Friday 20 September 2019 (UAE)

Dubai Taxis

Taxis in Dubai and UAE

Order a Dubai taxi telephone (04) 2080808 in Dubai (within Dubai dial 04 first from mobile phones, but not from landlines).

Suggestions for tourists and new (or any, for that matter) residents using taxis:

Women in taxis in Dubai and UAE

If you're female, especially if you're young (adult not child) and/or attractive, you'll possibly get taxi drivers trying to hit on you, or marry you, or marry you to a male relative. They can sometimes be quite persistent about it, although serious physical threats are very rare. Whether the harassment happens frequently or rarely depends partly on your perspective, seating position (don't sit in the front), and attitude (be blunt rather than aggressive or submissive, don't answer his questions). Don't be too naive about it but it might help to try and see things from his perspective too. Male taxi drivers (there are very few female taxi drivers in Dubai but you can request one if ordering a taxi by phone) often come from countries with an autocratic, patriarchal, and/or misogynistic society, so if you're dressed in your hottest CFM dress and shoes on your way to a nightclub, it is likely to jar his cultural sensitivities to say the least. And if you're on the way home from a nightclub, drunk, with a new friend, try to behave yourselves otherwise you might find the driver gets wound up enough to make a detour to the police station, and you will discover that the law in Dubai is not on your side when it comes to having horizontal refreshments in the back of a taxi.

Taxis in Dubai information and background

The public transport system in Dubai depends much more on taxis than is common in other cities around the world, due to an under-developed public transport network. Alternatives are on the way though, for example more bus routes, and the Dubai Metro started operations in September 2009. The Roads and Transport Authority Dubai (RTA) is the regulator of taxi services (and other public transport).

Dubai Taxis are the largest taxi operator in Dubai, by far, and they franchise out their taxis to one of several taxi service operators in Dubai (5 as of mid September 2007). For most customers, the only noticeable difference is the color of the taxi's roof, with one exception. The pink taxis are intended for ladies only (and mothers with small children), and have lady drivers. Rates are the same whichever service operated by Dubai Taxis you use.

As of August 2008, Dubai Taxi has almost 4000 taxis, the other taxi companies have 7000 cabs between them. There are an additional 1200 cabs expected by end of 2008, and another 1000 by end of 2009. Update 11 June 2012 - total of 7,908 taxi cabs in Dubai (KT report).

Dubai airport taxis to be only vans, RTA Feb 2014

Dubai airport taxis will be restricted to family size vans only according to an RTA announcement 07 Feb 2014. That does not mean only families can catch taxis at the airport, anyone can, but the Dubai Taxi Corporation (DTC) and the RTA decided that everyone should use the vans, and pay family size prices for airport trips - AED 25 flagfall instead of AED 20 in the normal sedan taxis, and AED 1.75 or 1.86 per km (DTC information conflict) instead of AED 1.71 per km.

Wireless internet in Dubai Taxis
Use Nol cards for Dubai Taxis
Luxury taxi limousine service
Taxi by SMS - send request with taxi rank location number to 4774
Taxi order by SMS from Dubai Metro
Taxi Companies in Dubai

Dubai Taxis franchises the operation of some taxis to other companies. The taxis are the same light sandy beige color but have different colored roofs as follows.

Taxi companies in Dubai
Color Company Telephone Website Comments
Green Al Arabia Taxi tel +971-4-2855566
tollfree 800-272242
www.arabiataxi.ae also www.arabiataxi.com
White City Taxi      
Blue Cars Taxi tel +971-4-2693344
toll-free 800-227789
www.carstaxi.ae Also other emirates
Red Dubai Taxi tel +971-4-2080808 www.dubaitaxi.ae RTA owned taxi subsidiary, DTC
Orange Metro Taxi tel +971-4-2673222
600-566000
   
Yellow National Taxi tel +971-4-3390002
600-543322
www.nationaltaxi.ae ext 213 for complaints
Gold Hatta Taxi      
Pink Ladies Taxi     Female drivers, female passengers only
Purple?        

There are other taxi companies operating in Dubai and other emirates that are not under the Dubai Taxis franchise, but they are far less common. Some of them are

Taxi fares - Taxi rates - Taxi charges in Dubai

New fares table (from 01 Dec 2014, for Dubai Taxis, the RTA subsidiary, presumably applies to other taxi franchises licensed by the RTA). Text in grey needs to be confirmed if unchanged, or updated if increased.

