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There is now an influx of bloggers in this region (and globally). Needless to say this further invites *even* more backlash on those same bloggers for their “partial, false or paid reviews” and we (atleast most of us) are now deemed as fake, sell-outs, hoarders and more. I, as a dominantly food-but-turned-lifestyle blogger want to shine light into this issue from my side, and every other blogger out there, especially in Dubai. As this industry is progressing into a sphere of transparency and organic content, I find it crucial to speak about this for me, and all the other bloggers out there.

Let’s settle one thing before you proceed with reading this article. There definitely are bloggers out there who are fake, lie, or are partial. But there are many more who are the exact opposite. The below article is for bloggers who fall in the latter category.

Why do food bloggers in UAE lie about their experience? (this can be in any country but the below is country-specific) 

There are plenty of articles on how you can become a blogger, but have you guys wondered if there are any repercussions if a blogger doesn’t play by the rules?!

  • The UAE Federal Law No. 3 of 1987 – Libel Penal Code is the main reason bloggers can’t always speak the truth. Libel (written defamation) or slander (spoken defamation) in the UAE are taken very seriously and can land you in jail and/or a massive fine for damages caused to the reputation of a person. An accusation is not defamation but, if we make a statement in public via our blog, a comment or tweet, that damages the reputation of a person/company, even if we have proof of the accusation, we will still be liable. We cannot use the proof to defend ourselves since the reputation has been blemished and compensation has zxto be made. Richard Bell, the legal director at the law firm Clyde & Company mentioned, “The focus of the law is protecting the honor of families and it is a cultural clash,” whilst discussing a recent case he was handling in UAE.

I felt this article was essential as several micro-influencers and bloggers who were just starting off with the objective of making an impartial blog, were in turn getting SUED by restaurants. Every single person has a different palate. A restaurant wouldn’t have opened or a chef wouldn’t be hired if he didn’t make good food. According to them, we have no right to speak badly about them.

The question remains about apps like Zomato, TripAdvisor, etc… These platforms are dedicated to voice your opinion, based on your rating in terms of food, ambiance, and service. As long as you follow the guidelines these websites have posted and not mention anything personal you are good to go (it’s a bit confusing, I don’t get the concept entirely either. But I have noticed not too many reviewers get threats on Zomato, unless they get personal).

The other issue is, I have been to several tastings where the manager or chef brings the food out on a different plate with creative plating, and I only come to know later by my followers, that it’s NOT how they usually serve the food. Guys, if we get invited for a tasting or a media review, at a NEW restaurant, they make the food even better or serve it in a better way. BUT the food might not be of the exact same quality on a regular basis. Food bloggers seriously can’t be accused for something like this.

A few food bloggers/brands like Foodiva, since its inception over 7 years ago, her restaurant reviews abide by just one rule: no freebies in return for reviews. The guest reviewers are all anonymous. Followed by her review going up on her website, most of her readers commend her honesty but the owners, of course, either give backlash or ban her from their restaurant.

What some renowned food bloggers in Dubai have to say? Sally Prosser from @MyCustardPie

What happens when a brand (or agency) offers a gift or pays for some other form of work, which is then supported by social posts? Again, there’s a simple way to look at this and it’s all about control. If the brand (or agency) is wielding any form of control over your content in return for a reward (financial or otherwise) then the content has been sponsored/paid for and has to be declared as such. So, if a brand asks you to post an Instagram shot in return for a pair of trainers, that’s sponsored content.

If they invite and pay you to spend the night in a hotel, in return for a tweet or two, that’s sponsored content. If they ask you to use a certain word, phrase, or hashtag if you do find it in your heart to post about them, that’s sponsored content.” Sponsored content is very different from a ‘review’.If the main topic of your content is “I went out and had a (free) meal and everything was amazing” then it becomes deadly dull. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to read that for long as well.

The topic of being sued is a serious one and I can understand why people are nervous. However, if your opinion is based on fact e.g. “we asked the waiter for a glass of water three times before it was brought” then there can be no issue.

