Cabbies get free massages for bringing clients


By Preeti Kannan

DUBAI // Taxi drivers in the emirate are illegally earning commissions and free massages for taking customers to health and spa clubs.

Massage parlour visiting cards in Dubai.  Pawan Singh
Massage parlour visiting cards in Dubai. Pawan Singh

A spokesman for the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said the practice could taint Dubai’s image, and the authority would urge taxi companies to discourage it.

As part of a marketing plan, the clubs and spas distribute cards, akin to customer loyalty cards, to drivers who can use them to earn as much as Dh100 for every customer they recommend. Cabbies can also claim a free massage for every five clients they bring.

“Only after the deal is finalised, drivers get paid,” said Abdul, a taxi driver. “If we bring five customers regularly they give us a free massage.

“Usually it is tourists who ask for massages. I take people to centres where I can make some money on the fare and get a commission. This way there is a double benefit.”

Taxi drivers either directly solicit customers after picking them up from airports or hotels, or wait for passengers to approach them.

One driver said he would ring up the massage centre after a passenger sought the service. “If they ask me, I take them to centres in Karama, or Bur Dubai,” he said. “I can’t compel them to go for a massage. That would be wrong. It is based on what the customer wants.” More info