Alexander McNabb

Dubai Puzzle: ‘When’s A Gardener Not a Gardener?

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“Oh hello, it’s you. My secretary said it was a Mr Brown.”

“I gave her a false name. You were busy for three days solid when I was using my real name.”

“She said you wanted to buy a shiny. But you’ve already got a shiny.”

“Like I said. You wouldn’t see me.”

“So you’re not buying a shiny.”


“You’re just coming to complain about something, aren’t you?”

“On the nail, I must say.”

“Right. Out with it then.”

“You’ve arrested my gardener for washing my car.”

“I should hope so, too. If he was washing cars, he should be an accredited car washer.”

“Well, he’s not. He’s a gardener. But he washes cars on the side. It’s been a perfectly satisfactory arrangement for years now and I don’t see why a real estate developer is able to dictate who does and does not wash my car.”

“We’ve only got your best interests at heart, you know. This sort of criminality usually starts small, but there’s no knowing where it’ll end up. Nip it in the bud, we say. Gardeners garden, car washers car wash.”

“But there are no car washers. I’d have to take it to a petrol station and pay Dhs30 to get it washed. The gardener washes it every day for a hundred dirhams a month. Why are you even getting involved in the who or how of washing my car?”

“We’re the developer. We’re responsible for contractors and services.”

“But you’re just restricting us all the time. You said we could dare to dream and live to love with an executive lifestyle in the heart of the new economic miracle! You said it was about the freedom to live a life of dreams. But I can only have my shiny painted Dubai beige, I can’t have my own satellite dish, I have to use your telecom provider, your gardeners, your contractors and your maintenance company. Where are the freedoms? I can’t even get my car washed the way I want.”

“I’m sorry, but the law’s the law. He’s an illegal car washer moonlighting out of company hours and we won’t have it. You’re lucky we don’t fine you for employing illegal labour.”

“I suppose you’ll be telling me I can’t plant this tree in my garden next.”

“What tree?”

“The new palm tree my gardener’s planted.”

“Oh, that’ll have to come out. He’s not an approved gardening contractor.”


“I thought you said he was washing your car?”

“He was.”

“Well, he’d be a car washer, then. Right lads, come on, back it up. We’ll have this thing uprooted in no time! You’d better pop indoors and have a nice cup of tea and calm down. Meanwhile, we’ll have your grassy patch back to the approved uniform green sward in no time.

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