Dubai Consumer Mirror

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Kidding around

Dubai's event industry was hit hard over the Weekend by the childish organizers and organization of The Mother, Baby and Child Show.

Without sounding like a drama queen, the event was a disaster by all known standards. The experience was physically painful. And I mean it physically.

It all started when we heard a radio ad that Barney
is coming to town. Mrs. M said that we have to take Baby M to the show: "I am sure she will enjoy the characters and all the kids playing around," she said.

"Of course, we can do this coming Friday afternoon. Traffic and parking at the Convention Centre shouldn’t be a problem," I replied.

Of course, on Friday I found that that I was wrong

Just like any other day, getting to the paid parking lots at the Dubai Convention Centre was the usual pain.

With eight years of Gitex parking experience, I dropped the family off at the main gates and parked the car in the far away free parking lots and walked all the way to Zabeel Hall (end of Hall1).

That’s about a 10 minutes walk, if you walk fast that is.

So, I reached the place to find my wife standing on the side with a “its-gonna-be-tough” look on her face.

This is how it was like: Thousands of people crammed in the outside reception area in what seemed to be queues, but they were not, i assure you.

“They are all waiting for tickets,” my wife noted.

“I will try to get to the bottom of this,” I said as I started to gently elbow my way through the croweds to get to any of the events people or ushers.

I saw a bunch of people in pink t-shirts sitting behind 3 counters, backs to the wall as if they were in front a firing squad. I waved and yelled:

"What’s going on?"
"No tickets, you need to register"
"You need a form"
"Where do i get one?"
"I don't know- try the counter"
"Which one?"
"Don't know .."

So, my quest to find a form began. And after lots of excuse me's and pardon me's, I spotted a loose form stuck in a wedge on one of of the 3 counters. I snatched it and walked back to my wife. Luckily, she had a pen in her bag and we filled the friggen form.

I walked back to find the same usher who told me about the form but I couldn’t. I spotted another one and reached out my hand with money and the filled out form:

"3 adults please,"
"No tickets till 6:30"

It was still 5:30

Apparently, event organizers said they will not sell any tickets until they make sure the halls are empty enough to accommodate more visitors.

Fair enough.

"Can I buy the tickets now and I can come back later when you open the doors?"
"No tickets till 6:30"

With hundreds like myself, all waiting outside a small reception hall, children crying, women standing on their feet for hours, it was only getting worse by more and more people gathering up in front of the lonley 3 tickets stands that had no cordons or any kind of crowed/traffic control and manned by freaked out teenage temp staff.

Being in enough events myself, I kindda knew that once they start to sell tickets, getting into the halls will be a horrible and painful experience.

- "Instead of keeping everyone waiting like that...Why don't you sell us tickets now and we will go away, sit in a cafe or something and comeback later when the doors are open."
- "No tickets till 6:30"

- "you can make it easier for yourselves if you sell away those tickets now and reduce these huge lines at tickets counter. We have women and children for heavens sake!"
- "No tickets till 6:30"

I think several guys around me found that what I was saying did make some sense and and started yelling the same: "SELL US THE TICKETS, WE WILL TAKE THEM AND COME BACK TO YOU WHEN YOU OPEN THE DOORS INSTEAD OF STANDING UP LIKE THAT FOR HOURS!"

Organizer finely caved in and started giving away those damn tickets and said that we can go in.

I think I just ignited a revolution... hehehe

Of course they wanted to get rid of the active and provocative agents I.E. myself and the other wailing bastards, by taking our forms first.

Then came the following glitch.

Tickets pricing was DHS 15 (for 2 to 14 years), DHS 25 (adults) and below 1 is free (thank god for that). In my case, I needed 3 adult tickets. My wife, Nanny and I – and baby M goes for free.

Naturally and as expected, getting the right change back will not happen. So I walked out paying Dhs 95 for 3 adults tickets of Dhs 25 each.

I walked out with tickets in my hand and followed by evil and envious looks. I got to my wife, carried my daughter out of her stroller, folded the stroller and told everyone to brace themselves and follow me.

