Conventional wisdom or rather, experience has shown Uber to be less expensive than Taxis – right? I mean every place on the planet (not that I have traveled to more than 10 countries), that has been my experience. Except this one time. And, maybe there are more exceptions to the conventional wisdom that I know…
In Abu Dhabi, a kind soul informed me that taxis were about 33% less expensive than Uber. Say what?? Yeah. There is a downside – you knew this was coming, right? Unless you have a local UAE telephone number you cannot use their app to book a taxi nor can you call one. I asked the person that answered the phone how else could a foreigner book a taxi. They suggested borrowing a local’s phone or asking the local to call you a cab. Ok, that was catch #1. Catch #2 – taxis don’t accept credit cards. Apparently, at one time they did but, as of this writing, February 8, 2020, they don’t. So, be sure to carry enough cash on you. UAE is one of the safest places on the planet so, no worries there. As a plastic (credit card) society, most Americans are not used to carrying cash. The exchange rate is permanently fixed at $1 = AUH 3.67 (Dirhams). Average rides cost AUH 30. Not exactly cheap but, not bad either.
Taxi drivers go through a rigorous six-month training before they can drive. Yes, you read it right. Six months. That includes the driving school, learning the language basics, memorizing the long Arabic street names, learning the geography not only of Abu Dhabi but, UAE, first written test through the government and upon passing that, a second written test with the company that they are hired at. The drivers (male only) wear uniforms. The car warns them when they drive over the speed limit. I imagine that it transmits that information to the central monitoring authorities.
All in all, traveling in a taxi is a safe bet in Abu Dhabi. Next to see how it is in Dubai and which costs more…though, Dubai has a decent metro network from what I can tell…hoping to ride it.