Secret Dubai diary Intrigue and adventure in the United Arab Emirates

iPhone RPGs

Dubai Info

Best role-playing games
Spiderweb Software
for Mac & PC

16 August, 2005

Banished, famished

Farewell to schwarma, if the bumbling bureaucrats have their way. First they forced tiny kebab shops to put their grills inside, removing a traditional and temptingly-aromaed sight from the street.

Unsurprise-surprise: it's making the restaurants too hot for people to sit in:

ABU DHABI — For small shawarma outlets in the capital who shifted their grill into the restaurant following orders from the authorities, it may well be a case worse than "from the frying pan into the fire." They may be forced to remove shawarma altogether from their menu.

The authorities have found that the shifting of shawarma grills inside small restaurants was a "hot" move, in that it made the outlets uncomfortable with the heat produced from the grills making the atmosphere inside stifling.

If these authorities had actually bothered to heed the concerns of restaurateurs in the first place, or just rubbed their two brain cells together, they might have anticipated this before the fact.

Exactly what implications does this have for outdoor events like the Global Village? Will they ban schwarmas there, and everything else cooked outside, such as saj bread? The reason for moving the grills inside was "pollution". Given we breathe in gallons of thick sand smog, industrial fumes and traffic exhaust daily, does anyone care about a few more flecks of dust on their schwarma?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The new choice of spelling "schwarma" reminds me more of german fat-hose wurst.
Take them all away for the best.

16 August, 2005 15:57  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Oh my.

That is awful. What's next?

Big business must be happy.

16 August, 2005 16:05  
Blogger Dave Banana said...

this is part of the law banning satelite dishes from road view, haning washing out to dry and banning for sale ads in shop windows.

They are trying to beautify the city to hide the fact that people live here from the tourists.

Of course, if they really want to beautify the city they could knock down half of Sheikh Zayed Rd and start Jumeira Beach Residence again from scratch.

16 August, 2005 16:41  
Blogger Emirati said...

The reasons why they decided to make the shawarmas cooked indoor is...

1. The carbon monoxide, dust, bacteria and flies are present in greater quantity on the outside

2. to give the shawarma guys a break, its bad enough the weather here is hot, the shawarma guys have to put up with the heat from the shawarma machine

3. the heat of the weather plus the shawarma machines leads the shawarma guy to sweat, and we wouldnt want that in our food now would we.

16 August, 2005 16:56  
Blogger secretdubai said...

2. to give the shawarma guys a break

Problem is that many of them were cooking outside because it was cooler and better ventilated in the street.

16 August, 2005 16:58  
Blogger Emirati said...

all in all quite a good descision I must say...

16 August, 2005 16:59  
Blogger Emirati said...

well you have air conditioning on the inside vs ventilation, take your pick..

16 August, 2005 17:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


These laws banning satellites, laundry and other items are actually good laws. They are probably poorly executed like those with the shawarma case.

For instance, I fully agree with laws banning satellite dishes hanging out of balconies. It hurts my eyes. Away with them.

Laundry, well.. that's a bit more complicated. Many people live in apartments that are too small to house a washing machine and dryer. Most people should not be forced to pay for washing/drying clothes at those over-priced laundry places.

The solution? Very simple. Instead of telling people not to hang out their laundry to dry, buildings should be required to provide a washing/drying facility in their buildings. Why not? Pop-in a dirham or 2 and you get to wash a lod.. another dirham or 2 to dry your clothes. Landlord makes some extra cash out of it and no one has to dry their clothes out in the sun.

But as it is, no one in their right mind can tell people to not hang their clothes out while not providing them with an alternative solution.

No one wants to make dubai look like no one lives here. Tourism is not the #1 money maker for Dubai. If it were, then I would have been more inclined to believe your theorem.

16 August, 2005 17:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I think it was a horribly bad decision. Of course ventilation would be better than an enclosed air-conditioned space.

You need to be around more people who have been in the restaurant business to know what goes on behind closed doors. Trust me, the shawarma out in the open is probably the safest thing you will order.

16 August, 2005 17:11  
Blogger secretdubai said...

well you have air conditioning on the inside vs ventilation

Yes - but you know what this place is like when it comes to working conditions - especially for Asians. I'll bet many of those tiny places install all their A/C in the dining areas, with barely any (or inadequate) in the kitchens.

Do I take it from the tone of your comments that you will not greatly be mourning the Passing of the Schwarma?!

