10 Just wait in line
The first and only rule you need to know about getting the next taxi is, to wait your turn. There are around 8,000 taxis in Dubai, so be patient and your time will come. Read beyond this paragraph and you’re basically plotting a taxi ‘theft’ and therefore aligning yourself with grave robbers and child actors as the most deplorable and objectionable members of society.
It is less shameful to own up to flatulence in a crowded elevator than it is to admit to upstreaming people for taxis. The practice, as if you didn’t know, is that of spotting pedestrians dutifully waiting by the roadside with arm raised in the internationally-recognised taxi hailing pose and walking nonchalantly past and just grabbing the next cab before they do. Do this at your peril and accept that recriminations can include having eyebrows raised at you, exasperated shrugs and muttered disbelief from the people you just stole from. Oh, and there is a good chance they will spend a full day fantasising about smashing your head through a window.
Generally not that frowned upon in polite society due to the inherent risk involved. Downstreaming is the act of leaving a taxi queue, crossing the road and moving away from traffic to find a cab coming the opposite direction. If you get lucky, and you rarely will, it is considered good form to give a sheepish grin to the people you left on the opposite street and they will give a nod of acknowledgement to absolve you of blame because of your pioneering spirit. Just do the right thing and vaguely walk at least ten metres away from the pack to make it seem less obvious.
7 Round the houses
This is just upstreaming for people who either lack the bravado to openly flout the rules of the street or are kidding themselves that they are better than that. To complete a round the houses taxi theft you need to see a long line, re-enter the building you just left, exit from the back, walk down a side street and emerge from another building a block further along to create your own, seemingly legitimate, taxi line. You’re fooling nobody – this is cowardly upstreaming and you know it is.
People are inherently good. And good people would let a pregnant woman move to the front of the line and take the next taxi. You, however, read beyond the first paragraph and therefore have the moral compass of the Mafia. But would you ever exploit the well-intentioned by stuffing a cushion in your top and feigning pregnancy?
5 Sympathy vote
We really couldn’t care less how bad your day has been or what you’re late for, just get to the back of the line.
If there is one thing worse than standing in 50 degree heat waiting for a car, it is an awkward, impromptu taxi share with a stranger. Don’t offer and don’t accept unless you want small talk with somebody who, although geographically and chronologically-aligned, you’ll have no rapport with whatsoever. The politics of who gets dropped off first, how the bill is settled and what radio station you listen to is a power struggle you don’t need.
3 Trojan horsing
A complicated move that requires a group of at least two people. The basic principal is that one person is left as a decoy to divert other pedestrians into forming a line. The active partner then patrols a crossroads, effectively quadrupling the chances of getting a cab while maintaining an ethical high ground.
2 Pushing in
Slyly worming your way into a taxi line in an effort to move up the order is not advisable. Taxi ranks operate on a different sense of logic to the rest of the word. Anger the pack and, like wolves, they’ll turn on you and hound you out of a favourite corner forever.
1 Call a cab
It really is that simple. You don’t need to be so devious. Just make a call and revel in the smug, conscience-friendly walk past a sweating taxi line and straight into the air conditioned cab.
Will Milner is a regular contributor. He doesn’t drive.