Wednesday, June 27, 2012

That Advisor - your one stop review website for Dubai

Word of mouth is a very powerful tool. Surely you will have more trust on what a friend or colleague says about a business rather than a paid advertisement, right?

That is exactly where That Advisor comes in! The recently launched website was created to ensure that word of mouth can be heard.

To better understand how That Advisor works, we had a little chat with Gemma Magill, the mastermind behind this great new tool.

How would you define That Advisor?
It is a one stop review website for Dubai – soon for the whole UAE. It enables people to review anything from spas and restaurants to banks and vets to where their children go to school or nursery… You can even review the apartment block or neighborhood that you live in!

Why create something like That Advisor?
Since I was younger I would often hear people complaining about a bad service or experience and wishing that they could warn other people to save their money before they used that business or service and go somewhere else. In addition, when somewhere is great, you also want to let people know. Time is precious, so why waste it on a bad experience?

Plus, I don’t know about others but I found after living in the UAE for five and a half years, I was going to the same places with the same people week in, week out and, quite frankly, I was getting bored. I wanted to know other people’s favorite places/experiences. So after much deliberation I thought, why not create something that will let us all share our good and bad experiences? And from that: That Advisor was born.

What type of information is available at That Advisor?
Currently, the website has ten main categories: Healthcare, Fitness & Nutrition, Education & Training, Business & Services, Places to live, Beauty & Spas, Food & Dining, Nightlife, Kids and Fun & Leisure, each one with several sub-categories or sections.  

The great thing about That Advisor is that you can search by area and within the Cafes & Restaurant section, for example, you can even search by cuisine. So say you’re looking for a Chinese in Dubai Marina, by selecting these options the results will be filtered with the best ones (based on user reviews) at the top.

All details that are available for businesses are also listed here, so it’s a great tool for finding places in your area. So say you move to a new area and are looking for a hospital or medical centre, you can use That Advisor to search these categories in your specific area. You can then review what other users have said and make your decision on which one you would prefer to go to… Contact details for each are listed making it easy for users to then make an appointment.

What if you can’t find what you need?
That Advisor was created for the people of Dubai - so, even if we don’t have a category listed that users would like to see added, they can just contact us at and if we deem it as something that will add value for our users, then we will add it, no questions asked – we’ve made it simple to use and simple to review.

How do people start using and reviewing?
People can either log in via their Facebook account (they can select an username to remain anonymous) or they can sign up and create an account with their email addresses. We wanted to make it as easy as possible so accounts can be created in seconds and users can start making reviews and adding businesses/places.

Now, if all you want is to see the reviews at That Advisor, all you need to do is go to No need to create an account to check our listings.

What is the main differential of That Advisor when compared to similar websites?
The website is built on trust, credibility and we have a professional image that we want to maintain. We are not here to be funky, focus on one or two categories nor do we want to go into too many markets at once. We want to build the trust of our users, find out what’s great and what’s not and build on that – one step at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither were we – professionalism takes time. And we want to get this right.

That Advisor is about to hit its one month anniversary. How is it going so far?
We have been overwhelmed with the response and how it has been received by our users. After just a few days of launch, we were invited into Dubai 92 for an interview; we have over 1,300 fans on Facebook and over 500 users contributing with reviews every day.

Do you have plans and goals for the future of That Advisor?
We have many plans for the future. Our first is to open the website to the whole of the UAE. However, we want to get it right. Other international brands online that focus on one or two categories have taken years to get where they are today. Why? They have ensured their business model was right, their functionalities were perfect and by evolving constantly, have kept surprising their users. That’s how we want to be. Professional, trustworthy and, most of all, credible. A one stop shop for our users. And, like all good relationships, trust is not given overnight – it has to be earned.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A little sweat anyone?

I just got back from the supermarket where I came across the most peculiar product by the name of Pocari Sweat.

Apparently it is some kind of health drink introduced in Japan back in the 80’s; supposed to replace lost fluids and minerals in your body. It is recommended after hard work, sports activities, workouts, etc.

Ok. Ok. I get it. But let’s be honest here. As a customer would you be inclined to buy and drink something with the word sweat on it?