16 August, 2005 17:34  
Blogger black feline said...

I have seen it being done in air-con food court...other part of the world...I suggest allow them to do it openly only during winter...i dont mind hanging around then...because it also acts as a good place to get some warmth during the cold season...

16 August, 2005 17:37  
Blogger Hurricane_ said...

I agree with Elzubair, Shawarma outside is much more safer, less of a fire hazard. Plus if its inside then you are dependant on A/C and a nice exhaust system and if either one breaks down I doubt the Shawarma guy will close for the day , instead the Tahini might taste a little saltier. Most of these Shawarma places have their front doors open anyway so I don't think you are preventing carbon monoxide, dust, bacteria and flies.

Lets not kid ourselves , this decision was not made to give the poor shawarma guys a BREAK.

16 August, 2005 17:43  
Blogger Emirati said...

SD, when I was biting into my first shawarma, you were still in preschool :P ... The shawrama isnt gone per se, its only going to become cleaner, despite the unfortunate loss of the atmosphere of outside 'Shawarmanism' I think shawarmas are going to be more healthy now, and you do not want to eat an unhealthy shawarma

most of the small places are small enough to be able to ventilate teh whole area with one AC. The places ive been to have now made a mirror-image of where the shawarma used to be and stuck it inside of the store so as not to pay for rewiring and extra facilities again. Position-wise I would say they are better off inside.

An American professor at the university I used to goto calls them Swarmers..

16 August, 2005 17:59  
Blogger Emirati said...

The shawarma meat is easily on there for about 6 or 7 hours a day, exposed to dozens of people and cars going by, the floor which for the most part is unclean, etc.

There have been lots of food poisoning instances involving shawarma, ive seen some places where the flies just swarm near the shawrama in a group and die on it.. very nasty sight not very tasty..

I do agree however that these places should get an extra AC in there

16 August, 2005 18:05  
Blogger Hurricane_ said...

If there are health reasons behind moving these Shawrma stalls inside then I think the campaign should start at the NO SMOKING in malls/public places. Secondary smoke is equally dangerous as car fumes for ones health.

16 August, 2005 20:31  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

I had absolutely zero problems with the schwermas in Al-Ain, many of them made right on the street.

They are right there in front of the customers to keep their eyes on what is going on. Taking them indoors takes them out of sight of the customer. Lord knows we have heard sooo many stories here in the States of burger guys spitting on the burgers then passing them to a customer. If the customer could see the burgers made, think that would happen?

Al-Karawan in Al-Ain, had their falafel production in an enclosure but the schwarmas were outside in front. God, I miss schwermas.

I had schwermas in Detroit and they were no were near as good.

16 August, 2005 21:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Next thing they will be banning Shisha from the shisha cafes, only allowing shisha to be smoked in the malls, and only allowing the horrible apricot flavor, all while eating a shwarma made in a fast food outlet next to mcdonalds and the toilet in city centre.

17 August, 2005 01:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord.. i am planning to move back to Dubai from Toronto.. the horror of Dubai is more worse then before... NO PORN.. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Where is AT&T when you need them.


17 August, 2005 06:11  
Blogger alarfaj said...

Stupid. Real stupid. These guys place absolutely no value on tradition...

Plus I'll bet the only winners here will be the franchises. Maybe they lobbied for this.

17 August, 2005 10:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does this law apply to Dubai? Does anyone know? I had the pleasure of savouring one prepare dright outside the Madinat Jumeirah and I have to admit it was really great even for a steep price of Dhs. 10.

17 August, 2005 11:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greetings Emarati,

1. The carbon monoxide, dust, bacteria and flies are present in greater quantity on the outside

Usually when carbon (in say, cooking gas) burns, it combines with oxygen in the air to form Carbon DIoxide. Carbon MONOxide only forms when there is a lack of available oxygen. As you will already know, Carbon monoxide (or CO) is poisonous (actually, it makes your red blood cells incapable of carrying oxygen from the lungs and therefore you 'technically' suffocate).

That's why we dont leave the car running in a closed garage (less air and so less oxygen... therefore CO forms instead of CO2). Similarly, there are far more chances that CO will form INside a restaurant than OUTside.

Bacteria+Flies... some of the shawarma places (in my opinion) are cleaner OUTside than INside... besides flies prob wont like hanging about a grill thats over 200 degrees centigrade!