Kimberly DSouza and Denver Britto from @WhereMyFoodAt

We’re always in a tough spot when it comes to whether or not we should express an unpleasant experience to our followers. On one hand we feel we owe it to them, to be honest, and transparent when it comes to our reviews, but on the other hand, most eateries and brands – especially the newly launched, homegrown ones rely on bloggers like us to raise awareness about their concepts and positively promote them. When we’re put in such a situation, we personally contact the management and give them our genuine feedback, with the hope that they take it into consideration and make relevant changes.

As for our audience, we try to be more optimistic and point out what we liked or loved about our experience as well as what we didn’t (but the latter is sugar-coated so as to not defame the brand). As much as we do appreciate reviews that are cut-throat and brutally honest, we do believe that there’s a fine line between constructive criticism and defamation and it’s important as a UAE blogger to know the difference.

Nancy and Namrata from @SheSaidSheSaid

If we are invited to a restaurant and do not like something, we give our feedback directly to the chef or the Manager or the restaurant PR, instead of writing about it online. We are not food critics and food itself is so subjective – two people can view the same experience differently. We would rather use our platforms to talk about positive experiences, and highlight chefs that are doing great work and restaurants that we would like to go back to.

Charu from @FoodSisters

There’s a new restaurant in Dubai almost every week and not all can be good or exceptional. The problem we face as food reviewers is honestly being able to express our opinion without directly bashing a brand.
Whenever I’ve had a bad experience at a restaurant – I’ve directly communicated it with the management. If it’s a service issue or a misstep in a cooking process, I’ve given the chef a chance to fix it – as any customer would.

However, if the issue is still not resolved then I’ve taken to not posting about the place / dish to avoid speaking ill of a place unless the experience was extremely pathetic. I prefer not talking about the place or posting anything about my visit for 2 reasons – one, it’s better than blatantly lying that I had a good experience when I didn’t and two, it’s not necessary that my followers have the same taste as me and to discourage their visit based on my taste isn’t why I run the blog. I do it to recommend good places to eat, not to discourage them from the bad ones.  If someone is looking for a good spot to eat out – check the feed. If it’s not on my feed – I haven’t been or I haven’t liked it. Simple.

Anonymous

I have stopped food blogging for the very reason that every second person is one. There are definitely a handfull who are unique but I don’t think it’s my place anymore to review a restaurant since I’m not a food critic. Additionally, I love cooking myself and have a small business, I have been on the other side of the fence, and when someone insults what you make, it’s definitely not a good feeling. I would much rather travel and visit cafés, that’s my thing.

I would like to say one thing though, since I love coffee shops, I went to one and paid a whopping AED30 just for coffee. I loved the flavour profile but was astonished at the price, and that’s what I wrote in my Instagram post too. The café then messaged me threatening to sue if I did not untag and remove their name. I did just that as I didn’t want to get into legal issues. I personally feel this country should standardise some costs such as the cost of water or a basic thing like coffee. Increasing the cost of something as basic to over AED30-40 is ridiculous.

The Conclusion

EVERY restaurant or brand out there has SOMETHING good about it. If you find nothing, ask the manager. Majority of the fabulous restaurants or hotels in Dubai have a story within their interiors, paintings, furnishing, exteriors, or even crockery sets. There’s a lot of thought-process, patience, love, money, sweat, tears, and effort that goes into creating a brand.

So when you write a review, always start with something good and THEN speak of the ‘better ifs’ in a subtle diplomatic way, without hurting the sentiments of any organization or individual whilst conveying the message with honesty. This will save you time, energy and respect, from the owners, and your readers.

If the restaurant was horrible in my opinion with nothing good to say, from the hospitality to the hygiene and quality of food, I first express my concerns to the manager or PR agency that invited me. I go ahead and post the content only if they’re okay with me posting about it (since they’ll get a mention on my page). If there’s something alarming about the restaurant or a dish, I will post it regardless (this happens rarely).

Do you want to add anything to the above? Comment below.

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A crystal ball would be apt right about now to see what the future holds.  We’d probably be bombarded with advertisements on the crystal ball as well! However, have you thought of what the future for advertisements would sound like?

