RDS_181216 Honesty Business
Ghulam Mohammad, the man whose Roti Bicycle runs on trust Image Credit: Arshad Hussain/Gulf News reader

  • Dubai residents have been picking up rotis from a bicycle in Dubai. The trend started when a customer requested the shop to leave his daily order at the mosque, even if he isn't there. 
  • Other people at the mosque saw the arrangement and requested for a similar delivery service.
  • The man leaves rotis for customers, who make sure they leave behind the exact payment.
  • A book store in the UAE also functions on a similar system of trust.

Dubai: Every day, outside a mosque in Dubai, Ghulam Mohammad parks his bicycle, with a box that contains many packets of rotis (unleavened bread). Next to the rotis he places an empty box for people to drop money in. He then leaves.

Honest customers

Worshippers who step out of the mosque, hungry, stop at the bicycle, drop two dirhams in the box and walk away with a packet.

No one watches over the bicycle, the rotis or the money.

Mohammad is 42, he doesn’t speak English and is shy. Many new devotees at the mosque inside Dubai Airport Freezone haven’t even seen him.

Roti bicycle
The rotis that are based on trust Image Credit: Arshad Hussain/Gulf News reader

Dubai expat, Arshad Hussain, a regular customer of the Roti Bicycle occasionally used to spot Mohammad. He decided to find out the story behind the now popular Roti Bicycle.

“I spoke to him and found out that earlier, he used to bring the rotis for people who had called the shop and placed an order for them.”

However, many people would call the bakery after Mohammad had left the shop, sometimes he did not have enough rotis left in his cart.

“One day, one of his regular customers missed placing the order and thus missed his daily roti. He requested Mohammad to bring him a roti every day and leave it on the bicycle. In return, the customer promised he would leave the exact change for the roti. Mohammad agreed and the arrangement continued for a few days. Soon, others observed their system and joined in. Slowly Mohammad started leaving excess rotis.”

RDS_181216 Bicycle
The Roti Bicycle that conveniently provides rotis to people coming to pray at a mosque in Dubai Airport Free Zone Image Credit: Arshad Hussain/Gulf News reader

When he would come back, all the bread would be gone but the corresponding amount was left for him. Not a fil less.

When he explained the arrangement to the owner of the bakery, the owner asked Mohammad to leave more rotis in the box and collect the empty box later in the day. Day-by-day, the demand grew. Now, he supplies about 100 rotis every day.

A bookstore without staff

Another company that runs entirely on the basis of public trust is Dubai’s Book Hero. A book store that is open 24 hours a day, every day, without any staff to oversee the books or the payment.

All you have to do is walk into a Book Hero stall and pick a book you like. They will be marked with the price (usually Dh10 to 20). Drop the amount in the ‘Trust Box’ to make your payment.

Earlier this year, Spanish expat, Montserrat Martin, partnered with Emirati national, Mohammad Al Qubaisi to start the store.

According to Martin: “We don’t employ staff simply because we trust our customers. I visit the place once a day to replace stock and collect money. It was never a consciously made decision. The idea came about very much on its own and as a series of circumstances.

RDS_181216 Honesty Business Book Hero
This book store in Dubai doesn't have a cashier. Image Credit: Supplied

We needed the profit to cover the salaries of people involved and leave us enough to contribute to small community projects like financing stray and abandoned animals in Dubai.

Do such organisations make a profit?

Martin says the term “profit” is different to every business person. “Profit could be anything you make after covering your expenses, but, at the end of the day, it is a personal choice about how much profit you are looking to make based on what your company does and your sales.”

RDS_181216 Honesty Business Monserrat Martin
Montserrat Martin, the woman behind Book Hero Image Credit: Gulf News

Martin says the bookstore is more than just making reading affordable. According to her, the honesty based store promote a deeper concept: “The equation could simply be summarised by thinking that if we all give, we will all get. The idea is to live in cities where helping, caring, sharing responsibilities, doing good generally become a habit and not a punctual secluded act of goodwill.”

The Book Hero also sends free books to refugee camps and prisons.

“We face every single challenge a regular company faces on a daily basis. We need to sell quite a large number of books to simply make Dh1,000. Other business surely will be more lucrative but at the end of the day, we must also do what makes us happy and what brings the best within ourselves.