Dubai start-up Cafu expands to Oman in regional growth push

Energy

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai-based start-up Cafu is expanding its fuel-delivery operations to Oman, marking its first international market entry since it began services in November 2018.

“We are humbled to be able to take our homegrown innovative services from Dubai to the world, starting today with Oman,” Cafu Founder and CEO, Rashid Al Ghurair, said Sunday.

Cafu uses a mobile app and a fleet of custom-built fuel trucks equipped with internet of things technology, RFID readers and artificial intelligence cameras. Users provide their car location so fuel can be delivered anywhere at any time.

“Along with our partners, we are confident that our technology combined with our growing fleet of safety-tested and certified trucks will deliver a one-of-a-kind convenience for our customers in Oman,” Al Ghurair added.

Cafu currently runs a fleet of more than 80 trucks in Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman in the United Arab Emirates. To begin its international expansion, it has signed a joint agreement with Oman-based Al Maha Petroleum, which operates a network of more than 225 service stations across the country.

Oman – A petrol pump attendant in an ‘Oman Oil’ gas station

Gilles Bassignac | Gamma-Rapho | Getty Images

Cafu aims to be fully operational in Muscat before the end of March, and also plans to roll out operations to other parts of the Sultanate.

“Our partnership with Cafu will revolutionize the way our customers refuel their vehicles and represents us with the opportunity to grow our market share in the Omani market,” said Al Maha Petroleum CEO, Hamed bin Salim Al Maghdri.

Cafu monetizes its operations by charging the end user a delivery fee or the option of a recurring monthly subscription. Cafu says it has serviced over 760,000 customers since its launch in Dubai — and has ambitious plans to expand its footprint abroad.

Growing product offering amid regulatory review

Cafu — which takes its name from a combination of the words “car” and “fuel” — is still under regulatory review in Dubai. Authorities are probing its safety standards and assessing the health and safety risks of holding, transporting and delivering fuel in trucks that frequent public areas.

Cafu insists it employs best practice training and safety standards.

The start-up also faces some well-funded competition — with the Emirates National Oil Company launching a rival app, ENOC Link, to deliver fuel under a similar method.

“We are the first on-demand fuel delivery application that has launched in the Middle East,” Cafu general manager Antonio Al Asmar told CNBC’s “The Edge.”

“Our idea is not only to disrupt the downstream business — we don’t want only to be a petrol delivery company. Our idea is to disrupt the whole car ownership sector,” Al Asmar added.

In addition to expanding internationally, Cafu plans to deepen its product offering by building out other deliverable services such as car-washes, oil-changes and replacement batteries — with an end goal of making gas stations a thing of the past.

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