Dubai: If you’re always faced with a dilemma of leaving that Dh10 or Dh20 bill to the waiter after a meal, fret not as you are not alone.
While there are residents who know right away how much they would tip a service provider, there are also those who think saying “keep the change,” (or literally the loose change left behind), suffices as a ‘tip.’
But what really is the rule for tipping? In truth, there is none. History dictates that tipping has always been a voluntary decision of a customer. It has been practiced since the Roman era or possibly older as a way of ‘rewarding slaves or servants.’ The custom has since evolved and is now commonly practised in many countries, even in the UAE.
“Tipping is widely practised around the world. Even here, you should give at least 10 to 15 per cent at restaurants. You give tips because you’re happy with the service,” S.M., a Canadian expatriate based in Dubai, told Gulf News.
Emirati student Ahmad Al Nuaimi, generously gives tips but only when the service merits it.
“If there’s a service charge indicated in the bill, I don’t tip anymore. If not, I give about 10 per cent of the total bill. But if the service is bad, I don’t bother giving,” he said.
There are no hard-and-fast rules for tipping in Dubai according to the Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) but this does not exempt people from giving gratuities.
“As with most, if not all countries, there is no official tipping policy in Dubai but, as is common practice by many worldwide, hotel restaurants tend to include 10 per cent optional service charge on their bills,” Majid Al Merri, Director of Hotel Classification, DTCM, told Gulf News, adding that the hotel industry includes a 10 per cent service charge in the bill.
Tipping as a ‘reward’ is always based on the guest’s discretion, Al Merri said. It helps improve the quality of services delivered in a sector that is already known for its high standard of service, he added.
“As tipping is a thank you for good service, it is very common for people within Dubai’s service industry to receive good tips. The practice of tipping in the service industry drives the level of service quality up, and is part of the encouragement to deliver the best service that meets the guest expectation,” Al Merri said.
In the US, tips received by service workers such as waiters, house cleaners, and others, form a significant part of their income, at times reaching up to 60 per cent, according to PayScale’s 2012-2013 Tipping Study.
While there are no studies yet on how tips impact lives of service workers in the UAE, there are those who say that tips are a lifeline for them.
“The staffs use the tips they receive to augment their income to pay for their transport, so it’s a big help as well,” Robert Fortuno, an executive chef at a café along Jumeirah Beach Road, told Gulf News.
Fortuno said tipping is in their café is centralised or placed in one box and divided among the staff weekly. The same is true for other restaurants in the emirate.
“All the tips are monitored, recorded and divided among the staff so that it’s not only the waiters who benefit, but the kitchen staff as well,” Fortuno said.
Other service providers, however, can get really lucky especially those working in spas, salons, and hotels, who get to take home their tips directly.
Vinez Contreras, 40, who works in a salon, said the biggest he has ever received from one customer was Dh500.
Julius, a hotel butler, said almost half of the hotel guests he serves give direct tips for service well done. When asked who the most generous tipper is, he said: “Emiratis are the most generous, followed by Qataris, Kuwaitis, and Saudis.”
TIP BOX: Below is a guide on tipping around the world. But whenever you’re in doubt, ask the locals.
US: Typically expected; Restaurants 15-20 per cent; Cabs 10-15 per cent
Canada: Restaurants 10-15 per cent; Cabs 10 per cent
United Kingdom: Restaurants 10-15 per cent; Taxis 10 per cent
Germany: Restaurants – typically included; Taxis 10-15 per cent
Switzerland: Restaurants and cabs – loose change
Italy: Restaurants 10 per cent optional; Taxis – uncommon
South Korea: Typically not required
Japan: Typically not required
Hong Kong: Restaurants and cabs 10 per cent
Thailand: Typically not required; at restaurants, you can round up the bill
Singapore: Typically not required
Source: The Lonely Planet Book of Everything