Getting an Uber in Dubai


Getting an Uber in Dubai

Typically, wherever you’re traveling within the country, it’s easy to find a ride. Whether you’re trying to get to the airport, brunch, home, work, or the next bar for the Happy Hour crawl, Uber’s got you covered. But as much as it’s permeated the United States, Uber isn’t available everywhere yet. So, it’s essential to plan ahead whenever you’re traveling internationally.

Does Uber work in Dubai? Uber and other ride-sharing apps have recently been made available in the country of Dubai, and Uber is one of the most popular choices in this country.

This is excellent news for international travelers! You can depend on your friendly neighborhood Uber driver to bring you from the Dubai Mall to the family-friendly marine animal parks, the Burj Khalifa skyscraper, or the Palm Jumeirah Boardwalk, then to a picturesque dining spot, and back to your hotel or Airbnb once you’re done for the day. As someone who loves to travel, but also likes to plan ahead, this was beneficial information to have.

If you’re planning a trip to Dubai and you plan to use Uber while you’re there, here are a few things you should consider first:

How to use Uber’s ride-sharing service in Dubai

Normally, you would just pull up the Uber app, type in your location, and wait for that shiny black sedan or white Ford Explorer to pull up to the curb and whisk you away to your next destination. You’d make sure that the picture matched the driver and that the license plates lined up, and you’d hop right in. Easy enough, right? Essentially, this is the same process that you’ll follow here. But when you’re in another country, especially if this is the first time that you are travelling there, there may be some notable differences that you should be aware of:

  1. Uber drivers in Dubai vs. Uber drivers in America

When you’re using Uber in America, your driver is typically going to be a man or a woman looking to use this gig economy position to make some extra money. In the past, Uber had teamed up with Dubai’s taxi corporation, which meant that each time you signaled an Uber driver in Dubai, a well-mannered professional wearing a suit and driving a company-owned Lexus would appear.

Today, the process is much more similar to ours here. Private individuals in Dubai can now sign up to drive for Uber if they meet the following requirements:

  • The driver must be at least 21 years old
  • The driver must have a valid RTA card
  • The driver must have a valid Emirates ID
  • The vehicle must have a valid RTA vehicle registration
  • The driver’s profile photo must be centered, forward facing, in focus, and well-lit
  • The vehicle must be a four-door sedan or minivan
  • The vehicle must be in good condition without any commercial branding or cosmetic damage

These requirements are very similar to the requirements that Uber drivers have to meet in America, and they drastically reduce the chance of any potential safety risks. Be sure to follow the same process of matching up the license plates and names/faces of your drivers just to be extra cautious while you’re travelling abroad.

  • Cost of Uber in Dubai vs. a regular taxi

Depending on what types of areas you’re travelling through in America, taxis and Ubers are usually better for different situations. For example, in congested and heavily trafficked areas like New York City, taxis will save you money, but if you’re taking a longer trip and moving at a quicker pace, Uber is the better option.

In Dubai, Uber offers a flat rate, which means that if you are travelling far or there is traffic, Uber is likely to be the cheaper option than calling a regular taxi. While these options are the two most popular choices for getting around in Dubai, there are also other ways to consider if you are on a budget for this trip or if you’re looking to splurge and get the best experience possible. We’ll talk more about those later.     

  • Safety of Uber in Dubai vs. a regular taxi

Uber’s service in Dubai is generally safe and reliable, as is the case with most places that Uber is available. However, there is one situation in which you may feel more comfortable calling a regular tax in Dubai: if you’re a woman travelling alone. Now, there is nothing to say that if you’re a woman travelling alone, you won’t feel safe using an Uber. This is not the case. But there are pink-roofed regular taxis in Dubai that are specifically designed for women only. The state operated taxi service can be ordered online or over the phone.  

