Taxis in Dubai and UAE (dubaifaqs.com)
Order a Dubai taxi telephone (04) 2080808 in Dubai (within Dubai dial 04 first from mobile phones, but not from landlines).
Salik tolls will be automatically added to Dubai taxi fares from mid-January 2013. Previously they were (in 2007), then they weren't (in 2008), now they are again.
Minimum trip cost for Dubai Taxi franchise taxis is AED 10 dhs from 01 April 2009 according to the RTA. Flagfall is still AED 3-4, except at Dubai Airport (20 dhs) and Port Rashid Arrival Terminal (20 dhs from 01 May 2009). Trips to Sharjah cost an additional AED 20.
Suggestions for tourists and new (or any, for that matter) residents using taxis:
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).
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.
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
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 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"):
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
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.
Taxis in Dubai - making a complaint, lost property
Taxis are not supposed to refuse taking passengers. The Roads and Transport Authority Dubai (RTA) is in charge of taxi services in Dubai. If you have a problem, you can complain to the RTA Taxi Department (tel 800-9090 toll free in the UAE, or +971-4-2080888, or online at dtc.rta.ae), or the actual taxi operator if you remember which one. For lost property, call the taxi operator. If you don't remember which one, try Dubai Taxi first (tel +971-4-2080808).
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
Last update Sunday 09-Dec-2012