Sorry, but not even Cindy Crawford can make this thing more attractive for me… Boys, what do you think?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Black point system for traffic offences

I recently found out that a black point system for traffic offences was implemented across the country last March.

But what really amazed me – besides the fact that these things are still very poorly communicated in the UAE – was the logic, or lack of, behind this system.

Most accidents here happen due to reckless and dangerous driving. Many people are killed because they do not use seatbelts. Children are innocent victims because their parents do not take the time, or find it necessary, to buy them a car seat and simply drive with them in the front seats.

So, why is it that you get 24 black points for driving without number plates and only 8 for causing serious injuries? Or get 24 black points for driving under the influence and only 12 for causing the death of others? Or only 4 for allowing children to sit in the front seat of a vehicle?

Is it only me or this doesn’t make any sense at all?

Just saying…

For the complete list of black points go to:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Holiday break: Bab Al Shams

The government has just confirmed that public and private sectors will get a one day holiday on Sunday, June 17, to mark Al Isra Wal Miraj (the ascension of Prophet Mohammed).

So, here I am again with one of my hotel reviews to inspire you. This time, I present you with Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa

The place is set among beautiful dunes and built in what seems like a modern and stylized version of a true Arab village, with small passageways, courtyards and corridors providing a unique atmosphere.

The rooms have sort of a rustic feel, like you are in a tent or something, but with all the modern amenities you may need, want or desire, of course. And the bathrooms, oh the bathrooms, simply amazing – especially the huge tubs! You can practically go for a swim in one of those!

But the main attractions are located outside: desert safari, camel and horse riding, archery, mini golf, yoga, spa and a magical and inspiring infinity pool where you will be able to relax and drown all your worries and sorrows. And while you are at it, make sure you enjoy all the complimentary little treats (fresh fruits, popsicles, wet towels, etc.) offered to you from time to time.

Travelling with children? They will have a blast here! Besides taking part in many of the above mentioned activities, they have a dedicated Kid’s Club with a daily program for children from 2 to 12 years old. And if you want to have a romantic dinner with the hubby, you can always book the babysitting service available at an additional charge.

Picky when it comes to food? You will have plenty of options at Bab Al Shams! Al Hadheerah, for example, is the region’s first authentic open air desert restaurant, with an authentic Middle Eastern buffet. The food is great, but it might feel a bit touristy for locals and expats living in the UAE. If that is your case, no worries, you can always go for Indian cuisine (Masala), or pizza (Pizzeria Le Dune), or the well known international buffet option (Al Forsan Restaurant).

Another great thing about Bab Al Shams is its location. You can be there in only 45 minutes (from Abu Dhabi’s city center)! So, if you are not in the mood to spend the night, you can always go for the day use package and enjoy access to the pool, restaurants and other activities.

What are you waiting for? Call and book now! Oh, and remember to ask for GCC resident rates and other special offers they might have.

Now... some minor, little, tiny cons:
  • The property was previously managed by the Jumeirah Group, but recently moved into the hands of Meydan Hotels. Not sure if this had an impact on staff or not, but they could use a little extra training.
  • It can be kind of tricky getting to and from your room at first, since there are many small passageways, courtyards and corridors, but it does get easier after a while.
  • Rooms could use a little more light. The floor and table lamps are not enough at times, especially at night
  • The show with live music and dancers at Al Hadheerah is really interesting but it does get tiring after a while since the artists need to go around to every single table to take pictures with the guests.
But don't let this discourage you! The hotel is truly worth a visit! Take a look at some images below (from the official Bab Al Shams website) and see for yourself...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Desert surfing...

Have you ever thought about kayaking, rafting or surfing in the middle of the desert?

Seems like a crazy idea, right?

Well, it is now all possible at Wadi Adventure, the first man made whitewater facility located in Al Ain (approximately two hours from the center of Abu Dhabi).

Wadi Adventure has three world class whitewater rafting and kayaking  runs with a combined length of 1,133m, a surf pool capable of making 3.3 meter high waves every 90 seconds, a rope course, climbing wall and zip line, as well as many other activities for the entire family.

Here is a sneak preview…

For more information: