Dubai Consumer Mirror

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"For !*^# sake, Do something"

I was at Mall of the Emirates running some errands last evening when I received a call. Knowing it was one that demanded concentration, I stood on the side next to a wall and away from the human traffic.

In front of me was an escalator. I noticed a young lady, standing at the bottom of the escalator and it seemed that her Abaya got caught in the mechanical steps.

I kept looking at her as she stood there for almost good minute and I was thinking "OK, she will free herself any moment now.... any moment."

That didn't happen and she started struggling between trying to pull the end of her Abaya out of the escalator teeth-like edge and holding on to it so that it doesn't fall off her body or pull her down to the ground.

I was thinking: "okay, any minute now.... someone will help her.. someone should notice by now.." By then, I completely lost focus on the ongoing phone call.

Then I noticed that people were casually passing by from behind her, seeing that she is stuck, basically doing nothing to help and walking away.

A couple of guys slowed down but kept their distance with no one attempting to break her free. I think the fact that she was wearing a Abaya intimated them.

I looked up and spotted a security guard standing at the upper end. He obviously did not notice all the action downstairs.

I yelled: "Hey security! Security!"

When you yell like that, in a rather echo-y mall, a lot will pay attention and a lot did. Except the security guy who was basically about 10 feet away from me.

It took 2 or 3 loud yells to grab his attention.

"STOP the escalator!", I said when he looked in my direction.

He gave me a brief "WTF" look and looked the other way. I assumed he either didn't hear or understand me. I presumed the latter.


He looked again, saw me pointing to the lady who's Abaya is now starting to shred, but still stuck. He slammed the big red emergency stop button and rushed down to help the damsel in distress and cut her loose.

I got back to my phone call.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

While you were sleeping

So, I wasn't sure what to write about this week. And though I do form an opinion about almost anything, I rarely speak that opinion - not after getting married at least.

However, this piece got my attention.

It was a light read that basically narrates a few twitter experiences and how, according to author, twitter is bridging gaps and making folks talk to each other, politicians, businesses, communities and individuals.

Yeah, sure... why not.

But I'd be careful not to totally credit twitter for that so called recent collaboration, because people have been congregating, meeting and collaborating online for quite sometime and WAY before there was any Tweeting.

Internet forums and message boards were the first form of social media and community inter-collaboration. It was genre-driven and for those with common interests. Access is discretionary and you had to be active -and geeky- enough to be a member there.

Around the first half of 2000's, the blog became the center-stage of public engagement and interactivity. Blogs made people feel more at ease in talking about their "feelings" about anything .. emotions, brands, governments. It allowed us to back our "feelings" up with multimedia (photos, video ... etc). It was the big-bang that started an era pseudo-narcissistic self expression and publishing. Some people argue that blogging is dead, I personally don't think so.

The second half of 2000 was all about Facebook. Enough said.

And yes, people organised events, interacted with their leaders and favorite restaurants and talked amongst each other. Charity events [Gaza, earthquake reliefs ..etc], business activities [conferences, meetings ..etc], and even political [elections, campaigns..].

All of that was happening before Twitter. You just had to be part of the community and follow whats going on.

HOWEVER... with the enhancement of mobile Internet; its reach, access and affordable-ity; it became much easier for folks to have fast Internet, on capable devices [BBs, iPhones] with relatively affordable cost.. [if you live outside the Middle East, of course]

Then Twitter came along.. and unless you locked your twitter page, ANYONE can access the on-going conversations on Twitter. It was light on the web and the device, easy to setup/use and anyone can have one. Now, news follow you, not the other way around.

That was the novelty. Twitter was in the right place at the right time.

However, one must realize that Twitter is merely a distribution platform. People use it to spread the word. (some annoying ones use it as a chat site, but thats not the case here)

People have been using online platforms for a very long time, and the fact that people didn't hear or know about them, doesn't mean they didn't exists. It simply meant that some weren't in the picture.

When it comes to making and forming opinions, twitter is NOT the place, blogs are. You can definitely use twitter to inform folks about your opinion [thank you tinyURL!], you can send snippets of that opinion in oddly written, vowel-less 140 characters, but you'd always want to point to your blog - or opinion piece section in the newspaper.

