Etisalat - 13 days and counting.

I will admit to being a little smug as I squinted through the cloud of shisha smoke at one of my smoking companions.

James had just told me about how when he transferred his internet connection it had taken all his patience and most of his sanity to deal with the Abu Dhabi’s fibre-optic internet supplier - Etisalat.

“Oh no” I said, and then uttered the fateful words “It will be fine.” Then took another puff of grape -and-mint-bubbly-goodness and settled back in to my chair, cloud of smug  wistfully swirling around me.

You see, Mrs AD-ist and I were about to move house, 2 days from that conversation in fact. I had been to Etisalat HQ and had checked that there was fibre-optic available at the front door of the house.

Had strode in with my plan and a map of where the new compound was.
Nodded sagely at the guy directing enquiry traffic.
Chatted happily with the guy who was in charge of, well, whatever he was in charge of, as he wrote down all of the details I would need for the transfer, then wished him health and happiness.
Walked, whistling a happy tune, back to my car.

The account is in Mrs AD-ist’s name, so she went, armed with my partially filled out form into the golf ball topped building, sat for TWO hours and handed over the paperwork.

The response from the hard-pressed but friendly enough guy to M.AD’s query as to how long the process will take was simple:

“Three to five working days Ma’am”
“You don’t need anything else?”
“Three to five working days”
“That’s it then?”
“Three to five…”
“…working days. Yes I see. Well thanks a lot!”

My wife has never been rude to anyone. It’s just not in her nature, so as a result of this interaction I am surmising that there was no vindictive action by our hero in the customer service desk that would suggest placing our application for transfer at the bottom of the pile.

You see, I’ve witnessed other expats screaming gouts of vitriol at the front line of customer service folk, and I hate it. I find it embarrassing, and unnecessary. Even so, for the most part I can understand their frustration, I just wish there was another way for them to express it other than what ultimately turns into an ‘education for the little people’ exercise. All done at high volume - veins popping out on their heads, opaque gobs of spittle launched from the angry curl of their mouths.

I am doing everything I can to NOT be one of those expats… along with suppressing the strong desire to stop next to any Etisalat truck I see and light into it with a nerf-bat.

Not the people in it.

Just the truck.

Day 6 arrived.

There were Etislag trucks - 2 of them- in our compound, there were guys moving along the driveway, but as I and one other resident popped out of our doors and started walking toward them ALL found a need to get on their mobile phones and move back to the car. Tucking clip boards under arms so that they could more easily open the door with their free hand and not give off any idea that they were off the phone and so therefore could be accosted.

In hindsight I suppose I, and the other compound denizen probably looked like something from a George A Romero film…

“Interneeet… we neeeeed iiinteeeeerneeeet”

…without the problem of facial sores, or the propensity to drool.

Okay, just without the facial sores.

Snapping out of my Zombie like state I got on the phone. (Du phone for the record - for overseas folk Du is the only other Telco here).

“Sweetheart, have you called Etis-lies yet? There are trucks here…wait, no, they are leaving now.. But they were here, wanted to know if you had anything to do with them”
“No” was the reply “I’ve been in meetings, I’ll call now…”

She did, and then called me back.
“They can’t put me through to the department who controls the trucks, they can only send emails..”
“They cant give you any other numbers to help?”
“Nope, apparently all enquiries go through them now, they said someone will call back soon though so that’s good”

We were still hopeful at this point, although the weight of suspicion was beginning to hang heavy upon us.

By mid afternoon she’d phoned again. Was told, by the friendly voice at the other end of the line that they could see that she had called, and had passed on the email, but would replicate the process again.

By sending another email.

Because that work so well last time.

Again she was informed that there was nothing more she could do, as there were no other direct lines available to her.

So I hit twitter, in particular drawing attention to @EtisalatUAE about the situation.

It was like throwing a rock at a hornet’s nest - in minutes, Mrs AD had been phoned, then the phone call dropped out, and she was immediately phoned again , and again so a message could be left.

Everything was going to be okay.

