FYI / Hijrah Humor! / Life in Jeddah / Transportation

Taxi!

Taxi Cab in Jeddah

Photo by Manyana - Virtual Tourist Web Site

Daebissa said: TAXIS!!!! Probably the best thing you can do when you find a good taxi driver that can speak passable English is to snatch him up! Get his mobile number, and if you are planning to go somewhere, you can call ahead. That way, you know you are with someone you can trust and who doesn’t rip you off. Secondly – KNOW SOME ARABIC. There are a few arabic words that can get you by in a taxi. I am going to type these how they sound phonetically. These are: 1) Al la toule (straight head, all the way straight, no turning). 2) Yamine (right) 3) Yasaar (left) 4) Henna (here, i.e., stop) Thirdly – KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING. There is nothing more frustrating and tear-evoking than driving around Jeddah with someone who doesn’t speak English trying to tell him where to go when you don’t even know yourself. Be careful, because when you ask the driver at first if he knows where _________ is (fill in the blank), he will probably say yes, even if he doesn’t know. Fourth and lastly – KNOW THE PRICE OF WHERE YOU ARE GOING. Before you even get into the taxi, ask how much. He will give probably a high quote, so then you tell him what you already know the price should be. He should smarten up and take you for that price.

***

June said: The fastest and most accessbile way to go around the city is taking the taxicab, you won’t miss it, they’re all in white uniform color. Negotiate for the fare before even jumping into one, that’s how it goes. Taxi meters, though functioning, are not really in use on most taxis, except maybe if you request for it. However, you would end up paying more. Bargaining is the name of the game. Fare ranges from SR5 to 25, depends on your destination. Coming from the airport to the city centre, may cost from SR30 to 50.

One thought on “Taxi!

  1. I’ve been meaning to comment on the quotes above for some time now, so here we go…

    ~ English

    Yes having an English speaking (taxi) driver can make things a bit easier, but sometimes it jacks up the initial fare. If you plan on “keeping” the driver and build a friendly relationship with him, you’ll definitely get discounts and other perks (like him becoming your personal translator, negotiator and tour guide). The workers here are relatively nice and will go out of their way to help you so long as you treat them with kindness and respect.

    ~ Know Some ‘Arabic

    Yes, definitely. Don’t worry if you’re not fluent and your grammar skills are not up to par – no offense to anyone – but a lot of the people you have to interact with for things like taking a taxi or grocery shopping don’t speak or understand fushaa anyway. I’m not saying to shun fushaa, but learn how to ask for what you need in ‘aammiyyah as well (there’s nothing wrong with being “well rounded”). This tactic has helped me in many situations. Don’t wait until you get here to start learning ‘Arabic.

    ~ A Few Useful Terms

    Drivers (no matter what their nationality is) understand the term “U-turn.” If they don’t (which is highly unlikely) just motion with your hand as your speaking and they’ll get it.

    The Indian expats say “lefty” (turn left) and “righty” (turn right).

    Yameen kamaa yameen – make two right turns.

    Yasaar kamaa yasaar – make two left turns.

    ‘Abrash shaari’ – across the street.

    ‘Indaz zaawiyah – at the corner.

    ~ Know Where You’re Going

    Oh please do! Everything Daebissa said above is absolutely correct.

    ~ Know the Price of Where You’re Going

    Yes, you should have an idea of the price beforehand. I don’t agree with Daebissa on asking before getting in the car. If you already know the price, DON”T ASK. Asking gives the driver the right to request any amount he wishes for his service. A lot taxi drivers purchase their own cars and give a portion of their earnings to their sponsors and will jump at an opportunity to bring home some extra beef bacon. Again, don’t ask if you already know the answer or have a general idea. Instead, tell him where you want to go and for how much. If he refuses, tell him the price you’ve mentioned is “aady” (common amongst the people) and if he continues to refuse, no big deal, cabs come a riyaal a dozen. Often times when you’re about go look for another cab, he’ll say “maa lish” and take you for the ‘aady fare.

    ~ In a Nutshell

    Everything June said is true. Just know that taxi drivers charge more during the following days (and everyone here is accustomed to it):

    ~ Ramadhaan
    ~ ‘Eid al Fitr
    ~ Hajj break
    ~ ‘Eid al Adhhaa
    ~ Traffic jams (they may add $5 SAR or so for sitting in traffic)
    ~ Rainy weather (floods)
    ~ Saudi National Day

    Here are some taxi tips from MSN:

    MSN Travel: Know what a legitimate taxi looks like. From Moscow to Manhattan, unlicensed gypsy cabs will respond to your outstretched arm and offer you a ride. Proceed with extreme caution. Why would you get into an unmetered, uninspected car with an unsupervised mystery man who may or may not speak your language? Take a minute to find out what the real taxis in the city are supposed to look like. If you do want to try a gypsy cab, don’t get in if anyone other than the driver is in the car, and don’t put your belongings in the trunk, where they can easily be held hostage.

    My Comment: There are many unlicensed gypsy cabs here in Jeddah. Most are men looking to earn extra cash to make ends meet however, it’s best to go with a licensed cab driver especially if you’re a woman (with no other recourse).

    MSN Travel: Have enough local knowledge to avoid scamming. Even the quickest glance at a map should give you some sense of the direction you should be heading and how long it should take. Long airport trips are always scammers’ favorites. Keep an eye on the meter (make sure it’s running unless you’re on a flat-fare journey), and don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel you’re being taken for a ride. Know the currency and the tipping policy. You’ve stumbled off the red eye and retrieved a handful of won, rupees or pesos from the ATM. How much are they worth? Do you have small bills? Can you identify the coins? The last thing you want is to wrestle with the driver over your bankroll and follow up with a debate about the tip, if tipping is customary. It’s up to you to know the currency and the customs.

    My Comment: MSN hit the nail on the head! Be careful. Always research your desired destination before heading out. Jeddawi cabbies don’t expect to be tipped unless they go beyond the call of duty. Knowing the currency and customs – yes a million times over. I will elaborate in a separate thread.

    MSN Travel: Depend on your hotel concierge for advice. He or she can explain the local taxi routine to you, call for dependable rides, and advise you on how long your trip should take and what it should cost. The concierge can also help you decide if a private hired car would make more sense, especially for a busy business traveler who has to make several stops throughout the day or a tourist who’s short on time. In many cities, especially in Africa and South Asia, the private option is surprisingly affordable. Remember: a taxi ride is a business transaction, and it’s important to hold up your end of the deal, even if you’ve had an unpleasant trip. And at the end of a long night, remain civil and keep your wits about you when it’s time to pay.

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