I think I mentioned before how cheap UAE taxis were when compared to those in the UK. I am now forming the opinion that you get exactly what you pay for.
Firstly a bit of background information:
- There are three Emirates adjoining each other. Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman
- Dubai is expensive to live in and more fun
- Sharjah is cheaper to live in and deadly dull
- Ajman is furthest from Dubai
- The traffic between Sharjah and Dubai is horrendous.
- Taxis from one emirate are not permitted to collect fares in a neighboring one.
- Taxi’s regularly refuse to take you to a neighboring emirate as they get stuck in traffic returning to their home Emirate.
- Taxi drivers are poorly paid and often don’t speak English or Arabic.
Today I wanted to travel to several locations to look at possible accommodation, so a very lucrative fare was in the offing.
I queued patiently outside the local Mall and eventually got to the front of the queue. The first driver point blank refused to take me to anywhere in Dubai, ‘feigning’ being unable to understand English. I’ve now learnt that the best way is to get in, make small talk about the heat and only give directions once under way. I managed this on my second attempt although this time the driver really didn’t know where he was going and spoke rudimentary English at best.
I decided that I needed another driver, so got dropped off at a Mall in Dubai and was fortunate to find a Dubai taxi driver that could speak reasonable English so I decided to use him for the rest of the journey. We did well together and travelled around for nearly three hours Mirdif, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Lake Towers and finally Ajman.
My very last port of call was the Hole in the Wall in Ajman, a liquor outlet for non-Muslim expats. While I was inside shopping, my driver was outside being harassed by a local Ajman taxi driver who was threatening my driver for collecting a fare in Ajman even though the meter was still running. He seemed like a nasty piece of work so I decided it would be best to simply pay off my original driver and take my chances and get a ride back with him.
Ajman taxis are not metered and you have to negotiate a fare. I only realized this once travelling but he said, “Not to worry”. I knew the last I’d had a metered fare to Ajman, it was about 20 Dh which is what I’d planned on paying him, he demanded 35 Dh. I didn’t want any trouble seeing as I was in the process of lugging alcohol around a dry emirate, so I paid up. He knew that too!
At least I have a few Heinekens to calm me down now. The sooner I get my visa sorted, get my own wheels and move to Dubai the better.
P.S. (The househunting was disappointing too.. you dont get a lot for your money in Dubai!)