They’re trying to kill me

During the last year or so, lots of Dubai buildings seem to have gone crazy when it comes to air fresheners. Where a cleaner in the past might have sprayed something around the office or restaurant or hotel corridor or lift or whoever, we now seem to have these things everywhere –


Previously they used to be in the toilets. That’s the only place where they might possibly belong, gently squirting smelly chemicals out every three to six to nine minutes in an automated fashion.

They belong in public loos, because they tend to be smelly places.

Where I don’t think they belong is anywhere else. It’s not as if Dubai was stinking to high heaven and these things are our only hope.

The chemicals in them seem to trigger some kind of allergic reaction in me, so their presence drives me bonkers. I’ve successfully managed to remove all of them from our office, thank goodness. I always switch them off when I stay in my usual hotel in Beirut – fortunately no one ever seems to switch them back on. I also switch off any that are within reach, wherever I might be.

There was one in the hospital lift this morning. I don’t see why a tiny lift needs air freshener squirted in it ever three minutes!

The oddest example of these is in our favourite Indian grill restaurant, the mighty Chicken Tikka Inn (finest grill in town since 1972). Each of the booths has one of these over it. This means that you now walk into a room that smells a bit like the toilets at Dubai Internet City, as opposed to somewhere that’s cooking up some delicious Indo-Pak Mughlai mouth-watering kebabs not too spicy sir. Once your food has arrived, you are treated to a fine mist of raspberry flavoured chemicals floating down over them every six minutes.

I asked the manager why they were installed and he didn’t seem to know. He did giggle when I asked him why there wasn’t one in the toilets, but six in the eating area. ‘Too much problem boss!’.

We’ve stopped going to Chicken Tikka Inn during the months when it’s too hot to sit outside…

The price point for these things has obviously reached a level where they are affordable and, more importantly, sellable by someone or other. I’m not sure what the sales pitch would be? ‘You know how your office never particularly smelt bad in the first place? Well, spraying chemicals all over your employees every three minutes, causing them to sneeze, get headaches and generally feel awful will drastically improve things’.

Expect a range of rage filled air freshener related posts in coming months, as I document my ongoing, unwinnable battle.



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