Monday, June 18, 2012

My Painful Experience with IKEA Dubai, UAE

I know that IKEA is the favorite furniture destination for lots of expats living in the UAE but I have been living here for 5 years and managed to avoid buying furniture from there till yesterday … and I wish I hadn't!

Yesterday I went to IKEA in Festival City and bought a 3 seat sofa bed with mattress and cover, then I went to customer care and agreed that that they will send a team to deliver and assemble it today at 5:30pm.

My husband had just arrived from work, looking so tired and hungry when the delivery team arrived.  I started heating supper as they started unwrapping the sofa bed, we figured it wouldn’t take more than 20 to 30 minutes maximum to be done, then we can have supper and relax and boy we were wrong!

The two guys spend almost an hour trying to figure out how to assemble the base … just the base!! My husband kept asking them if there was any problem or if this is their first time to assemble a similar sofa bed but they kept saying “no no all ok”.

After an hour they phoned the driver waiting for them downstairs who came up and played around the base for like 10 minutes before telling us that instead of having left and right hinges, there were 2 right hinges, an hour and 10 minutes to figure this out!!

Then the driver said that he has to go back to IKEA to tell them that he needs a left hinge and of course no way he could make it back today and so we have to wait till tomorrow for the team to come and finish the assembly.

At that point my husband and I were really pissed off because this is not the kind of service we expected from a big retailer like IKEA. I decided to call them and complain and request that tomorrow at least they send us a team who would be expert enough to realize what they are doing.

I called the toll free number and after the employee picked up and listen to my complaint, she said that she will transfer me to the delivery team and they will take care of this. Of course the delivery team didn’t pick up for like 10 minutes. I hung up and called again, the same person replied and gave me their direct number and transferred me again. So I gave my husband the phone hoping someone would pick up and using his phone I dialed the direct number. Again for 10 minutes no one picked up, tried a couple of times but no answer on both lines.

So my questions to IKEA are:
-          - Is it ok to enclose wrong parts inside your products?
-          - Why did you send a team of idiots to assemble my sofa bed who obviously has never done it before?
-          - Why does your delivery team has a phone number, when no one even bother to pick up?

I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, or how long it will take them to assemble my sofa bed but one thing I know is that this is probably my first and last time to buy furniture from IKEA. 

My dear IKEA … thank you for a lousy service. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Bucket List ... Things to do before I die!

A few days ago I watched The Bucket List, it was my first time to watch it but I knew the story beforehand. However, watching the movie was a real delight still, though the story is so simple and may be tackled in several movies before, but I couldn’t help being so touched by it. Perhaps the story affected me so much because lately I find myself consumed with the idea of death and what we will face after we are buried under the dust. Are we going to feel anything? Are we going to miss the people we leave behind? I know it's so depressing to think of such issues and I can't count how many times did my husband ask me to discard such ideas out of my head ... but I couldn't.

I am not going to tell you that watching the movie completely changed my mind and that I stopped thinking about death, but it kinda opened my eyes to the fact that I am not thinking at all about life and living it. Now I don't know about you guys but I have to admit that most of the times I am caught up in a vicious cycle of working hard, saving money and taking care of the house that I hardly realize how time flies quickly.

So inspired by the movie I decided to write my own bucket list, things that I want to do or achieve, hopefully before I die. So here it goes …

My Bucket List

- Learn a new language

- Visit at least one new country in each continent with my husband

- Take Sharp Shooting lessons

- Memorize at least few parts of the Holy Quran

- Take care of an orphan

- Going to Pilgrimage

- Doing something good enough to inspire others and be remembered by.

- Building my own house with a garden and pool

- Riding a bicycle again (had an accident when I was a kid and stopped riding bicycles ever since)

- Meet Andrea Bocelli

- Play with real snow

- Lose weight and staying fit

- Learn water treading (I can swim but if I stopped in the middle of the pool I would drown in a blink of an eye)

- Learn cross stitching

- Starting my own business

Well ... that's all I could think of so far, I am sure as I grow older my life will change and I will add more things to this list, and hopefully I will come back and scratch off few things that I would have accomplished.

