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Everything You Should Know About Riding a Taxi in the UAE

Exploring a new city or country can be extremely daunting, especially when you aren’t sure how to get around the area. Using public transportation to get around is certainly an experience in itself, but may be difficult to try alone for the first time, especially when you don’t know where to go. Not to mention language differences posing a significant barrier for getting you where you need to go.

For traveling in novel places, convenience is key in getting to know the nooks and crannies of these towns and cities. Taxis, for this matter, quickly come to mind when thinking about commuting from one place to another, especially in metropolitan areas like Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Getting Around Abu Dhabi

Though there are different possible modes of transportation, riding a cab remains the easiest, most convenient way to get around Abu Dhabi. This especially holds true to tourists who are set to stay in the area for a few days. After all, Abu Dhabi is not very pedestrian-friendly, so you’ll definitely find yourself needing to hail a taxi at some point in time.

Typically, taxis in Abu Dhabi sport a silver color, with a signature yellow roof that is hard to miss. They are typically driven by male drivers, who, accustomed to having foreign travelers in the area, are usually adept at speaking the home language, Arabic, as well as other languages like English, Filipino, and Urdu.

Female travelers who may be hesitant to book taxis alone also need not worry! Aside from regular taxis, Abu Dhabi also has what are called pink taxis. These are taxis exclusively for women passengers as well as children under the age of ten. They are driven only by female drivers, which can definitely help female passengers feel safe and secure.

Like taxis in other parts of the world, cabs in Abu Dhabi are metered—a method you are likely familiar with. Riding a taxi here is relatively cheap, with a fixed flag down rate that depends on the time of the day, and increments in payment that also depend on the distance traveled.

Starting fare for taxis booked during the day (6 AM to 10 PM) is at 5 AED, while cabs booked during the night (10 PM to 6 AM) start at 5.5 AED. Regardless of the time of the day, every additional kilometer costs 1.82 AED, while every minute of waiting time costs 50 fils (or 0.5 AED). The minimum fare for taxis is 12 AED. Booking fees also pose additional charges, at 4 AED in the morning, and 5 AED at night.

Luckily, Abu Dhabi has made it exceptionally easy to book a taxi for locals and foreigners alike. Thanks to its centralized system, all taxi companies are regulated by TransAD, which allows for a safe and efficient transport system for commuters who’d like to use a cab.

Hailing taxis from the nearest taxi stands

Taxi bays and waiting areas abound all around Abu Dhabi, so you can always head to the nearest one to book a taxi. Dedicated taxi stands can be found at all major malls and shopping centers in Abu Dhabi, as well as at major hotels, hospitals, and parks. Bus terminals also have nearby taxi stands, and airports also have taxi bays for tourists to quickly get to their desired destination.

Booking a taxi via call

If you’re downtown or in a relatively remote part of the city where taxi stands are not as accessible, you may opt to simply book a taxi through calling 600-535-353. Pink taxis can also be booked through this feature. A customer service representative will answer the line, and help you through the process of booking a taxi in the destination you’ll mention.

Using the Abu Dhabi Taxi App

The Abu Dhabi Taxi App is available at the Apple Store as well as the Google Play Store. All you have to do is download the app, proceed to the “Taxi Booking” menu, select the kind of taxi you’d like to book, and enter your pick-up location in the app. A rider should then be confirmed to pick you up at your location.

The Abu Dhabi Taxi app is also useful in conducting other taxi-related matters, such as contacting their 24/7 live support, getting your taxi fare details, giving feedback, and maintaining a record of your bookings. The app has also been updated recently to accept in-app payments, through linking Apple pay or your credit card.

Riding a Taxi from Abu Dhabi Airport

Public taxis are also available at the Abu Dhabi Airport, where taxi stands abound; but they cost relatively more than regular taxis you can book in the metro. Booking a cab from the airport towards your destination in the city typically costs a flag down rate of 25 AED to the city.

Meanwhile, going directly to Yas Island from the airport usually costs 45 AED ($12) all in all, for a ride that takes around 10 minutes. Going to Corniche, on the other hand, can go up to 100 AED, with a much longer travel time at 30 to 40 minutes.

Another fleet of airport taxis is identifiable by the sleek black Mercedes Vito cars that they use. This is another option for travelers who don’t mind shelling out a few more bucks for a safe and convenient option.

