Last week I was in front of a medical clinic in Dubai when two signs on a storefront window caught my eyes. At the top of the glass there was an advertisement for the gynaecological services offered within. Below, though, was an offer for coffee on the go, with pictures of a familiar green-and-white mermaid logo.
“Home delivery available here,” it read. Which of the two advertisements were on offer for “home delivery,” I wondered? We can’t quite order babies to be delivered via app in Dubai yet (though perhaps somewhere in the city, someone is now quickly developing a new app called Stork that will take care of this untapped demand?), but I’m beginning to think that infants may be the only thing we can’t get at our doorstep. (I am not taking one even if it is free.)
Food has long been whizzed across the city on the back of motorbikes, but the pandemic has taken delivery services to a whole new level. Sometimes it feels like our entire existence in Dubai is based on deliveries. The highways and sidewalks are crowded with motorbikes, festooned with square boxes on the back.
So much of our daily lives are contained in those boxes; elixirs and sustenance that bathe, beautify, and bejewel, as well as clothe, calm, and cure. From the basics of life to the most exotic and decadent, from milk for your morning bowl of cereal to a biryani feast, our lives and wishes criss-cross the Golden City at the hands of the men who deliver to our door.
Last week I found myself with a surprise overnight guest - a friend from Abu Dhabi whose PCR test results wouldn’t come through in time for her to return home to her own bed. As we settled in for the night I realised that I lacked an extra blanket for her to use. No problem. I opened my phone, tapped, swiped, confirmed, added a tip in gratitude, and within an hour she had comfort in the summer AC. Could we imagine this ease and convenience at our fingertips a decade ago?
The upside of this pandemic - if there is any - is that this delivery mani extended not just to goods but services as well. Beauticians and massage therapists will come to you to ease your racked nerves and muscles, manicure your nails, pluck your eyebrows and more without you ever having to leave home.
That friend I just mentioned? Her PCR test was conducted in my living room; even medical care is on an app now. I will admit that I was a slow adopter of e-commerce. I have always enjoyed the in-person shopping experience; to me, it’s the modern equivalent of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, stalking my hapless prey in the aisles of my local hypermarket or down the corridors of a nearby mall.
I like seeing my choices, asking the workers if they have any alternatives in the mysterious and unknown “back rooms,” seeing and knowing exactly what I am purchasing beyond the confines of my small phone screen. But Covid changed all of that, forcing me to jump on the delivery wagon along with everyone else, and now I embrace its glories, too. When we get happiness delivered at our doorstop, let us say three cheers!