Dubai Consumer Mirror

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lost Value

In my head there is a little black book. In it, a list of things I won't do, people i avoid and brands or businesses that I never deal with. The reasons for this mental boycott may vary (character, service, quality, price, value…), result is one: stay away.

Today, Pars @ Mall of the Emirates was added to this list.

My wife and I felt like having Iranian food today. I told her that I know this place that has a branch in Mall of the Emirates. Pricey, for an Iranian restaurant, but food is great.

PARS is a relatively well established Iranian Restaurant in Dubai. It is positioned for the upper class Iranian food loves. Its almost double the price, but food is great. And though my all-time favorite is Kabab Ostadi Alkhaas, I used to frequent PARS (the one behind Bur Dubai Police Station) quite regularly.

So, back to our lunch today...

We ordered the mixed grill platter for 2. It was for about 120 Dirhams. It came with 4 skewers of kabab. The rice portion surprisingly little and was almost equal to the one they serve in a single platter for 1.

Mind you, the average price for a single platter in PARS ranges between Dhs 30 and Dhs 45 and they all come with TWO kabab skewers.

So, if we ordered 3 single platters instead, we would’ve ended up with more kabab, more rice, and may even cost us less then Dhs 120. Another strange thing i found was the price of a glass of youghurt drink (Laban Ayran). It is a common beverage that is basically made out of plain yoghurt and infused with bit of salt and garlic. Nothing fancy, yet at PARS, it was going away whooping Dhs 30 a pop.

Oh, and the food wasn't exceptional.

Many many restaurants in Dubai need to revisit their understanding of “value”. I admit that service and attention-to-detail has slightly got better across the board, due to crunching economic times I guess; but “value” around here is still missing in action, misguided and more businesses needs to bring it home.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dominos Pizza in Dubai is Bad in Maths

Me: Hi, can I order the "Meal for 4" item on your menu please?
Domino's: That will be 2 medium pizzas, 1 bread sticks, 1 salad and 1 bottle of pepsi.
Me: Great. Can I have Diet Pepsi please?
Domino's: But that will be in cans, we don't have a large Diet Pepsi bottle.
Me: thats fine.
Domino's: Sure, I can send you 3 cans.
Me: But its a meal for 4, isn't it?
Domino's: yes, but the price is different
Me: I appreciate that .. but I am ordering your Meal for 4, which should include a large bottle (1.5 ltr) , that you don't have. So, I am OK with the cans option. Why do you wanna give me 3 cans for a meal for 4?
Domino's: I'll see what i can do..

In 30 minutes from now, I'll find out what she can do ...

UPDATE: Yup, as expected, they only sent me 3 cans. It seems that at Domino's, a can of Soda has more value than the company's reputation, or what reguler customers think of it. Classic.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Educating the educators

Overall performance of schools in Dubai:
• Nine out of every ten schools in Dubai provide an education of at least acceptable quality.
• Four out of every ten schools are good or outstanding.
• More than half the schools are currently providing an education that is not yet of the good quality expected of all schools in Dubai.
• Half of the good schools are public and half are private.
• There is considerable variation in the performance of different private schools: some are outstanding, but more than one in ten is unsatisfactory overall.
• Around 20,000 students in Dubai attend schools that provide an unsatisfactory quality of education overall.
• Three quarters of the unsatisfactory schools are private.
• There are no outstanding public schools.
• More Details here

I only have four words on this: Its about f#$%ing time!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Augmantin ES 600

In our everyday lives, we deal with the good, the bad and the total idiot. I’ve developed fairly decent skills to handle the first two. It’s the third one that I still can’t handle well.

You see, my philosophy is that everyone has portion of ‘goodwill’. It is what makes an individual jump in, exercise knowledge and expertise for the purpose of doing good.

Unfortunately, many take that leap of faith after putting their brains aside. For some, this burst of goodwill can be so overwhelming; it impales any sense of real good judgment and sane decision making, resulting in the exact opposite: a total disaster.

