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 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!I put the Dubai sophisticated services to the test and they succeeded superbly. I still managed to find a way of repairing the shirt as I had removed a small piece of material. I admit I had not at all expected to find such advanced technical support services in Dubai. I thought most services would be limited to construction and real estate etc. I came to the conclusion that such professional feedback could not be realized without the proper vision from the top levels of the government. It could not be just coincidence.Management of Dubai Mall / Posting a Suggestion: I was travelling by metro to the Dubai Mall, which is one of the biggest in the world. After arriving to the station you need to cross on foot this newly completed and very long suspended pedestrians’ tunnel to get to the Mall. Although there are many long electric pedestrian conveyor facilities (travelators), they are relatively slow compared to other similar facilities in the Dubai metro. I thought it would be useful to speed up the conveyor to shorten the 10 minutes duration of journey to the Mall, this without compromise to safety. When I reached the Mall, I went to the reception desk and asked whether they have some forms for suggestions. I was given one by the person at the desk and I filled a few lines with my suggestion, and gave it back to the person. I also included my mobile number as requested.A couple of days later I received a phone-call from the management of the Dubai Mall, and the Mrs. At the other end gave her name and thanked me for the suggestion. She indicated that my suggestion was sent to the management of the mall and their feedback is that the speed of the conveyors was set by the designers and cannot be increased easily. Nevertheless the management has taken note of my suggestion and is stipulating to increase this speed through different means in the future. And she thanked me again for the suggestion! I felt this was a triple WOW. Do you get such a prompt and friendly and pro-active response in the UK or USA for that matter? I don’t think so, as I have travelled extensively to many places in the world. They did not only take note of the suggestion but they also called to acknowledge! I was taken for a while after the phone call! I was wondering what a quantum leap Dubai must have gone through to arrive to this synergetic stage of interaction with the consumer and citizen.Injaz Entrepreneurship: Emirati Students Competition Awards / Visiting: This Injaz event took place on the 1st of May 2013 at the conference block 1 of Knowledge Village. Different schools and universities competed, including a spectrum of business project ideas. The word Injaz stands for achievement. Prior to the ceremony, the different teams (In excess of ten) were exhibiting and promoting their projects and products in a hall assigned to the purpose and using tables and some self-made stands. There was buzz everywhere. Work on projects was going on for a few months. A few hundred people were present, mainly young female and male nationals in their traditional UAE outfit and their relatives. A number of sponsoring organizations were present too including banks, Khalifa Fund and others.There were prizes for best innovation, for best marketing plan, for best Impact on society and even for hard work, so everybody won a prize at the end of the day. The organization was very good, and indeed WOW, and the clear message of encouraging entrepreneurship was very well conveyed. One can see that students were excited and very proud and confident of their project achievements, and looking forward to boost their project and expand. A member of each team repeated the sale’s pitch after receiving the award. Each team of pupils or students had a volunteer business coach assigned to it, and who has been supporting the development efforts from the start. The Injaz management made sure to show appreciation to the volunteers, some million times. There were many loud cheers during the ceremony and one young local presenter on stage had great sense of humor and made sure the atmosphere was a happy one. One thing is certain, there is real vision in the making here, starting from the young age.Global Entrepreneurship Summit, Dubai World Trade Centre / Attending: I attended the summit on the 11th and 12th Dec 2012, and was very surprised at the very strong presence of the Dubai and UAE government in the exhibition, including the SME support programs such as Dubai-SME and Khalifa Fund. Top management of both organizations was present during the two days summit, including directors. But I was most impressed during the opening session of the Summit to see Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum the ruler of Dubai and vice president of UAE and a number of his principal ministers participate actively with short boosting presentations each. The Sheikh was encouraging his young people and Arabs to be entrepreneurial and innovative. You would think that the head of the country does not need to participate to a business conference, but he is setting a great example to members of his government and indeed to his own people, and stressing the relevance of business and innovation for competitiveness. Great effort was made during the opening session to promote Dubai Expo 2020. It became clear who symbolizes the main driving force behind the Dubai development phenomenon.In brief, my multiple experiences with the government services in Dubai were astonishing and satisfying. I was quite impressed every time. My quick encounters are indicative of an environment that is conducive to quality of life and prosperity. I often thought this would be the right place to work in and to conduct business. My impression is that Dubai might be even distinguished in the UAE in its government services and indeed in the Gulf States. Some million light years separate Dubai from the rest of the Arab world including services provided by the government to its people. I hope the Arab countries emerging from the Arab spring will try and emulate some of the services aspects seen in Dubai. I believe with the right will and vision everything is possible, as has been proven in this environment.