Category Archives: Shopping

UAE Marketing Misses


Language is a funny thing.  Language interpretation is even funnier sometimes.  In my shopping here (which happens WAY too much) I’ve found some advertising copy that just misses the mark for me, or that truly made me laugh out loud…. So you gotta know, right?  Read on…..

A local luxury hotel chain’s loyalty program ( advertises “When exclusive is not so much a privilege, but a lifestyle.”  So, wait.  Does that mean they’re too exclusive for me?  If my lifestyle is already exclusive, does this add privilege?  Or perhaps I’m so privileged that this exclusivity should be my lifestyle…..  I’m not certain exactly who this one is aimed at, but I’m guessing it’s not me or the other 85% of the population here made up of expats ….. not sure.

Be-dazzled duster and dustpan – I have no explanation.  Does it make your cleaning cleaner, maybe?  Things sparkle more?  Try for the life of me,  I have no clue about this one.

bedazzled2 bedazzled

And soap with a “killer price” – literally?

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This was a giggle too, who names a sports drink “sweat”??  Apparently, this company does…..

sweat drink

I didn’t get a photo of this one, but one of the handbills on a light post downtown advertised “House Shifting”.  My first thought was that perhaps it was something to do with house-movers, like I’ve seen in the states…. They literally move houses from one location to another.  But, one of our neighbors here has lived in Dubai since 1998, and talked about “shifting” from one neighborhood to this so that’s how I learned that it meant moving!

And, in the toilet paper department….  The always-popular “puppies on a roll”.  *shrug*  I honestly got nothing on this one, can’t for the life of me fit anything into that line.

puppies on a roll

Or, how about one enriched with shea butter.  I mean, what the heck use is that??  Not sure I actually *want* my toilet paper enriched with anything, thank you…..

toilet paper shea butter

Or this one, advertised by a sultry-speaking woman….”Andrex classic white.  Soft, Strong, and Veeerrrry Long”.  <snort>

soft strong and very long

Now, I’ve never personally had one….. but this was certainly eye-opening….. a bust-firming massage???  Holy cow….


Or the popular tapioca-pearled drinks called “Boba”….. this one has an interesting attribute…. It’s “fatally fruity!”

boba 003 boba 007

While we’re talking about drinks…. Check out these… um….. well, if you can’t read the label, turn it over!


Cute little drawstring teabags – took me a bit to figure these out once I got them home….


And here, the Thai Dried Plasaitan.  Otherwise known as “deaddriedfishinabag”.  :::shudder:::


Hhmmmm…. Something from cows that you can turn into a mexican-looking flan with a perfect crunch topping.  *snap*  Got it.  Sweetened condensed milk…. There it is, in tiny little letters.  But isn’t the packaging brilliant?  No more scraping that thick stuff out of a can that’s got sharp edges and you never get the last bit out…..

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Just squeeze it up and done.  Less space in the landfills, less space on the shelves of both the grocery and your pantry.  Lighter weight too.  Brilliant idea!  Here’s another along the same line… I love these bags!  “Honey, run to the cold store and get me a bag of spaghetti sauce!”.

Taste of Dubai 002 Taste of Dubai 004

How about some pocket tissues?  Cute little dotted bag, would be easy to slip into my handbag…… wait, WHAT does it say??

marketing 007

“The plant has strong vitality.  It grows into beautiful flowers and fruits and moisten our lives”.   Okay…..

Now this is cute…. Took me a minute or two….


Get it?  “jiggle it loose”??  It’s a spray lubricant!  Kinda like WD-40, I’m guessing.

One of my favorites so far that even made TBG laugh outright was this one…. A local propane/LP gas delivery company has its company name emblazoned on the delivery trucks…. And it truly tickled my American sense of humor.

alboom alboom2

Get it?  “Al Boom”??  “Boom” like an explosion…. And it’s a propane truck?  I think the cartoon character Hank Hill of the FX TV show “King of the Hill” would appreciate that humor, don’t you??

Anyhow, just a few of the things that have caught my eye that didn’t translate as expected.

Never know who you’ll meet~


When we walked into a mall we heard an unfamiliar sound…. the distinctive “swapp — swapp — swapp — swapp” of a basketball being dribbled on a tile floor…. you’ve all heard it, right? No mistaking that sound at all. But in a mall? What the heck??

so surprising to see stature and accent in this setting!

so surprising to see stature and accent in this setting!

Went a little further and saw this gent – he was here from Chicago, and was conducting some basketball clinics in order to promote teamwork, leadership and training, plus some athleticism for the younger residents.

Obesity is at epidemic levels in the UAE, especially in the younger age groups. Diabetes is also at epidemic levels in the UAE. Back in 2007, ABC News was reporting that one person in four had the disease, that is 25% of the population!  By some calculations, over 40% of the UAE’s population will have diabetes by the year 2020! So there is a big media and social push on to promote a more healthy lifestyle, including diet and exercise.

