Egyptian startup Swvl plans to invest $25 million in Pakistan by 2021

Vehicles of bus ride-sharing apps can now be seen on the city’s roads as the alternative is quite unpalatable for commuters. (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)
Updated 05 November 2019

Egyptian startup Swvl plans to invest $25 million in Pakistan by 2021

  • Company general manager says the ride-hailing service hopes to create 10,000 jobs, mobilize half a million consumers by 2023
  • With operations in four cities, Pakistan is Swvl’s biggest market

Islamabad: Egyptian bus transportation network company Swvl plans to invest $25 million in Pakistan in the next 18 months and create more than 10,000 jobs, the Pakistan general manager of the ride-hailing app told Arab News on Tuesday.

Swvl, founded in 2017 by Mostafa Kandil, operates in more than five countries, running buses along fixed routes and allowing customers to reserve and pay for rides using an app. Rates are charged according to the distance traveled, starting from Rs20 for a 25km ride.

“The major portion of the $25 million would be invested in building a mass transit system like putting in buses and scaling up the demand,” Shahzeb Memon told Arab News via phone from Karachi. “We have plans of mobilizing half a million annual consumers by 2023 and creating 10,000 jobs a year.”

Memon explained that Swvl’s service did not only target existing ride-hailing users but aimed to create transportation options for a large and growing middle class that could not previously afford such services. He said Swvl was targeting both commuters as well as underutilized vehicles in the market.

“In Pakistani emerging markets like Karachi, there is no proper public transport system available. So, we come in and take the burden off the government,” Memon said. “We are here to put in the mass transit system for the big middle class, where we utilize buses to generate enough demand for them.”

“The company is operating on more than 150 routes in Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, and Islamabad,” Memon said. “Our main focus is to build our customer base in these densely populated cities; then we will go to tier two cities.”

Currently, with operations in four cities, Pakistan is Swvl’s biggest market. Even in Egypt, the service is available only in two cities, Cairo and Alexandria.

Memon said the company also wanted to use Pakistan as the main support office to help resolve queries coming from other markets.

“We are planning to open an offshore support office in Pakistan as labor here is cheaper,” the GM said. “We are also looking into the possibility of opening an engineering office in Pakistan to build the technology as Pakistan has some of the best talents in the world and we would like to utilize it.”

UNGA adopts Pakistan-sponsored resolution on respect for ‘sacred religious symbols’

Updated 03 December 2020

UNGA adopts Pakistan-sponsored resolution on respect for ‘sacred religious symbols’

  • Protests broke out in several Muslim countries, including Pakistan last month, over cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) 
  • Deliberate vilification and negative stereotyping of Islam perpetuates ‘clash of civilizations,’ Pakistan’s envoy to the UN says

ISLAMABAD: Despite opposition from the European Union and other western nations and India, the UN General Assembly Wednesday adopted a Pakistan and Philippines sponsored resolution on inter-religious dialogue that emphasized the need to respect “sacred religious symbols,” Pakistan’s state news agency reported on Thursday. 

The resolution received a majority of 90 votes, none against, with 52 abstentions, APP said.

Protests broke out in several Muslim countries, including Pakistan last month, over France’s response to a deadly attack in October on a teacher who showed cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to pupils during a civics lesson.

For Muslims, depictions of the Prophet are blasphemous.

Pakistan has condemned the recent re-printing of the cartoons. The French president has paid tribute to the murdered teacher, fueling further anger in the Muslim world. 

“Facing strong opposition from the powerful western bloc mainly based on freedom of expression, the Pakistan Mission worked hard to rally the OIC [Organization of Islamic Cooperation] and other developing countries to garner support for inclusion of new elements in the resolution,” APP reported. 

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Munir Akram, referred to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s repeated calls to the international community and the United Nations to counter Islamophobia and promote respect for religious sensitivities.

“Ambassador Akram also emphasized that the deliberate “vilification and negative stereotyping of adherents of one of the largest religions in the world –Islam — only perpetuates dangerous self-fulfilling prophecies such as the ‘clash of civilizations’ and must be addressed on urgent basis,” APP quoted the ambassador as saying. 

“After some intensive lobbying, the resolution acknowledges — for the first time — the significance and respect for religious symbols,” the state news agency added. “It also stressed that the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities, and must therefore be subjected to legitimate restrictions.”

“The resolution condemned any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to violence or discrimination,” APP said, “and underlines the importance of interrelgious and intercultural dialogue as a valuable tool for promoting social cohesion, and peace and development in the world.”