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.
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.”