Dubai Consumer Mirror

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

So what if?

If those cartoons in the Danish newspaper were Anti-Semitic, instead of Anti-Islamic... how do you think the reaction would be?

Thank you Mr. Makdizzle for bringing it up ...

Monday, January 30, 2006

Collateral Damage

UAE consumers realized that while they were sleeping for the past 3 weeks; Saudis, Kuwaitis, Egyptians, Jordanians ..etc were removing Danish products off their supermarket shelves in reaction to the offensive anti-Islamic cartoons in one newspaper from Denmark.

Boycotts do work in grabbing attention. But it does, however, hurt many local and domestic businesses along the way. There should be another way to voice our opinions, stands (and anger) with less collateral damage.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Translation guide to Spin City - vol1

The PR agency/client relationship has more drama than all Mexican soaps put together. And just like those soaps, dubbing (or some kind of translation) is needed for the people who don't speek the language so that they clearly understand what both (agency & clients) are trying to say to each other.

Here is your indispensable guide to agency/client lingo:

What they say: "We will offer our business for other agencies to pitch for it. Its just an exercise and your agency is more than welcome to re pitch"

What it really means: "You committed a royal fcukup, we think you are a bunch of useless tarts and we are gonna give you the boot if you decide to re pitch for our business again"

What they say: "The request for a proposal was issued and we declined to participate in it. We just felt it was in the best interest of our agency"

What it really means: "We decided to pull out with whatever shreds of integrity we have left"

What they say: "We went through the standard pitching process we do every while. The proposal from the agency that won was very strong."

What it really means: "Chics at the agency that won have bigger boobies"

What they say: "I think old Agency X needs a change"

What it really means: "I think they should hire chics with bigger boobies"

What they say: "We have global representation in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon and Egypt"

What it really means: "We have a guy in each one of those countries, with a laptop and an Internet connection working from his bedroom and resending our press releases to local hacks."

More to come in the near future ... stay tuned!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Air Arabia

A round trip ticket for a quick 48 hrs get-away in Kuwait - Dhs 1,125/-

A Cold grilled chicken sandwich in stale bread with a chewy date sweet thingy - Dhs 15/-

Watching the Air Arabia flight attendant telling the 6 year old kid to place his bag in the overhead cabinet and actually waiting for him to do so - PRICELESS!

Please drive safely

I wrote a long post about my friend's demise in a car accident last Thursday. But I decided to remove the post a few minutes after publishing it ... thank you everyone for your thoughts - I'm sorry about the removal.

All what i want to say is to everyone out there: please do drive safely. Think of yourselves and think of the ones who love you ..

Rest in peace Slieman ...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Arabic blog

I would like to introduce to you my blog in Arabic. It's gonna be 100% hardcore shameless arabic rant.. So, if you were an arab with a Dudley-do-right attitude, you are better off staying away from it!

Note: Apologies to all my fellow English-reading-only bloggers. No disrespect intended what so ever :)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

An open letter to the new Telco

Please do:
1. Introduce tailor-made packages (cheaper or offering more value) to GSM subscribers that are students, housewives or young non-working family members
2. Standardize the cost of overseas SMS
3. Give subscribers the freedom to switch from prepaid-to-postpaid and vice versa with out too much complications
4. Supply roaming services for everyone and use credit cards as collateral
5. Offer faster Internet access services
6. Introduce prepaid Internet cards concept - like in Kuwait and Saudi
7. Deploy payment machines that gives you your change back
8. Allow DSL subscribers to pay via your payment machines
9. License/sublet your offices/branches to small business men and startups. This way you create more service outlets, you reduce your over head, you cover a wider geographical area and you reduce customer crowding per outlet.
10. Print paper-based prepaid cards (similar to bank ATM pin slips). There is no need for all the plastic as the scratchy stuff is annoying to remove and plastic is bad for environment

Please do not:
1. Charge a fixed monthly fee for dial up Internet service
2. Hog the airwaves for your WIFI service and force everyone to pay for it.
3. Give away your subscriber-base mobile phone numbers to SMS SPAMMERS. Or at least give your subscribers the option if wanting to receive a SMS ads or not.
4. Impose ridiculous overseas call charges
5. Block VoIP, web-to-phone, online free sms gateways, social networking sites and photo hosting libraries
6. Block bloggers
7. Delay or deprive GSM coverage service for people living in remote locations
8. Let your GSM subscribers pay for services other telcos offer for free (voice mail, missed call notifications ..etc)
9. Hold back any GSM added features (eg area locater) and introduce them only when they are obsolete
10. Print those hideous photos/designs on prepaid phone cards. There are plenty of beautiful scenes in the UAE that can make those cards much better looking - oh yeah .. and use paper, not plastic.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Public Service Advertising

Its a shame that we live at the centre of the region's advertising industry and Public Service Advertising (PSA) here is so little, its almost non-existent.

