Actually, it won’t take anywhere near that long. Dubai taxis are very cheap, depending on what part of the world you are coming from. There will always be some visitors to Dubai who are unused to European, UK or North American expectations of the costs of hailing and riding in a taxi.
According to the Mumbai Taxi Fare calculator, a ride of fourteen kilometers (that’s nine miles to you non-metricized folks) costs a little over US $3.00.
So yes, there are cheaper places in the world than Dubai to hire a taxi, but if you’ve just arrived from London, New York, Paris or Sydney, you’ll be in for a nice surprise.
From the Airport to Your Hotel
If you’re still not convinced by what I said above, you’ll probably want to read on. Let’s start with what will probably be the first cab-ride many of you will actually take in Dubai: the ride from Dubai International Airport (DXB) or Dubai World Central Airport (DWC) to your hotel.
Point number 1: taxis look like taxis. You might be approached by a friendly stranger asking if you need a taxi. Don’t be fooled: he’s operating an illegal taxi-service in an unmarked, unlicensed and unregulated car. Go to the taxi rank, join the queue and allow yourself to be directed to a car that is obviously a taxi. You won’t have to wait long; allocation of customers to cabs is orderly and efficient.
Point number 2: the taxis are metered. You will pay exactly what the meter shows at the end of the ride. If you want to tip the driver something extra, that’s up to you, but you don’t have to and you certainly won’t be abused for not doing so.
Actually, the airport to hotel ride, by Dubai standards, is always one of the more expensive, because the flag-fall charge (what you pay just for getting into the taxi) is twenty dirhams (AED20), as opposed to just AED 5 for hailing a cab in the street or getting into a cab at a taxi-stand. So the cost of your trip will be AED 20, plus the kilometer rate for the actual distance travelled.
Can you prepare for the costs in advance? Yes, you can. Use Google Maps, or Apple Maps to calculate the actual distance from the airport to the hotel, then use the following calculator to estimate the cost.
Don’t be too dogmatic if the sum on the meter is a little different from what you have estimated, using the calculator. Traffic conditions increase waiting times at different times of the day and while the taxi is idling in traffic, the meter is still ticking over.
The main point is that the fare you are asked to pay won’t be too different from what you have estimated. There won’t be any “double, or triple what I expected” nasty surprises waiting at the end of the trip.
Give Me Some Actual Nnumbers
OK. Hotel Atlantis (that’s the one out on the tip of the Palm Jumeirah) to Dubai Mall: about AED 60; that’s US $16.50 for a 26 kilometer (17 mile) trip. Slightly less than a dollar a mile? I’d call that cheap.
While on the subject of taxis from hotels to other parts of Dubai, the nicer hotels usually have equally nice courtesy cars, which they are very happy to summon for you. Just be aware that these are more expensive than standard Dubai taxis, but still not outrageous by international standards.
Are There Any Other Surprises That I Might Need to Know About?
If you plan to visit a neighboring Emirate, in particular Sharjah, which is immediately to the north of Dubai, there will be an AED 20 surcharge. This is added the moment the taxi crosses the border. If you like watching taximeters tick over, you might be wondering why it suddenly jumps by twenty dirhams at a particular point in the trip. At the end of the ride, you still pay just whatever the meter shows.
Very, very rarely, you might encounter a rogue driver who tries to take advantage of you, figuring that you’re an easy mark: new to the country, tired and jet-lagged and clueless about what to actually pay.
If some charge over and above what you see on the meter mysteriously appears at your destination, don’t pay it. Take the number of the cab and threaten a complaint to the RTA – the official government body that oversees and regulates all forms of transport in the UAE.
Just the threat will cause 99% of all disputes over fares to vanish. The hotel concierges will also intervene on your behalf – and tell you if the charge is in fact a correct one.
You can easily recognize them by their pink roofs. So if you’re a sole male and a pink-roofed taxi floats into view, it won’t stop for you, no matter how hard you wave and gesticulate.
If on the other hand, you have your wife do the waving, the driver can stop and pick the two of you up, if she chooses. If she doesn’t, don’t be too concerned: Dubai has plenty of regular taxis which will be only too happy to stop and collect the pair of you.
If you are a woman traveling alone in a taxi with a male driver, do not, even in a spirit of egalitarianism, get into the front seat. You gesture just might be misunderstood and a hand may creep onto your knee. This is rare but has happened.
How do standard Dubai fares compare with Uber fares? I’m sorry to say I have no personal experience. Surprisingly, Uber is allowed to operate in Dubai, but the relationship between Uber and the RTA is tenuous, to say the least.
An Uber cab might be a good way to travel a long distance for a fixed price, say, Dubai to Abu Dhabi, or Dubai to one of the northern Emirates, like Ras Al Khaimah. In line with the open and transparent policy espoused by Uber, you can use the site link above to request a quote for the trip you wish to make, either within Dubai or from Dubai to another city.