Careem – a different Uber

I’ve just had another ‘first’ in my Pakistan journey – catching a Careem.

Careem is the equivalent of Uber and operates throughout the Middle East and Pakistan and started in the region in 2012 launching in Dubai. “Careem’ is Arabic for ‘generous’ and is now represented in more than 20 countries and was declared the ‘Fastest Growing Enterprise in the 2015 Middle East Enterprise Agility awards (source

I set the App up on my phone before I got to Pakistan, having heard about it in Dubai, but had never used it until just now. The one big benefit over my Australian Uber experiences, is you can set up and register an account, without needing a credit card (which is lucky as I still don’t have one – thanks to HBL Bank). You can book a trip and pay in cash, just like a good old fashioned taxi!

So today I was heading out and the destination was about 6-7kms away. I sat at home going back and forth as what to do and how to get there. I have no driver on a Sunday, and not 100% confident about venturing too far in the car alone just yet. So it was a choice of getting a rickshaw and trying to direct to my location, or testing out Careem. I was also a bit back and forth on riding my bike, but got a bit scared of that!

I jumped onto the App, booked a pick up and pin pointed a location I could find close to the drop off point so I could direct him from a known spot. Immediately it said he was only 400m from me I so went outside, and by the time I got to the gate my car appeared…”A’salam Allayakum’s” were exchanged and we were off.

He was clean, his car was clean, (even though it sounded like it may blow up at any point in time), but we headed to the destination. I got the feeling his English wasn’t that strong, or was as about as strong as my Urdu, so I sat there whilst trying to recall what to say to him in Urdu to pass some time…“Careem ache business?” I asked, is Careem a good business…this is when his English came out and he couldn’t stop talking….

“Very good”, he said, and went on…“It’s my car, I’m my own boss. An average Pakistan salary 13-15,000 rupees per month ($AUD180) , but I make 70-80,000 ($AUD890-1020) and now I have 2 cars on the road meaning I get close to 200,000 rupees per month ($AUD 2550)”

IMG_2603He was a very happy man, and sounds like he is doing exceptionally well, and I told him so. Our conversation got cut off, as all of a sudden we had arrived!

After closing the job, his App pops up the price for a grand total of 214 rupees ($AUD2.14), so I think, what the hell, I’ll give him 300! What a bargain!

By the time I got inside my drop off point I had 2 Careem emails; one congratulating me on my first trip and the other as the receipt for the trip and to rate Ali, my ‘Captain’ as they call their drivers. Definitely a 5 star rating for him, and I am thinking I will probably Careem it up to get back home tonight as well!

I have caught a local rickshaw for the same journey before, and the usual negotiated price is around the 200 rupees mark, so for the same price you can go in a car, which offers a bit moreIMG_2602 safety and in hot weather, temperature controlled comfort, but a rickshaw still is pretty cool…so I may be a Careem convert, but will also keep it to the basics and grab the odd rickshaw here and there, much to the protests of my friendly neighbours who abuse me for doing so, as it isn’t safe for me…but you’ve gotta live a bit!

Careem can be found at


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