A Day in the Life allows you to step into the shoes of a UAE resident to experience a typical 24 hours in their work and home life
Mini caramel crispier, dark chocolate Jaffa Cakes and armies of Colin the Caterpillars are only a few of the reasons why life is sweet for Muneera Ebrahim.
The Marks & Spencer store manager from Bahrain has dedicated the past 22 years to working for the UK-based retailer, which has expanded across the region and is known for its sumptuous food range, increasingly chic fashion line and “This is not just … ” advertising slogan.
Now, the 50-year-old is running a new branch at Mall of the Emirates, where the scent of freshly baked bread wafts throughout the cafe and mini bites fly off the shelves “like hot cakes”.
Here, The National joins the mother-of-four on a typical work day, juggling stock deliveries and staff meetings while tucking into M&S fish and chips.
6am: Starting with a latte
Ms Ebrahim starts her day early, arriving at Mall of the Emirates in plenty of time for the cafe to open at 8am.
“The smell of those freshly baked breads and pastries in the morning is amazing,” she says.
“It makes you want to eat everything but usually I stick to a Spanish latte, which is the perfect start to my day.
“I’ve tried lots of M&S food over the year and I just love it.
“When it comes to the M&S Cafe, I would definitely recommend the Tex Mex salad or my personal favourite, the fish and chips. They’re incredible.”
9am: Store patrols
Ahead of the entire store’s opening at 10am, Ms Ebrahim patrols the shop floor to make sure everything has been restocked correctly from the daily delivery.
“We receive a delivery every morning at 7am so by 10am we have to make sure everything is tidy and in place,” she says.
“I work with my commercial managers and supervisors to ensure all the seasonal displays are up to date.
“In the cafe, all of the baking must be done and all sandwiches and salads prepped.”
The area that requires the most restocking, she says, is the mini bite buckets, with chocolate brownies a firm favourite.
“We sell up to 350 boxes of mini bites every week, as well as hundreds of packs of teacakes and cookies,” says Ms Ebrahim.
“My favourites are the pistachio and almond cookies. A lot of our customers like Colin the Caterpillar cakes too, but personally I recommend the carrot cake. It’s amazing.”
Noon: Mingling with customers
After starting her career in Bahrain as a shop assistant, Ms Ebrahim worked her way up the ranks before moving to Dubai in 2018.
“Although the UAE is a GCC country, the customer base is very different to Bahrain,” she says. “There are a lot more tourists here, but the team spirit is the same.
“A lot of people have grown within the business. M&S is such a brilliant place to work and the Emirati customers are so much fun.
“We have a lot of regulars that shop here and they always remember me by my Bahrani accent, which is really nice.”
2pm: Behind the scenes
Much of Ms Ebrahim’s day is spent in meetings or taking care of admin to make sure everything runs smoothly on the shop floor.
“Mall of the Emirates is the newest M&S store so there’s a lot to oversee,” she says. “I need to constantly follow up with vendors and contractors to make sure everything is done on time.
“At around 2pm, it’s time for the second shift briefing where we update the staff about what the priorities are for the afternoon. It’s non-stop, every minute of every day is busy and I usually do around 20,000 to 30,000 steps every day when I’m at work.”
5pm: Yellow sticker time
The afternoon is also usually “reduction time” when the yellow stickers come out and prices are slashed.
“We want all of the breads to be sold on the day they are made, so you’ll see stickers ranging from 10 per cent to 75 per cent off, which is a really good bargain,” says Ms Ebrahim.
“It all depends on quantity and if there’s a lot to sell we might even start marking fresh items down in the morning.
“My advice would be to go to the Dubai Mall for reduced items as it closes a bit later and we tend to sell everything in Mall of the Emirates."
7pm: Home time
When Ms Ebrahim arrives home in Mirdif, she cooks for her four grown-up children and husband, using ingredients she has snapped up at work.
“I always buy from M&S because the food is such great quality,” she says. “I love cooking and my favourite ingredients are the huge pasta shells.
“I like to stuff them with sautéed meat and bake it in the oven with cheese on top. My children love it.”
After dinner, Ms Ebrahim relaxes with an Arabic coffee ahead of another day on the shop floor.
“Every day is a joy and Al-Futtaim really looks after their staff,” she says. “Leading a strong team is amazing and I encourage everyone to visit us at Mall of the Emirates.”