We had someone on our side.

We would soon have internet.

It was the end of business on the sixth day. Tomorrow would be a new dawn, full of internet, particularly email that I could respond to utilising a keyboard that wasn’t attached to my phone, and therefore wasn’t the size of a matchbox.

The 7th day dawned.

And nothing happened.

So she called (“yes I see you’ve called… I’ll send and email to the department involved“)

I tweeted.

@Abudhabilist : Any further movement on the account? Should my wife call customer service again? Thanks for the Assist.

@EtisalatUAE : Will check for you now, apologies or the delay.

@EtisalatUAE : Okay, just heard someone will call you later today.

@Abudhabilist : Thanks… We’ll keep you posted.

Hands up all those who think that we got a phone call.

For all those who didn’t raise their hand you can have a chocolate.

For those who did raise your hands I have a great admiration for you. You see, I used to be you… all full of hope and the belief that treating people with respect (even large faceless corporations) would itself return respect… you foolish people, you lovely hopeful foolish folk. Bless you. Don’t go changing.

SO, no phone call, then the weekend, then Mrs. AD was in training for 2 days. So she called yesterday…

“Your transfer has been blocked”
“What…what do you mean blocked?”
“It’s not in progress ma’am, it has been blocked”
“I don’t know ma’am, I will send emails to the departments involved…”


This system (if indeed there is a system being followed) does not work.

Tweets to @EtisalatUAE over the past 24 hours have been unanswered, seems that there is a theme here.

All this is made more frustrating because I know there is internet in other places in the compound… my miserable computers, who aren’t blessed with anything remotely resembling understanding or tact tell me jauntily that there are wireless networks near by and ask whether I would like to connect to them.

Every time they do they test my resolve to beat at them.

I have to go and buy a nerf-bat…


  1. Matthew Webb09:38

    Nice...I don't want to put a damper on your 'blind' optimism but it took us 5 weeks to get broadband...... and that was only after I'd been into Etislalat for a face to face 'chat' for 5 days in a row, Good luck buddy!

  2. 5 weeks?

    You. Are. Kidding.

    It just doesn't make any sense that with such a small pool of folk to service it can take more than a month.

    Regarding my optimism: I think the well hath run dry. I am on the verge of turning to the dark side. My optimism gland cast aside - desiccated - all but the last drops of hope squeezed from it. I will have to resort to hiding in cafe's snatching internet where I can. Gorging upon bit-rates, drip fed from multi user routers limited to 30 minutes at a time.



    Where were we?

    Oh yes... there's already an update.

    At 3.28pm I received a message via Twitter from @EtisalatUAE stating:
    "Hi, sorry for the delay. We've asked the team to contact you asap with an update. Let us know when you hear from them :) "

    Ahem... sure. I can do that.

    Thanks for the comment Matt.

    Anyone else wanting to share their experience, please feel free to do so. Anonymously if you wish (but where is the fun in that). Just use the comments function of this blog. Please try to remain factual - poke fun by all means, but try (I know it's hard) to not be insulting.

    The more the merrier.

    People NEED to be able to vent somewhere... all one gets is the thousand yard stare in the face to face moments, so venting is nowhere near as much fun.

    5,000 people a fortnight come to this blog - that's a lot of people to vent at!

  3. From the Facebook page:

    Emma B:
    We had our fibre optic box thingy (technical I know) put on our wall over a year ago- it has never been connected and still has the wire things hanging out of it. We've given up calling them, they are {edited - because there is not evidence to suggest that they are totally without use}

    Phil P:
    Yeah it took us 3 months to get broadband, after the first 6 weeks I had to re-do my application because "they had no record of it" in the end I was lucky enough to have a friend who knew someone, 1 phone call gave the details and I was up and running in 2 days, not what you know or how much you complain just who you know, :-(

  4. Fiber09:41

    Etisalat had done a great work with fiber to the home networking. We must appreciate the people behind the work. Delays may be there in some cases, as many contractors working with them run away in recession time. So, be patient and the fiber will come in your way right to your home

  5. Thanks for your comment Fiber.

    While I am sure the logistics of setting up a network are many and varied, and even if it is indeed true that a large section of the workforce has high-tailed it (although given the amount of building still happening here I find that explanation implausible, accountants yes, technicians, no), there is no excuse for the lack of communication offered by customer service, and no effort to find a solution.

