Ride-hailing firm Uber and Riyadh Airports Company have signed an agreement that will allow the former to transport passengers to and from King Khalid International Airport (KKIA) in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
Uber has been given three dedicated areas at the airport. Riyadh Airports Company is undergoing changes as part of a privatization program of the aviation sector in Saudi Arabia. It is responsible for managing and operating KKIA.
The pact is in line with Riyadh Airports’ approach towards developing strategic partnerships that will enhance the customer experience of passengers traveling through King Khalid International Airport, Saleh Al Rasheed, CEO of Riyadh Airports, said in a statement.
This is a major win for Uber in Saudi Arabia.
In March, drivers from ride-hailing services Uber and Careem were barred from picking up passengers from Saudi Arabia’s airports.
The move was seen as unusual since as part of its Vision 2030 economic reform plan, Saudi Arabia has courted both Uber and Careem with substantial state investments.
Saudi’s Public Investment Fund bought a $3.5 billion stake in Uber in June 2016, while state-controlled Saudi Telecom Co (STC) invested $100 million in Careem last year.
In November, Saudi authorities also stipulated that Uber and Careem should limit the jobs to Saudi nationals though non-Saudis who are already registered as drivers with the ride-hailing apps can continue to work for the firms.
This followed changes in the rules governing operations of ride-hailing firms introduced by the government around eight months ago.
The ride-hailing apps’ relationship with the authorities in most Gulf countries has been shaky, though it seems to be stabilizing now with regulators bringing them under their purview of sorts.
In countries like the UAE, Careem and Uber have been brought under the official ambit, which included both adding a Dhs3 ($0.82) surcharge to its bookings as part of new regulations imposed by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).