And when it comes to collaboration and content sharing and generation, Facebook -whether you like it or not- will still lead the pack for the coming near future.

If we understand the difference between social media platforms, understand the thin red line that breaks them apart, perhaps we will end up with a world where politicians will tweet/collaborate a bit more themselves [I (heart) Queen Rania btw!], and restaurants that do better sandwiches than they do tweeting about them.

Now RT that if you like...


Saturday, July 03, 2010

CupCake Karma

Last night, the Mrs & I decided to pick up some cupcakes for the kids from the mall.

It turned out that the famous NY bakery ran out of my daughter's favorite flavor, as it was about 11:45 and the shop was about to close.

However, the chef said he is happy to prepare new ones if we could wait a few minutes. We were happy and asked if he can prepare 4 cupcakes.

While the chef went along doing what he does best, a window cleaner was cleaning the window that overlooked the chef's cupcakes frosting/prep station.

Don't think the chef noticed him, as I am sure he is used to the sight of people standing and watching him work behind the window.

While the cleaner's hands were moving involuntarily, his eyes were glued to magical cupcakes construction process like a 40yr old toddler.

My wife whispered to me: "Are you seeing that look?" Me: "yeah .. "
Wife: "Do you think he ever tried any of them?"
I whispered back: "At AED 18 a pop, probably not.."
Wife: "Lets give him one out of the four.."

I asked the baker if he can pack 1 cupcake in a separate box, 3 in another.

The chef turned around and said: "We only have box for 2 and box for 6 cupcakes... I will fill both boxes with extra cupcakes, on the house, for you to try out our collection."

So, the window cleaner ended up with 2 cupcakes, 1 more than we intended to give; and we ended up with 6 cupcakes, 3 more than we intended to have.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

7 Rules For a Flawless Food Ordering Experience in Dubai

Yes, ordering food by phone in Dubai can get really wrong .. order arriving late, arriving wrong or missing items, the guy doesn't have change..etc.

However, over the years, I have learned a thing or two about ordering food that can make things much smoother... and I'll be sharing some of those tips with you:

1. Don't be a smart ass
For the 5 minutes you will need to make the phone order, drop your Shakespearian English and take off your grammar cop hat. You are talking to someone who didn't have a father who wasted a fortune -big enough to feed an entire African village for 10 years-, to send his spoiled brat to an ivory league business school in Europe or the US.

Speak in simple English, talk clearly, not loudly, they are not deaf.

Put it this way, if English is YOUR first language, then the phone order guy's English is FAR better than your [Arabic/Hindi/Urdu/Tagalog] well ever be.

2. Smile!
A friend who works as a radio presenter once told me that they are always asked to SMILE when they are on AIR. People can, believe it or not, hear your smile. And looking at the number of assholes the phone orders guys have to deal with everyday, trust me, your call will be like a breath of fresh air.

3. Get personal
Start the conversation with a "How are you, today?" Ask for the phone guy's name and use it in your sentences. Tell the phone guy something about your day or how hungry you are and can't wait to eat the food you are about to order from his joint. You'd be surprised with the response you'll get.

One trick i do is that I note down the name of the phone guy of every restaurant on its respective menu. And yes, I have a "menus folder". Mind you, that only works with small restaurants that do not use maga call centres like KFC, Hardeez and the rest of the 'Americana' cartel.

4. Take a chill pill
Never call if or when you are angry or agitated. Negative vibes travel thru the phone lines and the order phone guy may feel that you are not happy with the whole ordering experience; which may or may not be true. Nevertheless, a happy phone order agent will prioritize your order and make sure you get your correct delivery and before anyone else.

It is also recommended not to call if you are bored, horny or

5. Decide before you call
If you don't have a "menus folder" already, start on making one right now. Write down your order, especially if it was a large one or requires multiple modifications. There is nothing more annoying than putting the phone guy on hold while your wife cant make up her mind on whether she wants regular or curly fries.

And not having a menu is not a good excuse anymore, most proper restaurants have websites.

