Browse the malls, supermarkets and online shops in Dubai and you’ll find thousands of familiar international brands. Everything from the latest high street trends to confectionary brands and cosmetics are imported, literally, by the crateload.
Delve just a little deeper, however, and you’ll find craftsfolk and entrepreneurs making a name and a business for themselves in Dubai. From emerging design labels to hipster grooming specialists, check out our pick of the local brands you need to know about.
While not exactly new – the designer label’s works have featured on many a model for a few years – Amira Haroon’s threads are very popular. The Dubai designer launched a first ready-to-wear label for women back in 2009 and has since become a regular at catwalk events such as Fashion Forward in the city as well as style events in Paris, London and New York. The Spring/Summer 2017 collection is available direct from Haroon’s website or can be found at Urbanist in BoxPark. Lacy skirts, finely detailed tunics and cotton halter-neck dresses feature in a collection that would look excellent at a stylish evening soirée.
Beau & Eve
Manufactured right here in Dubai, the simple coffee scrubs of this beauty company will turn your expectations of body scrubs on their head. Everything is made with 100 percent natural ingredients, making this a cruelty-free, vegan company. The modern organic range includes body scrubs to keep your skin looking fresh and healthy from the first use. Scents include Salalah Oud and Fleur De Marrakech. If you’ve struggled with cellulite, varicose veins, acne or stretch marks, or you’re just a little bit tired-looking, Beau & Eve’s products could be the answer to your problems. All products are produced in small batches in a warehouse in Al Quoz
to ensure quality standards are monitored and maintained.
Child of the Tropics
We first saw local fashion label Child of the Tropics at Ripe Market and now keep an eye out for the summery brand at pop-up events around the city. The defining word for the fashion label is “summer”, but when you have year-round sunshine, as we’re lucky enough to have in Dubai, it’s easily accessible all year round. From sporty swimsuits to flowery blazers and tasselled bohemian tops, all the brand’s collections have a fun holiday clothing sense about them. If you can’t wait to find them at one of the increasingly frequent pop-ups and locally made craft fairs that take place in the city, check out the website, where you can buy the products directly.
You need to up your souvenir game. The kitsch gifts you’ve been buying from souks are fast-losing their appeal and a more stylish memento of your time in Dubai is needed. Welcome to Dubai Love. Founded by an architect and an interior designer on a quest to give beautifully made gifts that represented their experiences of Dubai to friends in Europe, it sells original clothing, art and homewares with distinctive graphic designs. From sleek area maps and A-to-Z posters to bold T-shirts and postcards, these are modern, precise and distinctive products for the style-conscious.
Regal Tower, Business Bay, www.dubailove.ae (04 321 1590).
Juice isn’t hard to come by in Dubai. Just drop by any supermarket or community store and there are gallons of the stuff on shelves. Cold-pressed juices made with hydraulic machinery that applies nine tons of pressure to fruit and vegetables to extract between three and five times as much nutritional content than a standard juicer, however, are harder to come across. Essentially, founded by Wiebke and John Katsoudas, is a juicing company that is pure Dubai and dedicated to healthy nutrition. Adopting the delivery service model, which works well with web businesses, Essentially drops off juices on your doorstep and supplies detailed nutritional information about all their products. From detox black lemonade with charcoal and Himalayan salt to a mineral-rich green concoction with kale, cucumber, parsley and more, there is a nutritional juice out there waiting for you.
Essentially UAE, Mayfair Building, Green Community, www.essentially.ae (04 889 5753).
The pitch behind this organic food delivery company is as simple and refreshing as the fruit and vegetables it delivers to homes around the city. Simply subscribe to a Farmbox category and you will have fresh produce sent straight to your door every week direct from the source. The Dubai-based company works with certified organic farms, mostly family-run European businesses, and prides itself on the efficiency of the supply chain. This means it is usually only a matter of days from harvest to your door and all without being sprayed with unnecessary chemicals. You’ll never waste time in supermarkets again, as a guaranteed delivery of fruit and veg arrives direct to your doorstep.
As much social enterprise as business, the Fatima Bint Mohamed Initiative is a Dubai Design District carpet showroom with an uplifting vision. The sustainable initiative sells rugs and home furnishings made by female weavers in Afghanistan and all proceeds from carpet sales go towards salaries, as well as health benefits and education for the craftswomen and their families.
FBMI, Building 2, Dubai Design District, www.fbmi.ae (04 243 2327).
The global cosmetic industry is dominated by a handful of century-old multinationals. Industry reports value the global cosmetics industry in the tens of billions of dollars and right here in Dubai is a beauty blogger the New York Times says could be the world’s most influential. Huda Kattan, with her 20 million Instagram followers (check @hudabeauty) and more than 100 million YouTube video views is a social-media phenomenon.
As well as posting tutorials, tips and advice for creating fuller lips and more defined eyebrows Huda has released a range of cosmetics internationally from her base in Dubai. The former finance worker-turned beauty mogul continues to blog regularly and now has a range of cosmetics designed and developed in Dubai.