So guys, make sure you write down your own list as well, live your life and enjoy it before it's too late.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dear Egypt ... I want my voice!

For the past couple of months and like every single Egyptian in the whole world I’ve been following the drastic changes that happened and still happening in my country Egypt. If someone ever told me that I would live to witness a revolution, one that resembles those I used to watch in old Egyptian movies, or that this revolution would result the stepping down of Mubarak I’d say he or she is dreaming of LaLa land, but it did happen and I’ve witnessed a great revolution.

I still remember when I used to face situations where I encounter corruption and I would die to blog or tweet about it but my friends and family would worn me against it saying it could cause me trouble or put me in danger and that I’d never know who’s out there listening. Though I used be frustrated but eventually I would listen to them because deep down there was this fear clutching to my heart, fear of getting into trouble. Now and thanks to brave young men and women who stood up for themselves, for me and for all Egyptians I don’t have this fear inside of me anymore. Thanks to those brave youth who never feared to say No I got my voice back.

Today and though I am filled with hope for a better future I can’t help but feel frustrated for not being able to take part in the changes happening in my country and for not being able to use the voice I got back.

Hopefully all Egyptians today in Egypt will head to vote ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ to the proposed constitutional amendments which will have a great impact on our future as a country. However because I currently work and live abroad I can’t participate in the vote. I just don’t understand why the government couldn’t allow us to vote in the Egyptian Embassies around the world or create some sort of a web portal to give us the opportunity to express ourselves. Just because we live abroad that doesn’t make us less Egyptians.

For a long time I stopped caring about everything, I stopped caring about politics and didn’t bother knowing what’s happening in my country and who’s doing what because to me it was all in vain, nothing was going to change, so I took the easy way out and I quit. I quit believing in change, I quit believing in a better future, I quit believing in my country, but most of all I quit believing in myself and my ability to changes things.

But now it’s all different, the revolution made it different, I care now, I want to know and I want to use the voice given back to me to change things and make my own choices. That’s why I am really frustrated because I can’t express my opinion today and vote.

Nevertheless, today is a great day for Egypt, as we all witness true democracy taking place with the referendum. I am really optimistic and I have strong feeling that this time the result of the vote won’t be forged, and though I am not taking part this time, I trust my fellow Egyptians back home to participate and make their voices heard to shape our future and I trust that we all will respect the majority’s choice at the end because that’s what democracy is about after all.

Hopefully by the time the presidential election is due the government would have come up with a way for us Egyptians abroad to vote or else I'd have to take a 24 hours trip to Egypt to make my voice heard.

PS. For what it’s worth … today I would have voted NO

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What qualifies a woman to be a mother?

What makes any woman a mother? Is it merely carrying a child inside her womb for 9 months? Or is it feeding a child of her breast? If you ask me I would say neither, I don’t think that these are the things that make a mother, at least not my mother.

I met my mother when I was 7 years old. My biological mother died when I was six and my father re-married again after her death. I guess he thought he wouldn’t be able to handle both me and my brother on his own or he simply realized the fact that no one can ever replace a mother in a child’s life. My father married Karima, or Koki as I like to call her sometimes. Karima is an Arabic word used as an adjective to express generosity. I believe there isn’t a better word in the whole world to describe my mum than this.

I can’t really remember the early days of meeting Koki, but they tell me that when I first saw her I hid behind my dad, but I was also the one started calling her mum shortly after she married him.

I decided to write these lines today because I thought the whole world should know about my mum and how great she is. I look back at my life and I thank God for the bless he granted me the day he brought Koki to our lives. All the Arabic movies ever made portrayed the step-mother as an evil person whose main purpose is to turn the life of her step-children into hell, but I guess I was lucky because the woman who came into our house wasn’t a step-mother, but a true mum with a heart filled with love that is sufficient for the whole world.

My mum didn’t carry me inside her womb but it is between her arms that I found peace when I needed it. She didn’t feed me of her breast but she nourished me just like a delicate rose with all the care you could ever think of. I remember the nights when I used to get sick whether because of a simple cold, fever, stomach pain or whatever and she used to sit next to me and take care of me for days till I get better. I still remember the look in her eyes as I gazed through my bed at her; it was a strange look that combined tenderness and worries, it had a certain beauty and mystery in it, kinda like the Mounalisa smile.

