UAE’s Careem hires over 200 staff as part of recovery

UAE’s Careem hires over 200 staff as part of recovery
During the peak of the pandemic, Careem, which is best known for its ride-hailing service, said the number of rides it carried out dropped by around 80%. (Social media)
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Updated 14 June 2021

UAE’s Careem hires over 200 staff as part of recovery

UAE’s Careem hires over 200 staff as part of recovery
  • Dubai-headquartered app predicts full recovery by end of 2021

DUBAI: Careem, the Dubai-based app owned by Uber, has hired over 200 staff in the last year as it begins to rebound from the economic impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

During the peak of the pandemic, Careem, which is best known for its ride-hailing service, said the number of rides it carried out dropped by around 80 percent.

It announced in May 2020 that it had laid off 536 employees, representing 31 percent of its workforce, describing the recovery period at the time as “alarmingly unknown.”

But in the last year, Careem has pivoted from a purely ride-hailing app to what it describes as a “super app,” offering additional services such as grocery delivery,
courier services, and payment facilities, and it has begun actively hiring new employees.

“Post that restructuring we continue to invest in our people, so we’re hiring and we’re growing, predominantly in the tech side of our organization, so engineering, data and AI (artificial intelligence), fintech (financial technology) and product,” Ruth Fletcher, senior vice president of people at Careem, told Arab News.

“As our super app journey has developed, obviously the requirement for these skills has continued to grow and that’s the mainstay of our growth efforts right now.” A Careem spokesperson confirmed that the company currently has around 1,400 employees, meaning it has hired just over 200 staff since May 2020 but still has some way to get back to its pre-pandemic level of around 1,700.

FASTFACTS

• Careem was founded in July 2012 and operates in over 100 cities in 13 countries in the Middle East.

• In March 2019, it was announced that Careem was being bought by international rival Uber as part of a $3.1 billion deal.

Mudassir Sheikha, CEO and co-founder of Careem, said the development and expansion of the super app meant a change in the types of roles needed.

“There has been a transformation from a ride-hailing business to a super app, and that’s a transformation that’s quite technical in nature, and we’re still in the early stages of that transformation. So we’re heavily recruiting in certain parts of the business,” he added.

In an interview with the Arab News program “Frankly Speaking” in February, Sheikha said some areas of the company had begun to see strong growth, and the company was looking forward to a full recovery to pre-pandemic business levels by the end of 2021.

“From the depths of that crisis, we’ve actually recovered quite strongly. If you look at the mobility of people business, which moves people from point A to point B, it has grown 10 times from that point,” he added. 

“The ‘mobility of things’ business — the delivery business — didn’t get impacted as much, to begin with, and that has grown four times. Even our nascent Careem Pay business — the ‘mobility of money’ as we call it — has doubled in size. So the businesses have recovered strongly from that low point.”

When asked by Arab News last week if this forecast is still in place, Sheikha said Careem is “still on track for that projection.”

Careem was founded in July 2012 and operates in over 100 cities in 13 countries in the Middle East.

In March 2019, it was announced that Careem was being bought by international rival Uber as part of a $3.1 billion deal.


Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO

Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO
Updated 19 May 2022

Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO

Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO

DUBAI: Mohamed Khammas, CEO of Al Ahli Holding Group, said that startup businesses are an excellent opportunity for investment in venture capital funds and microfinance banks.

During an interview with Arab News at the Top CEO event in Dubai, Khammas Mohamed Khammas, CEO of Al Ahli Holding Group, highlighted that startups are a good investment idea because the “ticket size is smaller, and the product ranges are higher.”

Khammas pointed out the risks that arise for startups are not in their early stages but rather when they become successful.

“The challenge is not when they’re trying to have a major impact on the economy; the problems occur when they become successful. All of those are calculated risks,” he said.

Khammas continued to add that regardless of these risks, investing in new, innovative startups is “absolutely the best opportunity.”

Also, during his talk at the event, Khammas  urged banks to fund new and innovative products and ideas in the area after he shed light on how banks are hesitant to invest in creative ideas.


Futurist says ‘virtual economies are already worth $130bn'

Futurist says ‘virtual economies are already worth $130bn'
Updated 19 May 2022

Futurist says ‘virtual economies are already worth $130bn'

Futurist says ‘virtual economies are already worth $130bn'
  • Investing in video games more rewarding than Metaverse: Raford

DUBAI: Even though the business world is increasingly fascinated by the Metaverse, Noah Raford, futurist-in-chief and chief of Global Affairs at Dubai Future Foundation, claimed games, Web3 and virtual economies is where the smart money is.

While speaking at the Top CEO event in Dubai, Raford argued that people should invest in video games, as it is the only successful digital economy so far.
In a statement to Arab News a day after the event, he said: “The metaverse has extraordinary potential and Dubai is moving rapidly to take advantage of it. Virtual assets and digital economies are a huge growth area. There is a lot of hype and wasted investment, but the best examples at the moment are video games and in-game virtual economies – especially connected to NFTs & Web3.”
Fady Kassatly, partner of Enterprise Solutions and Cloud, KPMG, said the Metaverse is nothing but the next evolution, which will make people live differently.

