What’s On teams up with Good to salute Dubai’s home-grown heroes – idealists – success stories in Dubai who know what starting a business in Dubai takes.

We’ve teamed up with Good to salute Dubai’s home-grown heroes. Whatever walk of life they are from, they all have in common the courage and conviction to grow an idea here, adding an authentic, home-grown flavour to the region. These are the people we champion – those who work hard, should be applauded and are creating a scene the Emirates can be proud of, forging ahead in heath, food, retail, charity, tech, community, culture and more.

These charitable guys do very good things, from one person trying to make a difference to initiatives that inspire the whole community…

1) Superhope
Tarik Batal and Basma Al Masri have recently launched a new initiative to empower children battling life-threatening diseases through creating their own superhero personas. After a successful launch at Comicon, the team plan to continue to support brave kids with a host of confidence building activities to unleash their own superhero.


2) Blink Bridge
The brains behind online sunglasses store Blink Bridge, Abs Kanji is on a mission to grant the gift of sight to children in remote villages in Africa. Not only is a pair of prescription glasses donated for every frame purchased from the site, Abs has teamed up with opticians in Kenya and Uganda to carry out eyesight check ups.


3) 38 Smiles
What started out as rescuing cats from her villa soon spiralled into the founding of 38 Smiles for Kremena Ivanova. Since beginning in 2011, hundreds of cats and dogs have been rescued, cared for and homed thanks to 38 Smiles.


4) The Angel Appeal
Life at sea, away from loved ones, can be incredibly lonely, not to mention tough, for sailors. The Angel Appeal sails daily to Fujairah Anchorage and invites sailors on board to enjoy home comforts such as books, internet access and phone cards to call family, with fundraiser Theresa Dommett working tirelessly to collect and deliver donations. To date, over 80,000 seafarers have benefited from The Angel Appeal, including some serious cases where ships have been stuck without food or water.


5) Dubai Senior Dog Project
Every year hundreds of dogs are abandoned in the UAE, largely due to transient expats. Often the dogs that don’t get a chance at a second home are older and Hayley Strifler is aiming to address that problem through the Senior Dog Project – not only does the initiative aim to rehome dogs, it also promotes responsibility within the expat community.


6) Buckle Up In The Back
With car accidents a daily occurrence in the UAE, ensuring your kids are buckled in properly is a priority. Unfortunately, seeing children loose in the back of cars is a frequent sight and Lesley Cully has taken it upon herself to not only draw awareness of the potentially fatal outcome of not using seatbelts, but also to educate adults and children alike.


7) Camps International
When Stuart Rees Jones founded Camps International with a motto of ‘ethical journeys without compromise’ he meant it. Offering once in a lifetime trips across the world in often-remote locations, Stuart supports local communities in Latin America, East Africa and South East Asia by offering jobs and trade, involving UAE schools and anyone who wants to lend a hand.


8) the [sameness] project
the [sameness] project creates moments of sameness, where people can look beyond everything that makes us different, to see what makes us the same, our humanity. Projects that the community can get involved include Water for Workers, where the public can hand out bottles of water and say thank you to labourers. Other initiatives by founders Jonny Kennaugh and Lina Nahhas include The Conversation Chair, We’ve Got Your Back, One + One, Soles & Stories, and Know Thy Neighbour. Imagination + altruism = awesome.


Meet our other home-grown heroes…

THE FOODIES: This wonderful food-obsessed bunch will keep you well-fed, from independent cafés and fine dining fastfood to a food truck and cookery classes.
THE GLOW-GETTERS: Spas, products, fitness, experts and more, all with a UAE twist to get you healthy, happy, looking good and feeling great.

THE RETAIL THERAPISTS: Step away from the mega malls and you’ll discover small shops and brands are doing it for themselves (and you, of course).
THE TECHIES: As Madonna didn’t say, we are living in a digital world, and these digital girls and boys are making life better on the www.

THE IDEALISTS: These charitable guys do very good things, from one person trying to make a difference to initiatives that inspire the whole community.
THE CREATIVES: This lot laughs in the face of anyone calling the UAE a cultural desert. Ha. Theatre, cinema, design, fashion, art and more are waiting to be discovered.