Dust - may be a very valid concern

Despite this, dont you think its a little silly to have these 'On one day - off another' policy making tactics? Another example is the 'dh$600 vs. dh$ 100 vi$it vi$a stuff over the last few days! It just shows the immaturity and non-capacity of perhaps a select few in making educated decisions and providing propoer g0vernance for the business community. Certainly gives a bad name to the folks that have brought this nation to far ahead over the years!


17 August, 2005 12:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dumb... Da-Da-Da Dumb!

17 August, 2005 13:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I agree with you on the beuraucracy, I have to say that my shawarma apetite gradually declined in proportion to the number of stray cats that started hanging around the shawarma stands.

On a broader level, I think the quality of restaurants and their checking has declined here drastically. Why cant they have a grading system like California where each restaurant is randomly checked and given an A, B or C.

I think this system used to be here once upon a time but no longer or is not strictly enforced.

17 August, 2005 13:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


This is not the same as immigration laws. Immigration laws are _always_ changing. Those changes are very frequent. This is not special to the UAE but the world over. More specifically, in countries with a huge influx of people moving in and out (mostly in).

I don't know why people are so quick to jump the gun and claim others are incompetent before seeing how the rest of the world is doing things.

17 August, 2005 18:34  
Blogger Roba said...

whaaaaaaaaat? That's absurd!!!! An Arab country without Shawerma?

17 August, 2005 20:40  
Blogger Yazan Malakha said...

This is what happens when you don't have a union representing your industry; restaurant owners should form an alliance and threaten not to serve anyone if the government is to regulate Shawerma Stand Locations, etc.

Tourists with no where to eat… Now that would make the government ease up a little bit

17 August, 2005 21:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this crappy blog simply an avenue to bash the authorities out of spite (you seem to have a couple of nutty fans on your band wagon - dave banana & co.)

common sense point # 1 - street side food kiosks = bad for health

common sense point # 2 - if i had to explain #1 to can''t be helped.

You seem to real grumpy about living in the emirates. Why do you stick around and bear all this ?

18 August, 2005 01:03  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Why do you stick around and bear all this ?

Probably the same reason that you bothered to stick around long enough to make a comment after sticking around even longer to read the entire three year archives of my blog to see how often I "bash" the authorities and how 100% "grumpy" I am.

But you didn't, did you? Because from your comment you clearly haven't got a clue as to the actual content of this blog - you just wanted to make an arse of yourself and insult the readers here.

I'll leave your comment up for those (far from nutty) readers to laugh at.

18 August, 2005 01:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

heh Ishtara..well said..'nuff said

18 August, 2005 01:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My my... touchy aren't we ? Oh, were you thinking of censoring my comments ? Mmmm...whatever happened to free speech ? That you would even contemplate that...well speaks volumes of you dear.

No sweetie don't flatter urself. I didnt read ur archives. Jus heard bout this blog that got blocked...too much crap an' all

Oh..and you still didn't answer the question. All I got was a neurotic rant.

18 August, 2005 02:09  
Blogger secretdubai said...

So you didn't even read the blog, yet you feel qualified to come in and condemn the whole thing and its readers?

Read it, and you might get an answer to your trollish question.

18 August, 2005 06:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alarfaj wrote:

....I'll bet the only winners here will be the franchises. Maybe they lobbied for this.


18 August, 2005 07:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Stop lying to yourself .. you really like reading this blog .. dont you ?

Else, why are you back to read this?

18 August, 2005 08:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Que Paso Mohd Elzubeir!

Glad you brought up that point - I don't mean to bad-mouth our authorities... but they (perhaps a select few) do, in my opinion, go overboard! I wonder if other countries have !aws like these...

* Should not leave your car engine running else you get fined (reason given... it heats up the atmosphere!!)
* Clothes may not be dried in the balcony (stack up a 150degree drier in your toilet sized room)
* Today we feel that you can become a citi$en if you've been around for 20yrs but tomorrow we'll change our mind and claim we never said it!
* Today, workers must stop work in the afternoons, but tomorrow we'll allow the folks in the shade to work
* No heavy vehicles older than 2001 - let the transport + used sale take a hike!
* Taxes... No taxes... maybe taxes... umm we need help w/ taxes...yada yada yada...

As far as I can remember, it was only immigration laws that changed so often in the previous years (and no, I don’t think its normal to change them so often...) but these days, I think its getting outta hand!

Don't get me wrong, I love this country (this city in particular) - Its just that its not very nice when businesses/public are made to comply with silly rules that could, in a few days, be obsolete - at times, it almost feels like having one's intelligence insulted. Guess we’ll (as always) just shut out all the nonsense and ‘live with it!’


