My First Great Impressions Of Government Services In Dubai: Real Stories

During my short stay in Dubai (UAE) I encountered an array of government services, and came across some sophisticated citizen’s support, which in my opinion surpass the quality level of public services in the UK or other advanced countries. It was a happy surprise every time and a WOW response. It is an indication of an excellence program being Spectrum Email implemented in a serious manner. A quantum leap has been in the making in this small spot in the region, and I thought the Dubai phenomenon was limited to the real estate industry!

I have been staying in Dubai for over eight months. My children live and work in Dubai. I am a senior business researcher and consultant by profession and therefore I am very inquisitive by nature. I am one of the few people in Dubai who perform regularly long exploratory walks outdoors including walks in the sand. The weather was great this year so far, unusually mild with many rainy days even. Altogether it was an ideal setting for discoveries.

I am presenting various real stories of my encounters with Dubai government services. All the stories being told have taken place in 2013 in Dubai, except for one that occurred in December 2012.

Municipality of Dubai and Jafza (DMCC, JLT) / Complaint About Noise Pollution: I live in JLT (Jumeira Lakes Towers) in Dubai. This is a very quiet residential and commercial area including tens of high rise towers overlooking numerous lakes. Suddenly one day early this year I awoke to the big noise of some machine. After a few days of bearing the noise I decided to go out and pinpoint the source of the noise pollution. It turned out to be a power generator being used for the renovation of a ground floor shop in the tower opposite to mine. Upon enquiry with the workshop supervisor I understood that the tower management is not providing an electrical power-line to the workshop, and therefore they had to use the noisy power generator, even Fridays. The supervisor mentioned works would last for a couple of months. I expressed the objection due to the loud noise caused, and which is amplified by the reflections of sound by the adjacent building towers.

After raising the issue with the management of my tower I was told I should complain with the Municipality of Dubai. I tracked the website of the municipality and telephone and internet complaint procedure, and made a telephone as well as an email complaint. I did not go to the municipality. I received after a very short while a complaint number and telephone contact number and the message was sent as SMS to my mobile. I then spoke on the phone after quoting my complaint number, and the other end was taking notes of the details of my complaint again. The feedback after my telephone complaint was very prompt; I received an SMS stating that my complaint case was closed! I expected some action must have been taken. I contacted the municipality by phone and was told that for such matters in JLT it is not the jurisdiction of the municipality of Dubai but of Jafza, and I was provided info as how to locate Jafza. I had never heard of Jafza before!

I contacted Jafza by phone and I was given an email number and contact. So I sent my complaint by email. I received a prompt response from Jafza (DMCC, based in Almas Tower) stating they will send inspectors to the workshop. Then within a week I received a statement saying inspectors spoke to the workshop and to the management of the tower, and indicated they will try and convince the management of the tower to extend a power line to the workshop, and they asked the workshop to reduce the noise and to be restricted to a few hours in the day and only working days, this until a DEWA line is obtained by the workshop. The noise was slightly reduced, but a few months have gone by since my initial complaint and the workshop was still using the noisy power generator! I complained again a couple of times at DMCC by telephone and email but did not receive any feedback. More or less I got the understanding this is as far as we go. Then I complained again one day with the security personnel when the workshop was using the noisy generator after midnight! Eventually, the noisy generator was replaced with a larger but very quiet one.

In brief, I was surprised at the effectiveness of response to complaints made by telephone or by email, without having to go personally to the department, and at the initial effort focused by the authorities on solving the problem. Despite the fact that the problem has dragged on for a while, I was very impressed at the speed and professionalism of the initial feedback and speed of efforts to sort things out. This response put Dubai more or less on equal footing with advanced countries, and even surpassing them in excellence. Such responses cannot be performed with this level of quality without the proper processes and procedures in place.

Consumer Rights in Dubai (Ahlan Dubai Service, DED), And Dubai Central Laboratory (Dubai Municipality) / Testing a Shirt Fabric: On another occasion I bought a cotton shirt from a known European brand at Ibn Battuta Mall. Upon wearing, the shirt did not feel 100% cotton as stated, as it was not cool and it felt more like high ratio of synthetics and electrostatics. I contacted the European supplier by email and informed them about my doubts, but I did not receive any explanation. I had doubts whether I shall find a consumer protection department in Dubai, but I was surprised I found one called Ahlan Dubai service, part of DED. I sent a complaint by email and after filling in a form from the website, I received promptly an email reply with my complaint number, stating that my complaint will be attended to within two days. In my complaint I mentioned that I would be happy to supply a small piece of the material to test whether the shirt is 100% cotton as claimed by the supplier. Someone from the consumer rights department called immediately after, wanting to clarify what I actually wanted! I told the person I just want to test the material and see whether it is 100% cotton, as claimed on the shirt. The person suggested that I return the shirt, but I mentioned that I have some strong doubts and would like to test the material even if it cost me a little. I then received by SMS a message saying my complaint case has been closed! I contacted the department again by phone and inquired, and they indicated the case was closed because I already contacted the supplier. But I mentioned that I had no explanation from the supplier. My case was then reopened and I was informed by SMS that this was the case. Then I received again a phone-call inquiring what I actually want from the complaint! I mentioned again that I would like to test a piece of the fabric of the shirt, and I was told they do not have a test laboratory for such purposes, and my case was closed again.

I looked on the internet for a test laboratory in Dubai, and indeed I found one as part of the Dubai municipality. I was pretty confident the material was not 100% cotton. I found out that the central lab has also test facilities for textile, and they had a consumer section, and I contacted them by email with my request. I am a researcher and I am driven by curiosity and I hate it when there are discrepancies between the specs and the reality. I then received a phone call from the lab and explained what I exactly want, and I was told that a simple test can be performed quickly to establish whether the fabric is 100% cotton or not, and this for free this time. Should I request a report with detailed composition of cotton and synthetics then there will be a fee of some 150 AEU, if I recall. I found out where the lab was located and made an appointment to come next day.

I was very impressed by the setting and the organization of the central lab. I asked for the contact person at the reception, and very quickly a young female Emirati woman as test expert appeared, and I gave her the small piece of material to be tested (Which I cut out from the shirt). She disappeared for 15 minutes and came back and told me this is 100% cotton! My face showed some doubts and the civil servant suggested I come and see how the test results was established, and showed me how the material was tested. WOW. What a super and prompt service and what a super know-how. I have myself a Ph.D. in science and spent tens of years doing R&D and I was impressed. The expert explained to me that this is a cotton fabric made to show little greasing and hence feels different. She explained that after a few wash cycles the effect will be reduced gradually. Again WOW. I was given a brochure of the lab and some promotion and I left feeling dazzled. Am I in the USA? Almost the same day I received a belated email feedback from the European supplier of the shirt stating that the shirt is indeed 100% cotton but is of the finish “Easy Care” and therefore feels different! So after all this whole trouble it was indeed 100% cotton but of another finish! I still do not know what this means in terms of 100% cotton specs!

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