This January 2017 was my 4th visit to the Middle East. One thing I noticed a lot more this time even compared to a year ago when I went last was the expansion of Uber in to this part of the world. When compared to any previous travels, having the availability of Uber is such a lifesaver and dollar saver compared to taking taxis and public transit in these countries.
On this last trip I had gone to Qatar and Bahrain which, to my surprise and delight, now have Uber available. There aren’t a lot of drivers in these countries yet so it can take a couple tries or several minutes before finding a driver and another several before they arrive but this small sacrifice is well worth the benefits. Probably the biggest thing I enjoy about having Uber in these foreign countries is that taxi drivers tend to overcharge you or at least try to. You often have to negotiate the price up front which can sometimes take quite a bit of haggling. With Uber you know who you are getting and for how much,
In Qatar, it costs about 70 Qatar Rials (~20 USD) to go from the airport in to the city but with Uber this costs a mere 20 Rials (~$5) so about a quarter of the price. This was about the same as well when Ubering around the city to various sites. Supply and demand of taxis in these countries is also pretty disparate in that there are many more riders looking for a taxi than taxis that are available, especially during certain times of day. This makes Uber all the more appealing. I never had any issue in Qatar or Bahrain finding a driver nor did we ever have to wait more than 5-10 minutes for one.
In Bahrain we even took an Uber half way across the country to the Bahrain International Circuit. This isn’t actually that far and only takes about 20-30 minutes but it sounds pretty cool that you can Uber across a country. Coming back was more difficult and almost required a taxi ride but when searching for an Uber we happened to find one that would come all the way to the circuit to pick us up and take us back in to the city all for half the price of a taxi. Even more awesome-sounding when it comes to Uber in Bahrain is the fact that you can literally Uber from Bahrain to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Normally here in the US you open Uber and have a selection of options such as pool, Uber X, Uber Black, etc. In Bahrain its Uber Pool or Uber2KSA (Uber to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia). Pretty cool that you can cross international borders in an Uber.
All in all, if you are planning a trip to Qatar and Bahrain, definitely get yourself a cheap data plan in those countries or get something like Google’s project Fi so you have a data connection abroad and then take advantage of the newly rolled out Uber service in these locales!