The Santa premium

Sometimes it pays off if you get to know Arabic

With all the indications pointing to a boom in retail spending in the UAE this month, malls across the country are using Santas to lure customers from their competitors. The importance of having the best Santa has created a kind of price war, with one company that supplies Santas admitting it will pay as much as Dh1,000 an hour to those ready to work on December 25.

But before you slip into a red fur-trimmed suit and practice saying "Ho ho ho", there's a catch. The top rate is only for those who are proficient in both English and Arabic. As The National reported yesterday, in shopping centres like Dubai's Wafi Mall, you can pay Dh60 to meet Santa. In return you will get discount vouchers for stores in the mall. But will enough people pay that to return the mall's investment in bilingual Santas? The next nine days will show if the Santa premium was worth it.

Meanwhile, it’s heartening to see such a demand at a time when there are increasing concerns over the perceived danger to Arabic in an English-dominated world, with educators and parents alike mulling over strategies to bolster the language. Creative solutions like this one could be effective, especially if you end up being paid Dh1,000 an hour.