6. Ask for advice, even if you don't need it
Working the phones and asking people whether they prefer their chicken "original" or "spicy" can be soul crushing over time. Be that person who makes the order phone folks feel that their knowledge is relevant and valuable.

Ask what would they recommend as a meal size for the number of people you are ordering for, or ask for their own favorite item on the menu or anything they'd recommend. Acknowledge and thank them for their advice.

This will make the phone order agent feel good about his/her job, hence you're order will get the attention it deserves.

7. The last Tip
Phone guy is happy, he tells delivery boy to take extra care of your order and make it quick. Now, its is your turn to take it home with a generous tip.

Those biker boys literally risk their lives to get your double cheese burger in time. And if you think i am exaggerating, trying riding a delivery bike on Sh. Zayed road with all these Landcruiser Lunatics.

In my case, the tip is the standard 10 percent of the total bill. I usually throw in a 5-er if its extra hot or humid out there.

Also, drivers typically cover the same geographies and DO REMEMBER houses that tip well. In most cases, houses that tip well, get the first stops when drivers have multiple runs to do.

There you have it, 7 different ways of simply 'being nice'.

I know you guys might know more .. leave them in your comments and help spread the love.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Top 10 Most Annoying Twitter Users in the UAE

Yeah, blogging is dead (or is dying anyways) and instant updates and microblogging is the big thing now. Everyone wants you to make your point in 140 characters or less.

If you have something you really really want to discuss at length, then yeah .. maybe I'll look at your blog later when i decided to clear out my RSS reader...

ANYHOO... i've been "observing" this twitter business for a good couple of years now. And yes, there are days when I just put down my phone and stop looking at my twitter app for the rest of the entire day, simply because it gets soo ANNOYING.

And here are top 10 most annoying UAE Twitter types in the UAE:

The Overshare-er:
08:00 "yaaaawn... just woke up *stretch*"
08:05 "I just pooped"
08:10 "having breaki.. nomnomnom check it out: http://twitpic.D1sGusTing"
08:20 "what should I wear? choices choices..."
08:22 "Ok, I am wearing a blue top, beige bottoms"
08:24 "Completely changed my mind. Beige top, blue bottoms.. yaay"
08:41 "Can't find my keys, WTF"
08:42 "Found my keys, they were in my hand. lol, #FAIL"
08:50 "I love my Toyota Prius"
09:00 "Twaffic report; SZR is not blocked.. what happened?"
09:37 "Just got to work, no parking #HateMyJob"
09:39 "Have to park in paid zone .. #RTA #FAIL"
10:o0 "boss is here, he stinks, no deodorant. Oh wait, thats me. ROTFL. #FAIL"

So on and so forth... you get the picture, vividly

The Hypocrite-er
Disclaimer: these tweets below really took place: They were slightly altered to protect the true identity of the douche bags that tweeted them:

"OMG, on my way to work on SZR and this guy is like talking on the phone while driving. WTH"
(Yeah, because texting/tweeting while driving is less dangerous you dumb moron)

"I hate the fact that we have to work on Sundays in this country. #FAIL"
(I don't see you complaining about having Fridays off you double-faced-dweeb)


The Serial RT-er
People who ReTweet (RT) everything and anything they see. They sometimes RT without even reading what they RT. One word for you: *Unfollow*

These guys are a special species. Mainly girls with a severe case of a disease commonly known as LackOfSelfConfiditus. And here are the major symptoms:

- Birthday celebrations usually last for 4 to 6 weeks, 2 to 3 weeks before and after.
- Create Hashtags about themselves. I suggest #AttentionWhore.
- Seldom a day pass without posting a pick of herself with that "I am doable" pose
- Has a special folder called 'Twitter Display Photos' that is updated almost daily
- Tweets about her entire evening upcoming itinerary because..well you know..
- A deep believer that the day she falls sick must be declared as a national holiday
- Usually claims that everyone in the office hates her because she is hot n' all the guys want to do her. Where in reality, no knows she exists.

The Promoter-er
Usually hold usernames like @BrandNameMiddlEast or @Company_UAE or something lame like that. They do nothing but spam their users with their boring company news, special offers, retweet EVERYTHING or ANYTHING that mentions their boring company news or special offers.