Yup.... it was one of those "huh?" moments.

Yup…. it was one of those “huh?” moments.

It was so unexpected to see a man as tall as TBG, and speaking with an American accent as well – just one of those “huh?” moments I’ve encountered.

Produce Oddity – Potatoes


OK, just a quick note about potatoes. I know, potatoes? What’s interesting about them, anyhow? Well, in the US, I was accustomed to my Idaho Russets – kind of all-purpose potatoes, you know? Here there are MANY more choices…. and they’re all different taste and textures. Pretty cool. But I noticed something odd.

You know how when you keep potatoes just a bit past their prime, they’ll begin sprouting??

photo from

These are the sprouts I’m accustomed to seeing….. kind of pointy and long?

Hmmm… my potatoes here didn’t exactly look that way – they sprouted some alien-looking ball-shaped pods of some sort!

What the heck???

What the heck???

Freakishly round, I didn’t quite know what they were, afraid it was some weird Middle-Eastern mold spore or something…. but nah…. it was just a sprout!

My goodness.... weird looking, aren't they?

My goodness…. weird looking, aren’t they?

Nope.... not some exotic mold spore, just a dang sprout.  Funny-looking, though!

Nope…. not some exotic mold spore, just a dang sprout. Funny-looking, though!

OK, crisis averted. I popped those puppies off, peeled, boiled, mashed and seasoned them and we ate them for supper… just another tiny view of my new Middle Eastern life, huh??

Dubai Heritage Village


What a pleasant surprise!  We were headed to a different attraction, but decided to stop here first and see what it was about.  Parking was pretty easy, and we just sort of “wandered in” – signage isn’t very strong…. I’m not certain that we entered a main gate or anything.  But not to worry, it was all good.  Once inside, there were some “gifty” looking commercial shops on the left, a small riding ring ahead with a horse and ponies in it, giving people the opportunity to get close to and ride these critters.  From the big smiles, I’m thinking it was pretty popular and the riders were definitely having a good time.

Fashioned like one of the stalls inside, this was a shelter outside the attraction - I think to await a bus?

Fashioned like one of the stalls inside, this was a shelter outside the attraction – I think to await a bus?

A piece of sculpture close to what we thought was the entrance.

A piece of sculpture close to what we thought was the entrance.

Oh yeah, they're having fun!

Oh yeah, they’re having fun!

To our right, there were small stalls set up, called “barasti stalls”  with stick sides and roofs all sort of “woven” together.


Pretty cool looking, but since it was a Friday (day of worship here) I’m guessing that’s why the majority of them were either empty or closed.  A little of the “Heritage” part seemed to be lost when the first one I came to was full of fake Gucci and Prada handbags…. What the heck??  Nothing “Heritage” about those at all……  And the “silversmith” one had not a thing to do with silversmithing….. but then?  Then we came to the “blacksmithing” stall.

I was enthralled.   Inside was this older man of indeterminate age, sitting cross-legged on a smooth floor mat next to a small firepit and large smooth-topped anvil, with rough hands that were deftly feeling and shaping some metal strips into useful tools.

The Blacksmith Gent

The Blacksmith Gent

Now I assumed they were tools.  I wasn’t certain exactly *what* kind of tools these might be, so I asked him.  When he looked up at me, I realized one of his eyes wasn’t seeing – it was completely opaque and white.  That’s why his hands seemed to be doing so much of the “seeing”….. they were acting as his eyes.  He gestured to the knives, trying to sell them, I’m sure…. We were not interested in those.  Back to his creations…..


a few of the tools the blacksmith gent had made.

a few of the tools the blacksmith gent had made.

Now, one of the tools was for stirring teas, one was a wood-handled blade for opening oyster shells, one was a gouge for woodcarving, and another for picking up and serving olives, corn, or re-fueling the “shisha” coals….  That’s the one I bought – I had to have something that this man’s hands created.  I just wanted a tangible connection to him for some reason.  It’s sort of a rarity to know the human that created a tool you use daily, don’t you think?  I’ve tried to capture its depth, its unevenness, its hand-made quality, and I’m afraid I’ve failed.  I hope you can sort of imagine how it feels in my hand, though.  Comfortable.

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Next stop – a camel next to the desert fireplace display – Well, either it was a campfire display of some sort, or someone’s afternoon tea heating!

Desert campfire display.  I *think*......

Desert campfire display. I *think*……

Well, it's a campfire,   Dunno if it's someone here that made it personally, or if it's part of the exhibit..... no clue, sorry!

Well, it’s a campfire, Dunno if it’s someone here that made it personally, or if it’s part of the exhibit….. no clue, sorry!

