RIYADH: Abdulla Elyas is the co-founder of Careem, Gulf region’s popular ride-hailing and delivery app.
After obtaining a master’s degree in computer science and a Ph.D. in business administration from Germany’s Aachen University, Elyas worked as a software engineer and management consultant in Germany and Malaysia.
He founded the Saudi-based Enwani home delivery app in September 2011, with cloud-based software developed in Saudi Arabia and Germany. In August 2015, he launched Careem with his partner Mudassir Sheikh and subsequently absorbed Enwani within Careem’s operations.
Careem, whose motto is “everyday life, made simple,” started as the Gulf region’s answer to Uber and has since expanded into 13 countries. The company also widened its offerings from food delivery to money transfer.
Careem is, in its own words, “driven by the purpose of simplifying people’s lives and building an awesome organization that inspires … with a host of daily services that people need to move around, order things, and transfer money in one unified smartphone app.”
Careem was acquired by Uber in January 2020 for $3.1 billion (SR11.62 billion) and became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said at the time: “Working in parallel, our two platforms will be able to build upon the unique strengths of each, to the benefit of drivers, riders, and the cities we serve across the greater Middle East.”
Elyas currently sits on the boards of Bupa Arabia and Saudi Arabia’s Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority, Monsha’at.
Careem saw at least a two-fold increase in its services across 13 markets in the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan in 2021.
It completed a total of 109 million rides, the firm said in its 2021 customer and business trends report.
Cars and bikes transactions grew by 2.6 times compared to December 2020, while delivery and bill payments services grew 2.4 times and 2 times respectively.
In 2021, one in seven customers in Saudi Arabia used multiple services on the app, and the most popular combination of services was ride hailing and food delivery.
The airports with the most Careem journeys in 2021 were Jeddah with 57,000 trips, Karachi with 211,000 trips, and Dubai with 207,000 trips.
In Q1 2021, Careem revealed a new, disruptive food delivery business model that replaced traditional high-percentage aggregator commissions with a 0 percent commission, giving restaurants of all sizes fair and transparent pricing to grow profitably. It reduced delivery bills by nearly 50 percent and increased the number of orders by up to 20 percent in some restaurants.
The number of the new restaurant outlets that joined Careem in 2021 increased by 58 percent over 2020.
Careem Pay registered over 66 million transactions across six core markets in 2021. Pakistan had the highest use of peer-to-peer payments and mobile recharge, with over 443,000 transactions. Careem Captains topped-up their phones 32.6 million times in 2021, amounting to a total of $1.5 billion.