The tipping culture in the United Arab Emirates has evolved into a significant financial support for service sector workers, often equating to a second salary. While not mandatory, tipping is customary, reflecting customer appreciation. The absence of a fixed tipping amount or consensus means practices vary, with some offering 10-15% of the bill, while others might simply round up the amount.
Abdul Waheed, a Careem captain, shared how factors like cleanliness and personal hygiene influence customers’ tipping habits. He recounted receiving a Dh1,000 tip for a timely intercity service. Similarly, waiter Benga Tamen Ivo at Couqley highlighted the role of personal connection in receiving substantial tips, mentioning a memorable Dh700 tip from a couple, which led to a lasting friendship and repeated patronage.
In the digital age, tipping has adapted to online platforms. Umair Ali, a Washmen delivery driver, noted the prevalence of digital tipping, yet emphasized the value of personal interactions. He recalled a generous tip received during Christmas, reflecting the sentiment that such gratuities often go towards additional expenses or supporting families back home.
The distribution of tips varies by company policy. Some establishments distribute them equally among staff, while others allow individual retention. Delivery apps, for instance, offer a tipping option during payment, with 100% of the amount going to the rider. Careem’s general manager, Antonio Al Asmar, highlighted their app’s feature enabling customers to tip drivers easily and conveniently, either digitally or in cash. Washmen’s operations manager, Sundus Awan, discussed the app’s fair distribution system for tips, emphasizing their role in supplementing drivers’ incomes and supporting comfortable living standards in Dubai.
At Couqley, assistant restaurant manager Duncan Kabiru noted that prioritizing customer care naturally encourages tipping, with a fair distribution system among restaurant staff. This illustrates how tipping in the UAE not only reflects customer satisfaction but also significantly contributes to the livelihoods of service sector workers.
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