Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I love the UAE

My friend D, a very wise and perceptive young lady, BBMd me the other day (have you noticed how people no longer call each other...they BBM?), saying that she was reading my blog, and that she was surprised that the last few posts have had a rather negative tone to them, and she asked me to write something more positive next time.

My friend D is right...I do use this blog as a venting platform whenever I'm unhappy about something...It's almost like an automatic reflex. But I did want to say this, loud and clear: I LOVE THE UAE. This place is definitely home to me, and right now, I do not see myself living anywhere else in the world. I mean yes, we all go through our "OMG I wish I lived in Europe/The States/Australia/South America" moments, but then you quickly realize that you can not live the way we live here anywhere else in the world.

So here's an incomplete list of the things I love about living here. Some are personal, some are more relevant to everyone out there. I urge you to add your own comments if you'd like to:

- I love living close to my parents. I get to see them every couple of weeks, and it beats seeing them 3 weeks out of 52, hands down! Home is where your family is.
- I love my friends. They're the best part of living here. I look forward to my weekends because of them...and this goes for both my groups of friends in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
- I love that I've known some of these friends for almost 2 decades now. OK now I feel old!!
- I love living with my sister (she'll kill me if I don't mention her here)
- I love the weather. I did the whole snow, ice, hail, wind, 4-seasons thing for 10 years. I'd rather 50-degree heat. Trust me.
- I love the beach. Some of the best beaches in the world are here.
- I love my pool. I think I have the awesomest pool in Dubai. Others will vouch for that.
- I love how easy life is. Admit can't get a life this easy anywhere else in the world!
- I love my job and the people I work with.
- I love the Corniche in Abu Dhabi. The best free beach EVER!
- I love the fact that I live in the city that has the tallest building in the world...I know it's stupid...but it's kinda cool.
- I love that as a female, I usually get priority service at most governmental offices.
- I love the concerts in Abu Dhabi...Justin Timberlake, George Michael, Bon Jovi, The Killers, Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, name a few!
- I love the restaurants in Dubai...Teatro, Zuma, Okku, Bice...again to name a few...yumm!
- I love that we get great weather almost 7 months a year
- I love the sound of the athan (prayer) when I sometimes wake up at 4AM for no reason whatsoever...It's so soothing.
- I love action-packed weekends...pool/beach, restaurants, clubs and bars (and then trying to catch up on sleep during weekdays)
- I love the shopping...not that I shop a lot but I like it when I do shop...
- I love how familiar Abu Dhabi feels. It's nice and cosy.
- I love camping on the beach.
- I love weekend getaways to Fujairah, Hatta and Musandam
- I love Yas Island and what it's becoming.
- I love what they're doing with Abu Dhabi.
- I love Christmastime in the UAE. I'll always associate that with vacation time and family gatherings.
- I love JBR Walk. Don't take advantage of it nearly enough though.
- I love boat trips.
- I love the sight of Burj al Arab.
- I love our coffee sessions at The ONE in Abu Dhabi. It's our local hangout.
- I love our chilled nights at a friend's place, playing charades.
- I love sunsets at the end of a beautiful weekend.
- I love the look of awe on my tourist friend's faces when they come visit.
- I love Sho Cho's (both Abu Dhabi and Dubai!). Rock shrimp salad? I could live on that stuff! Oh, and salmon sashimi too!
- I love how close we are to Europe, Asia, South Africa, and the rest of the Middle-East of course. Now if only North & South America and Australia would come closer to us...would be great.
- I love that I get 21 days off in a year (plus all the Eids and national holidays!)
- I love the feeling of "coming back home" when I'm away from the UAE for a little while.

There's more...there's definitely more...but let me know what you love about the UAE...

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Customer service is about serving customers

Customer service in the UAE can either be hit or miss...I'd say 90% of the time, it's a miss...but, looking at the bright side, this means that the 10% of the time when it's a hit, one can only be blown away, because the bar is set so low to begin with.

I've been to a few restaurants lately where the service was simply abysmal. Orders were messed up, the food took ages to get there, dishes got served at different times, dishes were cold...(all of the above happened to me recently in one restaurant by the way. Never again, trust me!). Now, I understand that some restaurants can have an "off day" once in a while, but you'd expect that the staff are empowered enough to provide SOME sort of compensation to the customer...But no, usually, all you get is a "I'm sorry Mam, I'm sorry Sir" and that's it. Nothing to actually show us customers that they're even remotely bothered by the fact that we're basically paying money to get treated like crap.

Language barrier is one issue, but training is the bigger issue I believe. When you hire staff for your restaurant, you make sure they've studied the dishes, tried them, been informed about what can be replaced/added to the dishes, been trained when it comes to keeping an eye out on the tables they are serving to make sure their customers do not require anything, take the customer's order in a timely manner, and bring the bill no later than 5 minutes after you've asked for it. I mean, the basics really. I'm not expecting Michelin-star service here!

And it doesn't stop at restaurants. Shopping outlets also need to step up their game. Greet customers when they walk in. Keep an eye out and help them out with sizes if you think they're looking for something specific. Place the clothes in the changing rooms while the customer is browsing. Again, I'm not saying stalk the customer every step of the way (that's a turnoff too!) there for the customer. I can't even begin to remember the number of times I've simply walked out of an outlet because I can't find anyone to help me...

In beauty salons for example, nothing is more annoying than sitting there, patiently, while the technicians are chit chatting amongst themselves. Chit chatting while getting the service done is borderline acceptable (although in all honesty, I would much prefer some peace and quiet), but chit chatting away while the customer is waiting for all 10 fingernails to be painted is just frustrating.

But then, once in a while, you catch that silver lining. The waiter who's on the ball, has answers to all your questions, and even manages to crack a joke or two (without being cheesy)...Or that customer sales rep at Dewa who actually knows what documents you need when you want to move to a new place. Or the shop assistant who suggests to call other branches to find that must-have pair of shoes in a size 38...Once in a while, your expectations are surpassed...Once in a while, service in the UAE is a hit.

Once in a while.