Careem, the ride-hailing service owned by Uber, will be halting operations in Qatar, leaving customers in the country in a lurch.

The announcement comes as a shock since the company was part of the transportation plan for the recently concluded World Cup in Qatar, and its branded vehicles ferried fans to and from the games along with those from Uber and local taxi provider Karwa.

The message sent out to customers in Qatar informed them that Careem would no longer operate in the country from February 28, 2023, and that customers holding Careem credits would receive full refunds by March 15.

However, the message did not provide any reasons for the shutdown, and the company did not respond to Reuters' request for comment.

Careem's purchase by Uber in 2019 for $3.1 billion gave the American company a commanding position in the Middle East and Pakistan.

While Careem offered only ride-hailing services in Qatar, it provided a range of services, including food delivery, digital payments, and courier services, in larger Middle Eastern markets such as the UAE.

The move will likely affect the ride-hailing industry in Qatar, with Uber's smartphone application continuing to operate normally despite Careem's shutdown.