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Man who took cab driver to Abu Dhabi theme park says he couldn't face him again

The test engineer who made headlines for inviting his cab driver to a theme park said he probably couldn't face the man again.
/ Source: TODAY

Last month many of us had our hearts warmed by the story of a man named Liam Murphy who, while visiting the United Arab Emirates for work, ventured to Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, the largest indoor theme park in the world.

Murphy, 27, was traveling solo and prepared to enjoy the Ferrari-themed park on his own. But then he changed his mind.

A test engineer from Cork, Ireland, Murphy usually rents a car in foreign places, but that day he decided to take a cab. During the long ride, he learned that his taxi driver, a man named Shakiha, had never been to an amusement park. What’s more, rather than just bouncing off to another customer after dropping Murphy off, Shakiha would instead sit in the car the whole day waiting for Murphy while he was off having fun. So Murphy invited Shakiha to join him for a day of fun in the park, paying for his $61 admission ticket.

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“There was no real inspiration [behind the gesture],” Murphy told TODAY. “I just asked him if he'd like to go, and when he said yes so I just offered to bring him along.”

Formula Rossa.
Formula Rossa, the world's fastest roller coaster, at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, United Arab

The pair spent the day going on numerous rides including Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster.

Murphy said that the experience was awkward at times, especially when he found himself wondering if he could trust his new park buddy, who was little more than a total stranger.

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“He was minding my stuff when I went on the roller coaster for a second time [and] the thought "Will this guy run away with my stuff?" did cross my mind,” said Murphy.

But for the most part, both he and Shakiha had a blast. Murphy said his favorite memory of the day is when, after going on a crazy ride, they’d look at the pictures snapped while they were mid-drop. Murphy was also amused by how Shakiha, who’d never been on a roller coaster before, began to loosen up and enjoy the thrill.

“When he was on his second roller coaster he started enjoying it, especially the sharp corners,” Murphy said. “This was quality entertainment.”

Murphy shared the experience on Facebook Aug. 16.

Liam Murphy invited his cab driver to a theme park in Abu Dhabi
Liam Murphy's post on Facebook

It went viral almost immediately and press from around the world jumped on the story and made Murphy out to be a hero. But Murphy isn’t feeling very heroic at the moment. And he rather regrets that the story has become so popular.

“At first I was excited about doing interviews and going live on radio but that has changed,” Murphy said. “I'm tired of it. I don't want credit. I just shared this on Facebook for my friends to see and changed it to a public post when it made the news. My Facebook account is no good to me now.”

Since the story blew up, Murphy has changed his last name on Facebook so that he is virtually impossible for strangers to discover.

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What seems to trouble Murphy the most now, isn’t the bombardment of attention, it’s the fact that he shared a personal detail about Shakiha — that the man uses a portion of his wages to send money home to his family in India.

“I probably couldn't face the man [again now that] the whole world knows that he sends money back to his family in India,” said Murphy. “Everyone deserves privacy in their lives. I just blew the cover on that and that's unfair.”