Dubai: They say it takes a village to raise a child. But in my day that village no longer consists of humans, but apps. As a mother, I do not rely on people to help make my life easier, I rely on tech.
I am someone who a mere three years ago, used to run all errands by myself. I travelled light and didn’t need any help. Today my life is flipped upside down. I have a three year old toddler, a newborn baby, a full time job and an always travelling husband.
Adding to that. I am an expat living in Dubai. So there is no (human) village or support system to help in my day to day list of chores and tasks.
So here comes my virtual village, my little super heroes. The small squares that fill my phone screen. My life saving apps.
Laundry, grocery, doctor appointments, cleaning services, beauty treatments, plumbers, handy men, are all just a touch away.
They save me time and energy. And with no human interaction and a minimal to zero error they decrease my stress levels. (Talking to people is stressful you know?)
And you know what? They save me money. Because at the tap of my finger I can compare prices from different apps and choose the price that suits me.
Funnily enough, I stopped physically shopping five years ago because parking was always such a headache. Today, I physically can’t shop because my life is the way that it is.
For my grocery shopping I use Carrefour Now and in less than an hour they will be at your door, although sometimes I don’t like their app search and it makes me frustrated, but their fast delivery makes up for it. Carrefour is one of the largest hypermarket and supermarket chains in the world, so you can usually find everything you need there. However, when an item is not found in Carrefour, my finger ventures to another little square on my phone.
The El Grocer app is a great one we love to use. They are actually pretty good at tracking your trends, needs and wants. They never fail to know my shopping trends and have my items saved in a special place on their site, so all I have to do is click, with the option of pay ahead or on delivery.
So I am clearly picky about where I buy my groceries. I mean I use practically a handful of apps. For my fruits and vegetables I choose Kibsons. They have fantastic produce from around the world and lots of organic veggies. They are never delivered with a missing item and with the option of being environmentally friendly and my stuff packed in one carton box rather than plastic bags.
For gourmet and specialized products, I don’t have to drive up and down the city looking for what I need to make that special dish at home, because I use the Soopa App, which gives you access to many ethnic shops and my favorite butcher shop.
A few extra ones that could be useful:
NRTC Fresh is the online fresh fruits and vegetable delivery platform in the UAE provides the freshest products. They deliver high quality fruits and vegetables from their farm to your home at a competitive price. They even have costumer service hotline for any query, complaint or required assistance. You can choose your delivery time.
A very popular online shopping app, that is great for even just a small purchase. They have a huge variety and cater to a lot of locations all over the UAE as well as regionally like places in Egypt, Lebanon, Bahrain and more. Instashop also connects you to cleaning services among other things. In selected areas of Abu Dhabi they also provide pharmacy delivery, pet shop delivery and butchery delivery. The app is brilliantly designed and broken down into over 20 categories ranging from dairy and eggs, and fruits and vegetables to coffee and tea, and baby care.
Pharmacy and medical services
This is another lifesaving app. Children get sick all the time and for some reason they do it in a time when you least expect it.
My 3 year old daughter decided to develop a fever of 40 degrees the day I was delivering my second child. While I was in the hospital bed I was able to find a doctor in my range that accepts my insurance card, schedule an appointment and I even chose the languages am comfortable with, in half an hour she was in a car off to see a doctor.
No time to wait at a pharmacy, or it’s a late night and you are in dire need for medicine, then the Life Pharmacy is your answer. A picture of the prescription and the insurance card and next is a knock at your door. If you just want to buy medicine, then order online.
You can also use the popular online shopping app to order pharmacy products from anywhere in the UAE.
As I sit in my same spot, baby on the arm, I move my finger to the laundry app.
Who doesn’t feel too tired to do anything after a long day? Dubai’s Washmen app takes the burden off my shoulders by offering a pickup, clean and press and drop off service; allowing me to focus on other things instead of spending my time and energy on getting my familys’ clothes cleaned up. It usually takes only 25 minutes for the entire pickup process. They pick up the bags from my front door, and they return them the next day. Whether I am home or not, the bag colors provided by Washmen makes life easier I don’t have to wait for the pickup to explain anything.
Blue bag means wash and fold, green is clean and press, and the white bag is press only. Zero error, no language barrier and everybody is on the same page. My card is charged and no cash hassle is encountered.
Other apps to use
This laundry service, allows customers to request on-demand laundry services online to save time and effort. The pre-booked round the clock laundry service offers everything from washing and pressing to dry cleaning and folding, with delivery within 24 hours. The online service has many affiliated laundries in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, as a result of which it can cater to orders from across the emirates.
Another on-demand app providing hassle-free and affordable laundry and dry-cleaning service in Dubai. Powered by Laundrapp, they make sure your clothes have a smooth journey right from placing your order to delivery. You can track your order, which means you get real-time updates, each step of the way. Have a question regarding your order? Just message the team of experts over the app, no matter the time of day. Blue bag for full service (wash, iron, fold), grey bag for ironing only and white bag for Wash and Fold
Car and transportation services
Keno is a rescue app, especially with a new born and warm outside temperatures, there is no way I will head to a petrol station and clean my car inside out.
Keno is a Dubai-based Car Wash app. The application's user-interface is remarkable. Once you download it, you register, fill in your details and add your cars Keno is as easy as it gets, in an hour your car is cleaned your card is charged and you don’t have to move from your spot. Yes it’s double what you pay at a gas station, but time is money, and I choose to buy my time and convenience.. The app was initially a bit buggy when I used it, but after a few tries, I managed to book a car cleaning.
