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  • Writer's pictureLiz Totton

Daily Photo–Snake Oil

Cobra Oil

Cobra Oil?!

In my daily photo search for all things new & different around Abu Dhabi, I stumbled upon some Snake Oil today. I kept looking around for a salesman to give me the requisite hard “Snake Oil” sell, but no one appeared. Usually in Lulu Hypermarket, if there were anyone to ask at all, they don’t speak enough English to bother asking, so I search alone like an intrepid pioneer.

I mostly shop in the Expat markets; it’s just easier to get the better part of what we consume there. I waste little time; I am in and out–nothing to see there. However, I linger a little longer in the more local markets because I never cease to see interesting products that I have never seen before. Take Cobra Oil for Hair loss. Now, this very well could be quite a common toiletry in these parts. I have no idea. What struck me as kind of funny about it, aside from it being Cobra Oil for Hair Loss—Hello!—was the obvious, to some, American allusion to “Snake Oil Salesmen.” I grew up using this term interchangeably with the term “Charlatan,” but I am not sure I ever knew what it was referring to. I know now. If you are at all curious, read this NPR entry. It dates back to the Wild West in the United States and over, of course, it smacks of xenophobia, but it’s an interesting little peek into US history, if you have any interest in reading up.

I think it’s interesting that there is absolutely no market research done here given the majority expat population here in Abu Dhabi (though, of course, the majority of the majority is from South East Asia & the Indian sub continent which is worth noting here). You know the kind of research corporations do to learn that the product “Snake Oil,” for example, might conjure up images of charlatans and over-priced panaceas to some. Maybe they don’t care since it is obviously not marketed to westerners.

I am curious though to whom it is indeed marketed. I have had great success with friends and readers here answering my burning Daily Questions lately (perhaps ones that I am too lazy to research myself?! It’s a lot of work to have a blog, friends ;). Is the Cobra Oil on Lulu shelves made from real cobras? Is it for hair loss, energy, split ends, virility? Just curious. Does anyone know? [lg_slideshow folder=”Snake oil/”]

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