The Ordeal Of Going to the Cinema

Baby 3D Glasses Watching Film On TV, Children Eating Popcorn

I love movies. I love going to the cinema. I love watching art house and blockbuster movies. I love the whole movie watching experience (especially back in the UK).

I just don’t love going to the cinema in the UAE.

In 2005 when I first came here, the problem with going to the cinema was the censoring of movies. The censors would cut the movies so badly that you could see the rips from the scissors on the film. The films would make no sense. The violence would remain but everything else would be cut. Supposedly violence is fine.

Then it progressed to people talking on the phone during the movie – to their families in other countries or mates in the mall waiting for them . Why they couldn’t talk to them outside the cinema screen was always a mystery for me and other cinema goers. And it always has to be loud. On their bloody Nokias!

The recent issue has been with babies and kids. For some reason it is perfectly acceptable for babies and kids under 10 to watch movies which are classified PG13, PG15 and 18+. Yes, that’s right we have had babies screaming at their top of their lungs during an 18+ movie.

I recently complained to one of the cinema chains and have been having daily phone calls with them arguing that these movies are not meant for under 10 year olds or under 17 years old if it is an 18+! . Their argument is that if it has PG on it, and parents take them to the movie, they can watch a PG13 or PG15 movie. It does not matter if there is violence, sexual connotations or rude words in the movie. They are being escorted into the cinema with an adult so they can see the movie.

The cinema chain have told me to complain to the cinema ushers if I have a concern in future during the movie, which means I should disturb the people sitting near me, get up, complain and miss part of the movie. Awesome. So it’s either suffer watching movies

Maybe I am getting old, and admittedly there was no PG12 and PG15 until I was in my teens, but these movies are NOT meant for kids. They are meant for teenagers and adults. Kids should be watching Disney, Pixar and Minon movies.

My bigger concern is allowing babies (under 1) into the cinema. The movies are too loud for us grown adults let alone babies. It cannot be healthy for their ears and no wonder they are screaming if they are hearing the Avengers kill the badies at millions of decibels??? My argument with specific cinema chain was that they should be allowing adults with babies to buy the tickets let alone into the screenings, but I was advised that it was permitted by higher authorities!

I have no idea who the higher authorities are, but if you work for them or do know who they may be, can the issue of allowing kids into the cinema to watch movies not meant for their age be raised?  What is the point of cinema classification if kids of all ages can enter the screening?

Update: As wisely pointed out by some readers, there should be a complete ban on children going to late night/midnight screenings. The children want to sleep and instead are being forced to stay awake and cannot sleep due to the loudness of the movie. Parents should have common sense and be more responsible, but cinemas should put their foot down as well.

Please use #UAECinema to spread the word about this issue in the cinemas here!

Let’s try and make some positive changes to our cinema going experience.


The Hassle of Buying Water in Restaurants (Vlog #2)

water glass


Do you ask for local water and get overpriced water instead? How irritating is that! It keeps happening and I am not amused.

Here is my discussion about this rip off water situation.

What do you think about the rip off situation and how do you think we can stop this happening?  Let me know if in the comments box.








© 2015 Shelina Jokhiya | All rights reserved – This post is provided for the convenience of Shelo’s Cheeky Rantings readers. Any reproduction of the content within this feed is strictly prohibited.

The Good, Bad and Ugly – Customer Service in Dubai

mind blown

Customer service is a continuous rant fest for us in Dubai. It’s rarely good, but mostly appalling. The Managers don’t care, the serving staff are clueless. Supposedly we can complain to the Trading Standards here but no one I know has ever had a response from them.

However, there are moments of such amazing service that it makes you feel like you are on cloud 9.

Here are four of my recent picks and how they have treated me and my friends:


1. Izel Dubai, Conrad Dubai 

My friend and I went to Izel recently. The restaurant/bar is a South American fusion restaurant with a Happy Hour on Wednesday and live music.

We hadn’t booked a table beforehand but walked in and were advised by the hostess, that they could definitely give us a table. As the restaurant hadn’t opened yet, they asked us to sit on their comfortable chairs at the bar and order from the Happy Hour Menu. When the table was ready, the friendly waiter took us to the table and passed us over to our new waiter.

