Middle East is MaaS-ready, ITS Arab founder tells Intertraffic Amsterdam


The Middle East is primed and ready for a MaaS revolution, the secretary general for ITS Arab has declared.

Speaking on a panel debate on MaaS at the Intertraffic Amsterdam 2018 exhibition (March 20-23), the ITS Arab founder Zeina Nazer (below) explained that all the necessary components for smarter mobility are present in places like Lebanon and Dubai (above).

“Applying MaaS to the Middle East is not impossible, it´s just more challenging, because it is a different culture,” she said. “Bus systems are private, so less regulated but are working well, you have several ride-hailing service providers and there is money available, it just needs to all be put together to make MaaS happen.

“Currently, the solution to traffic problems in the United Arab Emirates is to just build new roads as they have the resources and the finances to do so. But with MaaS, rather than building more infrastructure, you provide better service, using the best you already have to improve and make it more efficient.”

What is required, Nazer explained, is for external technology suppliers to be prepared to take a different approach to how they do business in Western cultures.

Citing Uber’s experiences in the region she explained that, while well adopted in Europe, in the Middle East has not been as successful due to a lack of understanding about local preferences on the ground. As a consequence, Middle Eastern competitors like Careem are offering a ride-hailing service more culturally appropriate and prospering as result.

She said, “Uber is great in Europe, it works really well, but in the Middle East, Careem – and others – work better because they know the culture. For instance, you don´t have to register a credit card, with Uber you have to. They also give a lot of incentives to drivers so drivers are more likely to have the Careem app switched on rather than the Uber one because they get more benefits with it.”

Nazer was speaking alongside Jacob Bangsgaard, ERTICO CEO; Ralph de Jong of MaaS Global; Carme Fabregas of ATM Barcelona and Siemens’ Filippo Logi.

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James joined the Traffic Technology International team in 2017. Previously he was Assistant Editor on an engineering title for several years and has worked for various other trade magazines before that. James is happily married and has a young daughter and son who keep him busy.