UAE | Tourism

Man punched over hummus at desert safari seeks refund

Desert outing turns into nightmare for Indian couple after argument over food erupts into fistfight; 53-member group cuts trip short after incident

  • By Anjana Kumar, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 22:28 October 31, 2012
  • XPRESS

  • Image Credit: XPRESS/Anjana Kumar
  • Seeking justice: Daiwat Gehani, left, and her husband are demanding full refund of their money from Arabian Desert Tours and a written apology

Dubai: What could have been a perfect desert safari turned into a nightmare for a couple when a catering crew allegedly punched the man in the face and stopped his wife from taking food.

Indian couple Daiwat Gehani, 35, and Sachin Gehani, 36, are demanding a full refund from Arabian Desert Tours (ADT) which organised the trip.

The incident took place round 6.30pm on Friday when Daiwat Gehani went looking for food for her pregnant friend.

Unacceptable behaviour

The pair was part of a group of 53 adults and children who went on a desert outing they bought through group-buying site Kobonaty. The deal included dune bashing, camel ride and a BBQ buffet dinner under the stars.

Daiwat said a caterting staff punched Sachin in the face following an argument. She said her husband got angry when another member of the team jerked her hand away as she tried to get food for a pregnant friend.

“We reached the site around 5pm but weren’t served any food or drinks until 6.30pm. My pregnant friend (who went to the camp through another route) said she was hungry so I decided to get her some hummus laid out on a platter. I asked a catering staff for help, but he refused. When I reached out to get the hummus myself, he jerked my hand away angrily,” Daiwat recalled.

She said her husband who was standing behind her shouted at the staff for touching her. They had an argument which soon turned into a fistfight. “He held my collar and I held his collar back,” said Sachin. “When I did that, he hit me hard in the face. This is not right. No customer deserves to be treated this way.”

Sachin said after the incident the entire group including the couple left the camp without eating or drinking anything. They left in a bus provided by the operator.

“This animal-like behaviour is completely unacceptable... and will not be tolerated under any circumstances,” said Daiwat’s complaint to the tour operator sent on October 27.

Arabian Desert Tours responded to the complaint with an e-mail, a copy of which is with XPRESS. The response reads: “We have been doing the desert safari business for over a decade now and follow procedures for the sake of our guests. We first serve the starters (falafel and shawarma only) to the guests before the BBQ buffet dinner. You requested hummus from the staff, which is served only with the buffet dinner. Since you insisted on getting the food from the tray using your bare hands, he stopped you. We don’t tolerate this for hygienic purposes. If other guests would see people getting food from the food tray using their bare hands, it would have caused more problems. Basically, the staff members only follow the rules that are give to them. If you had just called the attention of the catering manager about your request, he could have assisted you. Our staff became frightened when he found out that your husband was drunk. In fact, he became petrified when he saw most of your group members threatening and shouting at him. Once the managers were called in, they attended to the matter. However, when the issue couldn’t be settled, the managers proposed to call the police to address the rights of both parties, but your group refused and asked our staff to apologise, which he did. In fact, our catering manager also apologised to your group. At the end of the day, we always aim at quality services and customer satisfaction. The ADT Management has already asked the catering service to take appropriate action against the staff involved and at the moment he  is not allowed to get into the ADT camp premises."
The operator promised to look into the matter and inform the couple about the action taken against their staff.

A member of the group said: “We had 20-plus kids with us and Sachin himself was taking care of his two kids. One of our friends did buy a beer off the counter but that doesn’t make one drunk. Sachin did not consume alcohol at all.”

