Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dubai's Angels

In a city that is known more for its glitz and glamour, nothing beats the experience of seeing the more humane side of the city. It is Dubai's blessing to have an angel in the form of Roshni Raimalwala and her band of happy volunteers who go out each Friday doing small deeds full of goodness for the city's under privileged. 

Roshni is part of a beautiful concept build around social service. Roshni and her group of volunteers visit various parts of Dubai and distribute food and groceries to the not so lucky. They spend a lot of time during the week collecting material for donors. This includes donations in kind like sugar, rice, tea bags, soap, toothpaste etc. These are then put together in packets by the volunteers and distributed each week.

At times it is easy to get blinded by the success of Dubai. Dubai is home to the rich and famous. And yet behind all the glitz, Dubai is also home to many poor residents who work hard to keep the city in shape. These mostly include workers from Asian countries like India, Pakistan and Philippines. Roshni and her volunteers visit these workers from time to time and support them with free food and groceries. Even though the labourers are taken care of by their employers and earn a salary, a hot pipping biryani and supply of essential groceries goes a long way in making life easier.

The picture below shows one such activity that was conducted recently. I know that many of the volunteers and Roshni herself may not be happy with publicity and are happy to stay away from the limelight. But such beautiful acts of kindness deserve every bit of support. 

If you'd like to support this concept, you can get in touch with Roshni at +971 50 8585903.  I did and I hope to support this project as much as possible. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

How genuine are Dubai's online deals?

Its the next big thing in town. Everyone is talking about the big discount websites where everything appears to be flying off the virtual shelves. 

I have subscribed to a few of these sites Souq, Gonabit, Groupon, Cobone etc but I must confess I am yet to make a purchase till date. Nonetheless what freaks me out are a few recent offers that I received which appear to be absolute cons. At least that is the way they appear given that these are supposed to be 'offers' and not regular purchases form any online shop. So what exactly is the value proposition that these sites bring to the table. 

Here are screen shots of a few that I received in my mailbox. 

To any other person, these may appear like fantastic deals. But not to me!!! The new Blackberry 9860 at AED 1,999/-??????????? The model has been selling at AED 1,999/- at most well known retailers since the day this product was launched. Souq.com in fact shows the old price at AED 2,700/- and the deal price at AED 2,049/-. So made a few calls to some of my friends at Axiom Telecom only to confirm that the product was available at Axiom Telecom on the same day at AED 1,999/-!

So are our online deal sites in fact misleading the public? Are these really deals or an attempt to cheat the gullible customer?  So what exactly is the reference point to benchmark the 'old' price? Is this the price at some odd retail outlet in some corner of Deira or is this the lowest/highest price at an established retailer? Or should this be the recommended retail price set by the manufacturer?

I am not sure if the onus lies with the respective online site? Or should this be the responsibility of the respective seller who uses the services of sites like Souq, Cobone or Groupon? Ultimately and irrespective of the legal interpretation, should the online sites be accountable for the offers being made by a third party? In the case of the offer shown above, it appears that the offer on Souq.com itself is made by a seller named Daily Deals and may not be a promise from Souq.  

I am yet to take advantage of any of the online deals so far and based on this case, I may be one of the many who will remain suspicious of the deals that pop into the mailbox.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Kawha experience

Arabic coffeee or Kawha is a very important part of local hospitality. One of the many things you will experience during a visit to the local family is Kawha. In fact it is considered an insult to the host if you refuse the first round of coffee. Remember that you continue to get refills of Kawha until you signal that you have had enough. And the only way to do this is a slight shake of the cup. I remember my uncle once telling us about his experience in the 70's when he ended up have several cups of coffee as he had not yet understood the system!

Hierarchy is an important part of life here and this can be seen in the way coffee is served. The first person to be served is usually the most important person in the room. Age takes precedence over rank and hence the older people in the room are usually served first.


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