Dubai is not exactly a pedestrian-friendly city, and taxis are often the best way to get around when your destination or starting point is not near a metro stop. Taxis in Dubai are regulated by the RTA, the Road Transport Authority, the municipal government body in charge of transport in the city, and run on a meter that is compulsorily started at the beginning of the ride.
Taxis in Dubai are really cheap, especially when compared to European or American cities. The drivers are practically always Indian, all very polite and courteous and speak good English, albeit with a typical Indian accent that often makes dialogues more difficult than expected.
Beware that very often because of where they come from they may not know an exact address or the name of a particular hotel: the best thing to do in such cases is to be taken to a familiar place in the city, such as a metro station, a shopping centre, a square or a roundabout, and walk from there.
There are several taxi companies in the city, but the service is of a comparable standard; they are distinguished by the colour of the taxi roof, while the body of the cars is always cream-coloured.
The taximeter is triggered either according to kilometres travelled or every 60 seconds of waiting at traffic lights or in the queue; an initial fare is charged, which is lower if the taxi is hailed on the street, while it is higher if it is booked, and is even higher when the ride starts at the airport. Beware of the fact that every time a taxi travels along Sheikh Zayed Road, a toll, the famous Salik, is charged.
At some points in the city, either at the airport or outside the major shopping centres, there are real taxi stands. There are often long queues of waiting taxis ready to take tourists and locals to their destinations. There are more than 50 of them throughout the city. If there are no taxis waiting at one of them, simply call one of the phone numbers displayed on the signs.
Taxi ranks can also be found outside all Dubai metro stations. Again, if there are no taxis available simply call the phone number, or send an SMS to 4774 with a UAE SIM card from the Etisalat company.
If you need a private boat transfer to a destination of your choice instead of a shared journey with other passengers at specific stops, the Dubai Water Taxi may be the winning choice. They too are operated and maintained by the RTA and are very modern and efficient boats.
The fleet consists of fully equipped catamarans with LCD screens and reclining backrests. The speed they are able to reach is an impressive 25 knots. There are 18 Water Taxi stations around Dubai, and the boats operate between 10am and 10pm. They pass through Dubai Marina and the Creek at very affordable prices.
In June 2014, the RTA introduced the RTA Smart Taxi app, which allows users to book a taxi directly via smartphone. The system is very sophisticated and allows users to book the nearest available taxi to their location; the app communicates the location to the taxi driver and the taxi’s route can be followed live on the screen.
The app also provides additional information such as the name of the driver and the estimated time of arrival at the destination. Booking a taxi ride through the app costs the same as a booking made by phone.
City Card allow you to save on public transport and / or on the entrances to the main tourist attractions.