Comments (183)

  1. Added 18:57 November 1, 2012

    As I read this article I was really surprised and I couldn't hold myself from commenting on this subject.. as it looked like when a person goes to the Cinema and didn't like the Film so the First idea is to start a fight with the person sitting beside him saying that he pushed his wife's hand as it was dark and nobody was able to see anything But the man who didn't do anything was accused!!!!!and everybody is supposed to believe him…all this to get his money back(refund. I think This Hummus Business look the same. NO WITNESS EXcEPT THE WIFE AND THE HUSBAND (OF COURSE BEFORE THE SHOUTING AND SOME OF THE MEMBERS GATHERED TO CONTINUE THREATENING THE CATERING STAFF)..WHY THIS FIGHT WASN'T ONLY FOR THAT THE CATERING STAFF REFUSED THAT THE WIFE TAKE THE HUMMUS FROM THE BUFFET WITH HER FINGERS OR BEFORE THAT THE BUFFET OPENS FOR ALL THE GUESTS.. WHO ELSE SAW THAT THE CATERING STAFF PUSHED THE WIFE'S HAND. ;.GOD KNOWS - I dont think Safari will be Safe to go for a pregnant woman which I doubt about it anyway. - We Know the Plan of the Trip..That sandwiches shall be served before the Buffet so I don't think after the sandwiches (Falafel or chawerma)..The pregnant lady should be still hungry for a while..Tea, Coffee and milk are served free; - Why shouldn't we follow the rules of a Place and like to start breaking it by all means and then COMPLAIN - As the Husband was accompanying his wife to take the Hummus for her PREGNANT friend it's enough to say that he was encouraging his wife to break the rules instead of telling her this is not right;.Customer is always right but not in breaking the rules which he already knows . - Why should the husband wait until the catering staff push his wife's hand..Why he didn't search for the catering Boss to ask him if he can assist them when the discussion about the Hummus started..GOD KNOWS. - As a customer you will not like to wait and other people have been fooling round with the buffet before anybody else started..Especially if the customer touches the food with his bare fingers.. - Why did the customer refused that the police assists..This means he was really drunk and planned for further problems.. -Why should anybody put the whole Group or people assisting in such stressful evening also everybody is coming to have fun and to enjoy the show ,the rides ect..NOT ONLY TO EAT. -I dont say that the catering staff is right to push the wife's hand(IF HE DID IT AT ALL;NO WITNESS), BUT if it was lots of witnesses have seen it;.. as of my opinions this was an unthoughtful scary behavior that this action was against the rules he had to follow until serving time starts (HE WAS DOING HIS JOB WHILE OTHERS INTERRUPTED IN AN INAPROPRIATE MANNER), the insisting talks and behavior and swearing of the wife which didn't have any respect for the husband standing beside her scared him. -Do you think as scared as he was can he really be the one starting to punch the customer unbelievable. But what I think was true that the husband punched the Catering staff instead of warning him that he shall be reported to his superiors..also he apologized even after he was punched and mistreated from the customer and ADT Management has already taken appropriate action against him and at the moment he is not allowed to get into the ADT camp premises. -Arabian Desert Tour has been dealing with these tours since ages as of my knowledge but we never heard about any unusual behaviors happening. I personally assisted to one of these tours and enjoyed it very, very much, and I found it very organized ,enjoyable and it is worth much more that what is paid for really -If you don't like the film step away slowly and leave the Cinema without making any noise so the other people can enjoy their movie..But make sure If you step out of the Cinema with your own will you shall not be paid back, So you better see the Film even you don't like it to the End and try to Enjoy it....OR It's up to you… Have a nice Day

