x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Men banned from Dubai grocery store

Complaints by female shoppers and bulk buys cited as reasons

DUBAI //Male shoppers say security guards turned them away from a new supermarket this week for being without female companions.

Several men reported being barred from a new Dubai branch of the Union Co-operative supermarket in Al Barsha because it was a "Family Day".

Those who argued with security and insisted on entering were told to find a random female customer who could enter with them.

Ibrahim Al Bahr, the deputy general manager of the Union Co-operative stores, said they had received complaints from customers about being disturbed by men who would just walk in the already crowded mall without any intentions of purchasing.

"We can't watch everybody when inside the mall, so we are not letting in people who may want to just sightsee," he said. The main reason for restricting entry into the supermarket was to facilitate shopping for families and women, he said.

Reports that the supermarket had imposed the rule to prevent smaller outlets from buying up discounted stock to resell at higher prices in their own stores were dismissed by Mr Al Bahr.

"We did catch two groceries and a supermarket buying in bulk," he said. "But that is not the reason."

A sale at the supermarket to celebrate its opening featured up to 50 per cent discounts on wares.

The sale attracted shoppers from as far afield as Sharjah and Ajman, but the "no singles" rule left many who arrived there disappointed.

"It is unfair to not let us enter the store when promotions are going on," said Hamza Abbas, an engineer who works at a nearby construction site in Al Barsha.

"I want to benefit from the promotion too," he said, gesturing to the booklets advertising the items on sale.

Mr Abbas had come to visit the new mall with his colleague, Birbal Chauhan, but they were refused entry since they did not have a woman with them. The rule was not only applied to bachelors; family men were also affected.

"I can't bring my family, who live in Sharjah, just to shop," said a frustrated Mr Chauhan, who works as a foreman. "I work nearby and it is easier if I come by myself."

Mahboob Aslam, a customer who was shopping with his family, said he had been refused entry the day before. "I almost had a fight with some people here when they did not let me enter," said the Ajman resident.

Mr Aslam said the rule was nonsensical and might prove inconvenient to those men who cannot bring their wives along.

When a male reporter visited the store alone yesterday, he was allowed entry. Inside a number of single men could be seen.

A security guard said the ban had been in place previously.

"The ban has now been lifted but it was in place during the sale because a number of men were buying in bulk to resell," he said.

newsdesk@thenational.ae