We’ve integrated voice enable devices at work and at home and advertisers have figured out these voice-enabled devices provide a niche market for paid advertising, which currently does not exist. Christi Olson, Microsoft’s head of evangelism for search, stated that advertising is not yet supported on these platforms because the consumer trust just isn’t there yet.  Of course, to no surprise, after running surveys it is noticed that consumers are just wary of how their data is being used and what devices are listening to. Devices do not listen to entire conversations and send them over to the CIA (what do you guys even converse about? Hmmm ). Most of these devices have “wake words” which are trigger words that awaken the device when spoken out.

As consumers are not aware of the technology behind these voice-enabled devices, they are forced to believe these devices have access to everything that is being said.  This mindset can only be changed with technology companies creating experiences that better educate the consumers, so they are aware how the technology they so frequently use, works. With consumers not really being on board with such devices, marketing companies have found it hard to pump out advertisements via these devices, but this is a massive opportunity waiting to be tapped.  As of January 2018, Alpine.AI  has recorded that there have been over one billion voice searches per month on smart assistants.

With consumers using these voice-enabled devices to make their lives easier and to meet their needs, companies like Microsoft, Apple, Google and Amazon are being smart and not integrating advertising just yet.  They do not want to alienate users as these voice-enabled devices still need to amass a 100% trust from the consumers’ side. Heck, I still believe my inner voice even when Google Maps is clearly directing me in the opposite direction. 

With Facebook having started as a platform where no advertising was going to come in, times have changed and now Facebook and YouTube are one of the biggest platforms where relevant advertising keeps popping up.  Once consumers were familiar with these social platforms, companies realized they can bank on the fact that users spend a considerable amount of time on these platforms and started pumping out advertisements. Don’t even ask me how many shoes’ I’ve ended up purchasing because of the offers pop-up while I’m listening to a Drake song. 

As long as the ads are complementary to what [users are] looking for versus interruptive or intrusive, consumers would be fine with that,” said Doug Chavez, senior vice president of digital commerce at Geometry Global. “One of the things that’s interesting — if you look at millennials, they are happy to give their data away if it makes their experience better. It’s just a matter of looking at the data you have and how does that magnify rather than dilute [users’] experience.”

An interesting example was when Google Home users were annoyed when Google Assistant reported ‘Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast opens today’ after it delivered the time, weather and travel update. If someone is not interested in Beauty and the Beast, they don’t have kids or simply because this was information they found useless, the future would lead to a lot of angry consumers of voice-enabled devices.  This ad was taken down. However, for brands to reach consumers, it is important to have content optimization where the search made by consumers is what drives the adverts.

Building a presence on voice platforms with Alexa or Google Home is easier by brands attaching their name or a product as a response to a question posed by the consumer.  For example, a brand like WebMD can create a curated response advertising a pharmacy tablet around a question like, ‘what are the symptoms of the flu.’ Other opportunities such as a voice-activated coupon, were tested out by Target and Google earlier this year which means its more than just advertising. 

Voice is easier than typing, so you’ve got consumers moving to voice-enabled devices at a rapid pace and companies will follow.  Can you image going to Dubai Mall and your smart assistant lists out the best offers your favorite stores have? Some exciting things to look forward to in the future!

Sources
[1]

Written and Researched by Serena Sibi

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When it comes to fashion trends, few have enjoyed the longevity and popularity of leopard print. This beautiful pattern has been making a splash in the world of fashion for decades and is unlikely to go out of style anytime soon. If you want to look trendy and edgy, there is no better way than by introducing leopard print into your wardrobe. This is especially true during the winter months. This is one trend that you can pull off regardless of your age. Like other trendy styles, however, you should wear leopard in moderation to avoid looking overdone or like you are trying too hard. If you want to show off your wild side this winter, try following these tips:

1. Don’t go overboard

Even if you are passionate about leopard print, you should avoid going overboard. Because it is such a bold print, it can easily become overwhelming. Try to limit yourself to just one leopard print accessory or item of clothing at a time. For instance, if you are carrying a leopard handbag, you should avoid wearing leopard pants. If you want to wear a leopard coat, try pairing it with solid colors or other prints rather than with accessories that also have a leopard pattern.