Huda Beauty, www.shophudabeauty.com.
Another star of the local market scene we have grown used to recognising is Australian designer Melissah Russo. Known for a Bohemian jewellery range and hand-crafted accessories sold under the name Lady Mauve, Melissah also produces chic kimonos. All products are made at a studio in Dubai and have global influences taken from experiences walking the markets and streets of more than 30 countries. Usually found at Ripe Markets, you can see the jewellery range which includes punky rings, ornate necklaces and pretty bangles.
Lady Mauve, www.facebook.com/byladaymauve (050 465 3359).
Made By Native
Quality craftsmanship, bespoke styling, timeless looks and proud heritage stand out for this Dubai-based leather specialist. As surprising as it may be to find hand-crafted goods made with the finest quality Italian leather being manufactured in Dubai, this impossibly hip brand does exactly that. The storied and, frankly, beautiful products include wallets, notebook covers and tote bags with distinctive hand-stitched yellow finishes. Spotted at pop-ups, design fairs and locations around the city’s art community Made By Native also sells via its website.
Made By Native, www.madebynative.com.
An insistence on quality and a love of chocolate are the guiding principles at this craft chocolatier in Al Quoz. Like much of the city’s finest independent businesses, Mirzam calls Alserkal Avenue home and in an otherwise unassuming warehouse you’ll find sweet-toothed staff hard at work in the region’s only bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturing plant. Despite the industry on show, the goings on at Mirzam are just as artistic as any of the neighbours. As with all the best small businesses, there is a genuine passion behind the whole endeavour and founders keep abreast of the chocolate world with taste-testing trips around the globe to sample new flavour combos, observe the latest trends and pick up on chocolatey science. Flavours such as date and fennel, crunchy roast pumpkin seeds and sea salt or rose infused dark chocolate give an insight into the artistic genius on display and for true chocolate-lovers this Dubai brand is a must-try.
Mirzam, Warehouse 70, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, www.mirzam.com.
The healing power of nature in a bottle. That is the promise from this cool homegrown grooming company with an intriguing range of potions stocked around the city. Found at independent outlets such as S*uce and Greenheart Organics, pop-up markets and online, Mr Fox specialises in well-being products and cosmetics with a distinctively ethical ethos. From energising roll-on essential oils to deluxe beard-grooming lotions, the subtle styling and hip approach to skincare and apothecary are on trend for cool, urbane types looking for an alternative to mass-market, international brands.
Mr Fox, www.mrfox.ae (055 987 5008).
Dubai-based designer Salma Awwad has worked for fashion houses including Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani and Alexander Wang and seems set to take the fashion world by storm with her own lines, which are designed and manufactured in the UAE. Known for signature jackets with butterfly motifs and statement T-shirts with bold styles, the Sawwad brand exhibits substance as well as style. Sawwad sells clothes direct through the website, which operates both as a retail point and inspirational mood board for aspiring designers and entrepreneurial creatives in the city. Frequent blog posts also give an insight into the developing empire’s growth, including first appearances on television to top tips on how to start a fashion label, turning a dream into reality.
Sawwad, www.sawwad.com (050 250 4456).
Buy local brands here
Wanting to support local businesses and find original and bespoke designs is one thing, knowing where to find them is another matter entirely. Check out the boutique, market and webstore below for updates from homegrown Dubai brands.
We’ve seen the thing brilliant, creative, and inspiring people make at craft fairs, pop-up shops and art markets for years. Finding them year-round and at a moment’s notice is not always so simple. Little Majlis, however, is an online store that gathers many of the finest crafty folk in Dubai in a single space.
Brands like 2birds, an Australian duo with screen-printed dresses and textiles use the platform to sell directly to customers. It’s also popular with small enterprises like The Joinery Shop Dubai, which sells wooden gifts and artworks. From stationery designers to jewellery makers and fashion brands, to interior-design companies the breadth of local products available makes an afternoon browsing Little Majlis a viable alternative to a trip to the mall. Founded by Dubai residents Anna Bolton-Riley and Annabelle Fitzsimmons, Little Majlis is always on the look-out for new local brands, so if you have an idea it could be a gateway to starting your own business.
Little Majlis, www.littlemajlis.com.
Time Out loves Ripe Market, in no small part because of the local brands represented at the market each week. As well as the abundance of organic produce and foods available, there are handmade and locally designed jewellery collections, fashion, accessories and knick-knacks to make perfect gifts.
Sat 9am-3pm. Times Square Center, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.ripeme.com.
Style, quality and fitting in with the concept of the brand are the watchwords at this boutique. If a design is good enough, then the style mavens at S*uce will include it, whether it’s local or not. The regional brands, up-and-coming designers and limited edition collaborations on everything from shoes to homewares are often the most original conversation pieces to be picked up on a Dubai shopping trip.
S*uce, Village Mall, Jumeirah Beach Road, www.shopatsauce.com (04 344 7270).