The food was lovely, but it was the attention of the staff that made my day. My friend had ordered a glass of wine from the knowledgeable Sommelier. He returned during our meal to check she was happy with her drink and we were happy with our meal generally. The waiter of course was attentive during the meal but left us to chat alone. We also had the Operations Manager come and introduce himself and ask if all was fine. We were not anyone featured in Ahlan or famous, just two ladies catching up. It was a nice gesture.

When we left, the hostess asked us about our experience. We did mention that the toilets were really dark and that it would be nice if we could see the toilet paper. She agreed with us and said that she would advise the management as they were renovating the restaurant during the Summer. They might not listen to our advice, but acknowledging it was nice of them.

In the lift, the Chef held the door for us and said bye when we left. Small thing but really nice.

We missed the music (which I have heard is really loud) but we had a lovely, relaxed visit to the restaurant.

2. GQ Bar – JW Mariott Marquis

A few weeks ago a group of friends and I booked a table for drinks at the GQ Bar. I had forgotten to mention we needed a smoking table when booking. Oops.

As normal I was the first to arrive, so the hostess suggested that I sit in the bar area, and then when my friends had arrived, we could move to our table. When our party arrived, we realised that we were going to be seated in the non-smoking restaurant area. We asked if it was possible to be moved to the comfy seat area in the bar. The hostess said “no problem”, shuffled the reserved areas around and fitted us four in a corner section with no hassle. During the shuffling I had mentioned to the hostess that I was disappointed by the bar men not being so hawt as expected (I had been told they would be hawt as it’s the GQ Bar!). She laughed.

Later on, I checked us in on Foursquare. Within a short while, the Acting Manager of the bar came to our table with mini drinks and asked us how our night was. Turned out that the bar’s twitter handle is linked to the Foursquare account, so they knew instantly when I had Foursquared and thanked us with the drinks. Lovely gesture. He had also talked to the hostess and asked me about my views of the bar men (my friends were embarrassed of me by then) and asked me to return in a few weeks to check the new staff who were joining :D. When we left they both said bye to us at the door.

Two weeks later I returned to the bar for a networking event. At the door, the same hostess was there and she recognised me! Little ole me! She even asked where my friends were. That night the bar man who served me was so hawt and really good at making the drinks. I told the nice hostess to inform that Manager that I was impressed :).

It sounds stupid but in this superficial, Ahlan loving, celeb wannabe town, it’s nice to be treated like someone by staff even when we are not any of the above.

Also, to have great service is such a rarity that it makes the night even more special when it is amazing.



3. KFC

7pm – I ordered KFC (I’m sick today, KFC is my cure – don’t judge me). They knew my normal order. I was impressed.

8.05pm – I called and asked about my food. Was told that the operator would call me back once she found out where the food was.

8.24pm – Called again. The operator said that the KFC Motor City were not answering their calls. They couldn’t find out where my food was. Told her to cancel the order and to tell the manager to call me.

8.38pm – Driver calls and says he is near my villa (I live in an apartment – the address even says Flat…).  Told him to turn around and get the Manager to call me.

8.47pm – Manager calls me. Told him of my disappointment. His response was that their internet was down and they were taking orders by telephone. I politely told him that the operational processes in the restaurant were not my problem. I ordered food the correct way, I expected food within half an hour. He kept making excuses.

There was no offer of giving me a voucher to use for next time as an apology. No offer of anything.

No profuse apologies.


His view was that as his operations system was down, it was my problem and I had to accept it. He said he would take my order now. I told him that I had ordered from elsewhere as I was so hungry.

The way he talked to me was sooooo arrogant that infuriated me more.

I advised him that his behaviour was unacceptable and that I would be informing all on social media. He didn’t care. That was the end of the conversation.

I won’t be ordering from them again.

Update 19 June 2014:

A KFC Manager called to apologise profusely and also confirm that the excuse about the system was actually not true. They were very angry at what happened to me and they were sincere in their apologies. As a gesture of goodwill they delivered lunch to me (and the Manager of Motory City called to check all was fine when the delivery man arrived). I will be ordering from them again. 