I don't entirely mind that one, but I'd prefer if they (1) do it moderately and (2) treat followers as human beings and interact with them as such, not as "unsegmented target market".

Though I must admit, there are very few exceptions... Oh well, moving on

The Self.Proclaimed.Social.Media.Guru-er
An alarmingly growing breed and my personally most hated one in the bunch. Funny thing is, the ones i actually consider as true social media experts, never say so publicly.

These "gurus" walk around thinking they are some kind of celebrities. They rarely follow back other twitter users because, well, who is interested in mortals.

Thankfully, i don't follow any of them and but I had the miss-fortune of listening to some of them talk in a couple of events.

I asked a couple of well connected people about those Guru's REAL background and found out that most of the so-called "gurus" are people who lost their original jobs or weren't good in what they were trained to do originally and decided to become "social media experts" ...

Yes yes... I really need someone to teach me how to update my facebook page, jackass.

The Sir-ask-a-lot
This type treats Twitter as a source of money and information. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, BUT only when you give something in return and not treat your followers as your personal secretaries.

Sample tweets:
"Does anyone know has the number to Dubai Taxi? TIA"
"Someone knows the telephone of headhunters? TIA"
"Can someone Google the telephone number for DEWA and send it to me? TIA" <- I swear this tweet happened

I rest my case...

The Sir-I-beg-a-lot
Usually related and sometimes carries the title Sir-ask-a-lot as well. Now these guys will do anything to get free stuff and discounts from everyone, regardless to how absurd their requests are.

Sample tweets:
"Can someone bake me a cake and send it to me for free? in return, i'll tweet about eating it.."
"Can someone drop me everyday from Ajman to Jabal Ali? I'll follow you on twitter in return"
"I am looking for a someone to design a website for free. I'll include your name in the 'about section'"

What a leech.... grow some dignity for f#$%'s sake.

The multi-account-synchronize-er
Yes, great idea to sync your Facebook, Tweetdeck, Foursquare, Gawalla, Buzz, Youtube and blog all together... Because, really, I can't have enough of the 3 twitter accounts you post on already.

The moan-whine-whinge-er
Yes, wipe that smug off your face. You know exactly who i am talking about. Not a day will pass without him/her having to moan about, in random order:

Etisalat <- Ok, that one is justified
Taxi driver body oder
Not having a boyfriend/girlfriend
Annoying blogs that talk about annoying twitter types..

These folks have turned moaning, whining and whinging into a national ... ops, sorry, i mean, an EXPAT sport.

THERE, now you have it .. my own top 10 list of the most annoying twitter types in the UAE. Anymore that I should have included?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Finally someone paid attention!

A blogger with multiple aliases has been plaguing UAE's blogsphere for a few years now. Counter to the true nature and spirit of this good land, his posts and his comments were full of hate to anything that is non emarati.

Some people that know him told me that he is a hybrid himself, claiming to be the product of a 3aimi (Persian) father and a German/American mother, has made it a point to ruin everything he touched and gain the spite of everyone he interacted with. He was the last thing any Emarati that I know wants to be.

He started with the alias A blessing in tragedy, in celebration to his self claimed passion for hard rock and heavy metal band. Became known as ABIT, because his username was too friggen long to write.

After getting banned to comment and screened by the majority of active bloggers, he'd change nicks and post as anon. Tech savvy ones would tag his IP and its very easy to know that it was him, who lives in Abu Dhabi btw, that is seeking attention. He then moved to use a new user called ultrablue or something childish like that.

His last post, on a blog that he created, wrongfully called it Al-Emarati and registered via a proxy registry to avoid revealing his real identity adn details, was the last draw to many people.

Though in essence, it was nothing different than anything he usually writes in terms of racism and hate, but this time, his theme was ridicule and mockery to the late passengers of the ill-fated Air India plane crash that claimed the lives of 160 Indians and, most likely impacted thousands others in UAE, India and other places.

I refuse to link or carry some of the racist slur they published on this blog, however, the attention seeking walked into a trap that was set, either intensionally or not, by our all time favorite Gulf News.

The post is now blocked and I can't access his blog anymore as I think it was taken offline after someone that matters did not approve.

