Dubai firm delivers a one-hour DVD service

Dubai-based Lime Box does not quite yet have the reach of fellow online DVD store Netflix, but it has plans to expand.
Husband and wife movie buffs George and Christina Mikaelian started the DVD rental store after amassing a film collection of their own. Pawan Singh / The National
Husband and wife movie buffs George and Christina Mikaelian started the DVD rental store after amassing a film collection of their own. Pawan Singh / The National

Lime Box, Dubai's answer to online DVD rental store Netflix, may be tiny by comparison, but it offers a service that the American giant company could never match: one-hour delivery.

Launched in the UAE a year and a half ago, Lime Box covers areas such as Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Media City and the Meadows. But it aims to extend its reach across the city, before opening elsewhere across the country.

The company, which also rents videogames and TV series, was started by husband and wife movie buffs, George and Christina Mikaelian, after amassing a film collection of their own.

"We were talking one day and [Christina] said do you know what, there is Netflix, how about we look into that? I said that's a brilliant idea," recalls Mr Mikaelian.

The company, which has a catalogue of about 2,300 DVDs, compared to Netflix's 60,000 titles, employs two drivers.

They manage to deliver on the one-hour promise about 85 to 90 per cent of the time, according to Mr Mikaelian, but Dubai's traffic is making the target increasingly more difficult.

"When we started about a year and a half ago the traffic wasn't as bad but it's getting a bit worse so we obviously have to adjust to that," says Mr Mikaelian.

Despite the challenges, the company aims to make a 98 per cent target rate. "There are some ideas that we have and some plans in the next three to six months, so we'll see how it goes," he adds.

Catering to the many varied DVD tastes in Dubai has also been tough, but the company is stockpiling western, Arabic and Bollywood titles.

"The challenge is also kind of chicken and egg. Do you drive the content in and see what you get? Or do you try and see what people want and you get that and it kind of builds," says Mr Mikaelian.

"The way we have been dealing with that is we're saying OK there are some essentials we really need to start building into the site, some movie classics that we have to have, so we are starting to build that. Specifically with Bollywood again it's really engaging our customers and seeing what they want."

Lime Box is starting to inch into Al Barsha and wants to be able to deliver on its promise in other areas of Dubai before it expands elsewhere in the Emirates.

gduncan@thenational.ae

Published: November 4, 2012 04:00 AM

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