There are so many issues in the UAE that really needs to be addressed by either the government, private organizations that are trying to build a "corporate governance culture", or both public and private sectors together.

Yes, we do have issues here. They are affecting everyone: Nationals, expats, women, men, children .. they all suffer from issues like racism, drugs, DWI, profiteering, bad traffic behavior, illiteracy, health care malpractices, pollution and the lack of good citizenship. Take driving for example..

Every year, Dubai Police runs a "safe driver award" campaign from time to time. I truly commend the efforts. But why is it that we see death-on-roads is still on the rise?

Dubai Police is addressing a problem which the entire UAE is suffering from.. Such a campaign should be on a federal level, running all year long and endorsed by the private sector (especially the advertising/media moguls).

Advertising and media industry in the region is a disgustingly lucrative multi-billion dollar industry that (with few exceptions), have been doing nothing but ridicule our intelligence, mislead our purchasing decisions and jacking up tag prices for the past 30 years.

I call on those advertising/media tycoons to take a short break from bragging your palm villas, Austin Martins and Cuban cigars and do something good to your community for a change…

Here are some of the things that can be done:

  • Set up a PSA Association. I would call it PSA UAE (or something) with headquarters in Dubai and local chapters across the emirates.
  • Work closely with government bodies, NGOs and planning & research centers to get to know who/what issues that need to be addressed.
  • Force media (print/web/broadcast/outdoor) to allocate a certain percentage of their medium for PSAs - percentage varies according to medium. This could be a privilege for founding media members to be seen as active in corporate social responsibility.
  • Create workshops for students/young entrepreneurs on the importance and significance of PSA and its impact on society.
  • Run an annual competition for small ad shops on CSR and PSA campaigns.

These are some ideas .. I am sure we can do more ..

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Traffic in Dubai

Its true .. we DO have lotsa morons-on-wheels

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Disturbing Video

Taken from

Recently one family in Abbasiya* employed a female servant at there house to look after their kid. after some days the kid start showing always gloomy and tired. with some doubts, the family put a hidden cam in their sitting room when they left to work. When they returned, they saw the cam and they are shocked to see how the servant is treating the kid.

See the disturbing video here

*Abbasiya is a residential area in Kuwait

Sunday, January 15, 2006

في ذمة الله

تعازينا الحارة للشعب الكويتي الشقيق و كل المقيمين على أرض الكويت الحبيبة على فقدان الأب الغالي
سمو الأمير الشيخ جابر الأحمد الصباح
تغمد الله الفقيد بواسع رحمته وأسكنه فسيح جناته وألهمكم الصبر والسلوان
وإنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون

Our heartfelt condolences and profound sympathies to beloved Kuwait and its people for the sad demise of
Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah

May God have mercy on his soul and may it rest in heavenly peace and may God grant upon you endurance and serenity

Thursday, January 12, 2006

You are a moron on wheels ...

When you flash/honk/tailgate the car in front of you, even though the entire traffic is slowing down because of the red light few feets ahead

When honking is considered your second language

When you park like this (thanks Keefieboy!)

When you consider the safety distance between the two cars on your left (or right) as "an opportunity"

When the driver ahead of you (presumably) irritates you, you do anything in your strength just to drive by him/her just to give the "LOOK"

When you've been force-moving away everyone in front of you on the far left lane for the past 15 minutes, just so that suddenly you slide across all lanes to grab that first right turn

When you use the hard shoulder to cut queues

When you, regardless to what speed you are at, what street you are on, always slow down to "check out what that police car is doing on the the other side of the road"

When you reduce speed from 120 to 40km just to change lanes

When you flash and honk at the car that's at least 1/2 km ahead of you, just because it moved into your lane

When on a highway, you decide to race and catch up with the poor sob entering from the right side and who is trying to pick up speed to match the highway's

When you think that once you turned on the blinker, its OK to cut everyone off

When your day is never complete unless you play a round of dodge-the-pedestrian-trying-to-cross-the-street game

When you consider driving with your baby in your lap as "cute"