I am NOT a fan of this 'blocking business', and I have always advocated freedom of speech and self expression, but this particular individual has abused the space he was given and crossed the lines too many time, standing protected behind the mask of anonymity that he created by himself.

He had made several attacks on me personally, even threated me that "he'd kill me if he saw me" and it wasn't the ..oh-I-am-just-kidding kindda thing. His comments are still there. If i know who he is, I will go the police with the saved emails he sent me and file an official complaint.

His filth and of course, death threats, extended to many UAE bloggers who have been active for the past 5 or six years. He would turn anything, any topic, any post so an 'us vs. them' argument; where he represents the Emaratis as 'us' and 'them' of course, the filthy low life expats that I belong to, according to him on various occasions.

I don't personally think anything will happen to him, like spending time in jail or anything of that sort, and i wouldn't wish it for anything. My bet is that he will, most likely, get a lecture or two on manners.

Oh well..

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Happy 38th Union Day

Celebrations this year has been different. Most people i know noticed it. The build up to Dec 2nd has been very visible every I go. On the radio, TV.. on the streets, in malls.. People from every walk of life were wearing the UAE flag scarves. Emaratis and Expats alike.

And it wasn't the white Land Cruisers that had UAE flag decorations this year. Almost every other car I saw over the past week was decorated. Westerners, Asians, Arabs .. all were celebrating this year. And I loved every minute of it.

But it was no coincidence. There was a driving force behind it and it was all driven by Watani by a campaign called Mutahida (united in Arabic)

A campaign launched by Watani for one purpose: to bring together people living in the UAE.
It is to remind them to appreciate what a fabulous country we live in peacefully, irrespective of cast, creed or religion. Basically, Watani is trying to bring about the wonderful spirit of the UAE union.

You can find more about the program thru their facebook page here

I think it is exactly what the country and people living here need these days. A sense of union that brings everyone together.

Happy 38th. UAE

Monday, October 26, 2009

Realestate Fraud

Another example to how sad and disgusting the property market here has become...

Thirty eight families will find out later on Sunday if they are to be evicted from their homes in Discovery Gardens after paying a year’s rent upfront to a brokerage firm which turned out not to be the landlord.

Everyone who is involved in this story is an accomplice:
Corporate Business Solutions (CBS) - I hope they find the owner and leave him/her to rot in jail
RERA - for lukewarm reaction and not taking a strong stand with the real victim here
Meraas - for choosing to blame and go after the victims, not the culprit
RE agents - for blackmailing tenants for their commission money back in return of waiving liability.

Here is my question: If the brokerage firm in question (CBS) was not the landlord, how did they have keys to the units and managed to handover apartments to tenant to move in and officially register DEWA and all? Something doesn't smell right here at all ..

I hope that everyone mentioned above sleep warm and cozy in their beds at night knowing that they can be responsible for throwing out 38 families in the street. Sick.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Kindle Goes International ... but

Labeled as Amazon's iPod, Oprah loves it and when I travel to the US, every other person I meet rubs a Kindle in my face ...

Today, the news is out … after a lingering wait, people outside the US will have the chance to own one. Amazon cut its prices and decides to ship 100K units to international locations around the world (thats it? 100K?).

BUT … if you happen to be one of those who really really really really really want a Kindle and happen to live in the Middle East, it must suck to be you. Because Amazon is not recognizing any country in the region as worthy enough of its precious little reading toy.

Mind you, Kindle and Kindle content will be available in countries like Myanmar, Ghana and Namibia, where illiteracy rates are much higher than places like the UAE, Kuwait, Egypt and Lebanon. However, avid readers of Arabia will have to wait longer.

Some people suggested buying it in the US and using it here; thats not my point .. Also, I am not entirely sure using a Kindle on a non-US or non-Amazon-recognized service provider will allow me to download Kindle content (books, magazines and newspapers)..

I am pissed and I need to point a finger at somebody to blame..

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Not Your Typical Robin Hood

Having a couple of trolleys in the building is always useful for the tenants. Especially when you come back loaded with shopping bags and no one is there to help you carry them.

But not this guy...

Clearly, he is keeping the cart all to himself ...