June 13, 2007 / 11:19 AM / 12 years ago

Pink for ladies, red for gentlemen-taxis in Dubai

DUBAI (Reuters Life!) - For the comfort of Muslim women who do not wish to ride taxis with men, Dubai is now offering pink-colored cabs with a female driver.

A female taxi driver helps visitors from London at Dubai International Airport in this 2001 file photo. For the comfort of Muslim women who do not wish to ride taxis with men, Dubai is now offering pink-colored cabs with a female driver. REUTERS/Anwar Mirza

“Ladies Taxis” are the latest fad in the booming city, a business, tourism and commercial hub for more than 203 nationalities.

“Our society is conservative and our women do not want to ride with men alone at night or when they arrive at the airport at two or three in the morning,” Ammar Bin Tamim, director of Dubai Taxi, told Reuters.

“We decided to operate this service after complaints from women who did not want to ride with men, especially at night.”

Fifty women-only cabs operate in Dubai. Outside Dubai airport’s arrivals terminal, the busiest in the Middle East, women drivers wearing white headscarves and pink hats wait in their pink and beige cabs in line for their female-only customers.

A policeman at the airport taxi stand directs women to hop into a pink cab, and men to the red-topped cars.

Western women at the airport seemed at ease with the idea, following the directions with no surprise.

“It is very convenient for me to drive ladies only,” said taxi driver Fatima, wearing a white headscarf along with a pink vest and pink hat.

“It is our uniform, some (women) drivers are not Muslims and they wear the headscarf,” she said.

Dubai, one of seven emirates comprising the United Arab Emirates, is liberal compared with neighboring conservative Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia where women are not allowed to drive or vote.

Yet many local women in the UAE cover their heads with a black scarf and wear a long black robe called an abaya, abiding by their religious and social traditions.

“We prefer to ride with women,” said an Emirati woman who asked not be named.

Bin Tamim said women drivers are from six countries, including the Philippines, Syria and Jordan, and received special training before the service was started.

“We are receiving excellent feedback from women, they like this service.”

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