Start-up in Muscat helps reduce reliance on taxis or obliging friends for trips to the airport by driving travellers’ cars home
Travellers who prefer driving to the airport themselves, but do not wish to leave their cars in the expensive long-stay parking lots there, now have a solution which is just a phone call away.
Al Zajil Ideal Trade, a new start-up, has introduced a unique service that offers to pick up vehicles from the airport departures gate when their owners leave town, and bring them back to the arrivals gate when they return to Muscat. The vehicle is either handed over to its owner’s family or parked outside his/her home in any part of the capital – all for just RO13.
Ali al Bimani, CEO of the three-year old company, said that he, along with two partners – Salim al Bimani, finance manager, and Mohammed al Aufi, operations manager – launch this service in 2015 to help ferry motorists back after they dropped their vehicles at service stations. It grew as an airport drop/pick service when the new Muscat International Airport opened a year ago.
“The company is named ‘Zajil’ after the legendary pigeons which were trained to deliver letters in many parts of Arabia,” Ali told TheWeek, explaining that they chose to launch the service to help people meet small errands when their cars are not available, especially visits to service stations when everyone needs to be accompanied by an obliging friend or relative.
News of the service spread through word of mouth, and then like wild fire. With the opening of the new airport, the service was in good demand among the people of Muscat – citizens as well as expatriates.
“The maximum demand has been from people living in areas far from the airport, like Ma’abela and Amerat. However, there has also been an overwhelming demand from people who live outside Muscat, like Sur, Batinah, Buraimi, who come to the capital in their own vehicles and need to leave their vehicles behind in good custody till they return,” Ali said.
Arrangements are made to keep such vehicles at certain, safe parking lots in the city for an additional charge of 500bz per day for open parking and RO1.5 for shaded parking.
Trust is the key element in such deals, he said. Customers are required to fill up basic details in a form which assures them of safe custody of their vehicles during their absence as well as ensures that their cars are handed back to them in a clean condition.
Customers are encouraged not to leave valuables in their cars while those who do not want the valets to drive their cars have the option of either being picked up from their homes and dropped back, or themselves driving to the prescribed parking lots from where they would be picked up and dropped at the airport for the same charge.
Ali further said that his company has plans to provide cars on rent for those who do not like to take their own vehicles to the airport for some reason. They need to just hand over the vehicle to valets at the airport.
While the demand in Muscat has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past year, the partners are also considering introducing their service at other airports in Oman, especially Salalah and Duqm, in the near future, as there have been similar demands from people residing there, Ali said.