Saturday, July 12, 2008
When I saw them I was simply speechless, and I decided to create the three-most-inflated products today. These three things cost around 50 dirhams, a seemingly worthless bill these days, but still they shouldn't. They didn't just a short while ago, and they still don't outside of Dubai. Presenting in reverse order:
3- Glycerin soap: A herbal glycerin soap bar was a basic home item for decades everywhere around the World. Village women could make a ton from some rendered fat and a decent garden pick. Costs about a couple of dirhams for unscented basic ones on the market streets of just about anywhere, but can go into MAYBE 5 or 6 dirhams for a decent herbal one in a nice market. Why would this Jordanian soap bar salesperson standing beside his stall in a mall, selling the exact same 5 dirham bar that we were picking from grocery shops for the occasional dry-skin-moisturizing moods of a sister, in a smaller size and a badly made wool purse (supposedly organic natural feeling inducing), for the clean-cut asking price of a flat 50 dirham bill? US$15 for a bar of soap, with ingredients list as flat, known and commonly devoid of any special herbs (Two basic olive and palm oils, with glycerin and basil, that's it!) things are getting a bit silly.
2- Miso soup in Festival City: Please don't comment by saying there is a 100,000 dirham dessert dish in a Malaysian business hotel, or a US$1000 burger in a New York hot spot. Those are signature dishes by world-reknowned artists making a gimmicky dish using jewellery and gold. The Miso soup in question is a basic item made of soy and a dash of spring onions and... well water. It costs an embarrassingly low 2.50 dirhams in any outlet in Asia, equivelent of 7 dirhams in Singapore higher end deli (with a wierd pudding that i didn't like), 6 dirhams in a New York Sushi bar, and around 10 dirhams in a hardened high-rent high-scale Tokyo restaurant. I need to add that it's considered a value added item in most places anyway, like french fries at Burger King. It was a separate item however on a normally inflated menu of a food court outlet here, weighing in at 35 dirhams for an eight ounce (single cup, half-pint or around 235ml) bowl. 5 quids for soybean and water is a bit rich, don't you think?
1- The winner of the list is..... Wait for it....... apricots at Carrefour!: Apricots are a basic nutritious fruit that many people like fresh and many like dried. Egyptians in specific have a taste to drinking a Ramadan mocktail of apricot concentrate with almonds in it. Even though apricots are seasonal and are hard to find outside of its limited summer release, it usually sells for the equivalent of 3 to 5 dirhams per kilo anywhere. A fair price for a regionally produced fruit, right? Carrefour however is proudly selling it at a 5 star hotel cake price of 52 dirhams per happy kilo. In case you're thinking that Salmon fillet and tiger shrimps are as much, you're close, those are around 59 per kilo, up or down slightly depending on the outlet.
There you go, ladies and gentlemen. I remember the days when my son would enjoy 50 dirhams throughout the whole fortnight as allowance and it would more than suffice. This is 10% of a labourer's monthly salary here, do they expect that those guys will continue working at a salary that they can't use to walk into a common cheap hypermarket like carrefour and buy 10 kgs of fruit for the whole month?