager

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