What’s On teams up with Good to salute Dubai’s home-grown heroes – retail therapists – 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.

Step away from the mega malls and you’ll discover small shops and brands are doing it for themselves (and you, of course)…

1) Organic Foods & Café
This home-grown brand has gone from strength to strength over the last few years, and it was in the UAE long before most of us even fully understood the importance of organic. You’ll find fresh produce, beauty products, household essentials and more in the four UAE stores, but the online shopping has really taken off, allowing you to order farm-fresh ingredients from your laptop. Founder Nils El Accad has been in the region since the 1970s, and his passion for all things organic has started a health revolution across the UAE.


2) Greenheart Organic
Starting with collection points where UAE residents could buy produce from local farmers, Greenheart Organic quickly grew (pun intended) to offer home delivery and eventually a shop in Barsha, even teaming up with Freedom Pizza (formally NKD pizza) to collaborate on healthy toppings. Founder Elena Kinane aims to work with nature on all elements of the business, from eco-friendly packaging to recycling whenever possible, and has also launched a Saturday market in chic spot Comptoir 102, as well as an online shop for picking up fresh fruit, veg and more.


3) D.Tales
A slice of Scandinavian cool in the heart of Dubai, a trip to this two-storey shop will have you aching to chuck out the chintz and break out the credit card. Beautifully curated by owner Lars Narfeldt, the store is a must-visit if you’re in the market for iconic designs, stylish furniture, custom wallcoverings, and even accessories. Online shopping is also available, with your goodies delivered within 24 hours across the UAE.


4) My Ex Wardrobe
In this shop-obsessed, transient region, there’s a real need for somewhere we can come together and share our wardrobe wealth. My Ex Wardrobe, started by the Dubai-raised Rowlands sisters, organises regular events where buyers can score pre-owned items of clothing (many with the tags still on) at reduced prices, plus enjoy a bit of pampering and some nibbles. Of course, if you want to sell your own items, they take the hassle out of that too. Look out for upcoming themed events, such as baby and maternity wear, vintage and designer clothes.


5) Craftland
Crafters of the UAE rejoice – if you arrived concerned that you wouldn’t be able to find the essentials (and not so essentials), then a trip to this haven of hobbies should reassure. Holding regular classes in workshops across a range of disciplines from knitting to quilting, they have in-store experts available for teaching and assistance. Warning: if you’re a sewing fanatic, you’ll never leave empty-handed.


6) The Change Initiative
This eco-friendly megastore, whose CEO is Tim Fagan, is full of products to make your life easier (and more stylish), while doing some good for the planet. From handmade cotton kiddie’s clothes to energy-saving gadgets, plus a regular farmer’s market, yoga classes and a cracking café, be sure to set aside enough time when you visit – it’s impossible to just pop in for a quick look.


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.