Reminders for Taxi Riders

As a taxi rider, regardless of whether you’re a local or not, you are entitled to different rights as a passenger availing a hired car service. Remember that you have the right to:

  1. Select the route to take
  2. Request that the A/C be turned on (and, alternatively, turned off; or increased/decreased in thermostat)
  3. Check the taxi meter
  4. Pay only the required fare, without a tip
  5. Check the driver’s ID

However, it’s imperative that taxi riders remain responsible as well, and show the drivers respect. As a rider, don’t forget to:

  1. Pay all charges required of you: booking fee, toll, and fare
  2. Wear your seat belt at all times
  3. Avoid smoking, eating, or drinking in the vehicle
  4. Secure babies younger than 1 year old using a child’s seat

Getting Around Dubai

Just like Abu Dhabi, Dubai is a major metropolitan area in the UAE whose streets are not particularly pedestrian-friendly, nor easy to navigate for persons with disabilities. While Dubai offers a wider range of transportation alternatives, it’s still easiest to maneuver through this city using a taxi.

Although all taxis in the area are managed by the Dubai Taxi Corporation, a subsidiary of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) of the Dubai government, taxi services can be franchised to other private company providers. As a result, taxis in Dubai are distinguishable by their cream color, along with the different roof colors that correspond to the company owning them. For instance, official cabs under the Dubai Taxi Corporation sport a red roof, while cabs owned by Arabia Taxi have a green roof, and taxis under Metro Taxi have an orange roof.

Nonetheless, Dubai maintains the same color scheme as Abu Dhabi when it comes to taxis driven by female drivers. Pink Taxis, intended only for female travelers and children under ten years old, are distinguishable by their pink roof.

Pricing matrices for taxis in Dubai are similar to those in Abu Dhabi. With fares also determined via meter, the starting fare for a cab booked in the morning (6 AM to 10 PM) is also at 5 AED, while booking a taxi at night (10 PM to 6 AM) starts at 5.5 AED. Every additional kilometer also charges 1.82 per kilometer traveled, with a waiting fare of 50 fils per minute. Directly booking cabs also comes with a steeper fare, with an additional 5 AED for bookings made in the morning, and an extra 6.5 AED for booking at night.

Using taxi ranks

Taxi ranks are scattered all around the city, present at people-filled areas in the city such as shopping malls, Metro stations, famous hotels, and bus stations. If you’re in dire need of a ride, you can simply go to any of these places and you are sure to catch a free cab. Travelers can also hail available taxis in the street, if that works for them.

Booking via phone

Like Abu Dhabi, Dubai also has a dedicated hotline for booking the taxi of your choice. A Dubai Taxi Corporation vehicle can be booked through calling 04 2080808. This will allow you to be in contact with a customer service agent who can help book a cab for you for a designated time and place. This option is available up to 24 hours before the designated time, so you can also use this to book rides in advance.

If you have an Etisalat mobile number, you may also attempt to use their SMS service to book a taxi. Simply message 4774 with your area number to get your number for the reserved taxi.

Using the RTA Smart Taxi application

RTA also allows commuters in the area to book a taxi using their smartphones. The Smart Taxi application lets you book a taxi through communicating your location to the driver and tracking your driver’s current whereabouts real-time. You also get to see the name of your driver, as well as his estimated time of arrival, through the app.

Other Hired Car Services in Dubai

Aside from the Dubai Taxi Corporation, private companies such as Uber and Careem offer ride-hailing applications for the users’ convenience. However, prices for bookings made through these apps may be steeper compared to regular taxis’, depending on the time of the day and location.

Other forms of public taxis in the area include a limousine service, “in safe hands” service, special needs service, and Hala service.

Limousine services feature premium cars, such as Lexus or Infinity brands, typically used for clients from the Tourism Industry who may need more sleek, high-end services for their activities. These are vehicles that have an established presence in the Dubai Airport, where they usually do complementary meeting and fetching services. These also allow transport from Dubai to other areas within the Emirates, charged either through the usual taxi meter, or through time or zone areas. These can be booked either through emailing [email protected], or through calling 04 2080555 and connecting to their Customer Care Center.

Hala taxis are characterized by their black and white color. These taxis cannot be hailed in the streets or on taxi bays, but must instead be booked via phone or through the Smart Taxi application. This is perfect for people who are in a rush, and need vehicles who can fetch them and drop them off quickly. Through phone, the contact number for booking Hala taxis is still at 04 2080808. Just expect a premium to this service, with fares exceeding regular taxis’.

The “in safe hands” service was created to respond to demographics which require more care and attention, such as children, students, or people with special needs. This can be booked for extended periods of time, such as for weeks or months, and are assured to be private, quick, and reliable. Consequently, the Special Needs taxi service targets the mobility-impaired passengers. Due to this, taxis of this type are usually bigger, and have the special needs blue icon placed on the sides of the doors, as well as the back window. Both services usually have to be booked in advance, through calling 05 2080555 for “in safe hands” taxis, and 04 2080808 for Special Needs ones.

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