4. Clinton Bakery Cafe – Downtown Dubai.

Two of my lovely friends are leaving Dubai. They are having several Tweetups. This was one tweetup they set up for breakfast on Friday.

a. 3 of us entered and asked for the 6 person booth.

b. The waitress said she would have to ask the Manager if we could have booth as we couldn’t get a table unless all of our party had arrived. (I must add at this point – I had to leave after an hour and we didn’t know when exactly the rest of the party would arrive, but it would be soon).

c. Manager came to front, ignored us. Said in a nasty tone to the waitress, that we couldn’t have a table until our party arrived. At no point did he talk to us the customers, he just spoke about us to the waitress.

d. I told the waitress to just give us a table for 3 of us as I had to go. Told the Manager as well, he turned away from me.

e. Within 10 minutes 3 more people arrived. We got a booth.

f. I left.

g. My friend Khaled Akbik and his wife turned up after me. Here is his story of what happened when he entered, in his own words:

“I went a bit late to a friend’s farewell gathering this morning at Clinton Street Baking Company, Dubai. It was my first experience there and the place looked lovely and promising. I was looking forward to having a nice cup of coffee and a delicious breakfast.

My friends had already finished their breakfast when I arrived and some were still sipping on their coffees and shakes. When I called in the waiter to give him my order I was politely told that we can’t order anymore because there are others waiting for a table!! When we argued with him he called in his manager who was somewhat rude. He said there are others waiting and implied that we had exhausted our time on the table and that it would take long now for them to make a new meal, serve it and for me to take my time eating it!!

This was the first time I witness such a behaviour from a restaurant’s staff, let alone the manager, who is supposed to be accommodating to say the least.

When a restaurant puts the interest of incoming customers more than existing ones; is practically saying, you came, we served you, you paid us, now leave….we got our money from you, off to the next one.

That is not a way to run a business and needless to say, despite the apparent popularity of this restaurant, I won’t be going there ever again.”

Now yes, it was Friday, it was busy and people were waiting for the table but we had ordered a lot and still were going to order in our group. But the main issue was the Manager. I saw how he spoke to people or didn’t speak to us. He was a nasty human being.

The food was nice, but expensive for what it was. If we had been treated like humans I would go again but after being treated so appallingly, continuously by the Manager I have no desire to return until I know he has left.

The chain might be big in New York but this is not New York and you don’t treat people like this.

Update 19 June 2016 – nothing. 

This is a small pool of good and bad customer service. I could go on but it would take days to write. Where have you been that has been amazing or appalling with regards to customer service?

The continuous downfall of customer service

140221 Businessman Cover His Head With Bag

Customer service, what is that you might ask, if you live in the UAE? Don’t ask me, I am personally fed up of HSBC Middle East and Axa Gulf currently and their customer service.

My gripe with HSBC is for several reasons; most recently

a. they stopped me using my savings account as the internet banking department had not bothered to update their system with my new visa despite giving it to the bank weeks before.

b. This week they rejected a cheque as they said my signature was incorrect.

I was so incensed that I complained until they reversed the charges for a returned cheque. Ranting on Twitter resulted in all their customers complaining of the same issue; every time they wrote a cheque. A company I happened to chat to also said all customers issuing them with an HSBC cheque get rejected. Every time. We can’t all be incredibly stupid and incompetent to sign our cheques incorrectly every time. But HSBC thinks we are and will charge us for this supposed stupidity by us all.

I only had my issues sorted out as I ranted on Twitter. Their social media team straight away called me, listened to my rants and got it sorted out within a few hours. Calling HSBC customer service results in you talking to a robot in India who reads from a script and tells you that you are wrong and will have to go to a branch to sort out the issue.The other issue calling on the phone is that the line is alway crackly, which results in the customer service person hanging up on you and telling you to redial the number.   That means you have to redial and go through their millions of options before you get through to  a crackly voice again. And if you forget your personal banking number..well let’s not start on that nightmare.

With my internet banking issue, I went to the branch they told me to call internet banking. Internet banking did nothing. And don’t even bother contacting them online as they will never reply. Ever.

