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Egypt

How Egypt Fell In And Out Of Love With Uber

Uber launched with an excited bang in Egypt in 2014, promising work and new income for a country struggling with unemployment. But the castle of sand has disintegrated, leaving a trail of debt and frustration.

A taxi driver at Cairo
A taxi driver at Cairo
Omaima Ismail

CAIRO — One of Uber's earlier television ads in Egypt starts with a young woman getting into a car. Looking at the man in the driver's seat, she recognizes him — he is the famous footballer Hazem Emam. She is thrilled to see her favorite player. They strike up a conversation and talk for the whole ride, which they both seem to enjoy. The ad encouraged young men to join Uber as "partners."

Uber launched its operations in Egypt in 2014, with only 12 drivers. By 2020, approximately 200,000 people from varying socioeconomic backgrounds and levels of education, attracted by the flexible hours and the apparent autonomy, were driving for Uber. But, in the past two years, workers say they've seen their income slashed through company policies and an increased number of arbitrary terminations.

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May 21-22

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