He also added the Metaverse is going to evolve quickly in different directions, and this is just the beginning of the journey.

On his part, Philippe Blanchard, founder of Futurous, stated the Metaverse will change the relationship between humans and nature.

Predicting an inevitable Metaverse future, Valerie Hawley, director of Sorbonne Center for Artificial Intelligence, said every business will look at the Metaverse space and consider using it in the coming years.

She also added the Metaverse is a projection of the world that humans would like to live in.


Egypt’s central bank, citing inflation, hikes interest rates 200 bps

Egypt’s central bank, citing inflation, hikes interest rates 200 bps
Updated 19 May 2022

Egypt’s central bank, citing inflation, hikes interest rates 200 bps

Egypt’s central bank, citing inflation, hikes interest rates 200 bps

CAIRO: The Central Bank of Egypt on Thursday raised its overnight interest rates by 200 basis points, seeking to contain inflation expectations after prices soared by their quickest in three years.

The bank’s Monetary Policy Committee increased the deposit rate to 11.25 percent from 9.25 percent and the lending rate to 12.25 percent from 10.25 percent, it said in a statement accompanying the decision.

It cited an increase in annual urban inflation to 13.1 percent in April from 10.5 percent in March, its highest since May 2019.

Prices were pushed up in part by a currency depreciation and higher wheat prices after the Ukraine crisis, the statement added.

“The MPC decided that raising policy rates is necessary to contain inflationary pressures which is consistent with achieving price stability over the medium term,” it said.

“The elevated annual headline inflation rate will be temporarily tolerated relative to the CBE’s pre-announced target” of between 5 percent and 9 percent before declining after the fourth quarter, it said.

Eighteen analysts polled by Reuters had expected the bank to raise the median deposit rate to 11 percent and its lending rate to 12.25 percent.


Eight injured in S. Korea’s S-Oil Ulsan refinery

Eight injured in S. Korea’s S-Oil Ulsan refinery
Updated 19 May 2022

Eight injured in S. Korea’s S-Oil Ulsan refinery

Eight injured in S. Korea’s S-Oil Ulsan refinery
  • Aramco Overseas Co., a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, is S-Oil’s major shareholder

RIYADH: At least eight workers were injured in an explosion at an S-Oil refinery in Ulsan on Thursday, reported The Korean Herald.

Aramco Overseas Co., a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, is S-Oil’s major shareholder. According to the local media, firefighters were notified of an explosion at the S-Oil refinery at 8:52 p.m. The facility is situated some 400 km southeast of Seoul.

The injured workers were shifted to a nearby hospital. The exact cause of the accident has yet to be determined. The Korean Herald quoted fire authorities as saying “the accident occurred inside S-Oil’s refinery at Onsan industrial park while crude oil was being processed into petroleum.”

The injured workers who were transferred to the hospital are being treated for second-degree burns to the face and the palms, according to authorities. S-Oil is the third-largest oil refiner in Korea.

The firefighters at the refinery appeared to be having trouble fighting the blaze, according to local reports.


Macro Snapshot — Eurozone swings to current account deficit; Australia boasts lowest unemployment since 1974 

Macro Snapshot — Eurozone swings to current account deficit; Australia boasts lowest unemployment since 1974 
Updated 19 May 2022

Macro Snapshot — Eurozone swings to current account deficit; Australia boasts lowest unemployment since 1974 

Macro Snapshot — Eurozone swings to current account deficit; Australia boasts lowest unemployment since 1974 

RIYADH: The eurozone recorded its first current account deficit in a decade in March while Australia reached its lowest unemployment since 1974 and Japan saw a rise in exports by 12.5 percent year-on-year. 

Eurozone swings to current account deficit 

The eurozone recorded its first current account deficit in a decade in March on a small trade deficit and an outflow of secondary incomes, or transfers between residents and non-residents, European Central Bank data showed on Thursday.

The bloc of 19 countries sharing the euro recorded a current account deficit of 1.57 billion euros after a surplus of 15.73 billion euros a month earlier, according to adjusted figures.

In the 12 months to March, the current account surplus totaled 1.8 percent of the bloc’s gross domestic product, down from 2.6 percent in the preceding 12 months.

Australia boasts lowest unemployment 

Australia’s unemployment rate stood at its lowest in almost 50 years in April as firms took on more full-time workers, a tightening in the labor market that will ratchet up pressure for further hikes in interest rates.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday showed the jobless rate held at 3.9 percent in April, from a downwardly revised 3.9 percent in March, matching market forecasts.

Employment missed forecast with a rise of just 4,000, though that reflected a large 92,400 gain in full-time jobs being offset by a 88,400 drop in part-time work.

The fall in unemployment will be welcomed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison who has made jobs the clarion cry of his election campaign ahead of what is expected to be a close vote on Saturday.

It also strongly suggests the Reserve Bank of Australia  will lift interest rates again in June as it scrambles to contain a flare up of inflation to two-decade highs.

