Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Cars queue at an Adnoc petrol station in Sharjah. Pawan Singh / The National
Cars queue at an Adnoc petrol station in Sharjah. Pawan Singh / The National

The air bag: Filling up your car in the UAE isn’t always a gas

Fraser M Martin muses the time wasted while filling up a car at petrol stations in Dubai.

I have spent an inordinate amount of time in petrol stations this week, between filling my own cars and those that I have been using for events. I estimate, therefore, that in one typically busy week, I have to spend about 90 minutes in forecourts – but only about a third of that time actually using the pumps.

So the one hour per week that I waste in Dubai petrol stations adds up to about 52 hours per year, or just shy of seven working days, spent in idle contemplation of my navel or the unmitigated selfishness of people who think it is OK to block the pumps while they leisurely stroll off to get a coffee.

But the laziness of customers is not the main gripe here – rather it’s the seeming unwillingness of certain companies to look at the efficiency of operating a forecourt. There have been times this week when there have been more “attendants” trying to sell me phone cards, raffle tickets, tissue boxes, food and drink, dubious engine additives and thoroughly disgusting perfumes than there have been staff actually attending to customers who just want to refuel and be on their way.

Add to that the refusal to fill any car that arrives and does not present the “correct” flank to the pump and, with the exception of Land Rovers, Jaguars, BMWs, some Nissans and a few Kias, plus the odd classic American vehicle with the tank flap centrally hidden behind the number plate, you could very well find yourself queuing out into a traffic-blocking and dangerous position while you wait for the driver’s left side to be accessible to pumps, while the rest remain idle.

Compound the whole scenario by having each and every attendant having to separately swipe a security card before the nozzle even enters the tank, and you can begin to understand – should you not have experienced this first-hand – how stupidly wasteful of time the business of refuelling a car can become.

Abu Dhabi’s Adnoc seems to take a much more efficient and customer-friendly view of things.

On a recent car-launch event in Fujairah – a location, it seems, now solely supplied by Adnoc – my team was able to refuel 10 cars in less than 20 minutes with only three drivers. We drove the first three cars to the station, pulled up either side of the pumps, refuelled and went back for the next three. The attendant knew what he was doing: he got on with the job without having to try to sell us something we clearly neither wanted nor had time to discuss, and was able to handle more than one car at a time. He directed us to available bays, irrespective of which side the tank flap was on, and provided clean, efficient, prompt and professional handling of a simple task in a timely manner.

I well understand that the retailing of fuel supplies in the Emirates is not a profitable business, nor has it been for as long as I can remember, but in the pursuit of turning a site to profitability through marketing of other services – laudable and convenient though many of them are – it seems to me that the core business of keeping people on the move has been somehow forgotten in certain quarters.

A free market is always a good thing but it’s important to remember that even if you hold a near monopoly, people will still vote with their feet – or in the case of fuel supplies, with their wheels.

The key players in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have dealt with the issue of cigarette smoking on forecourts, thank goodness, so it should not be too difficult to come up with a common business practice that will serve them – and more imporwtantly, their customers – properly and well.

weekend@thenational.ae

Follow us @LifeNationalUAE

Follow us on Facebook for discussions, entertainment, reviews, wellness and news.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Styled with bleached bobs and pale skin, the models wore clean and sporty separates reminiscent of the chic workwear of The Hunger Games. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Thoughtful tailoring at Asudari

The womenswear label Asudari showcased a collection that featured sharp masculine tailoring, but with feminine silhouettes.

Styled with bleached bobs and pale skin, the models wore clean and sporty separates reminiscent of the chic workwear of The Hunger Games.

Designer Lamia Asudari says she was influenced by Delftware ceramics from the 16th century, as well as the imagery of weaponry and artillery. Indeed, pistols, grenades and guns were emblazoned over jackets and dresses.

 Several of Jo Baaklini's pieces featured fruit prints. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: At Starch, watermelon shirts, anyone?

“We need to cultivate our own fashion heroes — our own regional brands,” stressed Fashion Forward’s honcho Bong Guerrero in a press con two weeks ago.

Aptly, the slot for this season’s opening runway show was given to two newbies: Jo Baaklini and Timi Hayek, whose talents were scouted by Starch, a group dedicated to launching emerging Lebanese designers.

Between the two, Mr Baaklini had a stronger showing.

 Jean Louis Sabaji’s collection was very good when the tricks were toned down — like the simple white jumpsuit with a sculptural neckpiece. Stuart C. Wilson / Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Jean Louis Sabaji’s debatable debut

Jean Louis Sabaji’s collection was very good when the tricks were toned down — like the simple white jumpsuit with a sculptural neckpiece, the floral crop top, and the radiant yellow pleated skirt.

But most of the time he went too far. There were bell-bottoms, separates that looked like costumes from The Jetsons, and a yellow dress reminiscent of Bjork’s infamous Oscars swan dress — several disparate elements in one multicoloured, multilayered show.

 Launched in 2009 by childhood friends Arwa Abdelhadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh, Kage bills itself as a label whose “ultimate goal is to design a collection appealing to all.” Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Kage pleases all palates

Did the designers of Kage aim to showcase every type of basic clothing on their latest show?

Because there were skirts, shorts, trousers, off-shoulder tops, short dresses, cocktail dresses, long flowy dresses, spaghetti straps, jackets, hoods — and even pyjamas, which with the incoming summer heat, looked especially appealing.

Launched in 2009 by childhood friends Arwa Abdelhadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh, Kage bills itself as a label whose “ultimate goal is to design a collection appealing to all”, they said in their statement.

 The standout was a grey hooded cape that created a tension between edge and elegance. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Polish, craft (and fur!) at The Emperor 1688

The best show of Day 1 at Fashion Forward was delivered by the three Golkar brothers behind The Emperor 1688.

The coats and capes were the clear winners: they came in all sorts of interesting colours and sizes — and featured exceptionally tailored proportions. There was a lot of volume, but also stiffness.

And whimsy: two favourites were a green double-breasted suit and a blue overcoat with a red clover pattern and gold buttons.

 Midway through Ezra's show, snow started falling from the ceiling. Ian Gavan / Getty Images for Fashion Forward

Fashion Forward: Ezra stuns in snow-covered show

Turns out the Filipino designer Ezra, known for his dreamy couture, still had a few surprises up his sleeve.

Midway through his show, snow started falling from the ceiling.

It created a starkly beautiful atmosphere for his intricately constructed gowns that seemed to be designed for an Ice Queen transported back to the 1950s.

He showed a collection that had a lot of technical firepower behind it: glittering iridescent fabrics paired with head and neckpieces that were moulded and stiffened to stand out in odd angles.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National