But – on to the camel – TBG hadn’t ridden the ones at Bab Al Shams.  He feels sorry for them, thinks he’s too big or something…. I dunno.  But he wanted to get next to this one, and there he went, right up next to it as it was kneeling down.  Amazing to see him with it, and then he was petting it!  Too cool.  I asked him later what he thought about it, and he said “Camels have REALLY long eyelashes.”

Yup..... TBG with a camel!

Yup….. TBG with a camel!

A bit further down the walkway, I spotted a way to get to the woman I’d seen sitting in the sand ever since we’d arrived there…. A small older woman in a black abaya with the khimar (veil that covers the entire face) tossed back over her head exposing her burka-covered face was working on something spread out on the ground.  As I approached her, her hands automatically went to her khimar and covered her face.  I asked if I might come closer and see what she was doing, and she gestured for me to come.  (The burqua (burka) is the mask-looking covering that may be leather, fabric or metal – it traditionally covers the nose and mouth, leaving only the eyes exposed).  Here’s an interesting quick bit about the burqua (burka) from the Sharja Center for Cultural Communication…..

Metallic-looking burqua

The Burqa

The burqa is a traditional face mask that is usually worn by the older generation of UAE National ladies. It was a symbol of a lady being a married women in the past.
It is made from percal (cotton fabric)  and stained with indigo which gives it the golden metal like sheen. The indigo which dyes the mask also rubs on the skin which and also acts as a beauty treatment by whitening and softening the skin.

Although the masks may all appear alike in design, in fact they were slightly different from one emirate to another and the ladies would actually cut them to suit the contours of their individual faces.

She was sewing long rectangles of burlap-looking fabric together to form an even larger rectangle.  On closer inspection, the rectangles were actually burlap bags that had been opened up along their long sides to provide a single layer of fabric.  They were then sewn together using a large needle and “thread” made of hemp or burlap, I couldn’t tell.  She was speaking to me all the time, in a language I didn’t understand.  But her intonation and gestures were enough for me to get the gist of what she was saying.

See the big squares of burlap?  They would eventually become the lining for one of these tents.

See the big squares of burlap? They would eventually become the lining for one of the tents.

She lifted the khimar, leaving her burka the only cover between us.  I felt like I was being strangely “let inside” something, like I’d gained an entrance to something….. I was not sure what.  But I was curious about what she was doing, and wanted to make an effort to understand.

And I did.

She was sewing these strips together to form the framework for another tent like the others closeby.  This layer would help prevent the dust and such from settling on the possessions inside and protect people from the top coming down in the winds.  I gestured towards the seams she was making, and asked if she was unraveling the rope to use as threads.   I used a “twisting” motion with my fingers…..  She smiled broadly at me and shook her head “no” and then picked up the rope loops that were at the end of the seams, providing a means to attach the fabric walls to the poles holding up the tent….. she held the loops and I moved to the tent nearby and touched the loops at the end of the poles – she nodded “yes” and then showed me a largeish wad of what appeared to be unraveled burlap “threads” by her side.  That was what she was using to sew the bags together.  Interesting.


There was so much more I wanted to ask her – how did you learn to do this?  Did your Mother do it?  Is it a social activity for women or simply a chore to be completed?  Is there any monetary gain from it, do you sell your work?  What originally came in those bags and where did you get them?  What about the brightly-colored tent walls, where do they come from?  Sadly, these questions were *way* beyond our ability to communicate.  But I gestured to her that I appreciated her time, and asked if I might take a photograph of her – I wanted to remember our encounter and take a look at her brightly-colored clothing without staring in person.  It was unusual and I was curious.  She gestured “yes”  quickly placing a hand to her burka to ensure its position.

heritage village woman

The rest of the shops and such truly didn’t interest me as they appeared to hold fairly common souvenirs and gifts….. we bypassed them for a quick cold drink at one of the refreshment stands, and headed to the Makhtoum house next door.  Here’s a bit of what we saw along the way – imagine the flavor of this place, if you will……

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Lovely doors, no?  I was hoping it was leading to a bathroom area.....

Lovely doors, no? I was hoping it was leading to a bathroom area…..

Later that day I asked TBG “so, what do you remember most about the Heritage Village??”  He thought for a few seconds and said “Yeah, camels have some really *long* eyelashes.  But I’ll never forget watching two women, neither of which spoke a word of the others’ language – communicating and gesturing about something and actually understanding each other.  That’s what I’ll remember about that place.”

No, honey – it’s not your car.


Sheesh…. TBG sees all these cool cars and thinks that they’re his.  No, honey…. it’s not your car!  Mercy.  This one was in a local mall, we saw it while waiting for the screening of Iron Man 3.


He *really* wanted to lean up against this one... but there were these guys in suits standing around

He *really* wanted to lean up against this one… but there were these guys in suits standing around it….lol.

cute camel, though!

cute camel, though!

uh.... no.  No racecar driving.

uh…. no. No racecar driving.