Value For Money
I took the abaya back. The over-priced mini abaya that didn’t fit DD (see yesterday’s post, ‘Challenge Anneka’).
The receipt said, ‘No Exchange, No Refund’ but I plucked up my courage and smiled as sweetly as I could. And, finally, after a little pleading on my part, the salesman agreed to a refund.
It wasn’t just that it didn’t fit. Nobody likes being ripped off, and the rubbish feeling I’d had as the salesman had looked me up and down before setting his extortionate price had stuck with me for days. I’d been taken for a ride, and I’d been too timid to do anything about it at the time.
Dubai used to be the kind of city where it was assumed that expats had a big, fat salary package and could therefore afford to pay inflated prices. As one salesman told me last year, there was the price for something, then there was the ‘Dubai price’ – add about 50 per cent because you’re in Dubai and, well, the expats can afford it. This was, of course, pre-recession.
What I’ve noticed about the recession is this: in a city of people that used to love showing off their wealth, there’s been a gentle – and welcome – shift of perception. In many – but not all – circles, it’s now acceptable to admit that you aren’t made of money.
A year or so ago, if a restaurant or shop overcharged you, many would have paid up without a peep so as not to lose face. It wasn’t the ‘done’ thing to look like you cared about saving pennies. Perhaps you really didn’t care about the pennies.
A year on, people are shopping around for the best deal; they’re ditching the over-priced beach clubs and switching from the super-expensive ‘expat’ supermarkets. They’re flocking to Dubai’s only flea market; car boot sales are starting to appear; websites like souq.com (Dubai’s version of eBay) and Dubizzle are going from strength to strength as people are actually – gasp – buying and selling second-hand items. People are standing up for themselves rather than just putting up with the over-pricing that’s rife over here.
It may seem perfectly normal to the British psyche but, for Dubai even a couple of years ago, all this was inconceivable. I’m glad things have changed; it makes people here a little more human, a little nicer, more realistic. If something good has come from the recession then, for me, this is it.
As for DD’s abaya? I went to a dusty little shop near my favourite low-rent supermarket and got one that fits for a third of the price of the other one. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier.
For more info on Dubai’s first ever – and massively successful – flea market, see: