There’s an army of 7,000 taxi drivers roaming the city by day and night. They are plentiful and appear in hoards at key points around the city so that you rarely have to queue. Taxis did used to be a problem in the boom days, but whether it’s a lack of traveller or expat or an increase to the vast number said to now swarm the streets – it certainly is not a problem anymore, especially in locations like Dubai Mall or major hotels. Taxis are fairly priced for the city – and it would be ill-advised to take an unlicensed cab, although they don’t really exist. Safe, regulated and modern, most are clean, although some require a little perfume.
The other benefit of taking the taxi is getting the lowdown on what’s going on. While some drivers are grumps and will just want to get you from A to B, many will be willing to strike up a conversation with you. It’s a great way to understand the city from an insider perspective.
Taxis are convenient with an ample number of taxi stands and even if you want to hail one from the streets you won’t be waiting too long. There are certain times of the day when getting a taxi may take longer than usual:
The work/school morning rush hour between 7-9am
The end of school rush hour between 2-4pm
The return from work rush hour between 5-7pm
Bear in mind that tourist spots such as Dubai Mall, the Atlantis waterpark etc. will incur a long wait at the queues near closing time so you might want to leave early if you have small kids in tow.
Taxi drivers know most destinations, but they may not know all and if they are new to the game, they may be a little nervous.
It’s better to have a close landmark ready and, of course, the phone number of the shop/restaurant etc handy.
There are six main official taxi companies in Dubai all operating on a meter basis. They have a variety of different topped roofs but are essentially the same – apart from the Ladies only pink topped roof taxi
All of the official companies charge the same rates so you can get into any.
Be wary of the private hotel taxis that you see parked outside the major hotels. While convenient, they won’t necessarily operate by the meter. We have found them to sometime charge more than double and that the rate changes once you get to your destination. It is hit and miss and we don’t recommend them.
If taxis are not nearby our advice is to ask your concierge to call you a cab or, if you can, walk a few minutes out of your hotel and get on the main road to hail a coloured roof taxi – or call and book one yourself.
The Ladies Taxis, driven by women and with a pastel pink roof is ideal for women uncomfortable riding with a male driver. They are not readily available to hail, so you need to keep their number handy and book in advance. Please note that the Ladies taxis only accept women and children.
With regard to fares, the official taxi companies all have the same rate rules:
The minimum fare is 10 AED
The fare starts at 3 AED if hailed from the street and 6 if booked by phone
The fare is slightly more expensive at night or for larger cars.
The rate is 1.6 AED per kilometre
The starting airport rate is 25 AED
There are extra charges of 20 AED travelling to Sharjah or the other Emirates, but you should try and negotiate a fixed rate if going significant distances.
Taxis are exempted from the Salik Toll charge fees that regular drivers must pay.
The journey is free if the driver forgets to put the meter on or it is not working.
In practice, you’ll be paying a minimum of 10 AED and an average of 25 AED per journey, depending on where you go. Taxis are generally not too badly priced especially if you are travelling in a group of 3 or 4 persons as the metro would then work out the same or more expensive. Do note that the taxi drivers are legally obliged to take you to your destination, however close it is. This may infuriate them, as they may have been queuing for a long while, but a small tip usually helps.
Examples of trip costs are below and are for the official taxis. Private taxis will be higher:
Dubai Mall to Dubai Marina: 50 AED
Emirates Towers to Dubai Airport: 30 AED
Emirates Towers to Jumeirah Beach/Madinat Jumeirah: 40 AED
Dubai Mall to the Atlantis Hotel: 50 AED
Media City to Dubai Airport: 75 AED
Media City to Sharjah Airport: 250 AED
Dubai Airport to Dubai city: 50 AED
Dubai to Abu Dhabi: 250 – 300 AED (negotiate)
Dubai Airport to Abu Dhabi Airport: 250-300 AED (negotiate)
Taxi Phone Numbers
Dubai Transport: 04 208 0808
Ladies Taxi: 04 208 0808
Metro Taxi: 04 267 3222
National Taxi: 04 339 0002
Arabia Taxi: 04 285 5111
Cars Taxi: 04 269 2900
For more information go to the Dubai Taxi website: dtc.dubai.ae