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Poor Taxi Service Spurs Growth of Alternatives in Qatar

August 19, 2014

In the face of complaints of its poor taxi services, Qatar has seen the growth of alternatives, such as Uber, to address the need of visitors and residents in Doha to find reliable wheeled transport, according to a report by the Gulf News.

Mowsalat, the state-run transport company that regulates taxi services in Qatar, is believed to have a fleet of over 3,000 vehicles for its own brand of taxis called Karwa, according to the report. In addition, the company has handed out franchises, which are run under the names of Al Million and Al Ijarah and have fleets of over 500 each. Despite having well over 4,000 cabs on its roads, Doha is unable to meet the demands of the rapidly increasing population and a big number of business and leisure visitors.

A wide gap between supply and demand of taxis is not the only reason why residents remain unhappy with cab services. A typical request made for a taxi via the services’ call centers could lead to a waiting time ranging from anything between two hours or more, according to the report.

Such grievances have played into the hands of technology-based transportation services such as Careem, according to the report. Speaking to Gulf News, Careem’s Mudassir Shaikha described how his company sees itself as a “marketplace” that connects customers with suppliers. The suppliers, in this case, are the wide range of privately run cabs or limousines, which are operated both individually and by companies.

This has led several customers to make the switch from Mowsalat-regulated taxis to services such as Careem and, more recently, Uber, which launched in the Qatar market eight months ago.

With the introduction of both companies, local limousine companies and individually run private cabs have benefited in that they now have a steady source of income and the competition to woo customers has led to improved service. However, the low strata of customers who do not mind cab pools or poorer service continue to stick with Mowsalat-run taxis, according to the report.

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