Taxi fares in Dubai, from 2014
Flagfall charges from ... Daytime 0600-2200 Night time 2200-0600
Street pickup 5 dhs (6 dhs?) 5.50 dhs (7.00 dhs?)
Shopping malls4 5 dhs 9 dhs (or up to 12 dhs)4
Ordered 8 dhs or 12 dhs3 9.00 dhs or 12.00 (?) dhs3
Dubai International Airport 20.00 dhs (25.00 dhs) 20.00 dhs (25.00 dhs)
Port Rashid Cruise Terminal¹ 20.00 dhs (25.00 dhs) 20.00 dhs (25.00 dhs)
     
Other charges Daytime 0600-2200 Night time 2200-0600
Running charges 1.71 dhs per km (1.75 dhs/km?) 1.71 dhs per km (1.75 dhs/km?)
  1.00 dhs / 625 m (1 dh / 572 m) 1.00 dhs / 625 m (1 dh / 572 m)
Waiting charges First 10 minutes free² First 10 minutes free²
  0.50 dhs / minute, 30 dhs per hour 0.50 dhs / minute, 30 dhs per hour
Minimum trip charge 12 dhs, or 20 dhs to Sharjah 12 dhs, or 20 dhs to Sharjah
     
Daily rates in ... Dubai Other Emirates
  300 dhs for 6 hours (500 dhs)  
  500 dhs for 12 hours (800 dhs) 500 dhs for 12 hours
  1. Port Rashid flagfall charges increased from 01 May 2009 according to the RTA Dubai. The charge only applies at the arrival terminal, not the general Port Rashid area.
  2. 10 minutes free waiting time no longer available from April 2009, waiting charges start as soon as taxi arrives for collection or passenger, or passenger hails taxi.
  3. From 01 Dec 2014, taxis booked during peak hours will cost AED 12. Peak hours are 0700-1000 and 1600-2000 from Sat-Wed, and 1600-2400 on Thu, Fri, and official holidays and events. Not clear if higher rate applies on Thu from 0700-1000.
  4. Flagfall charges at shopping malls increased to 9 dhs from 2200 (10pm), increasing by 1 dh each hour after that, according to a Khaleej Times report 08 Aug 2016, but clarified by the RTA in the report as charges for dispatched or ordered taxis rather than hailed taxis: The RTA has however refuted the claims. "There are no changes in the meter rates or tariffs for the taxis," said Abdulla Al Mahri, Director, Transport Activities and Monitoring, RTA ... " ... if there is a high demand at malls for taxis the mall management informs the dispatch centre, and in such cases, the taxi is considered a dispatched taxi, and the flag fall of Dh9 becomes applicable."

Old table and information for reference

An increase in Dubai Taxi (DTC) fares to cover UAE fuel price rises is expected in September 2010. Yousuf Mohammad Al Ali, Director of DTC Fleet Operations Department said in a report in The Express 02 September 2010 that "We have submitted the proposal to our management. The level of fare increases will cover recent fuel price hikes,"

Taxi fares in Dubai, from 2010
Flagfall charges from ... Daytime 0600-2200 Night time 2200-0600
Street pickup 3.00 dhs (6.00 dhs) 3.50 dhs (7.00 dhs)
Ordered 6.00 dhs or 10.00 dhs3 7.00 dhs or 10.00 dhs3
Dubai International Airport 20.00 dhs (25.00 dhs) 20.00 dhs (25.00 dhs)
Port Rashid Cruise Terminal¹ 20.00 dhs (25.00 dhs) 20.00 dhs (25.00 dhs)
     
Other charges Daytime 0600-2200 Night time 2200-0600
Running charges 1.00 dhs / 625 m (1 dh / 572 m) 1.00 dhs / 625 m (1 dh / 572 m)
  1.60 dhs per km (1.75 dhs/km) 1.60 dhs per km (1.75 dhs/km)
Waiting charges First 10 minutes free² First 10 minutes free²
  0.50 dhs / minute, 30 dhs per hour 0.50 dhs / minute, 30 dhs per hour
Minimum trip charge 10 dhs, or 20 dhs to Sharjah 10 dhs, or 20 dhs to Sharjah
     
