Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Observations - day 25

Personal Services are Cheap! It's been fun to compare prices - some things are more expensive than you'd expect (electronics) and some things are cheaper (like taxis). One of the items in the cheaper category is personal services like manicures, massages and facials. Last week I got one of the best manicures I've ever had and paid $13 (and that included the tip)! I'm guessing that if I can find a good place that's not in one of the malls, I can get it even cheaper. Of course, just like back home, if you try and get the service in the hotels, you'll pay at least double. Haven't been to the hairdresser yet, so I'm not sure yet how that will compare (I'm sure it will be an adventure though).

Fruit Juice:  Maybe because Muslims don't drink alcohol or maybe because fruit is easy to come by, fruit juice is big here. (and really yummy!!) All the restaurants serve a variety of fruit juices, the juice aisle is as large as the soda aisle in the hypermarket, and there are juice stands all over the malls. You can get everything from orange to watermelon to avocado and my new favorite is lemon mint, which is like a tart lemonade with crushed mint leaves - really good. As a result, you also see a lot of juicers in the appliances aisle - in fact, I'll have a harder time finding a traditional coffee maker.

Take a Number: The Arabic culture isn't do good at forming organized lines. While at the Recruitment fair a week or so ago, people just jammed their way to the front or stepped in front of you. It seemed very impolite based on my experiences, but there is no irritation or animosity about it, people just calmly push their way to the front or step in front of you, interrupt you if you're talking to someone - it feels very odd and rude. I think for this reason, whenever you need to wait for some kind of business, they have a ticket system (the bank, the phone company, post office, traffic department ...) Just like you used to see in a lot of stores back home, you take a number and an elaborate PA system in Arabic & English calls your number and you can proceed. At the traffic department, for example, I think there were 20 stations in the room and when the officer was ready, he/she pushed a button and called the next number (which is an automated system in Arabic and English). Very civilized and thank goodness or we'd never get our chance!!

Contests/Giveaways: Islam forbids any kind of games of chance - cards, gambling, etc. so the stores and businesses work around this in a couple of ways. First, some assume that only non-muslims will participate (I can't really comment on whether that's true or not). The other way is that you have to do something to win. For example, the mall next door is giving away a car in a 'raffle'. For every 200 AED of purchases you make at the mall, you earn two raffle tickets. You won't see "no purchase necessary" on any of the contests around here.

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