2. Pair leopard with bright colors

One way to really spice up your leopard print clothing and accessories is by adding bold pops of color. If you have been keeping an eye on the runways, you most likely have noticed that many fashion designers are getting on board with this trend. Combining animal prints like leopard with bright, saturated colors creates a fashion-forward look that is hard to miss. For a bold look, try mixing leopard with shades of yellow, green, red, or pink. For something a little bit more subdued, match it with a neutral color like gold, taupe, brown, or white. Check out the latest leopard print trends here.

3. Only wear one animal pattern at a time

Even though a lot of fashion designers mix animal prints when putting on high-end runway shows, it is something that is difficult to pull off in real life. If you try to wear multiple animal patterns, it can easily get too busy, creating a look that is confusing and unsophisticated. Instead, keep things simple by only wearing one animal print instead of mixing and matching them.

4. Go for an elegant look

It isn’t always easy to pull off a bold pattern like leopard print. If you wear it incorrectly, it can look a little bit cheesy. That is why it is important to try to keep the look as sophisticated and elegant as possible. Typically, that means opting for clothing that has clean lines. For instance, pairing a leopard print blouse with a classy black pencil skirt is a great way to create a look that gets noticed for all of the right reasons.

5. Use caution when mixing patterns

The easiest way to make leopard print look great is by using it as an accent when wearing solid-colored clothing. Although it is possible to mix it with other patterns, it is extremely challenging to do without running into trouble. Typically, wearing multiple patterns in the same outfit is something that should be reserved for younger people who are trying to look a little bit trendier and edgier. If you are past your teenage years, you may want to stick with solid colors instead anytime you wear leopard print.

6. Keep your accessories to a minimum

Accessorizing outfits is an important part of creating a fashionable look. When it comes to pairing accessories with leopard print, however, less is more. Because it is such a bold, complicated pattern, it acts as an accessory in its own right. If you add too many other accessories on top of it, it can come off looking cluttered and overdone. That doesn’t mean that you should avoid accessories altogether. Just make sure to choose pieces that have clean, elegant lines. For instance, pieces like a pair of simple gold earrings or a plain bangle bracelet are excellent choices.

7. Think about your body shape when wearing leopard print

Because leopard is such a bold pattern, the eye is naturally drawn to it. That means that people will naturally be inclined to look at whatever part of your body you are wearing it on. When putting together outfits, keep this in mind. For instance, if you don’t want to draw a lot of attention to your bust line, you should probably avoid wearing a leopard blouse. Similarly, if you don’t want to draw attention to your lower half, avoid wearing leopard print skirts or pants.

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There’s nothing as frustrating as packing your bags and heading to the airport all excited for your trip, only to find out that your flight has been delayed, canceled or overbooked. But thankfully, nowadays, there are rules set in place to protect us in case of such unfortunate situations.

All popular airlines like British Airways, Air Canada, EasyJet and Flybe provide compensation, so knowing what you’re entitled to is important. The EU Regulation 261/2004 entitles you to care and compensation for certain travel disruptions. If you are departing from an EU airport, or are arriving at one on an EU carrier and your flight was delayed for over three hours, you will get compensation. If your flight gets canceled and your replacement flight lands 2 hours later than your original flight, you are entitled to compensation.

The airline has to provide you with food and drinks. This is usually in accordance with the time of the day and generally in the form of vouchers which you can redeem at restaurants nearby. Some airlines even provide food in small packages. The airline is also supposed to refund the cost of any important calls you may have to make to convey the news of the delay.

In case of an overnight delay, you’ll be provided with accommodation and the transport to reach it. Alternatively, you can even ask to be refunded for transportation to your home instead. In some cases, the disruption is so big that the airline is not able to individually make bookings for each person. You can make your own arrangements then and provide them with the receipts to get the refund. Make sure you don’t book expensive hotels since those will only be refunded if there was no other option.

