Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 13 December 2019

Emiratis show off handmade perfumes and fine crafts for Dubai Mall bazaar

About 30 families, some low income, are selling their wares at a five-day exhibition that runs until Saturday

Handcrafted perfume and fine goods are among the Emirati-made items for sale at a special Dubai Mall bazaar this weekend.

The sale is giving UAE citizens - some of them low income families - the opportunity to exhibit and sell their wares to the shopping centre's huge crowds.

Among the 30 families displaying their products this week was Umm Saif. The Emirati, 48, been making perfumes and tailoring clothes since she dropped out of high school in her early teens.

Her husband is a fisherman whose business costs the family more money to maintain then it makes. The couple struggled to make ends meet and support their six children until Umm Saif began making perfumes for her neighbours in the old district of Al Mizhar 1.

Such exhibitions are a boost for her small business, which has translated into a small but solid social media following.

“People started to know me through exhibitions and now I receive orders via WhatsApp and social media,” said Umm Saif.

She set up an Instagram account under the name @Yadooh_3shba, or "granny herb", and has since amassed more than 12,000 followers.

The crafts trade may not be a typical profession for modern Emiratis, but since the Ministry of Community Development began a project to promote them, more than 2,000 Emirati families have registered.

Clothes and accessories by Aversa Design on display at the exhibition in Dubai Mall. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Clothes and accessories by Aversa Design on display at the exhibition in Dubai Mall. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Working with the Ministry of Social Affairs in Kuwait, the project – open to Emirati and Kuwaiti families – gives producers a platform to showcase their wares.

During the busy season, over Ramadan and Eid, Umm Saif makes around Dh15,000 selling her home-made perfume and incense mixes. Her bestseller is a perfume blend called Mkhamareya.

“I mix it and then cover it and keep it stored for two months before bottling it and selling it," she said.

“We do this to make the scent more intense and last longer."

Umm Saif learnt perfume making from her mother in law and began sewing from age 13 after being taught by her mother and aunts.

The Emirati-Kuwaiti joint exhibition in Dubai opened on Monday. It is the second one held this year, with the first organised in Kuwait in January.

But the exhibitions are not just for handicrafts. The Ali family this week presented a mobile app that was born from the frustration of a son who tired of being sent to fetch butchered meat for his mother.

Fed up with the hassle of going to a slaughterhouse, Ahmad Ali, 20, designed an app to allow people to place an order for goat, sheep or camel meat and have it delivered to their home.

Sulaiman Aldhanhani smells a perfume from Dkhoun, one of the family businesses exhibiting in Dubai this week. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Sulaiman Aldhanhani smells a perfume from Dkhoun, one of the family businesses exhibiting in Dubai this week. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The app, named Zabeehaty – or "my slaughter" – is available for download on Apple and Android phones.

Users can choose the type of meat they want, where it comes from and how they want it cut.

“If they live in Abu Dhabi, they can make the order three hours prior to delivery time,” said Mr Ali.

“And if they live in Dubai and the Northern Emirates they should make the order one day ahead.

“We deliver everywhere; whether it is a banquet at home, a gathering in a farm or a camp in the desert.”

The Emirati guarantees customers will always receive their meat as they requested it because his family’s livestock company provides it.

“Our main source of income is from the livestock company and this app has made people order more.

“People always search for the easiest option.”

To prevent waste, his sister has begun making chairs from the fur of the slaughtered livestock. She sells the furniture on Instagram @farwh.ae.

Customers peruse a stall where hand painted plates are sold. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Customers peruse a stall where hand painted plates are sold. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Fatima Kaseb, another Emirati exhibitor, fell into making handicrafts after searching for a job that would not bind her to an office all day.

Her husband, who works for the military, if often away and she wanted to work on something that would still allow her to be at home with her children.

“So I decided to come up with my own profession,” said the IT graduate.

Ms Kaseb, 34, began designing tea and coffee pots and cups decorated with crystals and stones.

“They are good for daily use. People might think they are only for decoration when they see all the crystals but they are quite sturdy and completely usable,” she said.

Thanks to the power of social media, Ms Kaseb’s business is booming across the region and has begun delivering orders across neighbouring countries.

“My best supporter was the Bahraini actress Zainab Al Askari.”

Ms Kaseb said she simply messaged Al Askari on Snapchat and offered to send her a sample of her products.

“And she immediately volunteered to showcase them through her account without asking for any charges.

“In general, she is a supporter for local businesses.”

Updated: July 18, 2019 03:54 PM

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