Today’s post is written by guest blogger, Anne O’Connell. Anne is a freelance writer and author who shares more advice on how to get settled in Dubai in her fabulous new book, “@Home in Dubai: Getting Connected Online and on the Ground” now available on Amazon. In the book, she very graciously included Longhorns and Camels as a “blog to follow.”
The Art of Negotiation
I’ve never been much of a negotiator so when my husband is trying to make a deal I just have to walk away because I inevitably side with the merchant. But I’m learning! It’s one of the most important skills to have when you’re ‘getting connected’ in Dubai.
Shortly after our arrival I realized that the wall-to-wall tile in our villa would definitely need to be warmed up a bit. It was the perfect chance to get one of those silk rugs I had been dreaming about from the day we started talking about moving to the Middle East. I had heard about tons of places to get deals on rugs but I was given the sage advice to “look around and make sure you barter.”
I had mentioned to my neighbour that I wanted a rug and some runners but hadn’t gotten around to it yet and asked where she had gotten her beautiful rugs. Unlike me, she had a flair for decorating and her villa was done up exquisitely!
“You have to have them come to your home,” she said and gave me the number for a travelling rug salesman. “That way you’ll get a better deal.”
Well, how about that? I really had no idea what these rugs cost but a deal sounded great. And, coming to the house? Bonus!! I hate shopping at the best of times (just didn’t get that gene) and had been furniture shopping for days. This was more like it!
Door-to-Door Rug Salesmen
Two days later, a white truck with red stripes appeared in my driveway. It looked like every other truck driving around Dubai. They’re everywhere – Toyota seems to have the market cornered and they’re all painted exactly the same. Out stepped a man who I assumed was from Pakistan by what he was wearing. It turned out he was from Afghanistan but the traditional dress is similar.
Ahmed, my visitor and personal carpet salesman, started carrying in rugs of all shapes, sizes and colours. My husband took a break from what he was doing and came out to see his wares.
“That’s quite a collection,” he mused. “We definitely want silk and not wool,” he reminded me. “And, no red,” he said to Ahmed pointing to a particularly gaudy one that was on the very top. “Other than that, pick whatever you want,” he leaned over and kissed me on the forehead.
Ahmed scowled…maybe because of the innocent kiss? Public displays of affection are forbidden and carry a hefty fine but we were in our own home for heaven’s sake. Or, it could have just been from the weight of the carpets he was carrying. He proceeded to put the red ones back in the truck and I concentrated on narrowing down the choices.
I finally uncovered a gorgeous steel blue silk one with gold and black accents. It was rich looking and very soft to the touch. I could see why so many people actually hang them as artwork. The handiwork was stunning and you could tell by looking at the back that it was good quality and it was nicely finished and not likely to fray.
I moved it aside, planning to negotiate price after I had selected a couple of runners as well. Finally, we had the chosen ones positioned in their respective spots. I eyeballed them and nodded approvingly. “How much for the large area rug and the two runners?” I asked.
Ahmed looked up to the ceiling and seemed to do some calculations in his head. “Five-thousand dirhams,” he said firmly.
I looked at him with my mouth open not quite sure what to say. A few people had told me that rugs were expensive but I had no idea.
“That’s a little more than I was planning to spend on rugs,” I told him.
“How much you want to pay?” he asked, encouraging me to bargain. “I give you special price.”
“All I have is three-thousand,” I replied weakly.
“I can give you big rug for that but don’t tell,” he said conspiratorially like he was giving me the bargain of the century.
I had really thought I could get all three for that but I really wanted the big carpet. It fit perfectly with our furniture and he knew it. He also knew I was sold.