The RTA also recovered 12,410 mobile phones, 766 passports and 342 laptops…

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s rushing to be at work on time, dashing between meetings, or chatting away with friends as you head out for dinner. You’re busy, you’re distracted and in your haste, you leave something behind.

Well it turns out it happens quite a lot. According to the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), during the first half of the year the RTA received some 44,062 calls about lost items. The most popular item left behind was cash, with a whopping Dhs1,272,800 recovered from Dubai taxis. Then there’s tech items, with 12,410 mobile phones, 2,819 electronic devices and 342 laptops all left behind during the first six months of the year. Possibly most panic-inducing for their owners, 766 passports were found by taxi drivers across the same period.

“RTA honours taxi drivers for their honesty and credibility,” said Mehailah Al Zahmi, director of customer happiness at the RTA, in commending the hardworking taxi drivers. “It is a gesture of recognition of their valuable efforts to present a good image of the UAE in general and Dubai in particular to tourists, visitors, and residents using taxis in the emirate, and at the same time motivates taxi drivers to deliver more and better services to taxi riders,” she added.

The RTA is looking to upgrade its services using artificial intelligence in-line with the government-wide push to make Dubai the smartest city in the world. So, when you next call to report an item left behind (the number is 8009090 in case you ever need it), you may expect to encounter a virtual advisor.

“An improved automatic answering system will be launched enabling natural conversation run by a virtual advisor instead of using the phone’s keypad to choose options from the autoresponder menu, explained Al Zahmi. “Work is also underway to introduce interactive and instant emotional analysis on all calls handled by the centre, which helps to understand the needs of customers and gauge their satisfaction with the services provided,” she explained.