You might say why not change banks. I would love to but I can’t for now due to various reasons. The main reason is that my car loan is with them. If I change banks, I will have to provide them with cheques, which they will then reject. It’s not worth the hassle.  Also why should I  change? I have been a customer of theirs since I moved here. Should they not be providing their customers with great service being “the local bank” and also the second biggest in the world. Ok, I don’t have millions in the account, but I still put money in their bank for them to gain interest on. I never seemed to get this much crap with the bank in the UK.

I could complain to Central Bank about HSBC, but I fear that as the issue has been sorted they will not be interested.

The issue with AXA was due to two problems:

1. I was advised to obtain one medical insurance, which turned out to be completely useless. It was immediately cancelled by the lovely woman at the Wafi branch, when she realised the issue. I cancelled the incorrect policy in October.

2. A medical claim I made was rejected for a refund as they claimed it was a pre-condition which I had not disclosed. My doctor wrote to them to say it wasn’t a precondition. Still rejected.

c. They kept delivering other peoples cards to my address.

The cancelled policy should have been refunded within 6 weeks. After ranting again on Twitter, their social media manager seeing the complaint, called me (somehow finding my number despite me not providing it on twitter and also I am still wondering how they linked me to my twitter account….), apologised  and got a refund issued within 2 days. It took a Twitter rant to get the refund.

The claim issue has been talked about on the phone and by email. The customer service rep did a great job at stalling with responses for 5 months and when responding would copy and paste why my claim was rejected. I had promises of managers calling me to discuss the matter, but I had nothing. Notwithstanding the medical claim not being a previous condition; I had also been with AXA for 3 years with my previous company. They had made it very clear they had all my medical details so why do you have to disclose them when you renew if they know your history already. Additional administrative burden on the customer and excuse to not pay any claims.

I received an apology only from the social media manager. Nothing from the medical insurance department, until I sent them a sarcastic email asking if they received training on manners.

I have three policies with AXA but all three will be moved to other insurance companies when they expire. It may be easier and also cheaper in some cases to get cover via AXA here, but their behaviour has left me with a sour taste in my mouth. I had an issue with my property insurance a few months ago and it took 5 calls to get that sorted.

They only reason my issues were resolved (or nearly resolved) was because of social media. Conventional methods of trying to sort out the issues resulted in being completely ignored or messed about.

It gets tiring having to lose your temper all the time with companies here. I am at a loss of why so many of them treat us customers so badly. I have had no positive news from using the Ahlan Dubai initiative by the government. One manager in Zara once threw the Ahlan Dubai notice board at me, laughed and told me to call them. This was when Zara wouldn’t refund me for a dress I was returning within the time frame.  He knew he would get away with stealing my money. And he did win.

Customers are laughed at, ignored and treated like idiots. If we could have a meeting with the Ahlan Dubai people or faith that this system works, I believe we could finally start having good service from service providers and shops. But for now we will continue to have our blood pressure rise.

Note: The Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) has an “Ahlan Dubai” helpline for complaints and suggestions, tel 600-545555 in the UAE. Or email, or visit one of their offices. Tell  me if it works for you.

If you want to complain about a bank in the UAE you can complete the online form and they call you within 24 hours of submission. The issue is resolved within a week by the bank; if not when Central Bank check up on your issue with you after a week you can tell them the bank are still not sorting out your issue.

The Ladies Guide to getting new Tyres

I just changed four tyres on my car. It cost a hell of a lot of money. This is my story.

For the last few months I have been getting extreme warning symbols on my clever car computer thing saying the pressure was beyond zero. When I would check, the pressure would be lower than normal but not flat. Then there would seem to be a leak but when checked again, nada. Finally a close friend, saw one tyre a few weeks ago, and showed me in an exasperated-god ur such a girl-look at how bad your tyre is-tone of voice, that one tyre was dangerously slick and that if I was in a western country I would fail my MOT or be pulled over by the police.

I don’t like being pulled over by police. They fine me for stupid reasons. So I thought I better get my tyres changed. Thus the ordeal started.

My car (BMW if you must know) has Run Flat tyres. Now most people I know haven’t heard of these tyres. Run Flat tyres mean that if you get a flat you can still drive on them for another 80 kms before you need to change them. This means as well that you don’t get a spare in your car (therefore more room for shopping bags in the boot and a lighter car to overtake you MF’s who race me).