Believe it or not guys, for the entire exhibition hall, the entire show, they only allocated a SINGLE a passage that fits ONE SINGLE PERSON only.

This access point was maintained by one security guard who was like 20 years old or something, and he was taking his sweet time to check the tickets.

Didn't this organizer,
The Main Events company, ever organize any main events?

Didn't they have the foresight or even think that since its a going to be a Family show, most likely visitors will consist of …err .. families; parents, nannies and baby strollers? Didn't they think that they will carry baby shoulder bags and backpacks? And they expect all this to squeeze in through that tight spot?

They must be kidding us!

So, after being pushing, shoved, poked and stepped on we reached that single access point and this was the situation. I spotted the single guard checking the tickets and trying to make sure that families got the right combination of adult, children and infant tickets.

That’s fine except that there were four other security guards standing next to him doing nothing but blocking the way.

- "What the hell are you guys doing?"
- "Who?"

- "You, four guys standing like that doing nothing but watching - why don't you help him out" (pointing at the single guard at the narrow, single-person entrance)

The response I got was plain stupid smiles.

So after squeezing our way into the halls, we stood aside for a bit to catch our breath…

Booths stacked next to each other divided by very narrow, tight and over congested walkways. Again, no consideration that fact that unlike other events, visitors to this event will consist of a family of parents, children and their accessories - let alone the ones who got their friends ... etc

Anyhow, we spent 4 hours in driving, parking and fighting our way to get into this place and spend a single hour there. We didn't see Barney (Thank God for that!), but Baby M enjoyed everything else.

And i think that what made this whole thing worth while .. seeing your child happy.


  • Sounds like it was something of a nightmare. I hope you didn't use your own PO box / phone number on the form; otherwise you're probably going to end up with a rather unhealthy dose of spam /:

    By Blogger samuraisam, at December 17, 2006 at 12:53 PM  


    I feel your pain.. I took my 2-year old because he is part of the Barney cult.

    I ended up with him on my shoulders for 20 minutes.. and he was 'happy and he knew it' so he decided to 'stomp his feet' when barney ordered him to..

    i went to the earliest show on Saturday so that was a blessing (albeit a very very very very tiny one)..

    another gripe: recently potty-trained toddler + 1 working stall in the ladies room + a long long queue of women who couldn't understand the fact that he COULDN'T WAIT!!

    i ended up in a fight with a couple of ladies.. then i left in search of another bathroom, and saw the men's room :)

    Hey - He's a boy - he can use the men's room right? *wicked smile*

    thankfully it was empty when i went in, but i was prepared for another fight just in case..

    the walking space, the organisation, the setup - EVERYTHING SUCKED!!

    i left - literally - looking like i had just emerged from a battle.. I can honestly say, that giving birth was a much easier experience in my case..

    my only silver lining was that my son was over the moon with happiness all day because he saw Barney and sang 'i love you' with him..

    I did decide however, that i would start a list of all the difficult things that i wanted to remind him i did for him - as ammunition for his teenage years :)

    By Anonymous Dalia, at December 17, 2006 at 3:00 PM  

  • Sam .. they will enjoy reading the form, trust me :)

    Dalia .. i heard many many stories. Did you read 7days today?

    By Blogger moryarti, at December 17, 2006 at 7:07 PM  

  • Nightmare stuff.

    By Blogger nzm, at December 17, 2006 at 7:23 PM  

  • This reads like "Chicken Soup for Staying Single" ;)...

    Good to see Baby M and the wife are up and about.

    By Blogger marwan, at December 17, 2006 at 10:22 PM  

  • Man...I'm tired just READING that...I can only imagine how tiring the whole trip must have been for you and your family....

    By Blogger Dubai Sunshine, at December 17, 2006 at 10:35 PM  

  • Ufff... I am glad Baby M was happy after all... otherwise I can't imagine what you would've done.. lol...

    By Blogger Restless in Dubai, at December 18, 2006 at 9:48 AM  

  • I wish you had asked me first M. Every year I give them a chance and it is total and utter CRAP. It is organised by people who have no kids and this year I said NO before anyone could convince me.

    By Blogger CG, at December 18, 2006 at 11:01 AM  

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