Inside her small kiosk called Wayednice, located inside the Al Raha Gardens Plaza shopping centre, Reem Mahmoud, a Lebanese mother of two, showcases a curated range of Middle Eastern tableware, home accessories and other colourful, artistic items.
Surrounded by a red ceramic figure resembling the traditional Ottoman dress kaftan, fancy appetiser trays and Arabian tea cups with inscriptions engraved on them, Mahmoud – one of Wayednice’s co-founders – says she wishes to represent the UAE with her products.
“I was born in Senegal where multiculturalism is common,” she says. “Since moving to the UAE, I have been fascinated by this country’s people, culture and traditions.”
Mahmoud, 33, came up with the name Wayednice (very nice) because she noticed how Emiratis constantly use the word “wayed”.
When she launched the Wayednice concept in May at the Ataya charity exhibition, held under the patronage of Shaikha Shamsa Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, she was delighted by the warm response from customers.
“The Ataya exhibition, which features the artwork of some of the region’s most talented designers, was the starting point of my new journey,” says Mahmoud.
Wayednice also sells personalised, creative souvenirs as well as clothing. Mahmoud herself handpicks the products from across the region – mostly from Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Morocco.
The kiosk also features the creations of Emirati designers and entrepreneurs. “Emiratis are more than welcome to showcase their products in my shops,” Mahmoud says. “Already I have a few Emirati designers working with me.”
A frequent traveller, she says she often tries to find captivating items on her trips to surprise her potential customers with new fashions and designs.
“At times, I have a great demand for certain products such as the kaftan metal tray along with colourful glasses,” says Mahmoud, who’s been living in Al Raha Gardens for eight years with her husband and sons.
She says she makes the effort to redecorate the kiosk every morning.
“I decided to have a kiosk rather than a shop because it would allow me to see if the business concept is successful or not,” Mahmoud said. “So far, I am pleased with the result and soon, further expansion will be scheduled.”