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DUBAI: Women entrepreneurs in the UAE are creating ripples in the economy, empowering other women, and breaking stigmas by building thriving businesses in a male-dominated world.
One of the leading lights of this movement is UAE-based woman entrepreneur, the CEO and founder of Tashas Group, Natasha Sideris. A psychology student and a culinary specialist, Sideris has been spicing up the UAE’s food scene since 2005 when she launched the company.
The company owns four restaurant brands: Tashas, Flamingo Room by Tashas, Avli by Tashas and Galaxy Bar. These brands are guided by three core principles: Beautiful food, stunning environments and engaging service.
Sideris’s journey was nothing short of a miracle because she had no track record or proof of concept to claim while she was setting up shop and the lenders were generally hesitant to release funds. She persevered for 23 years and reached a position that inspires many other women to follow.
“We now have 21 restaurants across South Africa and the United Arab Emirates,” said Sideris while adding that it’s not an easy path for young women interested in business because of the long hours. Still, the industry is rewarding if one could break the glass ceiling. Sideris will soon be widening her circle of influence by launching her restaurants in Saudi Arabia.
In fact, Sideris is not the only one. Among the scores of women in UAE who successfully lead businesses and realize the full potential of their entrepreneurial dreams is a cancer survivor and immensely confident woman: Emaan Abbass, the CEO and founder of Ketish, a leading feminine wellness brand.
The company offers luxurious products that educate women, help them understand their bodies, and give them a sense of awareness, motivating women to open up and normalize the conversation around feminine health.
“While undergoing cancer treatment, I vividly remember scouring the pharmacies and drug stores because that’s the only place you could find anything connected to intimate care,” said Abbass, a lady who has made a name for herself after battling cervical cancer and hormonal problems throughout her 20s.
Her vision is as clear as her personality. When asked the reason to launch Ketish, she said: “I wanted to create the brand I wished I had throughout my journey. I wanted to create something that women like me always needed but never existed in this way.”
But her fight hasn’t been alone. She had tremendous support from fellow women, especially the female founders’ community that may be small but powerful and incredibly supportive.
“I see how essential it is for us women to have a seat at the table, a voice, the ability to create change within spaces and take on the issues we find important. I’ve also seen how important it is to leave the door open for women coming through behind us,” said Abbass.
Her words of advice to young women aspiring to be entrepreneurs: “Keep going and never lose sight of your mission. It’s really important never to lose sight of what anchors us as to our brand or our company.”
A hopeful development for all these women is the winds of change in the region. Women in the UAE are already turning the tide in several businesses, including F&B, beauty, and health. And entrepreneurs such as Sideris and Abbass are driving this change and creating equitable spaces for both men and women.
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