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Careem rival makes inroads in Oman

Oman’s OTaxi is adding 20 cars a week to its fleet of 450 vehicles

Oman's Otaxi is expanding its fleet to meet demand.
Oman's Otaxi is expanding its fleet to meet demand.

Omani home-grown app-based cab service OTaxi recorded 30,000 taxi rides in February, a year after launching, according to Omani media reports.

According to Muscat Daily, the number of rides recorded in its first month in operation in February 2018 was just 30.

Because of the enormous boost in passenger traffic, the government-owned Oman Technology Fund (OTF) has now bought a stake in OTaxi.

"We have entered into a strategic relationship with OTF," said Harith Al Maqbali, the CEO of OTaxi.

Currently, the company is adding approximately 20 cars each week to its 450-vehicle fleet, and by the end of March will begin offering credit and debit card payment facilities.

According to Maqbali, the firm is also now looking to expand to other cities in Oman.

"We are working on expansion of our services to Sohar and Salalah," he said.

Maqbali added that even though OTaxi is by law forbidden from taking customers from Muscat's airport, hotels and malls, it has 70 percent of market share.

"This is not only because our rides are most economic among the competitors, but also because we offer safety, reliability and quality," he said. "We are quickest in the market too. It takes about an average of less than nine minutes for our cars to be at the service of the customer."

Rivals

Rival Careem also resumed operations in Oman in September 2018, in partnership with local operator Marhaba Taxi.

It was originally launched in in Muscat in May 2017 on its own, but stopped when it was asked by the Government of Oman to reconsider their operating model and focus first on working with licensed taxis.

In late February, Omani Minister of Transport and Communications, Dr. Ahmed Al Futaisi, also said that Uber will be allowed to operate in the sultanate if it follows regulations governing taxis.