Places to take an Uber if you want to get out of the busy city

You already know that you can book an Uber to take you to any number of exciting and lively hotspots in the city and surrounding areas during your trip. The Dubai Mall and Palm Jumeirah boardwalk are must-sees. But once you’ve had enough of the hustle and bustle and you’re ready for some peace and quiet, there are also plenty of places to go to do some soul searching, reading, or relaxing with beautiful views but fewer crowds:

  1. Ras Al Khor Sanctuary

At one end of the Dubai Creek, this sanctuary is home to all kinds of wildlife. You can see flamingos, mammals, fish and other marine life, and a wide range of wild bird species here. The landscape itself contains enticing mangroves, lagoons, and flatlands, so everywhere you look is picturesque and serene. Bring your camera, and a picnic or a book, and enjoy this wonderful nature scene far away from the crowds of the city.

  • Dubai Creek and park

This creek extends through to the Persian Gulf and offers beautiful views all along the way. Water taxis will take visitors for a cruise along the creek, so you can take advantage of this opportunity to kick back, take some unbelievable pictures, and see everything that the creek has to offer. You can also sit in the park and overlook the creek, or walk through the park’s botanical gardens.

  •  Other parks

If you enjoy being outdoors, Dubai offers many different and beautiful parks to visit, each with their own unique selling points. Zabeel Park offers plenty of attractions, exhibits, and gorgeous views over the city. Umm Suqeim Park is a great spot for fitness enthusiasts, and also offers a view of the Burj Al Arab. Barsha Pond Park is perfect for relaxing alongside the water. Lastly, Aventura Park in Dubai is great if you’re looking for a different kind of hustle and bustle. This park offers rope obstacles, zip-lines, and even Tarzan swings if you’re brave enough to try them out!

  • The Green Planet

I saved the best for last on this particular list. This intriguingly named attraction contains an indoor rainforest… I’ll repeat with more enthusiasm…. This intriguingly named attraction contains an indoor rainforest! This is an incredibly unique and interesting addition to any itinerary. You can see more than 3,000 different animal species at The Green Planet, and they’ve been brought in from as far away as South America. Plan for an experience that you will never forget, and make sure you give yourself enough time to see everything The Green Planet has to offer before you hop back into your Uber and head off on your next adventure.

Other ways to get around in Dubai

Using Uber in Dubai is a great, safe, and affordable option, but it’s not the only one. Considering the fact that Dubai’s airport was labeled the third busiest one in the world just three years ago, it’s no surprise that they offer such a large variety of transportation options. Here are some of the other ones if you’re looking for alternatives to Uber:

  1. Dubai’s Metro railroad

The modernized train system in Dubai connects the airport with the center of the city, so it’s a great option if you’re looking for a way to grab your bags and head right in. If you want to upgrade your ride, they offer cars in Gold Class, with wider leather seats and bigger windows. There are also cabins available exclusively for children and women if safety is a concern, although the Metro employs dedicated police to keep all passengers safe in every area.

  • Bus system

The bus system in Dubai covers about 82% of the city over the 600 stops that it makes. There are over 1,500 buses, so they’re easy to find. You can hop on and off for very little cost, so this is a great option if you’re looking to save some money and you’re okay with public transportation.

  • Regular taxis

We’ve already talked about this one, so I’ll keep it short. Taxis can be found in most places around Dubai, but they’re easiest to spot around hotels and the airport. Otherwise, you can call them or book online at almost any time. Don’t forget that the ones with the pink tops are meant for women only.

  • Careem

This is another ride-sharing app that is similar to Uber. Obviously, Uber is a bit more well-known, so that’s typically the option I’d recommend out of the two. But Careem can sometimes be cheaper for shorter distances, and they’re reputable enough to have built up a base in 53 cities, so it’s something to consider.

  • Helicopter

This option requires booking ahead and will obviously cost much more than any other mode of transportation on your trip, but if you have the extra cash and you’re looking to experience Dubai in a way that most people never will, it’s worth it. You can book through UberCHOPPER or Dubai’s Helicopter City Tour company for a view that you will never forget.

What is the best way to get around in Dubai?

