The quickest way to get a taxi in Dubai
The rise of the taxi-hailing app has given the carless a multitude of choices for getting around Dubai. But which is the best? In a totally unscientific trial, we attempted to find out. Standing at the same spot in the neighbourhood formerly known as Tecom, and at the same time every day between Sunday and Wednesday, we gave each
of the four main varieties a go.
Here are the results… completely non-peer-approved.
1. Careem (Economy)
Careem is the biggest network of chauffeur-driven cabs in the region. It’s no surprise, then, that as soon as I request one the interactive map pops with over a dozen drivers circling Barsha Heights. However, I’m not quite ready to leave, so I close the app and decide to put on some trousers before I order.
Fully-clothed, I request one of Careem’s economy class vehicles.
It just so happens there’s one outside my building that immediately pings to announce he’s here. Easy.
From “Yalla” to passenger seat: Two minutes.
Verdict: The clear winner, even if it might have been a total fluke.
2. Uber (Economy)
Uber doesn’t quite have the same coverage in Dubai as Careem, so there weren’t as many available cabs cruising around Barsha Heights. Although I found one quickly enough, the driver struggled to find the pin drop and had to call me a few times for directions. So, I was standing in the road just before midday flapping my arms at him like a madman. Not ideal.
Of all the vehicles I travelled in, though, Uber was the best equipped. AC controls in the back allowed me to dry the beads of sweat on my forehead, and the push-button window shades are a nice touch. The best bit? Realising there was a phone charging cable to revive my dying smartphone.
From “Select” to passenger seat: Six minutes.
Verdict: Late, but nicely executed.
3. RTA (via Careem)
You can, of course, now book RTA cabs through the Careem app. A few seconds after booking I receive a call from a curious driver to make sure I hadn’t ordered him by mistake, which I assume by his tone happens all too often.
Assurances given, my cab rolls up two minutes later. Unlike Careem, it’s cash only in an RTA taxi so make sure you have some. Seeing as though I look like the type of guy who often forgets his wallet, my driver asks if I have money on me before pulling away. Thanks, mate.
From “Request Taxi” to passenger seat: Three minutes.
Verdict: Not great if you have a persecution complex.
4. Regular RTA cab
Hailing a cab on the street is simple enough. There are hundreds of them flying around Barsha Heights, so it’s just a case of braving the heat for a couple of minutes and then jumping inside. Easy, right? Well, not exactly.
You see, other people think the same way and they’ll do what they can to beat you to it. I was almost impressed with the way a lady strode up, looked at the whites of my eyes and then moved ten feet up the same bit of pavement to flag a taxi down. She even flashed a knowing smile at me as she ducked into the passenger seat. Luckily, I only had to cook a little longer in the sun before jumping into a cab and breathlessly requesting that the AC is ramped up to eleven.
From street to passenger seat: 12 minutes.
Verdict: It’s a jungle out there.