Thursday, June 9, 2011

D like Dubai


50% of my time on the phone is spent spelling!
I find myself singing the phonetic alphabet at almost every call:
  D like Dubai
       I like India
C like Charlie
         K like Kangaroo
    E like Echo
  N like November
      S like Sugar
Yeah, I know, I'm making some of them up but that's really not why I'm writing this post. Today a couple of things happened that prompted me to pour my heart out on Facebook:

I have absolutely no problem if people can't speak Arabic or English in Dubai. I take issue with companies that put them on the phone with customers! Why torture both your clients and your hardest working employees? I say hardest because these people are drivers and delivery men. Let them DRIVE and DELIVER! It's hard enough in this weather! Have an admin, someone who can speak both English AND Arabic make the calls!
Someone just called to take down my address and deliver a package. Try spelling Dickens Circus over the phone when there's no common language to communicate!
(Oh! AND an Arab who's not proficient in English should be able to get services in Arabic in an Arab country!)

My building's named after Charles Dickens, and as beautiful as that may be, every time I have to verbally give my address to someone, it never fails: no one understands a word! And don't think that mentioning "Dickens, as in Charles Dickens, you know, the author" would make any difference.

Well, it probably doesn't help that I live in Motor City and that for some unrelated reason, buildings and streets are named after renowned writers. Ferrari Street would have been easier to explain: "Yes, like the car, Ferrari; I live in Motor City! Duh!".

Instead we're stuck with literature!

In this day and age, it would have been really more practical to name the streets Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. But no, the creative people at Union Properties preferred authors.

And why make it easy when you can make it even harder: the buildings are either clustered in "Circuses" when they form a complete circle, or "Crescents" when they form half a circle.

That makes me a resident of Dickens Circus.

I'm only kidding about the names of our buildings; I do like them.
Our community is really beautiful and I love living here.

But obviously it would have been easier to live on Shakespeare Circus. Everyone knows Shakespeare (or at least his name) and somehow I'm sure I could have convinced the whole world that in my building, all residents are dedicated to putting Shakespeare's plays on stage, in a Circus tent, because we can't afford a real theater.

My flat-mate Charlie (Dick for close friends) was so right when he wrote:
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"
The best is at Motor City.
The worst is telling people how to get to The Best without getting lost! It's a little like Atlantis; the island, not the hotel. Everyone knows it's there, but no one is really sure how to reach it.

OK, it's not that bad and I only kid for the purpose of entertaining my wonderful, loyal, one and only reader. Somehow I know you are out there. I know you read my posts. I know you wait for new ones. And I am a little scared you may start stalking me one day. But not too scared. Just the right amount that Hollywood celebrities feel on a daily basis when they pass by Starbucks for their morning caffeine shot.
Dear Future Stalker, kindly disregard the following paragraph. Thank you
And if you plan on moving to Motor City but are too worried you'll be stranded like Tom Hanks and Wilson, don't worry, you can always choose to live in Bennett House, Norton Court, Widcombe House, Sherlock House, Fox Hill or the Terrace Apartments. Somehow they're easier to understand than "Circus".

Oh, and let me reassure you dear reader, yes, I did receive my package this morning. Thank you for asking. 

But seriously, I wasn't kidding about the pre-delivery call. It's really frustrating when all the while someone who's proficient in English could have taken all the details and given clear directions to the driver.

I personally talk London very best and eventually, I managed to agree on the basics with that delivery man (who was so nice by the way). But what if my mom had gotten that call? Yes, she does pass by Dubai from time to time. Or any other non-English speaking poor soul? 

Dubai is such a cosmopolitan hub that sometimes you forget you live in an Arab country. But it is exactly that: an Arab country.  

Once hubby was at a main Supermarket chain in one of Dubai's largest shopping malls and he saw an elderly Emirati man, probably in his 70's, fighting with a cashier from the Philippines. She couldn't understand a word he was saying and since he wasn't proficient in English, he couldn't understand what she was saying either.

He was appalled that in his own country, he could not find one person able to provide him with answers in his mother tongue.

He was right.

I am not saying that we should get rid of all the non-Arabic speakers in town, far from it!

But at least, in common places where customer service is essential (if not the only thing staff does) and customer means all and any human being, employees should be able to speak primarily the country's native tongue, in addition to English to cater to non-Arab customers who obviously are a large market in Dubai.

A humble opinion.

(In case you're curious, here's the other incident I reported on Facebook)

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