In a place where massive palm-shaped islands are created out of desert sand (94 million cubic meters of it, by the way), police drive around in Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Aston Martins ($1.79 million each) and indoor ski hills eclipse even the most outrageous of carbon footprints around the world, Dubai is simply an odd, dare we say ‘bizarre’ cornucopia of human contentiousness.
It wouldn’t be totally inaccurate to describe the city as the ‘Disneyland of the desert’, or perhaps as a real-life, ‘Sim City’. However you choose to describe it, it would seem unlikely that very much else coming out of Dubai would hold much surprise.
And this brings us to the latest development in the OTT (that would be ‘over-the-top’ for those not savvy with the texting lingo) world of ever-sunny Dubai. It seems Carrefour UAE has decided to up its ‘street cred’ when in comes to the in-cred-ible world of glitz, glam and just totally outrageous.
It has in essence, moved off-shore, so to speak with its latest product innovation – the world’s first sail-thru supermarket which was unveiled recently at Dubai Marina by Hani Weiss, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Retail.
The Carrefour Bites and More by the Shore (we’re thinking the name could use some tweaking, but we do love headlines that just write themselves!), will be operational six days a week, from 10am to 6pm (subject to weather conditions… which we’re guessing could be in the shape of sand storms). This floating mini-supermarket will be capable of serving, according to the French grocer, ‘super-yacht tenders, jet skiers and even beach goers’.
“The floating supermarket is expected to see the greatest demand from its order-for-delivery model, with yachts, sun bathers, jet skiers and any other people on the shore able to call the supermarket (056 400 3659) and have their order delivered via a skiff that is towed behind the floating mini mart.”
Now, we don’t mean to be a wet blanket on this plan, that somebody obviously spent time thinking about, putting together, ultimately believing that it was a really cool idea. But really? Is this the last element in the ‘Things missing in Dubai’ category? “Ok, we can tick that one off now.”
To be honest, we’re thinking this is actually a pretty ridiculous concept. Think about one particular aspect – alcohol. We all know Dubai is fairly liberal with consumption of alcohol in restaurants, bars and hotels, but clearly cracking an ice cold beer, or pouring a chilled glass of Chardonnay on the beach – while a very enjoyable thing to do – is also quite an unlikely thing to happen. Of course there are other things in life besides alcohol, or at least so the Belly Buzz gang is told.
Do super-yacht parties in Dubai risk failure and their hosts extreme social ridicule if, God forbid, they run out of sour cream and onion Pringles? Or how about those jet skiers, when suddenly the urge hits them: “I think I need some Famous Amos cookies, otherwise I just can’t go on.”
Or maybe its really those people on the beach… needing a cool drink or an ice cream. Wow, that one almost makes sense… except for one, teeny, tiny flaw. If your main customer is going to be the land-based one, then what exactly is the logic of servicing them from … the water?
But wait, there’s more… there is also an Aqua Pod app that customers can download onto their phones and order online. We’re thinking great for the super-yacht gang, good for the beach goers, but for the jet skiers, not so good.
Along with the phone app is a custom-built Aqua Pod delivery boat that will serve the various clientele, including three specific beaches. Oh, and it takes up to 45 minutes.
“Carrefour Bites and More by the Shore is a world-first for Carrefour and our industry,” said Weiss during the launch. “More than ever, a successful business depends on continually reinventing itself to stay ahead of customer needs and expectations.” Indeed.
From a logistics point of view, the floating supermarket’s back-end logistics is essentially the same as land-based stores. At night the Aqua Pod docks at the marina, and deliveries for replenishment of stock will be made in the early morning.
All-told there are more than 300 products on-board, according to Weiss. These include hot and cold snacks, ice cream, fresh food and beverages, and select non-food items such as sunscreen and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.
“These have been carefully selected to match customer needs while at sea and on-shore,” he added. Presumably the pharma supplies include extra-strong painkillers for the jet skiers to dull the remorse of dropped iPhones.
At least, unlike the giant indoor ski hill, the Aqua Pod floating supermarket has some fragments of environmental sustainability, being powered by electric outboard motors that are recharged overnight, and a design which includes a ‘seabin’ used to vacuum up floating debris – presumably the wrappers from the Famous Amos cookies discarded by the wayward jet skiers – into a holding tank for disposal on land.
As for the Belly Buzzers, we’ve created an office pool for bets on just how long before the floating supermarket is sunk by its own absurdity. Just let us know if you want in on it!