As people across the UAE are implored to stay at home to flatten the curve amid the coronavirus crisis, many are finding that online orders from grocery shops are taking a while to be fulfilled.
And while it's still viable to do a "big shop" from one of the larger supermarkets, and wait a while for your order to arrive, if you're in need of something quickly, or you're looking for something a little more unique, here are six options to try ...
The home-grown e-commerce brand recently launched a grocery delivery service in Dubai. Called Noon Daily, it promises next-day delivery and offers access to an array of everyday essentials, including fresh fruit, baby food, dairy products, baked goods, household items and more. The service is accessible through the Noon app and has no minimum delivery charge. Given current circumstances, Noon also offers contactless deliveries so goods will be left on the doorstep, giving customers that extra peace of mind.
2. Call your local baqala
These small local grocery stores are still operating, and are just a phone call away. Wherever you live in the UAE, you're likely to be less than a kilometre from a baqala, simply search for "grocery" or "baqala" in Google Maps, and select distance as your filter to find a small corner store that delivers.
These small shops – the types of places that still use an A4 notebook to write down every purchase – are so much a part of UAE culture, it's great to support them.
They're the perfect options for eggs, milk, bread, snacks and some fresh fruit and veg; but they're not as well stocked as larger supermarkets.
Zoom shops across the UAE are now also delivering.
3. Try Essentials by Deliveroo
While not available in every suburb, Deliveroo has started an "essentials" delivery service. There's one that covers the JLT, Dubai Marina and Media City areas: you can order pantry items, including rolled oats (Dh14.50), Coco Pops (Dh16), fusilli pasta (Dh10.50), long-life milk (Dh7.50), olive oil (Dh50), chocolate bars, crisps and, of course, hand sanitiser.
You can only order a maximum of two per item, however.
4. Try a speciality store
Want coffee? Why not order it online from Raw, one of the best roasteries in the UAE. Fancy South African chutney? Order it from Hyperama, a South African supermarket in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Or keen to try your hand at South Korean cuisine? You can order all the ingredients you need at 1004 Gourmet.
If it's gourmet items you're after, from free-range chicken to finger limes, Secret's Fine Foods is a good option, and plenty of boutique bakeries will send you fresh loaves, including Baker's Kitchen, while Fishbox delivers delicious fresh fish.
While some of these smaller shops are still very busy, you're unlikely to face the very long wait times those trying to order from major grocery shops are currently experiencing.
5. Use the InstaShop app
InstaShop connects people in the UAE to many different types of stores, from pharmacies to pet stores and, of course, food stores.
You put in your location, and it will let you choose a store: from Umm Suqeim in Dubai we were able to search for fresh produce from Safestway, Choithrams and Aswaaq.
And while the service is slightly less "instant" now that so many people are ordering online, it's far from an unreasonable wait. In JLT, we've found it takes about 45 minutes for small items, while larger items will usually arrive in the evening if you order them in the morning.
6. Marks & Spencer food delivery app
The retail giant launched its food delivery app in Dubai in January 2020 and, following its success, has expanded to 22 more locations across the emirate. Residents living in the following areas can now use the app, which promises next-day delivery:
Al Barsha 1, 2 and 3, Al Barsha South, Al Furjan, Al Garhoud, Al Khawaneej, Al Mizhar, Al Warqaa, Arabian Ranches, Barsha Heights, Discovery Gardens, Dubai Festival City, Dubai Land, Dubai Marina, Dubai Sports City, Emirates Hills, The Greens, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Jumeirah Islands, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Jumeirah Park, Jumeirah Village Circle, Jumeirah Village Triangle, The Meadows, Mirdif, Motor City, Nadd Al Hamar, Palm Jumeirah, The Springs, The Gardens, The Lakes, Umm Ramool, Uptown Mirdif.
The app is free to download and gives residents access to M&S's gourmet prepared meals, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and poultry, British specialities and more. However, it requires a minimum spend of Dh150.