UAE-Based Entrepreneur Sisters Savouring Sweet Success

By Muhammad Riaz Usman Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

DUBAI

Entrepreneurs start companies when they see a need in the marketplace that they can fill -- and women entrepreneurs are more adept at seeing these gaps and seizing the opportunity.

For Fatheya Al Sharif and her sister Fayeqa Al Sharif, opening up a kiosk that sells milkshakes and hot chocolate seemed like a natural business idea.

"My sister and I have travelled extensively around the world and we have found that hot chocolate and milkshakes are such an important part of the whole fun-fair experience. We feel that Dubai needs more such offering and thought it would be a wonderful idea to bring the concept here," said Fatheya.

Global Village, the leading family cultural, shopping and entertainment destination in the region, and Dubai SME, the agency of Dubai's Department of Economic Development mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise sector, have come together to support local talent by offering a 50 per cent discount to select kiosks to encourage local entrepreneurship.

Both Hugs and Fnyal Sweets -- locally-inspired desserts kiosks -- have had a very successful run after just two months of operating at Global Village.

Encouraged by the positive feedback received from family and friends for their products, Fatheya and Fayeqa, who started with hot chocolate drinks with toppings, decided to take it to the next level by opening Hugs, a specialised outlet in novelty milkshakes including Oreo, lotus and rose flavours.

The experience at Global Village has been nothing short of exhilarating for the two sisters -- who now plan to have a permanent store in Dubai.

"We are now looking for a location to set up a Hugs outlet. Since Dubai has a large number of exhibitions, fairs and entertainment destinations, we are also working on a plan to set up a mobile shop in a big vehicle to explore all the opportunities," they said.

"We are very grateful to Dubai SME and Global Village for the opportunity to showcase our idea here. The response has been fantastic and we are already exploring locations to set up a store."

For Fnyal Sweets run by Emirati sisters Hanan Alhinyami and Taiba Alhinyami, the concept stemmed from their deep desire to outdo their mother in the kitchen. Both sisters had a natural talent for desserts, baking and dabbling in chocolate and other confectionery.

The unique dessert -- called fnyal -- is made from chocolate, biscuits and cream and is shaped like a traditional Arabic tea cup, which is what fnyal means. Customers can buy an elegantly-wrapped box of five, which comes along with a fnyal, making it the perfect gift for family or friends on a special occasion.

The desserts can be eaten hot or cold and can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

"This is our first year at Global Village and the response has been amazing. People, especially women, love the concept and have been buying several boxes. The initiative by Dubai SME and Global Village to encourage SMEs is excellent -- we would not have been able to make it here without their support," Hanan said.

The sisters now plan to open a Fnyal Sweets store in Sharjah from where customers can buy these exquisite yet homely desserts.

Global Village and Dubai SME have been working closely for many years to promote the talents of young and innovative Emiratis, who are looking for opportunities to grow their businesses and engage with a broader client base across the UAE and the GCC.

The initiative is hugely beneficial to aspiring young entrepreneurs -- especially women who use the opportunity to showcase their products at Global Village as a launch pad before they formally establish their businesses elsewhere in the UAE.

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