x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Taxi drivers trained to be Abu Dhabi tour guides

More than 200 drivers to learn to deliver better service and find tourist spots such as museums and parks.

ABU DHABI // Around the world, tourists have often complained that a clever airport cabbie took them for a guided tour of the city. In Abu Dhabi, that complaint could soon be turned into a compliment. Under a new scheme, the Abu Dhabi Tourist Authority (ADTA) is training taxi drivers as tour guides. "Limo and taxi drivers are the first point of contact with visitors," said Nasser al Reyami, the ADTA's tourism standards director. "It is important that they share knowledge and accurate information in a confident and friendly manner."

Initially, 210 drivers will be trained in one-day sessions to deliver better service and to find tourist spots such as museums and parks. The ADTA intends to expand the programme to all drivers of the emirate's silver taxis. The training will help elevate the capital's taxis from a point-to-point service to one in which drivers would be "guides" for passengers, said Mir Mazhar Ahmed, the manager of Arabia Taxi Transportation, one of the seven franchisees operating cabs in the capital.

"Previously, we were catering to the local population of Abu Dhabi. But we have so many people coming to Abu Dhabi that have so many questions, and the ADTA is better suited to train for that," he said. Under the rules of TransAd, the emirate's hire-car regulator, drivers already receive some training to improve their knowledge of the emirate. Mr Ahmed said that during events such as the Laureus World Sports Awards, taking place in the capital yesterday and today, drivers need to know how to handle passengers who speak many languages and be able to tell passengers where, for example, they can find good Italian food nearby.

@Email:mchung@thenational.ae