Taxi tactics in Dubai

Our man reveals his ruthless side in his quest to nab a cab

The Knowledge

Given that I live a five-minute cab ride from the office, my morning commute should be fairly straightforward. Well, it’s easy once I’ve found a taxi – all I need to do is point the way and I’m spirited off to Media City (which, incidentally, isn’t as stupendously futuristic as its Judge Dredd-style name suggests).

Unfortunately, finding a cab in the first place is usually a complete nightmare. There are decidedly fewer taxis passing through Dubai Marina every morning than there used to be – especially in the past couple of weeks.
I have a couple of theories to explain this. First, The Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is stealing away Dubai’s taxi drivers for some wicked purpose that I’ve yet to comprehend. Or, more likely, the drivers have wised up to the fact that so many Marina dwellers work in nearby Media City, Internet City, Cloud City, whatever – so are heading elsewhere in search of a better fare.

This lack of transport forces me to display a fox-like cunning to beat my neighbours out of the front door and snag these much sought-after modes of transport. The game of wits begins as early as the lift. I live on the eighth floor of my building, so when the doors slide open I’m confronted with at least three taxi rivals. I’m usually the last to get in the lift, which means I’m first out, enabling me to reach the road ahead of my taxi-hungry nemeses.

If, however, there’s already someone waiting at the road, I play it cool. I pull out my phone, put it to my ear and announce to my imaginary chauffeur: ‘I’m ready, shall I walk down and meet you?’, as I edge down the road to cut in front of a gaggle of suits and one flustered nanny desperately trying to get her charge to school on time.

It seems I’m not the only person who uses a mobile phone as a prop when attempting to look inconspicuous. More and more people are using my ploy to help them edge their way down the road in the hope of snagging a cab.

I’ve also started to adopt the cavalier tactic of darting across the road to hijack taxis going in the opposite direction – a risky procedure because there’s always a chance even fewer taxis will pass. However, if successful, my victory is all the sweeter: I can eyeball my enemies smugly once my driver has U-turned and I’m cruising back past them.

I realise it’s not very charitable of me, but life is all about the little wins – little wins that keep my Dubai mornings interesting, and get me to work on time.

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