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Making Renting a Car Simple, Safe, and Flexible



Gadget Voize speaks to Soham Shah, the CEO of, an on-demand rent-a-car platform that’s on a mission to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to match users’ profiles with the cars they wish to drive

Tell us about the platform. How did you arrive at the concept behind it?
Selfdrive, is a smart mobility Super App, that allows users to rent a car on demand in a simple, safe and flexible way. The app is designed on a proprietary tech foundation concept known as search–select–pay, which uses machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to match users’ profiles with the cars they wish to drive. It’s currently available in the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait and we plan to add further new markets in the near future.

The idea to start Selfdrive was spurred when we realised that the car manufacturers and dealerships have a unique problem – they have a lot of unsold inventory standing. This led us to come up with the idea of having a platform that facilitates deals for consumers and gives them direct access to dealership vehicles.

How does the platform differentiate itself from similar platforms on the market?
As compared to other car rental services, Selfdrive is a Super App, which basically means that it is end-to-end integrated. The app offers a 3-step convenient process of SEARCH- SELECT- PAY with the flexibility to subscribe from 1 day to 36 months.

In addition, our AI integration helps us to profile customers based on their specific requirements. For example, if you are a registered customer on our platform and have been driving a certain segment of a vehicle, say BMW – every time you return to the application, the look and feel of the application would typically change based on your client profile. This helps us better understand that this client is within the luxury segment, so he/she doesn’t have to waste his/her time navigating through the entire app.

You are currently operating in the UAE, and you recently expanded into Qatar and Bahrain. What were the factors involved in choosing such markets for your expansion strategy?
Our expansion into Bahrain and Qatar is a testament to our growing popularity and success and an indicator of the changing landscape of the automotive rental market in the region and beyond. We aim to acquire 50-65 per cent of the digital rental market share in these markets with our seamless customer experience and range of product offerings through the app. We plan to add further new markets in the Middle East and are actively looking at other regions globally as business goes from strength to strength.

When it comes to super apps such as Selfdrive in the region, what factors do users consider before trying out such platforms?
Selfdrive is crafted in a way which makes it easy for users to access the platform. Our integrated technology is simple, yet robust making it a seamless process for the users to navigate through the app. The super app car rental platform offers an easy and convenient process of ‘search – select – pay’ ethos, giving customers in the region access to over 5,000 vehicles at 100+ locations across UAE delivered to their doorstep. The super app offers various products for users, express booking (daily and weekly), micro lease (1 month to 12 months) and LeasePro (lease to own) offering brand new “0” KM cars direct from the dealership from 1 year to 3 years.

What sort of outlook do you have for Selfdrive, both in terms of demand and innovation?
Mobile apps are one of the major elements of modern tech and this impacted the automotive sector. They are the future of car rentals because they open a different vertical for customers and users feel it as a convenient, accessible and easy way of renting or leasing vehicles on demand.

From cost-effective to mid-range and premium models, various brands are showcased with the latest car model options, helping them access mobility at their fingertips from any location, be it the airport, residence, hotel or any part of the country. Given the way apps are dominating the automotive space, we are already witnessing a huge demand by users. Going forward, one instrumental feature that will be a part of the super app is the customer who makes a reservation will now be able to track their progress about their reservation.

In simple words, customers will have real-time access to the key stages of delivery. As such, once the car has been reserved, customers will be able to view updates on reservations, incorporation of compliance documents in the system, car details sent to the dealership, the car is prepped and ready at the dealership, and notification on where and when can the vehicle be picked up from or an indication on the current status of the delivery time. All in all, customers will be able to view the car right from stage one to the finale on the car coming to you in a live Google map environment.

As our super app will offer real-time updates on car delivery, customer confidence in our services will also increase. In addition, customers can also view a status bar or the progress tab post the reservation, which is a new feature unique to the industry and will make us another first in the automotive space.

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EVLAB Intros UAE’s First Electric Vehicle Marketplace App



EVLAB, the multi-brand electric vehicle start-up, has made adopting a sustainable lifestyle easier for drivers in the UAE with the launch of the EVLAB App, an all-in-one mobility app to rent, lease and host their EVs in the UAE with phase 2 to include buy and sell electric vehicles (EVs) available in the Middle East. EVLAB’s new one-stop marketplace app addresses a growing desire among consumers in the Middle East to make a switch to sustainable mobility solutions. Electric vehicle sales have seen rapid growth in the region, with an increase of 72 per cent during 2020 alone.

In line with the goals of COP28, EVLAB is committed to reducing CO2 emissions and fostering sustainable mobility in the Middle East, striving to play a pivotal role in catalyzing positive transformation. The new platform supports the UAE’s Net Zero 2050 strategic initiative, which is a national drive to achieve net-zero emissions and make the Emirates the first nation in the MENA region to do so. The app also complements other sustainability initiatives in the country, including the Dubai Green Mobility Strategy 2030, which has resulted in the installation of more than 1,000 public charging stations across the UAE.

The EVLAB App allows eco-conscious drivers to browse a unique collection of electric vehicle brands available in the Middle East and take advantage of EVLAB’s expertise to understand the benefits of electric vehicles and make a seamless transition to sustainable transportation. Drivers can consider short-term rentals, leasing or hosting their electric vehicles through a seamless and hassle-free user journey.

