Dubai is a city that sprawls across more than 60kms from point to point. With the airport on one side, and some of the best sights and beaches on the other side, the ability to get around is an essential part of ensuring you make the most of your trip.
Although the metro covers much of the length of the city, it can be slow and basically just runs in a straight line. To get to your destination, you’ll probably still have a bit of a hike, or a short taxi ride ahead of you.
The Dubai Government has a setup called the Road and Transport Authority. They govern all the public transport, including taxis. One option is to rent a taxi driver for a block of hours, rather than paying by the meter.
This is convenient because it provides some flexibility; it’s available at the last minute so booking in advance is not necessary. The price includes unlimited kilometers in and around Dubai, however if you do decide to leave the emirate, then additional distances will be charged by the meter.
Hiring a car and a driver through the RTA might not save you a lot of money if you’re going from place to place and stopping everywhere for sightseeing, but it does save you all the hassle of every time having to hunt for a vacant taxi.
Taxis are normally quite clean and well maintained. The drivers are usually knowledgeable and confident, which is a major plus on the Dubai roads.
A block of 6 consecutive hours will set you back 500dhs, while a 12hr booking will cost 800dhs. Taxis are normally Toyota Corollas and can carry a maximum of 4 passengers. Family vans (carrying up to 7 passengers) as well as lady-driven taxis are available, however a surcharge may apply.
For more information, visit the RTA website. You can book by calling +971 (0)4 2080808.
Gulf Luxury Car Rental
Another option is to go with a privately owned company which offers driver services. One such company is Gulf Luxury Car Rental. As the name suggests, it’s possible to be chauffer driven in a more upscale car to help you feel a part of the glitzy Dubai lifestyle.
Surprisingly, it isn’t that much more expensive than hiring a car and driver through the RTA. In fact, they do also offer standard cars which actually work out cheaper. A day is considered to be 10 hours.
A standard car, such as a Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord can be hired for 600dhs. A larger car, such as the Toyota Prado is 700dhs, while a luxury car model such as a Lexus is 800dhs a day. The top of the line car on offer is a BMW, which will set you back 900dhs.
Again, this is for journeys in and around Dubai only. For journeys extending into other emirates such as Abu Dhabi, additional charges apply.
If you happen to have access to a car in Dubai, but you just can’t (or don’t want to) face the roads in Dubai, then another option is to use a newly established company called The Driver.
They have been approved by and linked to the RTA, so they are fully governed to ensure safe and reliable drivers are provided to chauffer you around in the car you provide them. This is a service used regularly by residents of Dubai who use it as a ‘designated driver’ service.
They pay for short-term hiring of drivers, for example after a night out or a dinner involving alcoholic drinks.
Surprisingly, this service is more costly than some of the other companies whose services also include the hire of the car.
To hire a driver for a day (considered to be 9hrs) is 900dhs. During this time, you are also required to give the driver a 1hr break. The Driver, like the other companies, offer their services 24hrs a day.
Bookings can be made on the day, however they prefer 2-3 days’ notice to guarantee availability of high quality drivers. Bookings can be made online or by calling +971 800 831.
Dial a Driver
Another company which offers you the option of hiring a car and driver, or simply hiring a driver, is Dial A Driver. They offer flexibility with regard to length of hire, but their pricing is less transparent because they also consider the number of passengers and the starting point.
They quoted a fixed price of 50dhs per hour just for driver services, with a minimum of 4hrs per booking. Daily rates are calculated in the same way, based on how many hours you want your day to be. For example, an 8 hour day would cost 400dhs and a 12 hour day would cost 600dhs.
If you’re staying in Dubai for a week or more, they do offer discounted prices for weekly or monthly hiring of driver services.
For a quotation, email firstname.lastname@example.org and include details of the type of car, the number of passengers, the length of hire required and the location you’ll need the driver.
As you can see, the pricing is fairly consistent across the companies offering driver services. It’s mostly your individual preferences such as type of car and flexibility with booking which might sway you in one direction or the other.
If you wait until you’re actually in Dubai and you ask around, it’s quite likely that someone knows someone who would be honored to drive you around for a day at rates much cheaper than these companies are offering. It might be tempting, but consider it carefully. You have no guarantees and no-one to go back to if you are unhappy with the service you’ve received.
Sometimes peace of mind is a worthwhile investment.