RF’s as we will call them are hard to find and more expensive than normal tyres. They are special like me and my car so only two brands sell them – Bridgestone or Pirelli. I thought I would shop around for the price being the haggler that I am. Beemer service people said one price. City Tyre on Jumeirah Beach Road said something a bit less but not much of a difference and they would have to have the tyres shipped in.

Then I remembered I worked in JAFZA and that there was a Bridgestone warehouse inside, so I went to their tyre centre to see if they would give me a good price. Now i’m a car fiend (as you will know if you follow me on Twitter). I know my cars, I know my tyres and I have no idea how to change a tyre. But when it comes to parts don’t talk down to me, you know what I mean? I went to Bridgestone and said to the main guy that one tyre was slick. You think he would have thought wow she knows what she is talking about. But noooo. He looked at the tyres and then said

“You know ma’am, these are Pirelli Tyres?”

“Yes, I know”

“We don’t sell Pirelli here”

“I know” – looking at the massive signs all over the building that say BRIDGESTONE

“We are Bridgestone, we make our own tyres”.

By this time I was going to smack him one. Now not only do I know my tyre brands, I am also an Intellectual Property lawyer. I have dealt with design matters for said tyre firm. I know more about their tyre treads then I would like to know. Believe me when I say, I know Bridgestone!! I don’t know how I kept my patience with this man, but after two months of searching for these tyres I had to keep calm.  So he searched in his warehouse and he had them. Hooray. For 500 dhs more! Boo.

After consulting close mate of cost predicament, he agreed to escort me to the Emarat on Jumeirah Beach Road near Al Thanya Street to see if they could help. I go to this station often to have my car washed (main dude there is a sweetheart) and I also have visited them to clean my air-con so I thought maybe they will help.

Help, is an understatement. The main dude for the service centre checked the prices from Bridgestone and Pirelli, negotiated the price and ordered them to arrive less than 12 hours after visiting his garage. Within an hour today I had four new tyres and the car was aligned for free. If only I had known before, I wouldn’t have wasted my time going to other places. On top of that all, he showed me my back brake pads were very low and showed the difference with the front ones, so that I didn’t feel like he was trying to pull a fast one.  Ok, he did take the piss, telling mate that RF’s were more for women as we don’t have to change the tyre, but whatever. He still helped me.

Dad has advised me that I was a muppet and should have just changed the back tyres to the front and got two new tyres to go on the back because that’s how you’re supposed to change tyres normally. But you know what, I drive a lot and I would rather have 4 new tyres and feel safe than have any niggle in my head. Plus I don’t drive slowly so better to be safe with the parts in my car.

So if you are going to change tyres, especially women, here are my golden rules for saving you hassle, time and money:

If only the front tyres or back are looking dodgy, get the good tyres moved to the other side and get two new tyres (my dad’s advise makes sense). Make sure the car is aligned (for free) when swapping and changing tyres.
Take a guy with you. I know it undermines your liberal woman power theory, but fuck it. If it means you save money and you get proper service, then take the bloke (especially one who has a clue about cars).
Go to the Emarat petrol station service centers (preferably on Jumeirah Beach Road near the Al Thanya junction).
Get Run Flat Tyres. They may cost more, but they are peace of mind. I don’t know how to change tyres in my car and I don’t think I will learn, so get these and then if you do go flat you have time to get someone to help you at a garage.
Shop around and ring up the tyre manufacturers.
If you are in a normal country like the UK, go to Kwik-Fit and other places and see if they have your tyres but by other brands. Bridgestone and Pirelli are the kings, but Continental is just as good. I won’t mention Michelin due to their allegiance with Mclaren F1 (Grrrrrr).
Take your iphone or ipad with you so you can tweet, blog, read other blogs or read a book while waiting for an hour.
Tip the guy who does your tyres. You may need him again another day.
Check the pressure every few weeks. If you can pay few dirhams to a man they will do it for you while you stand nearby watching.
I hope that helps and if it doesn’t – stop acting like such a girl.

Feet first reflexology – Dubai mall

Today I decided that my dear friend @labibalaith and I needed some relaxing reflexology to calm our body and soul after weeks off pain. With voucher in hand we got a booking in the Dubai Mall branch. I like the town centre one but it was unfortunately fully booked.