You get your car washed for Dh35 and interior cleaning for Dh15. Even if you live in a building and your car is parked in a multi-storey lot the Keno staff will get to it on their motorcycle with a mini water tank and cleaning supplies in the box on the back. While booking your car wash, mention your apartment or office number for your building's security guards - just in case, together with the parking level and spot number.
You would think that I would have time to go to a gas station these days, but honestly, I really don’t.
The answer to my problem is another recently launched app, Cafu. Yup! This is how it is done in Dubai. CAFU is the region’s first fuel on demand app, which is using AI technologies to transform the way consumers in the UAE refuel their cars. Whether you are running low on fuel, fed up of queuing up at petrol pumps or do not live in the close proximity of one, CAFU is the app for you. And it doesn’t end there. CAFU will also offer services such as oil change, tire change and car repair. Demand a fuel refill, keep your fuel tank cover open, and in less than an hour your card is charged your car is full, and no stress to fill an empty tank before the car stops in the middle of the road. They don’t even knock on your door. The fuel costs as much as any petrol station with an Dh18 surcharge. Your first month on the app will have no service charge.
You would think that with all the apps I use, I would have time to pick up and drop my daughter off to school activities. So I use Careem kids. Careem kids is a car hailing service that comes with a child car seat. Usually there are no delays and the exact location you choose on the app means that you don’t have to worry if the nanny and child were lost or dropped off at the wrong place. There is also the extra mom requirement of tracking the car and calling the driver.
Other transport apps to use
Introduced by the Roads and Transportation Authority, S’hail is an app designed for residents and visitors to make travel hassle-free, quick and simple by showing Uber and Careem options, ekar, Udrive locations, Dubai Metro (as red or green line information), Dubai Tram timings, Bus schedules and stops and Dubai Taxi fares - in other words, your traveling made easy.
Money saving apps
Saving money is an essential part to living a good life in the UAE. While it’s easy to tell people to put a third of their salary aside, most people find that difficult to do so.
Save on literally thousands of things, just by signing up. And the best part is, it’s free! Live your best life in Dubai on a budget. You can find almost everything on Groupon. Pool days, salon trips… even home cleaning services. We particularly like the dinner deals on there.
The Discounter is the newest app to launch in the UAE for top value offers in several venues (restaurants, beauty salons, spas, and leisure activities). The main focus is to serve tourists to provide them with a free supply of offers to enhance their experience in Dubai. Additionally expats who are seeking a different source of offers and discounts can download the app for free.
This app is one of the more popular online wallets. It’s currently available in the UAE. Can be used at over 3,000 stores here. Use beam at petrol stations or cinemas. It’s free to download and use. Once you gather points, you can redeem them at any of the participating stores. That means you save money on things that you normally buy!
I am personally a huge fan of the Entertainer. You enjoy savings for the whole year. Their app allows you to enjoy a 'buy one get one free' concept at all of their participating restaurants, hair salons, bars and general entertainment venues. And the list of participating venues is huge! It requires a little bit of investment. There’s an early bird special where you can get the Entertainer Dubai along with another product (Cheers or Body or Fitness) for Dh395. They offer early bird discounts, especially in summer. Consider buying the 2020 entertainer now, to benefit from the end of 2019 and all of 2020.
Another service, Pricena allows users to compare prices in the UAE for thousands of products from over 500 product categories and more than 50 online stores. Pricena — an Arab-English word for “our price” — claims it has enough data to be able to show you the cheapest deals every time. You can also set the app to alert you when prices drop for a particular product. The service keeps track of historical prices from all retailers and claims it is smart enough to see through fake discounts. You can use the app to scan any barcode in a supermarket and the app will show you whether you can buy it for less somewhere else.
Are you kept waiting by maintenance teams when something breaks down at home, or simply not able to find time to clean? URBAN CLAP comes in to save the day for less, with services delivered less than 24 hours. Right from pest control to AC repairs to house cleaning. Whatever service you want you can have. Cleaning, plumbing, handy men, AC maintenance, painting are all services I have used and was happy that I didn’t have to search for them or negotiate the best price, it is all done on my behalf through the apps.
I even use their at home pampering sessions at the end of a hectic day of running a household. Urban plan gets you the best beauty services to your home with the cheapest prices and best deals I have encountered in Dubai. All my friends agree too. Eyebrow threading for just Dh20? Sign me up.
From managing your utilities and bills, to listing down hospitals and clinics, checking flights information, all the way to lists of schools and their ratings by KHDA, the Dubai Now App is a one-stop source for all your government service needs. It is the first unified Dubai government services smart app offering over 70 government and private sector services from 32 participating entities including health, security, education, transport and more; contributing to global efforts of accelerating the time needed to get things done.
This UAE born app was so good that it got acquired by Voicea. It offers an innovative solution of a smart voice recorder that summarizes the highlights of all meetings; giving companies and individuals the chance to focus on other points rather than worrying about taking notes or documenting.
Founded in 2011, Mumzworld was founded by busy parents who have one goal in mind, to create a pool of information about a wide range of children's products not readily available at malls or other online stores in the Middle East. Now this site offers branded items with free delivery for every Dh200 worth of orders within the UAE and KSA. Each time you buy online, the site offers rewards through their Mumz Loyalty Program with lots of members-only benefits.
Do you have any apps that just save your life? Tweet to us @gulf_news