If the delay is over three hours, short flights will give you a cash payment of €250 and longer ones give you €400. If your flight is over 3,500km you’re entitled to €300 for a delay of 3-4 hours and €600 in case of more than four hours.

In case of extraordinary circumstances like civil war, security issues, calamities or extreme weather conditions, compensation is not payable.

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As a kid, your perfect bike was quite obvious – either the pretty pink one with the tassels, or the cool blue one. But trying to pick out your perfect bike as a grown-up can be pretty challenging. Frame, gears, brake type, price range – a lot of different factors go into making this decision. We’ve broken down the entire process for you.

1. What do you need it for?

Different bikes are suited to different kinds of use. For eg., if you live in the city, what you need is a bike that’s suitable for roads. But if you’re looking for something more adventurous to bike on trails with, a mountain bike is what you need. The main different kinds of bikes are –

Mountain bikes: Perfect for rough, off-road use. But they can be used on pavements too.
Road bikes: Perfect for if you live in a city, and want to get around biking on pavements. They’re quite fast.
Hybrid bikes: They’re somewhere between mountain bikes and road bikes – not as rugged as mountain bikes and not as fast as road bikes. But this is a great choice if you want to bike in places that aren’t as smooth as the city.
Beach cruisers: This is perfect for casual biking. A lot of people use these bikes around boardwalks near the beach.

There are other different and more specific types of course – like BMX bikes. But from a beginner point of view, the above 4 are enough.

2. What is your budget?

Bikes are an expensive investment, so figuring out your budget is essential. If you’re looking to spend around $80 – $300, you can get some basic metal frames. They’re just enough to get you around and are quite stylish too. A higher budget of $300 – $1000 will land you a decent aluminum or lighter metal bike, which is perfect for everyday riders. Their high-quality wheels, chains and pedals ensure that it lasts longer. If you can splurge over $1000, you’ll be able to get yourself some really light metal (like carbon or titanium) bikes, which are more rigorous and perfect for everyday use. They can even be used in small competitions. Nowadays, the options are so vast that you can even build your dream bike model by choosing from several sizes, colours, wheel types, etc.

If you want a better bike than your budget allows you, second-hand bikes are a great alternative. You can usually get decent bikes that way, just make sure that you check them thoroughly before purchasing.

3. Does it fit you?

So you narrowed down on a bike type, and you figured out your budget – don’t buy the first bike that you think looks cool! Test it out yourself. Sit on it, see if it’s comfortable, check if you can control it well and make sure the reach between the seat and the handlebars is comfortable. If your bike is too big/small for you, it can prove to be extremely uncomfortable. Your ideal frame size depends on the type of bike, your height and your inseam. If you’re at a store, the salesman there will usually help you out with what size you should get.

4. What about the gears, suspension and brake types?

Gears: If you’re going to be doing a lot of adventurous and challenging riding around mountains, opt for more gears. If you’re mainly going to be on flat land, and are quite good at riding, you can go for fewer gears.

Suspension: Suspension helps you keep your bike suspended if you’re riding in rugged areas. A mountain bike should ideally have full or at least front suspension. But if you’re only going to ride on roads, you won’t need any suspension at all.

Brakes: There are many kinds of brakes like rim brakes, disc brakes, etc. But if you’re just a beginner, you’ll most probably have to go with the brakes that come with the bike. However, it is good to research on the kind of brake you have.

5. Go for a test ride!

Take your bike for a test ride, but make sure you pay attention to the following –

  • Are you comfortable? Your posture, the reach, the seating, the pedaling should all be comfortable and not require too much effort.
  • Are you able to handle the terrain? This doesn’t matter if you’re going to stick to flat terrains, but if you’re going to rugged terrain try to see if your bike will be able to handle it.
  • Are you carrying everything you need? If you’re planning on carrying stuff with you when you actually start riding, make sure you can do that in the test ride itself. Sometimes these items weigh the bike down and you may find it harder to pedal. Opt for a sturdier bike in such cases.
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