Entering thru the door you go through a narrow corridor and are shown to your room. It’s very claustrophobic and dark but once in the room you are greeted by a nice leather swirly couch (you know how I love my swirly leather couches).

The lady finally arrived and revealed a sink under the table. She bathed my feet and cleansed it a bit. Then she moved behind me to give me a shoulder and neck massage. This was unexpected as I thought only my feet were to be touched. Luckily I had worn my strapless top so she could easily access my shoulders.

The massage occurred with the use of a towel rather than oils and there was no cracking of my muscles which I think is a sign of a good massage. The massage hurt and burnt and I usually like the kneading of the muscles to be hard.

After that pain she started punching my arm. This was the arm massage. If anyone else had punched me like that I would have smacked em one. Finally she did a forehead massage. All I could think about was “shit this is messing up my makeup”. Not relaxing thoughts.

Thereafter started the reflexology. First my shoulders were provided one of those neck pillows to rest my weary head while my feet and legs were pushed and massaged back into life. There were moments of pain but she persisted until the pain subsided.

After the half hour of reflexology the lady cleaned my towel with a hot towel gave me some water and bobs your uncle finished.

I think my 60 minute of reflexology was changed into half hour of massage and reflexology which was not what I asked for or paid using my voucher.

The experience was nice and helped clear those niggly pains in my leg but the noise didn’t make me relax. I prefer the tranquility of the town centre branch.

The service was great and my lady was very good. If it weren’t for the noise and change of treatment I would have been a very happy bunny.

Rating – 3 out of 5

Nivea Haus


Today was a revisit to Nivea Haus in Dubai Mall for manicure and pedicure. I had one voucher i had to use to claim my free mani so thought why not go and drag blokey mate to get his feet sorted out in the men’s salon.

Nivea has a shop front which sells all their normal branded goods and some extras that you won’t get in the supermarkets. They also have very friendly, smiley staff at hand to help you out. Then you go to the back to the main reception for the salon. There is a man and woman’s salon (of course separate rooms). I have no idea what the men’s salon looks like but the two males friends who have been there for spa pedicures said when giving feedback that they love their feet after the pedicure and get to watch Jeremy Clarkson on TV for the hour and half session (it’s the little things with these men).

The women’s salon is nice and open with wooden floors and comfy swirley chairs to sit on while you get mani and pedi’s. As you would expect with a clinical brand such as Nivea, everything is in order, blue (including the uniforms and towels) or white (like the logo and the other towels). The ladies asked me what colour i wanted when my feet were in the floor sink being soaked. I said red so they brought me three options and bob’s your uncle i was sorted. Then you get asked if you want your nails  and cuticles cut, etc and you say, yeah or nah and do your usual thing. I like to consider myself a good customer. I don’t care how they get to the finished product but as long as my nails and body parts a good colour and i get a nice hand and leg massage in between i’m a happy camper. You will get in these nail salons hideous, spoilt women who will complain about everything, want everything and do my head in with their complaining. I usually take the piss out of these said annoying women with my nail technicians so they generally end up loving me.

Anyway back to the service. It was all good from my view. The ladies who served me were very friendly but didn’t try and annoy me with questions about my history. I got to read blogs from my fellow bloggers in peace while they got on with sorting my nails out. The leg massage by my nail technician, which is generally brief in most salons nowadays, was long and soothing. My legs needed that I tell ya.

The only negative was when the ladies asked if I wanted quick dry top coat. My answer was, of course. They then informed me it would cost me an extra 5 AED. To me this was ridiculous. 5 AED is roughly 1 quid! That’s a lot for having something that you get in any other salon for free. Plus they did it in a way that if you say yes, they give you the cost and then you say no, you look like a stingy cow. My good mood was slightly scarred by this money taking ordeal.

Anyway they did my nails, cleared up everything and then i sat there for another 30 minutes without being told to leave the chair, whilst waiting for bloke mate to finish his spa pedicure. I could have used the dryers but the chair was more comfy and I had my feet up, with quick dry drying my nails.

All in all a good experience. Nice, friendly, clean salon. No fuss. The only downer was the extra 5 AED but other than that two fingers up.

Rating: 3.5 (knocked of 0.5 cos they took my fiver!!)