18 August, 2005 11:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SD : Still avoiding a direct answer to my question huh ?

To sporadic supernova : yeah baby, i enjoy reading this blog, in a perverted kind of way. Never said I didn't ! Thass why I'm back. (Tho' I suspect our dear SD is seriously contemplating a Patriot Act censor on me ;-)

Back to Dubai bashing and your merry bandwagon of whiners....

1. Nobody said this place is perfect. Beats me why u clowns choose to focus on the supposedly negative, in your holier than thou, my ass is cleaner than yours, attitude.

2. UAE Nationals are among the most courteous, civilised people I have encountered here. (both on road and off)(there may be a few bad apples, mostly juvenile - these kind exist in any community -so get real people)

3. Road hogs in a majority of cases appear to be expat. (what's with the asinine honking btw ?)

4. Smoking - take a stroll thru City Centre - who are the fools smoking in the food court, blowing smoke in their own kids' faces...expats again most of the time, if not always.

So liven up folks. It may not be nirvana for some of you but ain't all that bad, and it sure is better than home for some of you village bumpkins (thank u mustafa alrawi - 7days)

Focus your energies on positive issues, and let not misguided envy ruin your sojourn here.


18 August, 2005 13:19  
Blogger monkey16667 said...


Go experience the outside world my friend and you will see why people are ranting.

It is the damn hypocrisy here. The lack of public rights, the outright lies and the delusions of grandeur that annoys me here.

As for the bit about locals. I agree that a few bad apples spoil the lot. But this is a case of more than a few bad apples.

Statistics show that amount of crime and accidents (above 60% in both cases) caused are disproportionate to the % of their population.

Oh by the way Luke, keep posting. It is always good to read the comments of a brown noser. ;-)

18 August, 2005 14:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke, you must be an incredibly shallow individual who lives with head far up someone's arse if you don't see any of this...

18 August, 2005 15:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

feed your head,

what are you doing here if it`s that bad ,surely as a guest and non-citizen no one is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to stay , do yourself good ,go home to your gooddamn rights.

18 August, 2005 18:49  
Blogger monkey16667 said...


I am here cos my company transferred me here for a 2 year assignment. And the money is good. But at the same time I see all the shit and it affects me.

You want to see the real face of Dubai?? I would welcome all of you'll to join my Dubai Dirt Safari. It aint pleasant.

18 August, 2005 19:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

shmucks !

18 August, 2005 19:13  
Blogger portuguesa nova said...

I eat too much and this is some very sad news. Food is an imporant part of culture, and it is a rich cultural life that characterizes any city.

20 August, 2005 01:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Take up a career as a shawarma cook. Spend at least 6 years doin it. Summer or winter. Then tell me whether you'd prefer doin it indoors or outdoors.

I LOVE shwarmas. Yet I often held back from buyin one even when I wuz hungry. Reason? Sweat. Grime. An those fast cars outside da cafe. (I mean the ones rushin past--with a dust cloud behind em.) I'm plenty relieved now, I feel a lil better about buyin a shawarma; those guys still sweat, but I'll have mine without the dust and Carbon monoxide toppin. Oh, BTW, when I say carbon monoxide I'm thinkin bout vehicle exhaust's a kinda black smoke...(hurray fer tradition an all dat....)

If MacDonald's comes out with a shawarma, I probably won't buy it. Why? The "non-big business" shawarmas I love (@ Dh 2.50 a piece) are now made indoors. On the other hand, if the shawarmas were still made outdoors, I might be tempted to go in for the MacShawarma.

Oh, and did anyone notice? Shawarmas haven't been banned. They're prepared indoors now, following a Municipality order.
It'll be a long time befo da humble shawarma passes....

(P.S. I'll be honest....I haven't actually checked whether they spit on the shawarmas before servin them ta that they make them indoors...)

Laws are made for a reason. Why not study them first?

Clarification: the Dh 100 visit visa is just that...a visit visa that does not permit the holder to take up employment. The Dh 600 visa is something entirely different and conceived for a different's called a mission visit visa and the holder may work on a specific (temporary) mission or project and legally receive remuneration for it.

15 September, 2005 13:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss shawarma.Must say better than Big Mac.

I Love Dubai as much as I hate it.One of the reason is shawarma.

14 February, 2006 02:38  

Post a Comment

<< Home

next issue is no. 12

Google Secret Dubai, The World's Blog Aggregator
 Blog Top Sites

Powered by Blogger

StatCounter stats