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The Savvy Girl’s Guide to Cairo Taxis

The Savvy Girl’s Guide to Cairo Taxis
    written by
    Soraya Morayef

    Like a two-hour traffic jam on the Mehwar, late-night
    street food and a view of the pyramids, taking a taxi in Cairo is a right of passage that every
    Cairene must experience at some point in their lives.

    We’ve come a long way since Cairo taxi cabs were limited to pre-historic
    cars with broken meters and crabby drivers. Now, thanks to last year’s
    government campaign, we have the swanky new white cabs with working meters and
    AC, although the drivers’ crabbiness preserves. There are even a few private
    cab companies that offer semi-reliable services (we say semi-reliable because
    we’ve experienced too many horror stories).

    Nonetheless, we at Cairo360 still hear some
    worrying stories every now and then about taxi experiences that can easily be
    avoided if you follow a certain protocol. Here are some tips on surviving Cairo taxis, compiled by a savvy and
    experienced local.

    Stick to the New
    Cabs:
    By law, the new cabs should have working
    meters, which prevents drivers from haggling over the price of your trip. They
    also offer a much more comfortable ride, where you don’t need to worry if the
    car door will fall off if you don’t keep holding onto it, or how to open the
    window without the window handle.

    Check that the Meter
    is Working:
    If it isn’t, get out at once. If you
    really need to take this cab, make sure you agree on a price before he starts
    driving. If the price he asks for seems unreasonable, tell him that the
    new law prohibits taxis from operating with broken meters, and threaten to take
    him to the nearest police station. If this doesn’t scare him into agreeing to
    your fee, get out.

    Take a Cab From a
    Populated, Well-Lit Area:
    If you’re taking a cab at
    night, it’s best to stop one in a well-lit area that will allow you to check
    that the driver looks okay, i.e. his eyes aren’t glazing over in a suspicious
    way. If possible, have a male friend stop the cab and tell the driver exactly
    where you’re going. Your friend can also loudly tell you that he will call to
    check up on you.

    Greet and Dress
    Appropriately:
    when you enter the taxi, say ‘Masaa
    El Kheir’ or ‘Salam Aleykom’. Even if you’re foreign and the driver knows you are,
    saying this shows cultural sensitivity and will probably lessen the number of
    times he asks ‘Where You from?’ Make
    sure you’re dressed appropriately: cover up cleavage with a scarf and avoid
    short skirts.

    Sit in The Back: Repeat; sit in the back. The only time you have to sit in the front
    is if the taxi is already carrying passengers and you’re desperate for a lift.
    Sitting in the back on the other side of the car from the driver avoids you
    getting into any uncomfortable situations.

    Do Not Engage: Don’t get us wrong, there are a lot of harmless and genuinely
    friendly taxi drivers out there, but if you’re a girl on your own, it’s
    generally best to be on your guard. Try not to make eye contact with the taxi
    driver, and refrain from answering any personal questions. Also, bear in mind
    that any personal phone call you have is being eavesdropped on.

    Know the Directions
    to Your Destination:
    Some drivers will often
    suggest longer routes in order to up the meter. Make sure you give clear
    directions and if he takes a detour, call him on it. If you’re a girl on your
    own in the cab, avoid taking back roads or highways like the Autostrad or the
    Circle Road at night.

    Notify Your Friends:
    If you’re feeling tense and it’s a late night
    drive, call up a friend or a family member, and loudly tell them (in Arabic if
    you can) that you’re in a cab and when/where you expect to arrive. Ask if
    someone can wait for you at your drop-off point. Even if they can’t, the driver
    knows that you have someone expecting you there.

    Make Sure You Have
    Change:
    Taxi drivers notoriously do not have
    change; it’s a policy that many (but not all) follow in order to get a few
    extra pounds out of your ride. Always ask if he has change before arriving at
    your destination. If he doesn’t
    (surprise, surprise), ask to be let out at a kiosk to find some change. Kiosks
    (and many other stores) generally follow the same we-don’t-have-change policy;
    the trick is to buy something off them, even if it’s just a pack of gum, to
    force them to give you back your change.

    Get out, And then
    Pay:
    Or pay as you quickly get out of the car.
    Stalling will allow the driver to count the money and ask for more. If he does
    ask for more, get out of the car and tell him firmly that this is
    all you are paying. Walk away from the car against traffic.

    When in Doubt, Ask
    For Help:
    If you’re unlucky enough to be stuck with
    a super cranky driver that’s willing to fight you to the end for that extra
    five pounds he thinks he deserves, your best bet is to walk to the closest
    store or policeman and ask for their help and intervention. Burst into tears if
    you can. Hide behind a large, burly man. At the end of the day, though, it’s
    not worth getting all hot and bothered about an extra five pounds.

    When all else fails,

    Take A Cairo360 Cab:
    They’re white, they’re fabulous and they carry our
    logo!

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