When you block parked cars, lockup your car, and go watch a movie

When you make sudden turns without using the blinkers or reducing speed

When you park in handicapped parking spaces

When you switch on the front and rear fog lights all year round

When, while driving, you believe you can perform 2 of the following things simultaneously:

  • sms someone
  • smoke
  • eat
  • talk on mobile
  • read the paper
  • write to the paper
  • change cds/tapes
  • check navigation/map/guide
  • dance
  • drink
  • sing
  • stick one leg out on dashboard
  • fix hair, cap or ghutra
  • play with toes
  • apply makeup
  • pick your nose
  • scratch your "webos"
  • scratch someone else's "webos"
  • hold up the A3 size board that has your mobile number on, for that 'girl' in the car you have been chasing for the past 3 hours that you want to make "nice friendship" to

When you don't allow people to change lanes, though traffic is moving at 2 kmph

When you think you can give people the finger and get away with it (thanks Secret Dubai)

When you think you are "cool" because you are not wearing your seat belt

When going at 120kmph, you don't feel comfortable unless you can clearly read the fine print on the back windshield of the car ahead of you

When you only bully Sunnys, Corollas, Echos or any on wheels that are manufactured before 1990, and leave the mercs, beemers and other pimped rides - because you are being "a mature driver"

When you, after reading this post, feel that you relate to at least 3 out of any of the above.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Discount Shopping Myths

It amazes me how there are plenty of shoppers out there that still do not understand or fully comprehend the concept of "Discounts" or "SALES". I will try to clear out some facts about sales without getting into too much detail. I will try to bust some of the myths that many shoppers believe about Sales.

  • Shops offer their entire stock on sale
    Myth. The majority of discounted items (if not all) are from previous seasons/collections that could go 3 or 4 years back. This can be clearly noticed in women's clothing shops when 'professional' female shopping junkies notice that very few "new" items are on sale and "those boots from last year's collection are suddenly back on the shelf again".
  • During discounts, shops make more sales but less profit
    Myth. Believe it or not, in SALES, shops make more marginal profits than they do in non-sale periods. Successful shops that hit their sales targets, carry remaining inventory from that closed season. Its this inventory that becomes "discounted items". So, even if they sell these 'leftover' items for 1 dirham, all the revenue generated, discounting the cost of inventory, will be pure profit.
  • All shops jack up tag prices the night before Sales.
    Partial myth. Most respectable (franchise-managed) retail outlets are audited by the chamber of commerce (or whatever economic body) to verify original price lists, making sure that promoted/discounted prices are actually reduced. Questionable shops, however, do play this jack-up prices game and they are usually spotted by smart/avid shoppers.
  • Shop employees get to get all the "good stuff" first
    FACT. Majority of shops offer in-store early-bird SALE for staff, family and friends before the official sale period. This is one way shop owners/managers try to (1) give employees a moral boost before the whole Sales frenzy hits and (2) to maximize sales of course.
I can't think of anymore myths ... Can you?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Rent Poll

Saturday, January 07, 2006

To Sharjah Mega Mall

Can anyone explain to me why it took over 2 hours to exit your basement parking (B2)? Why all the stranded drivers and their passengers (many were women and children) almost suffocated due to emissions from cars running for 2 to 3 hours? Why was your staff standing doing nothing even after shoppers downstairs started calling Anjad (Sharjah Police)?

And the most puzzling thing - WHY did this gridlock happen in the first place? Roads outside the mall were clear.. there wasn't any accident and nothing was blocking any exists. Are you trying to give a whole new meaning to "Shop till you drop"?

All that happened last thursday (Jan 5th)

Your shoppers need answers...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

في ذمة الله

The Late Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum
May God have mercy on his soul and may it rest in heavenly peace
and may God grant upon us endurance and serenity

المغفور له بإذن الله

الشيخ مكتوم بن راشد آل مكتوم

تغمد الله الفقيد بواسع رحمته وأسكنه فسيح جناته وألهمنا جميعاً الصبر والسلوان

وإنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Speak Up

One of the first steps of finding a solution to a problem is to identify what/where the problem is. Most of the problems we suffer with the service industry here in the UAE is the lack of any form of communication between the consumer and the business owner.

This is what this post is dedicated for; to get everyone to share thoughts, stories and experiences on the service industry in Dubai and the UAE.

The aim is for business owners and decision makers to take note of all the violations and discrepancies that go by unnoticed on daily basis. Issues if not addressed, will ultimately damage the business' reputation, tarnish its image and in the long run, will effect its bottom line.