I would be a liar if I said that our life was a fairy tale, we used to fight like cats and dogs; we fought about everything and anything, but that what mothers and daughters do. After every fight and even though I would be mad as hell from her yet deep down I knew that she acted the way she did out of concern and because she cared. My mother has always been there for me, even when we used to disagree and I ended up having it my way, she would support my decision and when things went bad she would stand up for me.

Mum always encouraged me to have my own opinion and to always be strong and not to fear anything. It was her wisdom and courage that gave me the strength I needed to go on with my live and be the person I am today.

I think the thing that makes my mother the best mother is the fact that she is not really my mother (well biologically speaking) she was a complete stranger that walked into our lives and took me and my brother under her wings and treated us with all the sweetness and love you would expect from any mother. And even when we were rebellious and ungrateful, and believe me sometimes we were, yet whenever we needed her support or unconditional love she was there, simply because she is an amazing person.

So today, on Mother’s Day, this is what I want to tell my mother

Dear Mum,

I want you to know that to me you were never just my mother, you were my teacher, my role model, my nurse and above all my best friend, you were there on my times of happiness but more importantly on my times of sadness and needs, when I needed you the most you were there for me, you are my rock. You did everything you can to make me happy and I know that everything I am today and everything I have is because of you.

Officially, on paper and to the whole world you might be my step-mother but to me you will always be my mum … the best mum in the whole world.

I love you

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Laila .. Hold your Ground

This Post is part of Kolena Laila initiative

I chose to wear the Hijab when i was 15 years old. My family was against this decision and my mum tried to convince me to delay this step claiming that I am too young and when I join college and see my friends dressing up and changing hair styles every now and then I would get jealous and might take it off. But I held my ground. it was my life and I had the right to choose. Now, it has been 14 years 5 months and 15 days and i have never regretted this decision.

I chose to join the Faculty of Arts and study English Literature. If you are familiar with the educational system in Egypt you would know that the Faculty of Arts is not exactly classified as one of the top faculties to join. My grades were really high and my family tried to convince me to join something else, but I loved Literature and I knew I wouldn't be comfortable studying anything else. So I held my ground. it was my life and I had the tight to choose. It has been 8 years since i have graduated and i have never regretted this decision.

I chose to travel and work in a different country. Once and opportunity came in the horizon I had to seize the chance to enhance my career. Again my parents were hesitant and as usual my mum was sick worried about here little kid who would live and work in a different country away from her and faces life all alone (I was 26 then by the way) but I didn't yield and I held my ground, it was my life and I had the right to choose.

If there is something I am really proud of in my whole life, it is my ability to always decide and choose for myself when it comes to things that really matters, things I am passionate about and things that will shape my future.

So you can imagine how mad I get when someone tries to convince me that wearing the Hijab is the result of peer pressure or brain washing and not my free will.

You can imagine how mad i get when i find laws are being drafted to force me into wearing or not wearing whatever I choose.

How mad I get when someone tries to undermine my achievements and tells me that as a Muslim woman I shouldn't be working and that the only place i belong to is at home.

When I see people forcing things on me I can't help but wonder what gave them the right to decide for me? Do they have any idea who am I?

I am Laila ... God created me with a brain and a strong will to decide and choose my path in life. I don't need you to tell me what to do. what to wear or how to live. I don't want anyone to force anything on me under the claims of religion, social norms or women's rights. Once you force something on me you then take away from me God's own gift .. my free will and the right to choose.

So, to all the Lailas out there, here is the bottom line:
Be brave and always hold your ground

Monday, December 14, 2009

Kolena Laila!

The first time I heard about Kolena Laila was through a tweet from my cousin. I was really intrigued to find out more about it. I mean, why Laila? Why not Samia, or Rawya or any other name?

Kolena Laila or "We are all Laila" is a virtual initiative on the blogosphere that calls to review values and prevalent ideas related to females, and how society enacts them with no consideration of their impact on women themselves. The call here is not to propagate a certain value or culture, but it is rather a call to criticize and review our own daily behavior, with a true desire to change and purify our attitudes in life.

