IKEA in Jeddah

Tonight I went to the IKEA store here in Jeddah. The main reason for going there was for kjøttboller (meatballs) and to check out the furniture and knick knacks. I like IKEA. I like their furnishings, the simple style of them and I particularly like their knick knacks.

I have been to IKEA stores in Australia, England, China and now Saudi Arabia. The Jeddah store is by far the worst IKEA store I have been to, one that is not really true to the spirit that is IKEA. I am not talking about the stupidity that is the segregated eating area (families in one area, bachelors in another) – especially as just across the road is the Megamall which has mixed seating in the food court on the top floor – but rather I am talking about the service levels and customer treatment in the store.

The bachelor eating area is small – 6 tables wide by 4 rows deep. The 3 table width to the left is a smoking area, to the right, a non-smoking area. Better not to try and segregate the smokers and non-smokers at all as the smokers just sat where they felt like and IKEA staff would not do anything. Better to ban smoking outright from in the store, after all, there are children present in large numbers and I did think that IKEA had a social conscience.

The store itself was laid out like all other IKEA stores, just smaller because it was in Jeddah. Maybe the Riyadh store is bigger. There were many things not displayed, near as I could see, because of the smaller size. When shopping though there were catalogues available with a note on the red/blue plastic covers that these were for use in the store. The covers noted that there were copies available in customer service on the way out. There were not. They were out of stock.

The only positive thing I could say about the trip to IKEA here was that the kjøttboller tasted the same as in every other IKEA store. However, it was not a pleasant experience eating there, or indeed shopping there. I really hope that IKEA senior management take a trip there and have a look at the absolutely worst IKEA store in the world.

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You’ve Never Really Travelled Until You’ve Travelled With An Ironing Board

’tis true. How boring international travel can be. Lots of waiting around. The same old boring things – taxis, check in counters, Duty Free Shops that are all the same no matter which country you are in and just waiting, waiting, waiting.

Liven up that next trip. Travel with an ironing board. I did!

It started in Beijing. Whilst shopping for some things, an ironing board found it’s way into our shopping trolley. Not being one to refuse the unexplained when it happens, we paid for the ironing board and took it back to the hotel.

Well, that was the plan. Getting into the taxi was fun though as the ironing board was about 4 cms longer than the taxi was wide so some angled pushing and shoving managed to get it into the taxi and the door closed with no breakages.

Then arriving at the hotel “would sir care for assistance in getting that to sir’s room?”

“Nope. I’ll manage” says sir 🙂

Walk through lobby of five star hotel with ironing board under the arm all the time smiling at the Japanese guests the Chinese staff are fussing over. The Japanese guests laugh.

Up to the room, park the ironing board.

A couple of days pass and it is time to travel so I call the Bell Hop to come collect the bags from the room … and the ironing board. He smiles and scratches his head wondering how he’ll get it on the trolley as it is 10 cm longer than the trolley. He balances it.

Down to the lobby, check out and catch a taxi. Again, the ironing board is 3 cms too wide for the taxi. Squeeze it all in to two taxis and drive to the airport. Walk through the security checks with the ironing board and check in.

“That’ll need to be checked into the oversize items check in counter sir”.

“Oh, you mean this, my ‘board’? OK, I am planning on surfing the Steppe with it”.

“Very good sir”.

Check the ironing board into the oversize items counter and go through to the aircraft.

Arrive at Ulaanbaatar (at the newly renamed Chinggis Khaan Airport) and get to the baggage collection area. Baggage handler carries out the ironing board by hand.

Collect the board and push it along with the other bags out to the car. Board fits the back of this car … it is a bigger car. Board is home now and and happy.