I request everyone to share their stories, thoughts and suggestions. Help our business learn from their mistakes. Lets play an active role in upgrading service levels in the UAE.

For that, I do urge everybody to:

  • Be courteous:
    This will NOT be a venue for bashing people, businesses or organizations. Any defamatory comments will be moderated and removed. No body is perfect and everyone is entitled to make mistakes. It is our responsibility to help amend others' mistakes by highlighting them.
  • Be clear and concise:
    Mention the exact problem, why was it a problem for you and what damage did it cause (if any).
  • Be reasonable:
    Report issues that were caused by lack of competence, training or product quality. While some problems could be unavoidable, most are.
  • Be precise:
    Mention the organization's name, time and date of the situation. Naturally, the sooner the organisation is aware of any problem, the soon they could be solved.

Thank you ..

Busting Bus Myths

One of my favorite lunch destinations is a place called Al Tawasol. It is a Majlis-style restaurant that serves a Saudi/Yemeni menu with dishes like Mandi, Mathbi and Madghot. The only problem (for me) is that the place is located next to Clock roundabout in Deira - which is a mid-day nightmare to drive through during lunch hour.

Anyways, my lunch buddy and I decided to leave the office early around 12:30 to catch a cab. Our Office is located on the busy Zabeel Road, next to Karama Post Office. 1 hr later and we are still in the street waiting for a taxi.

By then, It was not about lunch anymore, we are 5 minutes away from BurJuman Center. It was about making a point: "We WILL catch a cab and We WILL eat Mandi today!" (in a hard-headed Levant-style attitude ;-) )

We finally grabbed a taxi (literally standing in its way to stop it). We started interrogating the driver on the whereabouts of his colleagues. He told us about a huge protest Dubai Transport drivers are staging...etc

We made it to the Mandi Joint and stuffed our faces in a rush. It was 2:15 already and we were wondering if we can make it back to the office in time to see if we still have our jobs or not.

It was 3:00 and not a single cab in sight. We were like, "That’s it, we are going on foot".

We scurried toward the Clock Roundabout heading to Al Maktoum bridge when we passed by a bus station. Incidentally, a bus with the sign (KARAMA) on its destination board was about to leave the station. It took both of us a split second of exchanging 'you-wanna-do-this' glances and we were banging on the bus doors begging the driver to let us in.

We got in and asked the driver if Karama Post is on his route. He agitatedly nodded with a yes sign and stretched his arm demanding payment.

I heard so much about how bad, slow, smelly and overcrowded public bus transportation in Dubai is. That’s why I never took the bus here before, though back in my Kuwait days, public transportation was an integral component of my pre-car-owning commuting solution.

"Hope this goes well," I was telling myself.

The ride was a bit long, but curiously fast. We were worried a bit when the bus took a hard left (in opposite direction to where we’re heading) toward City Centre. But relieved after it headed back to Maktoum Bridge again through Bani Yass road after covering most of the inside roads along the way.

The bus then took the Sh. Rashid Hospital exit off Al Maktoum bridge and went all the way around DTV studios area. It was another 10 minutes of zigzagging Karama's internal roads before we stepped off at a bus stop which was a one minute walk from the office.

"we made it!"

Realistically speaking, if i was in a hurry, I would not take the bus. It could be slow because of Dubai traffic and the long routes buses here cover. But in any other situation, I don't see a reason for not taking the bus instead of a taxi.

We were seated comfortably and the bus was air conditioned and remarkably clean. No spit, gum or paper slips on the floor. There was no graffiti on the chairs or walls and people were sitting quietly minding their own business. Oh and get this, the air had occasional whisks of 'ocean breeze' from a timed air freshener thingi that you typically see in hotel bathrooms.

All this for Dhs 1.5 only.

The air freshener thingi

My first bus ticket in Dubai

Seriously, I do encourage everyone to take DM's Public Transport buses from time to time. Help reduce car condensation on Dubai streets, give your nervous system a break from the Sunny's and the Cruisers, help make the air less polluted AND save lotsa $$$..

Sunday, January 01, 2006

First post of 2006

Well well, new year's craze is over, Happy 2006 to everyone. Now, moving on; here is my first question of the day.

To all professional, semi-professional, enthusiast, amateur and even wannabe bloggers: It has been very quiet lately in UAE's blog-o-sphere... Any ideas why? and how can we inject some life into it?

Feel free to drop any thoughts, ideas or suggestions - everything works here, no idea is a bad idea.