    Particularly as they are still charging us for their service. This month's fee was deducted from our account 5 days ago.

    What exactly are we being charged for?

    The privilege of NOT having internet?

    THe honour to have no meaningful contact with customer service?

    With respect to 'patience' and 'delays for some', I admire your enthusiasm for the company, but the evidence points to this situation being an accepted 'normal', and customer service universally inefficient at best, arrogant and dismissive at worst.

  6. From facebook:

    Julie T:
    There are so many....... 9 months waiting to get the sports channels....4 complaints later (3 of which because the time period for dealing with the complaint had elapsed and no one had done anything) and they still weren't connected for the world cup. Although maybe that wasn't quite so bad ;-)

    Jenny W:
    Me too!!! Thank god for my blackberry and work internet keeping me in touch with the world!

  7. Amanda09:43

    I love this... I lost all hope about 4 months ago, I now just see it as part of life's rich tapestry... in Abu Dhabi and hope I never have to deal with Etisalet again..

    I have to say I find a similar experience with others... I dread to think what my gas bill will be as I've never received one despite phoning them and asking!

  8. I agree totally Amanda. Speaking of tapestry though... I reckon, that with one phone call I could have a tapestry delivered.

    Within an hour.

    At 7pm.

    In a sandstorm.

    During a blackout.

    Probably by Camel.

    One call.


    Good luck with the gas thing... :-)

  9. We never managed to get internet. Think it was November 09 that we put in our application, was supposed to hear back with a week, chased it up after two weeks, and kept going that way until the end of Jan when we called and they suddenly had no record of our application. It's so good to be gone.

    In other news hubby got a call from ex-boss today asking if he could possibly get a flight tonight to come to AD and help them out temporarily. Unfortunately we're going away this weekend so it was a firm no, other wise you might have had Paulio there for a few weeks :)

  10. And the phone service hits keep on coming.

    Yay! For a holiday- would have been good to see The Paul though.

    Hope you are well, thanks for the comment.

    (For those interested - this comment is from Line, my coffee buddy from Coffee project 1)

  11. Jean-Marc09:51

    Dear AD,
    I love your writing skill and as much as I would like to continue reading it, I also would like to offer some help.
    Are you sorted now?
    If not, let me know and I will check it out for you.
    All the best,

  12. Thanks for the comment JM,

    No not sorted as yet... Have been meaning to update:
    Got a phone call yesterday, suggesting that there was something 'wrong' with the application.

    A complete untruth. Surely if something was wrong that would have been mentioned in one of the 10+ phonecalls that we had made.

    So... The person yesterday mentioned that our account had been referred to the complaints department, and that they would... Call us back.

    Not surprisingly, they didn't.

    Their system DID however work well enough to debit this month's fee from our bank account.

    Money we will never see again, for a service we can't access.

    Unbelievably frustrating.

    Any help would be gratefully received. Disgusting though that it takes this level of publicity to get something done...

  13. That all sounds terribly frustrating. Was the problem resolved? Or did you have to go with another company to get internet?

    I remember a friend in India getting terribly fed up about a lot of things there, from the phones, to the internet, to the rickshaw drivers which would always price gouge him for being a whitey even though he was earning local currency...

    Perhaps thats the price you have to pay living in a non-Western country?


Andrew Webber is a writer, living in Abu Dhabi with his wife, two cats and two dogs.

His first book "Erasure" was published in June 2012 and was followed in 2013 by the Prequel to Erasure, "Broken".

In 2016 Erasure was a prize winner in the Montegrappa Writing Prize - part of the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature.

For more information click the "Erasure" book cover on the left side of this site, or simply go to

Thanks for visiting.