A lady ordering a taxi on her phone in Dubai with a Dubai taxi in the background

Dubai Taxi Booking: How to Use Public Taxis in Dubai

by Dubai Travel Planner

Dubai is well-known as a city of gleaming towers with unparalleled access to both pristine beaches and desert safaris. It is easy to forget that it has grown from a quaint fishing village to a city of approximately three million inhabitants over the course of the past 50 years and the metropolitan area has gone through numerous changes in this period.

Dubai is now a sprawling city with several urban centres, serving different communities. The rapid expansion over a large geographical area has resulted in a significant increase in the use of public transport. This is compounded by average temperatures of above 25C for six months of the year, making Dubai a more car-focused city than most.

You can find our complete guide to Dubai Public Transport over here. In this guide we’re going to focus on public taxis in Dubai, and how they compare with popular ride sharing services.

Dubai and how to get around by taxi

Dubai taxis have been an integral part of the city over the last 27 years. Dubai Taxi Corporation was launched in 1995 with 81 vehicles and is regulated by Dubai Road and Transport Authority (RTA).

Years ago, it used to be a somewhat daunting task for tourists to use RTA Taxis, due to the less structured address system in Dubai. Drivers often relied on passenger knowledge to guide them to destinations, and navigation was mostly done through a series of instructions around notable landmarks.

Thankfully, those days are long gone with the emergence of Google Maps, Waze, and taxi-hailing apps. Getting around by taxi in Dubai is not only convenient but also very reasonably priced.

Today, the DTC fleet numbers more than 5,000 vehicles and 12,000 male and female drivers. Taxis operate around the clock, seven days a week, keeping the city running.

Taxis lined up at arrivals in DXB airport in Dubai

How do I order a taxi in Dubai?

Cream coloured, with a red or other primary coloured roofs, Dubai Taxis are highly recognisable around the city.

Hailing a car on the street is easy and convenient—just make sure to look for taxis with their light on and be aware that they will only stop where it is safe to do so. This goes for both drop-off and pick up. At the malls look for the dedicated taxi ranks, where you will find rows and rows of taxis ready to pick up passengers.

When it may be inconvenient to hail a taxi from the street, there are several other ways to book a taxi.

Booking Dubai Taxis Online

Dubai Taxis can be booked online on www.dubaitaxi.ae as well as by calling the dispatch centre on 800 88088. Book for immediate pick-up or make an advance booking.

In August 2019 DTC launched a joint venture with Careem, allowing customers to book Hala cars (Dubai Taxis) using the smartphone application and thereby taking advantage of the features that have made these apps so popular, but at RTA prices.

If you plan to have data on your phone when visiting Dubai, this is by far the most convenient and cashless way to book and organise your taxi journeys around Dubai: Careem on Google Play | Careem on App Store

Different DTC Services

Current regulations allow for three passengers in a standard Dubai Taxi. However, DTC offers different services in order to cater to varying needs.

  • Should you need to travel in a group of up to five people or with larger luggage, it is recommended to book one of the larger cars, also known as Hala Van on the Careem app. These cars will offer ample space for passengers as well as luggage. These cars are also readily available at the airport taxi rank.
  • If travelling with younger children, why not take advantage of the Hala Junior service, Dubai Taxis, equipped with car seats to ensure children travel as safely as possible.
  • If you are a female passenger travelling alone, you may be more comfortable taking one of the dedicated taxis driven by female drivers. You will know them by the pink roof. Whilst you cannot book a Pink car on the Careem app, they are readily available at the airport or at most larger malls. You can also book via the dispatch centre.
  • For people of determination, Dubai Taxi offers a specific service aimed at those with additional mobility needs. These taxis must be prebooked via the dispatch centre.

You can learn more about these special services using the DTC App – Google Play | App Store

Dubai Taxi Fares

Dubai taxis have different base fares depending on how the taxi is booked.