The idea started with a group of female bloggers, and despite the fact that Kolena Laila was founded by bloggers from Egypt, the founders assure that it is for all Arab women in general, not only Egyptians.

Why Laila?

Simple, it is an adoption of the heroine’s name from the novel "The Open Door", written by the Egyptian novelist "Latifa El Zayyat", which was turned into a movie later on starring the famous actress Faten Hammama, It’s one of my favorite movies by the way.

In "The Open Door" Laila represents Egyptian girls who suffer oppression and injustice in Egyptian society during the time of the Suez Canal Crisis. The novel features Laila's struggle with the community to prove the importance of the role of women in this society.

Of course comparing our position now and Laila’s then I have to admit that we are way better but unfortunately you still find some similarities in how some women are being oppressed, suffering from lack of freedom and not being acknowledged as an element of society. Now, whoever is reading this post please note the word some because I don’t believe in generalizing stuff and it is a fact that only some women face these issues.

Previous Kolena Laila Days

So far there have been 3 Kolena Laila Days; the first day was held on 9th September 2006, the second on 9th September 2007 and the third held on 19th October 2008. Though the initiative started with women bloggers only but later on men were invited to join the dialogue as the main aim of the initiative was to shed the light on oppression and other problems faced by women in the region that are not just the creation of men alone, but women have contributed to them as well.

Kolena Laila 2009

Once again it is time for Laila to speak up, this year Kolena Laila seeks to extend the experience to include as many Arab countries as possible and participation is open for men, women and anyone who feel they have a say about Arab women.

Kolena Laila is seeking bloggers to join and help in this year's initiative which will start on the 24th of December and end on the 30th of the same month.

Come on everyone it’s time for our voice to be heard. If you want to know more about how you could participate and how the process goes you can contact me on (forgot to mention I volunteered to be their UAE representative)

For further info and an overview of last years entries
Arabic Website - English Website

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My fellow women beware … in France you have no freedom of choice!

Yesterday President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed both houses of parliament and during his speech he showed his support to banning the Niqb (a veil which covers the face, worn by some Muslim women as a part of their Hijab). Sarkozy attacked the Niqab describing it as “a sign of subservience” that suppresses women's identities and turns them into "prisoners behind a screen."

What amazes me is that Sarkozy assumes that all women who wear the Niqab are forced to do so and he didn’t stop for a one minute to consider that may be … just may be some women wear it because they truly believe that it is part of their religion’s teaching and they are willingly following it.

I am a Muslim woman and I don’t believe in the Niqab but I wear a scarf on my head (Hijab) that was my choice and my belief. However even though I don’t believe in the Niqab I don’t think that anyone has the right to deprive a woman from her own freedom of choice. Every woman has the right to choose what to wear, what to believe in and how to express her believes in any way she wants and that goes for every human being.

Reading Sarkozy’ statement was really disturbing and reminded of how I felt in 2004 when France banned wearing the headscarf in public schools. What right does any secular government has to force their opinions on people’s religion.

Sarkozy claims that the Niqab is “a sign of debasement” … is it really? A study was done in 2003 estimated that about 15,000 - 20,000 women work as prostitutes in France. So which is more humiliating for a woman, covering her body as per her own choice or showing it off and selling her own flesh for money unwillingly.

Sarkozy refuses the existence of Niqab in France "It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic." he said.

So, what about French Muslim women who wear the Niqab, they will not be welcomed in their own country anymore? How about Muslim women who are married to French people, are they going to be kicked of France and separated from their families if they decided to stick to their believes? Or will the French government put them under house arrest? Is France now going to dictate to people what parts of their religions’ teachings they should follow and what parts to discard?

I honestly don’t see any difference between KSA and France right now. KSA forces women to wear the Niqab against their well and France is forcing women to take of their Niqab and scarf against their own well. But you know what at least KSA never pretend to be anything than an extremist country while France claims to be a free open country when at the end it only want to impose its own values under the flag of neutrality.

The thing that is funny though, this whole thing is about women, yet women have no say about it at all.