Innovate, inspire, influence: A look at 10 Emirati women run businesses

August 28, 2023 | By Rupkatha B

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If you think about it, even 15 years ago the phrase ‘riadat al’aemal’ – that translates to entrepreneurship in English – didn’t even properly exist in Arabic parlance. Yet the spirit of entrepreneurship always existed in the UAE ever since the time of pearl diving and fishing.

From humble beginnings as corner shops to bustling trade in souks to globally known mega-businesses – if anything, the undying spirit of entrepreneurship has continued to evolve. Over the decades creating an ecosystem that’s driven by constant innovation and a real urge to make a difference in the community, country and the world.

Entrepreneurship plays a key role in the UAE’s economic framework. The UAE’s “Fifty Economic Plan” clearly outlines entrepreneurship as a strategic priority with a goal “to stimulate entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises, spread the culture of entrepreneurship among future generations and establish the position of the UAE as a global hub and destination for entrepreneurship.” A vision that has constantly fuelled innovation and the unquenchable thirst to excel.

There was a time when the UAE’s retail landscape was largely driven by concepts/brands imported into the region. But today we are arguably in a ‘From the UAE to the World’ era that’s all set to get even more exciting and dynamic as we look ahead.

On Emirati Women’s Day (August 28), here’s a look at 10 Emirati women entrepreneurs driving the UAE retail industry forward.

Amna Sultan Al Habtoor, Founder, Arcadia: Arcadia is a Dubai-based niche fragrance brand that creates unisex, cruelty & toxic chemicals free, sustainable scents. Al Habtoor aims to establish Arcadia as a meaningful lifestyle brand be that with new product extensions or entering new markets.

AlReem AlAmmari, Founder, Baaqah: An online flower delivery platform with a long-term goal to expand to international markets. Since the demand for flowers is high, Al Ammari is confident that she will be able to achieve this goal before 2025, while building access to artists and smaller businesses to sell on Baaqah.

Heba Al Fazari, Founder & CEO, Coveti: An artificial intelligence (AI)-powered luxury fashion e-commerce shopping platform. The platform uses AI to automate content creation process to generate content and images tailored to each customer’s specific needs, while displaying the most relevant products to customers in a manner that is most likely to result in conversions.

Alia Lootah & Noora Bin Kalban, Co-Founder, Medaf Studio: A community art space thatstrongly believes in diversity, inclusion and is keen tobridge age-related gaps between generations through art. With an aim to give back to the community, Medaf Studio seeks to uplift skills and offer space for upcoming artists.

Qadreya Al Awadhi, Founder & CEO, Bumblebee: A young Emirati entrepreneur in her late-20s who runs a homegrown business of readymade frozen meal plans for babies and toddlers and has been selected to be part of a United Nations Women’s Programme.

Shaikha Eissa Lutfi, Founder, She Burger: This brand which has been named among the ‘Top 10 Best Burgers of Dubai’ started from the founder’s kitchen. As its popularity grew, even among the Dubai Royals, the brand expanded in the UAE, and now has a cloud kitchen as well as presence in Saudi Arabia.

Zainab AlMousawi, Founder, To The Moon and Back: AlMousawi moved to Melbourne, Australia for higher studies in 2008 and returned to the UAE after a decade in 2018. In between studies, she worked in multiple cafés around Melbourne and obtained certificates in hospitality and coffee preparation and became one of the UAE’s first Emirati baristas.

Tahany Taher, Founder, HAYAWIIA: From a fledging e-commerce business to a distribution-based company with exclusive rights for over 50+ healthy products available in major supermarket chains in the UAE. HAYAWIIA is planning to roll out a number of other verticals in 2023 and beyond.

Shafia Ali Alkhyeli, Founder, SOUL Interior Studio: An Emirati brand that is focusing on creating new concepts for the local market. Founded in 2021, in two years the company has expanded from 3 to 29 employees and aims to have a group of specialists for each segment of interior design.

Abeer Sultan Al Ameri, Founder, Salud Design: This UAE-based home decor company specialises in high-end, luxurious lines featuring the best of materials, fabrics and craftsmanship.

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