For those of you whose purses ring hollow or don’t particularly care for fashion, there’s more at this year’s Al Reem Ramadan Bazaar than you might think.
The Wafi Mall event hosts designers from all over the region, showcasing hand-made abayas, gowns, dresses, children’s clothing and more – all for a pretty penny.
What you might not have heard about is the bazaar’s culinary entrepreneurs. Squeezed between rows of silk and satin are platters of nutella-stuffed ma’moul, lotus-topped butter biscuits, toffee-lollipops and all sorts of delectable desserts made by privately-owned businesses, many of which are run from home.
One such business is Simsim Délices, founded by banker-turned-baker Asma Abdlmuhdi and her partner May Asmar. Their business has turned Palestinian ma’moul into a trendy affair, boasting a tasty selection of stuffed sweet varieties ranging from traditional pistachio to the ever-popular cookie butter.
Around the corner is mother-of-four Bana Diab, who opened up her healthy snacks business, Lazaza, to show parents and children that nutritious can also mean delicious. Operating entirely from her house, Diab cooks and jars a collection of wholesome spreads including chocolaza (hazelnut-chocolate), peanut butter, pistachio butter and all-natural cream cheese.
Some creators successfully strayed off the path of familiar territory. Rocky Road Emraty is one such example. Its founder, a 31-year-old Emirati woman, came up with the idea of chocolate chunks while experimenting in her kitchen. From there, her humble business grew to include fudge-esque bites of creamy pistachio, frosty strawberry and, of course, rocky road.
For those not feeling particularly adventurous, there are packages of hand-pressed dates at a vibrant, Ramadan-themed booth run by Medina designer Al Jawharh Saad and her 18-year-old nephew, Omar. Other must-tries are Saudi Arabian ma’moul at Dawaaq; toffee-on-a-stick at House of Sweets; kiwi-lemonade at Vanilla Cake; and ketchup-injected (you’ll see) chicken burgers at Flavors World.
For all its glitz, the Al Reem Ramadan Bazaar has proven to be a leg-up for small and upcoming food-related businesses.
Abdulmuhdi, Diab and several other booth-runners mentioned that there is always a marked increase in sales and inquiries after participating in previous bazaars and similar events. Many of these businesses lack physical stores and so, rely heavily on face-to-face networking, social media and word-of-mouth. Opportunities like the bazaar allow these homegrown entrepreneurs to showcase their wares (at affordable prices to boot).
Al Reem Ramadan Bazaar runs from June 8 to 11, beginning at 8 PM and lasting until midnight.