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Egypt's top administrative court lifts ban on Uber, Careem ride-hailing services

Taxi drivers filed lawsuit against US-based Uber and Dubai-based Careem last March
Uber has faced repeated setbacks around world amid opposition from traditional taxi services (AFP/file photo)

Egypt's top administrative court on Saturday lifted a ban on operations by ride-hailing companies Uber and Careem, which have faced fierce opposition from traditional taxi drivers, a judicial source and lawyer said.

A lower administrative court withdrew the permits of US-based Uber and its main rival, Dubai-based Careem, in March 2018 after 42 taxi drivers filed suit, arguing the apps were illegally using private cars as taxis and were registered as a call centre and an internet company, respectively, Reuters reported.

Uber and Careem filed appeals against the suspension and secured a ruling in April allowing them to operate, pending a verdict by the higher court, AFP reported. Saturday's decision is final and cannot be appealed.

Uber has faced repeated regulatory and legal setbacks around the world amid opposition from traditional taxi services. It has been forced to quit several countries, including Denmark and Hungary.

Still, in June, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ratified a law regulating their work.

Last week, Uber reached an agreement with the Egyptian Tax Authority to pay value-added tax (VAT), which Careem said it had been paying since March 2018.

Many Egyptians have switched to using Uber and Careem, citing inappropriate behaviour and the refusal to use meters by some taxi drivers.

With a population of 100 million, Egypt is considered to be one of the largest markets for Uber and Careem.

Uber says it has had four million customers in Egypt since launching there in 2014 and plans to invest about $100m in the country over the next five years.

In December, Careem launched a bus service in Cairo to help with mobility around the traffic-choked city, which is home to more than 20 million people.