The star in travel is born: Rehlat, the most promising travel technology start-up of the Middle East

Arabian Business
December 20, 2017

What started as a small idea to serve Kuwait market with online system by Bader Al-Bader and his friend Bader Al-Roudan, shaped up as the fastest growing online travel company of GCC. The journey was not simple, looking for talent who actually know how to run and scale an ecommerce business was daunting. Today Rehlat has over 115 team members across Kuwait, UAE, India and Egypt office and recently App Annie, the leading app data insight website, showcased Rehlat as the best Travel app in Kuwait.

Localization, Content and sound product are the key ingredients of scale that lead to this transition of Rehlat from where it was 2 years ago. The website and mobile app is available in both English and Arabic with all payment systems and deals plugged in to last mile to ensure user experience is of next level for each country.

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Bader Al Bader, President, Rehlat talks to TBMEs Charmaine Fernz on intricacies of setting up an OTA for the Middle East traveller, getting the right product mix and plans ahead. The idea of venturing into the online space emerged when a family member of Bader faced problems while booking a personal trip.

In 2013 summer, Bader started Rehlat as a proof of concept. The idea of launching a proof of concept was to identify potential technical and logistical issues that might interfere with it future success.

The proof of concept helped Bader gain some traction which encouraged him to take the next step. He explains, “There was a popular website during those days in Kuwait called ‘Indiansinkuwait’, which catered to the Indian expat community. We took a banner advertisement on that portal for a month, which also included eshots sent out to their database. On the first day itself, the advertisement drew in about 7,000 visitors to our proof of concept website and the phone wouldn’t stop ringing.”

Finally, a finished product – Rehlat – was launched in January 2016. This according to Bader was their second birth.

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Bader Al Bader, CEO, and one of the co-founder of Rehlat highlights the importance of being known in local market. He says’ “Rather than try and reach out to as wide an audience as possible, Rehlat is targeting raising brand awareness — and usage — within categories. It has found quite some traction with the blue-collar expat base in these markets.”

He also said, ““The immediate priority is to get into as many Mid East markets as possible... Egypt looks a good bet and we will expand slowly,” he added. “In the OTA domain, apart from the global brands, there are a few regional names such as Musafir and Tajawal.“But there’s still lots of room to grow. We are making month to month profits to an extent. Only if it makes sense will we align with a partner — but they need to be aligned with our thinking.

About Rehlat

Rehlat which means “Travel” in Arabic is Middle East's fastest growing travel company offering flights and hotels booking to destinations worldwide. With head office in Kuwait, we are steadily gaining a strong foothold in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, and Egypt.

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Apple Pay Launched

Rehlat is now accepting Apple Pay. Use Apple Pay on your iPhone and iPad to pay within the Rehlat iOS app.

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Middle East’s first loyalty programme – Karam – which is like a eWallet is introduced.

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Available in both English & Arabic

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APP live on Android

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Hotel booking is available

Available on all four domains in English & Arabic

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