Daily rates Dubai Other Emirates
  300 dhs for 6 hours (500 dhs)  
  500 dhs for 12 hours (800 dhs) 500 dhs for 12 hours
  1. Port Rashid flagfall charges increased from 01 May 2009 according to the RTA Dubai. The charge only applies at the arrival terminal, not the general Port Rashid area.
  2. 10 minutes free waiting time no longer available from April 2009, waiting charges start as soon as taxi arrives for collection or passenger, or passenger hails taxi.
  3. From 15 April 2012, taxis booked during peak hours will cost AED 10. Peak hours are 0700-1000 and 1600-2000 from Sat-Wed, and 1600-2400 on Thu, Fri, and official holidays and events. Not clear if higher rate applies on Thu from 0700-1000 (announced 10 April 2012).
Taxi services for school students - Al Ayadi Al Ameena Service (unconfirmed)
Taxi services for special needs and handicapped passengers
Problems with taxi services

During 2006 and even more so in 2007/2008, many residents reported having difficulties in getting a taxi, with even booked taxis not turning up on time, or at all. If you're depending on a taxi for a time-sensitive trip such as catching a flight, you should allow extra time for possible delays. Make a reservation the day before, and call again at least 2 or 3 times in the hour or two before your taxi is supposed to arrive, to reconfirm your taxi is en route. Even the RTA has admitted that sometimes booked taxis get diverted to other customers with no backup being sent.

Many customers report that taxi drivers often ask what their destination is, and refuse to take them if it is only a short trip, or a trip involving travelling through highly congested areas. The RTA say that taxi drivers are not supposed to do this so it is worth complaining (if you can actually get through to the RTA). There are reports (usually denied by the RTA) that taxi drivers show favoritism towards western nationals. To get to your destination efficiently, one trick some residents use is to give a destination far away, and then change their minds once in the taxi. The taxi driver will be annoyed so you might end up with a bit of an argument.

Drivers often seem to have a shortage of change. Occasionally this might be a genuine story but it's more likely a sneaky way to get a tip. Try and keep enough smaller bills (and coins) so you can pay the exact fare.

The aroma in a taxicab can be a little pungent, especially in the summer months with closed windows and recirculating a/c. If you're lucky, it's from a previous unwashed sweaty passenger, and will hopefully dissipate before your nostril hairs melt. If you're unlucky, it's the driver that has yet to discover the joys of deodorant. A complaint to the RTA won't solve your immediate respiratory problems but should help the RTA persuade their drivers of the benefits of soap and water.

Navigation is a problem for many taxi drivers. Most, if not all, are expatriates and have lived in the UAE for varying lengths of time. Those who have only recently arrived will be learning their way around on the job. Nothing like "The Knowledge" exists in the UAE. If you know where you're going, then you can direct your taxi driver. If you're new yourself and don't know, make a note of some major landmarks.

Language can be a problem also. There's a good chance you and your taxi driver may not share a common language, especially if the driver is a new arrival in the UAE. Arabic is more likely to be a common denominator than English so it's handy if you learn the words for (a * means it's common to say the word twice in quick succession eg "shway-shway" for "slow down"):

English, Arabic, Hindi words for taxis in Dubai
English Arabic Hindi
go yalla  
slow shway*  
stop   bas / bus*
straight ahead seer / seedah sida / seeda*
left yasaar  
right yameen  
yes aiwa  
no la  
one minute   ek minnit

During busy periods eg major conferences and the Dubai Shopping Festival, consider trying to arrange alternative transport (not that there is much in the way of useful alternatives for tourists).

Females, especially young and attractive ones, may find their driver starts to pay more attention to them than the road. Check the angle of the rear view mirror on entry to the cab - if it's angled down towards the footwell where you park your legs, you will probably find the driver thinks he is a bit of a Casanova. This disturbing attitude is more of an irritation than a serious threat (unless he really isn't looking where he's going). An assertive attitude and the threat of a complaint to the RTA, should usually be enough to keep the boy in check. Some drivers might ask for a telephone number in the hope of scoring a date.

On the subject of females looking for lifts, as in any country, be wary of strangers stopping at random to offer a ride. Dubai really is a safe place relative to most other cities around the world but there are occasionally reports of women (and men) being taken for a ride in the desert in a much more unpleasant sense of the word.

Taxi scams in Dubai
Taxi driver woes

After standing in 45 degree sunshine for an hour waiting for a taxi with no change, with a driver who doesn't know where Sheikh Zayed Road is, it's hard to have any sympathy for the drivers. But once you've calmed down, spare a thought for them. They usually work 12 hour shifts seven days a week, and for that collect about 2000-4000 dhs per month. Out of that, they get fined if there are customer complaints, have an accident, as well as for any traffic offences. There may also be deductions for recruitment fees to overseas organisations. Would you do it?