This happened to me last night:

My daughter fell sick a few days ago and the doctor perscribed a medication that she couldn’t take in any from or matter. She hated the taste and threw up every time her mom or I try to give it to her. The following day, we asked the doctor for an alternative prescription, which I scribbled down on a yellow post-it note.

I tried a couple pharmacies in our area. First pharmacist said he hasn’t heard of such a medication before, and the other one tried to sell me something else instead.

“Augmantin ES 600 please, for children” I told the chemist at the third pharmacy I am trying now.

He handed me a box of tablets. “Try this,” he mumbled

“No please, can I have Augmantin…. ES 600? It’s for my daughter. Solution, not pills”

“No broblom sar, how old is he?”

“My daughter is 3”

“You see saaar, this Aawgmanten not coming 600. Only 126, 365 and 624. You give your daughter this one”

He placed another box, an bottle this time, on the counter. “You give him this, it is same” pointing at the bottle. It said Augmantin, but not ES 600.

“Are you sure? The doctor was specific with me on the phone. He said Augmantin ES 600, 7ml, twice a day.”

“Saar, I am telling. This Aawgmanten not coming ES 600.. Only this. You give your daughter, he will like.”

So there I was, at my third stop in a quest for this now mythical prescription. I am more open for alternative solutions, so to speak.

“Yeah, sure… you are the chemists after all, you should know better” I shrugged and reached out for my wallet.

I took a random glimpse at the shelves over pharmacist shoulder, and there it was, standing out in all its glory, RIGHT NEXT to the medicine bottle he is trying to sell me, in big bold fonts: Augmantin ES 600.

Do you know the rush you get when you realize that you are going to correct your teacher’s mistake in front of the entire classroom? Or when you point out an error your more senior co-worker has in his proposal or presentation? When you realize that you, for a brief moment in space & time, know more about something, than the subject matter expert standing in front of you?

Ooooh, I saw wanted to give it to him.

But I curbed it. My enthusiasm for intellectual vendetta was suppressed by the urge to grab the bottle and get the heck out of this place.

“Give me THAT one please,” I calmly pointed out to the medicine bottle behind him.

He picked it up, gave it a prolonged gaze, walked up to the cash register, scanned it, bagged it, all in total and slightly awkward silence.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Regaining Balance

5 or 6 years ago. My life was 70% me-time and 30 for others. I used to read ... and MAN i used to read a lot. Almost a book every weekend. For that, i wrote for newspapers and magazines.

I blogged. And my blogs were on radio stations, newspapers and magazines at least once a month.

But i didn’t have much of a social life back then. I had a normal job that required focus on a single country and single city. It demanded lots of attention, true, but I carried much less responsibility - always had to revert to someone 'for approval'.

Now things have changed .. i think the spilt is 20-80 now .. where 20% is 'me time'.

My social life sky-rocketed, phone and SMS inbox gets packed with messages of BBQ gatherings, dinner parties and outings.

At work, i do less tactical work and more 'thinking and directing' - Everyone comes to me for advice and approvals - mind you from everywhere - Japan, via APAC and Europe all the way to the West pacific coast in the US.

I have 2 adorable children that I rather spend time with them than anything else.

In spite of all that, I feel under accomplished and internally unfulfilled... I sat down the other day to find out why; do a before-after comparison. I realised one thing. I don't read anymore. Its been 2 years and i haven't completed a single book.

Mind you, i have read 5 or 6 different books half way only, but never completed any.

I got these books out and i am planning to finishing them. One at a time, - not concurrently. Because that’s how one should focus on completing tasks. Once at a time. No matter how much of a great multi-tasker you are, focus on the present. Isolate everything and dedicate your energy on what you are doing now.

Lets see how will that work out…

Friday, May 01, 2009

Six Days in Dubai, i mean Fallujah

“ (the game) is a recreation of the actual events, the actual stories of marines that fought in Fallujah ..”
The president of Atomic Games, publisher of recently cancelled FPS game ‘Six Days in Fallujah'

Right … all actual ... with Dubai licensed trucks and everything
See video here