This is a common question that comes up when discussing travel options in Dubai, so I wanted to discuss it a bit further. Every question we have today is a few mouse clicks or screen taps away, so it’s easy enough to do some research ahead of time to determine what the best travel options are for where you’re going and what your individual needs are. Our guide should eliminate the need for most of your research, but if you’re looking for more location-specific or time of day answers than general answers, they should be easy enough to find.

Uber is typically going to be one of the cheapest and will probably be the option you’re most familiar with, but there are other factors to consider. Would you feel more comfortable making use of a travel option that was made specifically for women? If so, a pink-topped taxi will probably be the best option for you. Are you looking to get the best possible views and money is not a consideration? Try taking a helicopter ride over Dubai for a once in a lifetime view and story to bring home to your friends and family. Are you looking to spend as little money as possible and you don’t care what the ride is like as long as you get there? Then hop on a bus, meet some locals, and be prepared to take your time getting to your destination because it may make a lot of stops along the way.

Our guide above of the best ways to get around in Dubai should help you narrow down your options once you know where you’re going, how much money you want to spend, and where you’ll feel the most comfortable.  

Accepted payment methods for Uber rides in Dubai

Uber as a company has really made their apps and services incredibly user-friendly as they’ve grown over the years. You can pay for your Uber rides in Dubai with your linked credit or debit cards, Google Pay, or even with cash, which is a relatively new and exciting option that Uber released within the last few years. The U.S. dollar is accepted in most places in Dubai, but exchanging your money for their currency can make the experience faster and simpler. Uber gift cards that you brought from home will not be applicable because they will only work in the country where they were purchased.

Keep in mind that if you plan to use your regular credit or debit card while you’re travelling outside of your home country, you should alert your credit card company of your travel dates and countries so that they don’t think that your information has been stolen and shut off your card while you’re on vacation. While it’s easy enough now to call in, give some personal information and location, and have your card turned back on, it’s easier to let them know ahead of time and avoid the hassle of waiting on hold, repurchasing anything that didn’t go through the first time, and potentially waiting a few hours for the hold to come off.

Can you tip Uber drivers in Dubai?

The simple answer here is yes. If you had a pleasant experience with your Uber driver, you can easily tip them directly through the app, just as you would do at home. If you’d prefer to tip them in cash in Dubai’s currency (United Arab Emirates Dirham), the recommended amount is AED5 or AED10. In U.S. dollars, this translates to $1.36 and $2.72, respectively. If you’re not great with math or don’t want to have to figure out the conversion rate, most people will typically just round up and let their driver keep the change (assuming it’s not a very minimal amount).

Where can I exchange my USD for Dirham in Dubai?

While it may fluctuate over the years, the typical currency exchange rate from USD to Dubai’s Dirham is AED 3.67 per each US dollar. At this rate, it makes sense for you to exchange your money and get the most you can from it. There are many places that you can go in Dubai to exchange your currency for theirs. However, money changer chains typically offer the best rates and they will have very convenient locations in order to draw in tourists without having to spend a lot on marketing or advertising. Here are the top five to look out for while you’re there if you choose not to exchange before your trip:

  1. Al Ansari Exchange
  2. Al Fardan Exchange
  3. Al Rostamani International Exchange
  4. UAE Exchange
  5. Sharaf Exchange  

If you’d prefer not to bring any cash to exchange, keep in mind that most places will also accept credit and debit cards and travelers’ checks. For the bigger expenses like the hotel or Airbnb stay, I would still recommend checking the website, or calling or e-mailing ahead of time to confirm that they will accept these forms of foreign currency, just in case, but this should not be an issue in nearly all places.

Resources:

https://www.hoteliermiddleeast.com/30177-new-guide-reveals-how-much-you-should-tip-in-dubai

https://www.uber.com/en-AE/blog/dubai/uber-payments/

https://www.uber.com/en-AE/blog/dubai/uber-driver-partner-dubai/

https://www.uber.com/en-AE/blog/dubai/dubai-escape-the-city/

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