Self-driving electric pods is what Careem is bringing to the region.

Hana is a journalist from Lebanon, who has worked in her home country and in the UAE for the likes of Fortune Arabia and Arabian Business. Naturally curious, she took her English Literature degree into the world of business journalism nine years ago, and found out that she could actually get paid for it. Entrepreneurship, innovation, and the courage to try are at the core of her writing.

Dubai-based ride-hailing app Careem, announced that it has signed a strategic partnership with Next Future Transportation Inc. to bring driverless transportation solutions to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Under the new partnership, Next will bring battery-powered, self-driving electric pods to the region. The pods can drive individually or by attaching themselves to other pods to form a bus-like structure where travellers can move freely from one pod to another.

Moreover, they are designed to operate as part of a mass transportation system that shuttles people from door to door. The pods will pick passengers up on demand and get each person from point A to point B as efficiently as possible.

This partnership comes shortly after Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s announced the launch of the Dubai Autonomous Transportation Strategy which aims at making 25% of all transportation trips in Dubai be smart and driverless by 2030.

“We are honored to create a strategic partnership with such an innovative company as Next,” said Mudassir Sheikha, co-founder & managing director of Careem.

“As the pioneering operators of the finest taxi fleet in the UAE, we are acutely aware of the ground realities of intra-city and inter-city transport. While serving the immediate needs of the region, we are also cognizant of the importance of innovating for a greener and more delightful future. Next offers a unique and compelling vision for mass transit. We look forward to working closely with Next to pioneer their solutions in the region.”

Under the strategic partnership, the two companies will work together to help solve mass transit problems, including minimising congestion and pollution. Additionally, by providing personalised pick-up and drop off of users, they will help make commuters in the UAE to move more efficient and quickly.

Emmanuele Spera, founder & CEO of Next Future Transportation, Inc. also commented on the partnership saying: “Next is truly excited about our new relationship with Careem.”

“We have invented the world’s finest autonomous mass transit solution, and as we look to operationalise, we need a partner that will provide operational depth and scale. Careem is a perfect partner from our perspective given their vision, credibility and success in transforming transportation across the MENA region. We look forward to continuing our journey to bring advanced transportation technologies and practices to the region,” added Spera.