The central bank’s hike to 0.35 percent this month was the first since 2011 and markets are odds on it will move to 0.60 percent at its June 7 policy meeting.

So strong is the inflation tide globally that investors are wagering rates will rise to at least 2.5 percent by the end of the year, even if that threatens to cripple the economy.

So far, the labor market has withstood the pressure with employment rising by 381,500 in the past 12 months. Underemployment also fell to its lowest since 2008 and this rate has a close correlation to wages over time.

Philippines kicks off rate hikes 

The Philippine central bank raised interest rates for the first time since 2018 on Thursday, joining peers around world in a rush to stem intensifying inflationary pressures that could derail the country’s economic recovery.

The central bank also said the strong economic rebound and labor market conditions in the first quarter provide scope “to continue rolling back its pandemic-induced interventions,” signaling further tightening could be expected.

The economy may expand even faster in the second quarter than the better-than-expected 8.3 percent annual pace in January-March, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Gov. Benjamin Diokno said.

China lowers lending benchmark 

China is expected to cut benchmark lending rates at its monthly fixing on Friday, a second reduction this year, a Reuters survey showed, as it seeks to prop up credit demand to cushion an economic slowdown due to COVID-19 disruptions.

The loan prime rate, which banks normally charges their best clients, is set on the 20th of each month, when 18 designated commercial banks submit their proposed rates to the People’s Bank of China.

Eighteen traders and analysts, or 64 percent of 28 participants, in the Reuters snap poll predicted a reduction in either the one-year LPR or the five-year tenor.

Among them, 12 respondents forecast a marginal cut of 5 basis points to both tenors.

The remaining 10 participants believe the LPR will remain unchanged for the fourth straight month, in line with a steady borrowing cost of the central bank’s medium-term lending facility (MLF) loans, which now serves as a guidance to the lending benchmark.

New Zealand forecasts narrower deficit 

New Zealand’s government on Thursday promised to spend more than NZ$1 billion ($630 million) to help people cope with inflation that has reached three-decade highs in the Pacific nation.

The public deficit for the current financial year, ending on June 30, will be narrower than previously forecast but a return to surplus will take longer than expected, the government said in its annual budget announcement.

Heavy spending will be targeted toward defense, infrastructure, including new schools, and the country’s health system, which will see more funding for drugs and, again, infrastructure.

“As the pandemic subsides, other challenges both long-term and more immediate, have come to the fore. This Budget responds to those challenges,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement.

“COVID-19, climate change and the war in Ukraine have taught us we need to build a more secure economy that protects New Zealand households from the external shocks we know are coming,” she added. Ardern was not at the release of the budget as she currently has COVID.

Sri Lanka holds rates

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka held its key lending and borrowing rates steady on Thursday following a massive 700 basis points increase at its previous meeting and reiterated the need for more fiscal measures and political stability in the economy.

The Standing Lending Facility rate remained unchanged at 14.50 percent while the Standing Deposit Facility Rate was steady at 13.50 percent.

“It is envisaged that the recent tightening of monetary conditions and the strengthening of monetary policy communication will help anchor inflation expectations of the public in the period ahead,” CBSL said in the statement.

Wages, though, are still lagging, at least by the official measure which showed annual growth ticked up only slightly in the first quarter to 2.4 percent, half the pace of inflation.

Japan exports rise 

Japan’s exports rose 12.5 percent in April from a year earlier, posting a 14th straight month of increase, Ministry of Finance data showed on Thursday.

The rise compared with a 13.8 percent increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll. It followed a 14.7 percent rise in March.

Imports rose 28.2 percent, versus the median estimate for a 35.0 percent increase, as a weaker yen helped boost already surging global commodity prices, inflating import bills.

The trade balance came to a deficit of 839.2 billion yen ($6.56 billion), against the median estimate for a 1.150 trillion yen shortfall.

“The RBA has returned to a more forward-looking approach for labor costs amid much higher inflation, shifting on leading indications from liaison and the anticipated feed through of the still-tightening labor market to wages outcomes,” said Taylor Nugent, an economist at NAB.

He sees the central bank hiking by a quarter point at each of the next three monthly meetings.

Oman’s annual inflation drops 

The Sultanate of Oman’s annual inflation dropped almost 0.92 percentage points in April to its lowest since September 2021, according to potentially revised data by the National Center for Statistics and Information.

The country’s annual Consumer Price Index in March stood at 3.59 percent compared to 2.67 percent in April 2022, showed the data.

Oman’s consumer price level reached 2.46 percent in September 2021 where it started to rise until it peaked at 4.35 in January 2022 and has since been on a gradual decline, according to data portal of the NCIS. 

The largest factors contributing to the drop in Oman’s CPI were Transport and Tobacco which fell from 6.63 and 2.98 in March to 2.42 and -1.05 in April respectively.

However, there was a slight rise in the prices of fish and seafood, fruit, meat, bread and cereals and a few others.

 

(With input from Reuters)