A few days ago, while I was visiting Dubai, I was travelling from my hotel to the Al Karama area for a meeting. I was in a taxi and the driver dropped me off at my destination. A minute later, I realised that I had forgotten my mobile phone in the taxi and panicked.
I rushed out of the hotel and saw a taxi driver standing there. I asked him for the Roads and Transport Authority’s (RTA) hotline, to see if I could track the driver in any way. He was helpful and immediately gave me the number. But, I then realised that I could just call my phone.
I have two phones — one with a Dubai number and the other with an Indian sim card. I had left the one with the Indian number in the taxi, and because I have international roaming, the phone was still on.
I called the number and the driver, Nawaz, immediately answered.
He said: “Sir, I was looking for you to return your phone.”
He told me to come to a certain point in the area, so he could return it to me. He might have driven about a kilometre since dropping me, but he was willing to come back. I was surprised! This had never happened to me in India, my home country, or any other country in the world. And the best part, he was Pakistani.
There always seems to be friction between India and Pakistan, but the people seem to forget these boundaries. The driver, from Peshawar, helped me regardless of who I was.
I have used taxis to commute around Dubai several times and at least eight out of ten times, the driver has been Pakistani. And each time, they have helped me, from simple things to finding a location to this incident of my phone being returned to me. The divide between the two nations disappears when we meet people from the other country.
Every time I encounter a Pakistani driver in a taxi, I have conversations about the politics and situation in their country. It is a good topic to discuss, because we always hear something bad or wrong about Pakistan and their politics in Indian media. So, it is good to talk to them directly.
I was so happy!
Nawaz was very polite and humble, and I am sure he would have helped any other customer that he encountered. I offered him some money as a token of gratitude, but he refused, even though I insisted. He finally agreed to take a picture with me, which I could keep to remember this day.
This was an experience of a lifetime for me.
In the past, I have read news reports in Gulf News about taxi drivers returning forgotten items or even large sums of money to passengers. And, something similar has happened to me now. I believe that Dubai has always been lucky for me. Even when something wrong almost happened, a resident of Dubai helped me.
I shared this experience on social media and with everyone I know. When I discussed the incident with my parents, they told me that something like this would never happen in India. I want people to know that this is how individuals of the two nations are living in harmony in Dubai.
I am really thankful to Nawaz for his help and noble gesture. It was a great act of humanity. I also thank the Roads and Transport Authority and the government for creating such a good atmosphere, for both residents and visitors.
— The reader is based in Ahmedabad, India and often visits Dubai for business.
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While riding a taxi in Dubai, if a passenger forgets an item in the vehicle, he or she can contact the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) at 800 9090. Their hotline is operational 24 hours a day.
According to a statement on the RTA’s official website, if an item is accidentally left in a taxi, “the driver will, if the item is not claimed, deliver the item to the police”.
When contacting them, they may ask you for:
• The taxi’s number
• Vehicle’s plate number
• Time and destination
• Description of the lost item
More information is available on their website, www.rta.ae