Getting around Dubai: Taxis are fast and convenient but the most expensive way to travel

Nadeem Hanif uses a taxi...

DUBAI // At 9.12am precisely, I made the short walk to the line of taxis outside Ibn Battuta Metro station and jumped into the back of a cab.

After receiving a bemused look from the driver when I told him I wanted to go to Rashidiya Metro station, we set off.

Although it was still rush hour we got on to Sheikh Zayed Road without any difficulties and the taxi quickly picked up speed as we made good progress.

The speed limit on Sheikh Zayed Road is 120kph and the driver maintained that throughout most of the journey.

With a clear day and the traffic flowing freely I make my first attempt to start a conversation with the driver two minutes into the journey.

“So is it busy this time of the year?” I inquire. “Yes,” he replies with a grunt.

On the front seat the photographer is trying his best to be as creative as possible, taking photos in short bursts.

By 9.20am we have already reached our first landmark, the Mall of the Emirates, without any delays and are steaming to the next.

At this point I decide to seize the moment and try to engage the taxi driver in conversation again.

“So where are you from?” I ask. “Pakistan. My village is in Waziristan near the Afghan border, I’m Asif,” he says.

He is then interrupted by a call and as he talks to his friend in Pashtun his befuddlement at being asked to drive from Ibn Battuta Metro station to Rashidiya Metro station comes through.

Although I can’t make out what is being said, I hear the word “Rashidiya station” used three times with a mix of confusion, pity and amusement.

Nevertheless our rapid progress is continuing and we pass the Burj Khalifa at 9.26am.

I send a boastful text to my colleagues telling them I’ve gone past the Burj and by the time one replies we have already reached Wafi Centre at 9.30am, before crossing the Sheikh Rashid Road bridge headed to Festival City.

With Dubai International Airport on our left we are in the final stretch to the rendezvous point at Rashidiya Metro station.

And at 9.38am we reach the station, a mere 26 minutes after we started.

We are the first to arrive after a journey of 43.28km, but it hasn’t come cheap and the final fare is Dh85.50 because we passed under two Salik gates.

As we get out of the cab I thank Asif and we go into the station to await the arrival of the others.

My colleague on the metro hasn’t even reached the Burj Khalifa station yet. The private-car driver was delayed after taking a wrong turn, but she is the next to arrive.

Overall the taxi journey was quick and convenient, although that is balanced out by the higher cost compared with the other forms of transport.

It is something commuters are aware of.

“I’m not sure I would take a taxi to Rashidiya Metro station but there are occasions when it is the better option,” said Samantha Ferguson, from the UK, who has lived in Dubai for three years.

“My first option would be the metro but it just depends if it’s running at the time you need to go, to the airport for example.

“Although taxis are more expensive they operate 24 hours a day and are much more convenient than the metro or taking your own car.”

Fareed Ali, an accountant from India, used the Metro for city travel at weekends.

“It’s better to get a friend to drop you off at the airport, or vice versa, than pay for a taxi,” he said. “The problem with the metro is that it stops running at midnight or 1am most days so it’s not as convenient as it could be.

“I think if they made the metro run 24 hours and seven days a week more people would use it.”

Published: May 1, 2014 04:00 AM


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