The UAE is among the countries where the base price of bottled water is the lowest compared to the rest of the world yet it does not necessarily translate into the prices of bottled water sold in cafes, restaurants and hotels.
International statistics comparison website NationMaster lists the UAE as 22nd out of 181 countries to have cheapest 1.5-litre bottled water as of 2014. The UAE is tied with Macedonia where a 1.5-litre bottled water is sold for Dh1.95 (53 US cents), according to polled consumers.
Greenland topped the list with the most expensive ordinary 1.5-litre bottled water at $4.57 (Dh16.77). The US and the UK are at the 34th and 36th place, respectively, with bottled water costing a little over Dh6.
In Al Safa area in Jumeirah, for example, a quick comparison of menus from different restaurants shows that a small bottled water, usually 500ml in Dubai, can be sold for Dh4, Dh5, Dh7, Dh11, and Dh13.
Bhutan gets the top spot for having the cheapest 1.5-litre bottled water at a base price of 0.31 cents or Dh1.14, followed by Nepal and Bangladesh at Dh1.25.
NationMaster’s published price for the UAE is similar to the price of bottled water if you go to local hypermarkets. But try to buy from some cafes and restaurants, and the story goes altogether different.
In Al Safa area in Jumeirah, for example, a quick comparison of menus from different restaurants shows that a small bottle of water, usually 500ml in Dubai, can be sold for Dh4, Dh5, Dh7, Dh11, and Dh13.
So if the base price for a 1.5-litre bottle is Dh1.95, this means you are paying at least double the price for less than half the amount of water if you pay Dh4 on a small bottle of water.
For the bigger-sized bottle of water, which is usually of the 1 litre-1.5 litre volume range, the price in the same area ranges between Dh5 and Dh15. The mark-up is between 156 per cent and 669 per cent.
The story is similar if you go to the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) area where more upscale cafes and restaurants are located. A small bottle of water on the menu could cost you an average of Dh5, but you can buy the same thing for Dh2 at a supermarket.
For restaurants in the Jumeirah Lakes Towers and Dubai Marina area, the price range is the same but the minimum is Dh3 for a small bottle of local water. The most expensive big bottle of water is Dh14 while the cheapest is pegged at Dh5.60.
Gulf News contacted a number of cafes, restaurants, and hotels to understand how they calculate how much mark-up they should put on something as basic as bottled water, but received no feedback.