When we first moved to Al Ain we bought bottled water from the local supermarket which is very heavy as you can imagine!
(Tap water isn’t ideal for drinking, but fine for a nice cup of tea or for boiling the carrots. The other thing is that the cold tap is rarely cold. In the summer the ‘cold’ tap is very warm as the tank is on the roof.
We quickly discovered that it made more sense to buy a water cooler for around £30 and then have 5 gallon bottles of water delivered to our apartment every week. There are a number of water suppliers and we chose Oasis. We go through two 5 gallon bottles every week which cost 9 dirhams for each bottle which is less than £2 a bottle, or £4 a week. To start you off you need to buy the plastic bottles themselves first. We bought 3 at about £6 each, so now we’ve got these bottles we only pay 9 dirhams per replacement bottle. When we eventually leave Al Ain we will get our £18 deposit back.
All you do to get water delivered by Oasis is to ring them on 600 5 222 61 and tell them where you live. You can even give them the name of a neighbour who has an account with them so they can easily locate where you live.
When the agent comes round on the appropriate day of the week you can buy books containing 10 coupons for 90 dirhams…
…which currently includes to 2 additional coupons, which means you’ll get 12 5-gallon refills for 90 dirhams (£16).
On the allotted day each week you simply leave the empty bottles outside your front door with the coupons underneath one of the bottles and you’ll be given new filled replacements when the lorry comes by.
When you buy your floor-standing watercooler, ensure that you get one which will work with the hot water tap turned off should you wish this. The first unit we bought, an Ikon (see the photo above) has both hot and cold taps, but you can’t switch off the hot tap, which we rarely use – so we are paying unnecessarily to keep this water at boiling point 24 hours a day – though the electricity cost is minimal I’m sure.
Our Ikon started leaking after a year of use, so we have just bought a Sanyo for a similar price. On this unit we can switch off the hot water heater. The Sanyo has a 2-shelf storage unit at the bottom which is quite useful, though it isn’t refrigerated even though it looks like it might be!…
The Sanyo dispenses water at a slower rate and my eldest son doesn’t think the water is as cold as the Ikon. And there’s no hot water safety slide on the hot tap as there is on the Ikon.
So if you…
- don’t mind having hot water being heated all day (with the sound of the heater kicking in from time to time
- want a safety slide on the hot tap if you have young children
- don’t need the storage space offered by the Sanyo
…then get the Ikon or something similar!
One day last year we had two 5-gallon bottles of water delivered. One was wet underneath. I carried it into the kitchen, and as I lowered it to the floor, the wet bottle slipped out of my hands and fell about one foot (20cm) maximum to the ground. The bottle cracked wide open and 5 gallons of water poured out over the kitchen floor. Luckily there’s a drain thing in the centre of the floor so within 20 minutes my young sons and I had cleaned it up, and dried the floor with cloths. I rang Oasis, told them what happened, and within 15 minutes a guy came and delivered a new bottle of water at no charge. That’s service!