Private taxis in Dubai

Private taxi services are available and prevalent (newspapers have classified ad sections for carshare services), but illegal, and sometimes the passengers get fined for using an illegal "car pool" service if caught. The authorities seem to crack down on this much more often in Sharjah than in Dubai. Note that legitimate carpooling is not illegal but the RTA and/or the police may have a different opinion of what is legitimate than you, for example there was one report in 2007 of a husband fined for providing a private taxi service for his wife.

Hailing a taxi

There are taxi stands dotted around the city but most of the time you can just flag one down on the street, if the taxi is not occupied (red light means it is occupied, or booked, yellow light means it is available). This can be more difficult than it sounds depending on the time of day. Taxi drivers will stop anywhere, to the annoyance of other road users, so pick a safe spot to stand and wave one down.

If you are walking along the road, you'll often hear tooting taxis as they approach you. This is not a "get out of my way" warning blast, but a "do you want a taxi?" question honk. Murphy's Law, adapted for Dubai, says that the number of beeps directed towards you decreases in inverse proportion to the level of need for a taxi.

Tipping taxi drivers in Dubai

There is not really much of a convention in Dubai, or the rest of the UAE. In a New York taxi, you know you'll get abused if you don't at least double the fare as a tip. However in Dubai, things are much more random. Some people don't tip at all (and don't get abused ... much), others tip similar to US amounts (15-20% of the fare). Some taxi drivers seem to take a tip for granted by not giving change, or claiming not to have any small change. Other taxi drivers are very prompt to hand back all your change - those are the ones we like to tip.

Taxis to and in other emirates

Each emirate licences their own taxis. What this means is that if you catch a taxi in Dubai, you are supposed to catch a Dubai registered taxi, wherever you intend to go. A Sharjah registered taxi is not allowed to pick you up even if you want to go to Sharjah. This rule is sometimes ignored with the taxi driver at risk of collecting a fine if caught. The passenger will probably not be fined but it is possible.

Similarly if you want to go from Sharjah to Dubai then you are supposed to catch a Sharjah taxi. So if a tourist is staying in a Dubai hotel and wants to visit a tourist sight in Sharjah by taxi, they cannot use the Dubai taxi for a round trip - they'll have to catch a Dubai taxi to Sharjah (which will then return to Dubai empty), and then catch a Sharjah taxi back to Dubai (which will then return to Sharjah empty). In practice, like so many rules in Dubai, implementation is variable and random. And no, we don't know the logic behind encouraging empty Dubai or Sharjah taxis to contribute to the daily Dubai-Sharjah traffic jam grind.

28 October 2008: The Khaleej Times reported that flagfall for Sharjah taxis going to Dubai will be increased from AED 2.50/3.50 to AED 20.00, starting 01 December 2008. It will compensate drivers for an empty return trip and Salik tolls. Update 29 October 2008: The Dubai RTA is considering introducing the same flagfall rate for Dubai taxis going to Sharjah.

Dubai taxi statistics
Dubai taxi statistics by year
Item 1998 2007 (August) 2008 (end) 2009 (10 months)¹ 2010 (estimate)
Total number of taxis 2666 6500 7500 3500¹ 10,000
Number of drivers 2700 10,500      
Number of trips per year 20 million 45 million   28 million¹  
Number of passengers per year 39 million 90 million   51.5 million¹  
Average passengers per day 106,000 270,000      
Telephone reservations per day   12,000      

The RTA recognizes there is a taxi shortage problem in Dubai and have said they will add another 1000 taxis to the fleet, and hire another 2500 drivers, in 2007. Information based on Gulf News report 29 September 2007. Updated from Khaleej Times report 04 April 2009.

  1. Information from RTA press release 12 December 2009, figures might be for the RTA Dubai Taxi franchise only, not all Dubai taxi franchises.
Taxis in Dubai - making a complaint, lost property

Lost property update 13 Apr 2015

Taxis in Abu Dhabi

Taxis in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK)

RAK Transport Authority (RAKTA) is in charge of transport in Ras Al Khaimah. Taxi operators in RAK include

Taxi fares are AED 2.50 at flag fall and AED 0.75 per km from February 2008 (up from AED 2.00 and 50 fils per km). Pink taxis driven by females will be available exclusively for women passengers sometime in 2008. New taxis (about 1600 of them) phased in under one of the 3 operators during 2008, to replace the 1300 taxis already existing.

Taxis in Sharjah

Sharjah Transport operates taxis in Sharjah with four franchises.

Taxi fares in Sharjah

Contact Dubai Taxi Corporation

Last update Wednesday 01-Feb-2017
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