Posted on May 23, 2014

Taking a Taxi in Saudi Arabia

taxi cab saudi arabia
If you don’t have a personal car while in Saudi Arabia then your only means of getting around the city will be taxicabs. Like taxi cabs in most cities they are well kept and come with a knowledgeable driver. The downfall to taxi cabs in Saudi Arabia are the endless tricks that they pull on foreigners to make an extra buck. I’ve listed a few tips to get a good handle of taxicab experience here in Saudi Arabia. This may seem like a bizarre topic to discuss but it baffles how easy taxi drivers take advantage of foreigners in the city.

1. Google Map your directions before your trip:
This is not for direction purposes but rather for giving you a rough estimation of how long the trip should be. Sometimes if your trip is very short, drivers will take advantage by taking you the long-winded way to rack up the cost of the trip. Doing this will let you have a voice in how long the trip should be and don’t be afraid to voice it if you see it taking much longer.
2. Always ask for the meter: This is essential if you aren’t sure of how long the trip will take and avoid you being hustled by the driver. It is common practice to bargain a fare before even entering the cab. If your negotiating skills aren’t as strong as they could be, then ask for
the meter! Once you’ve taken the same route a few times and are comfortable with the rate, then you can do without the meter and set the fare at the onset of the trip.
3. Make sure the driver knows the destination:
Unlike other cabs, taxi cabs in Saudi Arabia are not equipped with GPS systems and/or Support Dispatch Systems so if they don’t know where the place it can lead to a lot of confusion. DO THIS BEFORE DEPARTING!
4. Know close by landmarks: Saudi Arabia’s cities are poorly planned with many streets lacking names and signage; addresses are somewhat irrelevant. The best way to get where you’re going or close by is to be familiar with the major streets and landmarks (malls, mosques, business
centers, schools, etc.). You will come to learn that almost every location is
described by its proximity to something!
5.One Driver ONLY: It has happened in the past and it needs to be stated that every every taxicab is to be with only one driver. If you hail a cab and they pull-up with someone sitting in the passenger seat, move onto the next. If they suggest picking up a friend on the way (it happens) under no circumstance do you agree.
These tips may seem bizarre to many but once you get into the city grind I promise they will come in very helpful. You must understand that taxicabs here are fairly unregulated so everybody is searching for their next fare without further thought into any aspects of customer
service. Be consumer-wise!
***Women ONLY Tips******:
Backseat Passenger Always:  Under no circumstance is it okay for your to sit in the passenger seat. You always sit in the back. For safety (self-defence pointer) you should sit directly behind the driver and at no time is it permitted for you to sit in the front. Many (perverted) drivers will say it’s okay for you to sit in the front. It is not OKAY.
Rudeness Accepted: I mean this in the politest way possible but you need to be stern with the driver. Many drivers take advantage of foreigners especially women and easily mistake our common manners for flirtation. There is no need for discussion, find someone else to talk too!


**Additional Point**:
Saudi taxicab drivers ONLY: Some public areas in Saudi Arabia are designated for only Saudi- taxicabs. These areas include high traffic spots such as airports, train stations, bus stations. Only Saudi-driven taxicabs are allowed to pick-up customers from these locations. Keep in mind with this advantage they tend to set their prices higher than regular fares. TIP: If possible (bus stations, train stations) to walk to a major street close by, you’re better off hailing a cab off the road (there are plenty) and saving almost 50% of the cost.
Taxicab Regular: It is not uncommon to befriend a taxicab driver and use him exclusively. Keep in mind that these types of taxicabs end to have client lists that grow by referral and have
earned a reputable history with a group of customers. The key is history don’t go looking to make it with any taxicab driver ask women around you and one of them is sure to have a number of one of them.
This tends to be very beneficial to foreign women because these taxicab drivers tend to have good English skills and have been in the city long enough to answer most whereabouts questions. You contact them via cell phone number and they are familiar with your home address so commutes tend to be less stressful.
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