  • The standard flag fall is now AED 12 for a booked taxi
  • The rate for flagging on the street is variable AED 5 to AED 9 in the evening
  • A new special events flagfall has been introduced of AED 20. This applies on evenings such as NYE,
  • The subsequent meter charge is 1.97 AED per kilometre for a normal sedan (this was recently reduced from 2.19 AED due to changing petrol prices).
  • An airport and ports levy of 25AED is added for pick-ups at any terminal.
  • Any Salik (toll) charges are also payable by the customer.

Taxis accept cash, credit cards, Apple Pay, nol Cards (that you use to pay for the Metro and bus system too), or Careem Pay if booked on the app.

Is Uber, Careem or Taxi cheaper in Dubai?

Both Uber and Careem ride share services operate in Dubai, and both offer a large fleet of predominantly Lexus sedan vehicles to be pre-booked via the respective smartphone applications.

As expected from privately owned taxi services, their prices are higher than Dubai Taxis, and significantly so when looking at their executive options (not to mention the Uber option of booking a helicopter!)

Please note, that both companies operate with surge pricing structures at particularly busy times, which may further increase the price. Both apps will allow you to see a list of the different available services along with the estimated fares based on the pick-up and destination entered. Careem will also give you the Hala options to choose from.

So, while you may arrive in Dubai with Uber already installed on your mobile phone, it is worth considering downloading Careem, as it will give you more options in terms of private hire cars and Dubai Taxis.

Taxies at Dubai Airport DXB

One time when it is recommended to hail a taxi is when arriving at Dubai Airport. Here, it is often more convenient than pre-booking, as the taxi rank is always easily accessible from arrivals, whereas pick-up locations for pre-booked cars can be less conveniently located.

NB – when they try and upsell you at the taxi rank for a more luxurious limousine taxi for just “one dirham more”, they are talking about 1 AED more PER KILOMETRE! Don’t get caught out by this!

Taxis from Dubai airport are also able to drive you to other Emirates, beyond Dubai by meter.

Are taxis safe in Dubai?

In a word – YES. Dubai Taxis are well regulated by the RTA, and passengers can feel safe using any of the services.

As the fares are metered, there is little scope for overcharging.

In addition, the ability to book a taxi via apps such as Careem means that passengers have all the additional safety features typically associated with a private hire car platform such as tracking the journey, easily identifying the car and driver as well as being able to share the journey details with others.

More frequently asked questions about Dubai Taxi

What is Hala Taxi?

Hala Taxi is a Dubai public taxi that can be booked using the Careem app. Ordering a Hala Taxi has some added benefits such as being able to know your driver’s details, pick your type of vehicle, track your car, and use cashless payment. You will need the Careem App downloaded to book a Hala Taxi

Why do Dubai taxis have different colour roofs?

The coloured taxi roofs are used to depict the different taxi companies that operate in Dubai. All, however, are booked in the same way and regulated by DTC so it makes no difference which beige coloured taxi with a different colour roof you catch.

The only difference is the pink roof taxis which have lady drivers for women and families only.

How do I pay for a taxi in Dubai?

All Dubai taxis now offer passengers the option to pay with nol cards, credit cards or NFC technology via smartphones using Apple Pay or Samsung Pay.

How can I make a complaint about an RTA taxi driver?

The vast majority of the time you should have no issue with your Dubai taxi driver. However, if you’d like to report a problem you should ring 800 9090 to lodge a complaint.

Which is the best Taxi App in Dubai?

It can understandably be confusing which app to use as there are several ways you can book a taxi or ride share online in Dubai.

We suggest the best one to use is Careem as it gives you both Hala Taxi (Dubai public taxis – with all their variations including Hala Van and Hala Juniors) as well as Careem’s ride share service, or Uber UAE (who actually owns Careem but still operates under their internationally recognised brand).

The prices and information in this post were last reviewed in Jnauary 2024 but note that the RTA does make frequent announcements on fare changes (that aren’t always reflected on their website)

Further Public Transport in Dubai

To assist your journey across the city of Dubai, you may also be interested to learn more about:

Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai


Take me back to the best attractions and activities in Dubai

Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE and transit passengers self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our recommendation links.

Dubai Travel Planner

You may also like