The booking process is straightforward with easy navigation using the rent, lease, host and chat tabs on the homepage. Users can filter options based on brand preferences and features, such as performance and range, to save time and effort in finding an electric vehicle that suits their requirements and budget. All the listed cars and their hosts are vetted to guarantee authenticity and quality of service by the owners. In phase 2, electric vehicle owners can also conveniently sell their vehicles on the platform with guidance from EVLAB’s experts at every step of the way.

“With the accelerated pace of climate change, the adoption and transition to e-mobility is inevitable. At EVLAB, our ongoing goal is to consistently reduce emissions, and we are proud to say that we have successfully saved a cumulative total of 76,174 kilograms of CO2 to date and will further reduce with the EVLAB app. The all-in-one EVLAB App complements our EVLAB website with a broader range of functionality and services to make the eco-mobility journey easier for drivers in the region. The app allows users to rent, lease and host their electric vehicles seamlessly in a safe and trusted marketplace. As battery technology is rapidly evolving, the range of electric vehicles today will become obsolete in two to three years, so this model of renting and leasing becomes more attractive than buying. Consumers will have the additional ease of choosing their preferred electric vehicle based on their budget and lifestyle by selecting from a variety of options, including performance, acceleration, range, and charging times,” said Kevin Chalhoub, CEO and Founder of EVLAB.

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Snapchat Enhances MENA Creator Economy with Incentives and Features



Snap Inc. is actively contributing to the growth of the creator economy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region through the introduction of new programs and features aimed at fostering sustainable businesses and audience engagement. Content creators on Snapchat, both established and emerging, are experiencing growth within the platform’s creator ecosystem. In the first quarter of 2023, Snapchat’s user-generated content platform, Spotlight, witnessed a notable 200% year-over-year increase in content viewing time, attracting over 350 million monthly active users.

Snapchat says this success is attributed to its provision of innovative content and revenue-sharing opportunities, transforming the platform into a profitable venture for creators of various levels. The monthly addressable reach of the MENA region on Snapchat continues to expand, with global daily active users increasing by 12% year-over-year to reach 406 million in the third quarter of 2023.

Julie Bogaert, Head of EMEA Talent Partnerships at Snap Inc., emphasises Snapchat’s commitment to supporting creators at every stage of their careers. The platform offers a range of programs and tools across Stories, Spotlight, and Discover, providing creators with the means to turn content creation into a full-time career. Creators value Snapchat for its unique reach, relevance, and revenue-generating capabilities.

Snapchat has introduced new monetisation programs, including the Stories revenue share program for creators with substantial followings and engagement metrics. This program seamlessly integrates ads within creators’ Stories, offering a consistent revenue source. Additionally, Snapchat encourages aspiring creators through the Spotlight reward program, providing increased rewards for top-performing content.

Recognising the importance of amplifying creators’ reach while maintaining authenticity, Snapchat now allows Snapchatters to post Public Stories, expanding their audience while preserving genuine connections. Public Stories provide insights into content performance and Story Replies, enhancing creator-audience engagement.

The expansion of creator content is evident across the platform, with features like Snap Map showcasing Stories and Spotlight Snaps. Creators can now tag locations in Spotlight Snaps, increasing exposure. The ability for Snapchatters to save favourite Stories to profiles enables them to explore new creators and engage more deeply with their preferred content.

Snapchat continues to roll out new tools for creators, providing more control over video replies with Spotlight Replies, the ability to react to and re-share Spotlight Snaps with Remix, and additional features such as adding Linktree to Public Profiles and incorporating sounds into Lenses. Overall, Snapchat remains a dynamic platform that empowers creators to express themselves and build thriving communities.

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Sunbird Temporarily Closes Android iMessage App Citing ‘Security Concerns’



Sunbird, the app designed to bring iMessage to Android users, has temporarily halted its service due to “security concerns,” as initially reported by 9to5Google. In a communication to its users, Sunbird announced the decision to “pause Sunbird usage for now” while it investigates reports suggesting that its messages lack true end-to-end encryption.

Launched in 2022 with the aim of settling the blue versus green bubble debate, Sunbird has been accessible only to those who join its waitlist, emphasizing various privacy features such as end-to-end encryption, no message data collection, and an absence of ads. Last week, Sunbird joined forces with Nothing, the phone brand owned by OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, for the release of Nothing Chats. The Sunbird-powered messaging service was intended to enable owners of the Phone 2 to send texts via iMessage. However, it was swiftly removed from the Google Play Store just one day after its launch.

While Nothing initially cited the need to address “several bugs” in the app, its removal coincided with a post from, revealing potential lapses in end-to-end encryption for messages sent via Sunbird. Android developer Dylan Roussel reached similar conclusions and also discovered that Sunbird stores numerous media files on the cloud service Firebase. This implies that Sunbird’s assertion of not storing data on its servers is only partially accurate, as the company seems to be externally dispatching the information.

Sunbird has yet to provide a statement regarding the app’s closure, but its message to users states, “We will update you when we are ready to proceed.” The app is no longer featured on the Google Play Store, despite being downloadable just last month, as seen in an archived version of the page.

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