From beach hotels to airport services and food chains, Dubai Women's College students display creativity at exhibition, writes Maysam Ali

Senior students, on the verge of graduating from Dubai Women's College (DWC), had to demonstrate last week that they are ready to enter the financial industry. In their last academic project, they had to prove that they have not only grasped business basics but can also apply them in the market to make business plans successful.

"Students had to think of two ideas, narrow it down to one after doing their research and then come up with the business plan in nine weeks," said Professor Dwightford Anthony, business faculty at DWC.

Students prepared all kinds of projects based on their interests, research and practicality of ideas. The product was an array of projects ranging from the tourism industry, healthcare and beauty products to food chains.

Students as businesswomen

As part of the entrepreneur and small business management course, Fatima Nassar and her colleague, Jawaher Juma, chose to open a fashion boutique. They decided that they would import clothes from Europe and sell them to target customers in the UAE.

The students are required to execute everything in their business plan and make the needed contacts up to the financial transactions.

"The wedding industry is generating huge revenue in Dubai; fashion is part of this industry. People in the UAE are ready to pay huge amounts of money for exclusivity and we based many of our services on that," said Fatima.

At the stand next to them, Maha Kraif was selling Japanese animation series, novels and games. She said she chose to do this because after research, she found out that such DVDs are in demand with no supply.

Marzooqa Buhumaid and Muna Al Khater established 'Alegora', a beach hotel apartment residence on Jumeirah beach. With ambitions soaring sky high, the group chose the Jumeirah Beach Hotel as their benchmark and main competitor and plan to provide the utmost luxury to their guests.

"There are different types of investors, but we are planning to attract all of them," said Muna.

Health and beauty products

Mariam Al Mutawa, Asma Al Shaikh and Reem Al Helli decided to import an American franchise. "We want to bring hair care, skincare, perfumes, cosmetics and other products made out of national ingredients," Mariam said.

From their research, the students concluded that people are interested in such products and they plan to make them available at affordable prices.

Waffle bars

Maitha Al Muallem and her colleagues came up with the idea of setting up a waffle stand offering all types of waffles. "We will sell chocolate for chocolate lovers and healthy waffles for health-conscious eaters," said Maitha.

The group's initial plan is to establish the chain at the Mall of the Emirates. "We also want to franchise a waffle character into teddy bears and CDs," said Maitha. The students obtained recipes and approached a professional chef to train them, because being able to make the waffles is part and parcel of their job.

"This is just the beginning of our project but we hope to turn the waffle stand into a waffle bar with plasma screens," Maitha said.

Luggage delivery

The last of the projects was a luggage delivery service, '@ ur service', established by Eman Al Tayer and Mariam Al Shamsi, which delivers people's luggage to their homes in Dubai two hours after they arrive from the airport.

Eman and Mariam planned all the details, from online registry to filling application forms, coordinating with agencies to assure those registered get a tag for their bags and can get the service while aboard their flights.

"We surveyed 100 people and found out that certain families are very happy with our service. Businessmen and businesswomen who only carry small handbags or carry-ons said they might consider this service but it is not of utmost importance to them," said Mariam.

The next step for Mariam, Eman and the rest of the soon-to-be graduates is to find investors and to embark on their projects.

Faculty feedback

Professor Anthony, who teaches the course at DWC, said that the projects are "unique", "creative" and reflect hard and smart work. He invited industry professionals to visit the exhibition and judge the students' work. It is their judgment that influences their final grade, he told Notes.

"Projects like these help students get a first-hand view of what the industry is expecting of them. Initially they work hard, then they start to work smart and they end up in projects like these," he said.