Dubai Consumer Mirror

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I think it goes without saying that ...

... I didn't feel right about blogging about anything that doesn't or wouldn't do serve or help Gaza. And now that things have calmed down a bit, i can safely get back to business as usual... sort of.

So, today. I was thrilled to see the story on freezing all 2008 rents in 2009. My new contract is due renewal and I still haven't signed the new, and increased I may add, tanancy contract for 2009.

"Perfect," I told my wife today. "I will take the newspaper, the new unsigned contract and yell POWER TO THE PEOPLE at the reception desk of our Greedy Landlord's office."

On my way there, i was thinking of how much i am going to enjoy sticking the news about His Highness Sh. Mohammed's decree in his face, street ball style. And maybe do a-4th-grade na na na naaaa naaaaaaaaa na victory dance while I am at it..

Me: "Hello sir, I got the new contract... I think you need to make some changes, no?"
(handed the contract with an old-fashion-homeboy wink)

Greedy Landlord takes a look: "umm.. looks fine. You got the cheuqes?"

Me (releasing a nervous giggle): "I guess you didn't read today's peper, Sh. Mohammed said that ..."

GLL: "Oh yeah .. that. We saw that ... do you actually believe this? Thats all newspaper talk"

Did this guy just diss Sh. Mo's decree? Not on my watch...

Me:"Excuse me, what are you saying? that you are not gonna comply with this?" (pointing at the article with the huge Sh. Mohammed photo with it)

GLL: "Oh no... we have full respect for his highness ... but every time a decision is made, people are confused, we don't know what to do ... and we want wait... bla bla bla. So, do you want to renew the contract or not?"

I muttered a few words about knowing people in higher places and somebody in The Rulers Court (which i don't, and i think GLL will totally use it as the 'office joke of the day' with the guys). I pulled out my cheque book, signed 2 cheques for a small fortune that could feed an entire Palestinian village for a whole year, walked out with both the newspaper with the decree inside, the increased contract for 2009..

Friday, January 09, 2009

Desperately needed food items for Gaza

People, remember my last post on shopping for Gaza?
Here is another handy one from this facebook group

When Shopping for Gaza, please bare in mind that Israel will not allow the entry of:
- Red meat canned food of any type: mortadella, corned beef or beef hot dogs. Chicken or or any fish (tuna, sardines) is OK!
- Salt <- NO SALT is allowed
- Items made in Syria/Lebanon..

A few tips I learned as well:

- Get value packaged items and promotional offers, its quantity that counts at the moment.- Expiry date should be no less than 6 months
- Avoid foodstuff in glass jars and fragile packaging, they might break during transport.
- if you want to get sweets for the children, chocolate might melt during transport. Get candy or biscuits.

If you have a couple of extra dirhams on you to spend, hospitals are in dire need of crutches and wheel chairs. Perhaps a group of 5 people can collectively donate a single wheel-chair. Its relativly in expensive: About Dhs 350 a pop

Get those shopping carts rolling!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Gaza Care Package in Dubai project

About 50 pharmacies across Dubai have a ready "Gaza Care package" list for you. For Dhs 250 or Dhs 500.

The package contains much needed medical supplies such as antiseptics, pain killers, electrolytes. And baby supplies such as baby milk, baby medication and hospital/clinical supplies such as Saline solution, Betadine, cotton wool, alcohol swabs, surgical gloves and so forth.

This is the link to the facebook group

Here is a list of the participating pharmacies and the contents of the package. Spread the word!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Shopping for Gaza

Being in Dubai and feeling helpless about helping out our brothers and sisters in Gaza, I decided not just to give-away cash (usually easiest thing to do). I wanted to feel more invloved.

Thankfuly, Aramex has arranged a donations collection point at Mall of the Emriates (and other places all over the UAE) till Jan 11th. Helping out can never be any easier.

You can do it too.

Just copy paste the stuff I bought today. You can add/remove to it whatever you wish. I also made a scan of the recipts, click on the image to enlarge, print and use it as a shopping list. I got everything from Carrefour at MoE.