    ROLAND, HAMBURG, Germany

  2. Added 17:18 November 1, 2012

    I was one of the customers of the same tour with ADT and I completely concur with what has been stated about them. The treatment from the catering company at the refugee camp, as I would like to refer to it, was unbelievably upsetting. One piece of food was put into our plates and further more was refused even though I had specifically mentioned that I have a child and need more! I was asked to bring my child and stand in the line! Whatever the reason maybe, no one has the right to touch or hit the customers, be it a man or a woman. A message to the Mr/Ms Anonymous, why don't you disclose your name if you seem very confident that Mr Sachin was drunk? We would like to know on what basis has that been pointed out by you. And as mentioned earlier, as against what's usually mentioned on these deal sites, there were NO drinks nor food served for almost 2 hrs after we reached the camp. I would like to mention another point that really affected me (and am sure many others) was the treatment of the camel at the camp. One of the 2 camels seemed uncomfortable for some reason as was constantly showing distress and making sounds, but the so-called caretaker kept kicking him constantly and pulling his mouth-chain with a lot of force just so that it had to entertain some 500 people for 2 hours and take them each for a 30 secs ride and back! I do not think that is normal as the other camel was fine and wasn't complaining! I am really surprised that a company that declares that it has been operating since 15 years, can provide this kind of a treatment and facility to its customers and treats both humans and animals so ruthlessly, as this is NOT what we were expecting and were looking forward to a good experience on that day.

    Raina CL, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 17:17 November 1, 2012

    I was there on the same day but was not present on the exact site of incident. when i saw the crowd gathering and heard that a staff literally slapped one of the guest. I myself felt very angry and sad. I am staying in Dubai since 9 year but this was the 1st time i visited desert safari and such an incident you can imagine. I think its was over crowded and an result of bad management..

    R, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 17:09 November 1, 2012

    I think the young couple have been penalised for their kind act towards their friend - as stated in the article Sachin was not drunk - the tour company is just trying to squirm their way out of this 1 - this is 1 incident out of many that take place on a frequent basis during these safaris. It is about time that we stand by this couple and help them take necessary action against Arabian Desert Tours.

    Hemal, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 17:03 November 1, 2012

    I am the pregnant woman who my friend went to get hummus for - our group of 53 had gone there to enjoy our Eid and instead we have come back thoroughly disappointed and engraged at the treatment meeted out to all of us. Not only were there no drinks available till 6;30 even if we wanted to puchase them. in starters the only vegetarian dish was 1 pc of falafel. I was feeding my 1yr old when Daiwat went to get hummus for me to accompany my pc of falfel. The staff has behaved so abusively and spun such lies that Sachin was drunk!!!!!!!! We had 20+ kids with us to look after and we are all from respectable families who know how to behave!!!! It is because our children were tired, hungry and thirsty that we left that camp and did not wait for the police. I urge Dubai government to take strong action against this tour company.

    Deepa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 17:02 November 1, 2012

    This is totally unacceptable and insensitive behaviour from the staff of ADT. Their response also seems to be utterly shocking and defensive. In such a large gathering there is always a PR person who keeps control over these matters. It is for ADT to ensure that they do that or else they will lose their business. The least that ADT can do now is to publicly appologise for their behaviour and pull up the staff involved with the incident.

    Ramesh Poplay, Mumbai, India

  7. Added 17:00 November 1, 2012

    Arabian Desert's response itself sounds cooked up. How would guest know that falafel and shawarma is served before, and hummus is served after that? Secondly people may eat with bare hands, but nobody will use bare hands to pick food from trays. Hummus is not finger food. Under no circumstance can guests be touched particularly women and children. ADT staff should be careful and courteous. Guests have to be treated in a civil manner if not royally.

    Sunil T., Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 16:59 November 1, 2012

    So the Arabian Desert Tours is alleging that Mrs Daiwat tried to take hummus with her bare hands and serve it to a pregnant lady ?? Cmon guys, if you want to defend yourself, atleast make it believable.

    Abdulla, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 16:53 November 1, 2012

    Shocked. Arabian Desert Tours should be banned. And the staff Jailed. How dare they reply with such obvious fabrication. You think if Sachin was drunk, he would approached the newspaper so that the whole world would know? Common Arabian Desert tours. Dont insult our intelligence.

    Simon, New Jersey, United States

  10. Added 16:51 November 1, 2012

    Wow...am shocked that such an incident took place in Dubai, a city that I truly love. If such an incident happened in the U.K., we would sue them for over a million pounds. Shame on Arabian Desert tours.

    Julius B., London, United Kingdom

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