The List:

Panadol Baby & Infant 100ml
Betadine Antiseptic Solution 500ml
Calpol Child Cough/Cold Syrup
Nestle Guigoz Baby Milk (from 6 months)
Nestle Cerelac Milk & Wheat
SebaMed Baby cream - Daiper Rash
Panadol Tablets
Dr. Johnson Baby bottles Sterilizing solution
Bell's Antiseptic Cream 30ml
Bell's Epix Antiseptic Disinfectant 200ml
Bells Iodine Disinfectant 25ml

Cotton Balls
Band-Aid Plaster
Lion Heat Patch (Joints and muscle pain)
Bayer Aspirin
Green Cross Rubbing Alcohol
Vick's VapoRub or Mentholatum
Blankets (at carrefour for Dhs 22 only)
Baby Diapers..

Please add more to this list.... Help others shop for Gaza

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Things in Dubai we'll see less of in 2009 (hopfuly)

"It just doesn't feel the same," one friend pointed out as he said happy new year this morning.
"What is it exactly?" I replied.
"2009" he said abruptly. "I just do not have a very good vibe about this year."

Things are gonna get weird this year. There is no doubt about that. Middle East politics is more confused today than it ever was, Obama, the global economic climate, environment... etc - I do believe 2009 will be quite a transitional year.

But lets keep it close to home. I do except that Dubai will also have its fair share of change too.

Here are a few things I expect we will see less of in 2009.

Landlords from Hell
For the past 5 years, landlords have rightfully earned the rank of being Dubai's scum of the scum. They basically screwed 99% of dubai's population and -each other's reputation along the way- by demanding ridiculous terms such as doubling rent, single payment advance cheques, creating hidden "charges" such as fees for parking, facility, service (or the lack of it to be more precise), bending tenant protection laws and many other low-life type of behaviour.

With over 40,000 new residential units expected to hit the market in 2009, and thousands of other empty units already bought by speculators waiting to be flipped, not to mentioned the ones that will be foreclosed, the balance of power will be disrupted a bit more in favor of us tenants. Keep your fingers crossed.

Free Mall Parking
There are a few reasons why I believe we will see more malls start charging a fee for parking. For example. Mall developers will be facing challenges maintaining a proper return on investments from their facility. Observers today are speculating that many businesses won't be able to afford some of the crazy rent malls are charging today. As a result, retailers will chose to "optimize operations". Meaning, branches not making proper margins will be shut down, and focus efforts on better performing outlets.

Bottom-line is, mall owners/operators will do anything to keep their operations afloat. Taking up 1/2 of the parking space and turning it to a B-level shopping area and charging for the rest of the parking is -usually-the most reasonable move they can make.

Fancy Schmancy Real Estate Advertising
Driving around the streets of Dubai has never been the same for the past 4 to 5 years. I am not referring to deteriorating traffic or the ever-changing-crane-infested skyline. I am talking about ADS. Ads everywhere. On bridges, on cars, on rooftops and bus stops. In airports, Ads on plans, in planes and ads can be seen from planes. There are ads of buildings on buildings.

Newspapers and magazine had their share in the environment gangbang by stuffing what we hope to be a 30 to 36 pages of informative reading; into an almost 100 pages of which 90% of them are real-estate ads.

Until very recently, Gulf News had the following supplements: Properties, Properties 2, Freehold, Freehold 2, Classified (that includes property ads by the way), and Property weekly - an over 150 pages of property ads and listings.

Today, with real estate companies letting more people go everyday, shirking projects and real estate company bosses and ex-bosses playing catch-me-if-you-can with the authorities; advertising will be the the least of their worries. Its about friggin time, me thinks.

Bank Loan Promotions
Some of the most absurd things i used to come across everyday were Loan Promotions. You name it, they did it. Take a loan and we give you a plane ticket home. Take a loan, we throw in a mobile phone. Take a loan and enter a promotion to win a (insert crazy-ass giveaway that ranges from a ball pen to a Mercedes S-class). Take a lone to pay the rent, school bills, house bills, car bill, medical bills. One bank was giving away loans if you are a woman and wanted to bet a boob job. (Ok that was in Lebanon, but you could have done it here and label it under - medical procedure)

But with tighter pockets, more reluctant investors, cash flow will dry up and banks will be less inclined to give up its liquid mulla. As a matter of fact, they will convert its ads to "Give us your money and we will give you more rewards - in interest."

I don't know how that is gonna work with a city that seems more interested in Islamic finance (the non-riba based banking), but my guess a shaikh will come up with a fatwa to create a Shariaa friendly interest yielding savings account.


I don't know .. I still have a few more i can think of. But i think these above will be the most aparant changes. What do you think?