Dubai: A 58-year-old Emirati retiree says he learned coffee making and watersports from social media and started a related business in Dubai.
Abdullah Al Redha sells coffee machines and water-sport equipment at his shop in Umm Suqeim and also offer his services to repair the products.
“Coffee making and water sport are my hobby … rather my passion. I love the equipment and learnt how to repair them as well,” he told Gulf News.
Social media is a useful platform … you can practically experience the theory you have learned. It makes things easy to grasp. It is much more effective than a textbook.”
- Abdullah Al Redha | Emirati retiree
He doesn’t believe only youngsters are using social media for practical purposes.
“Anyone can use it effectively.”
Asked whether he knows anybody at his age who use social media like he does, Al Redha says: “I haven’t come across anyone at my age.”
His learning from social media started with coffee making when he was working as an administrator with an oil company in Dubai.
“I love coffee and wanted to make the cheapest and best one.”
He claims that hundreds of YouTube videos on coffee making made him an expert coffee-maker.
“I can make the best coffee in the UAE that will be cheapest,” he says with a smile.
He started to bring coffee beans from India, roast them at home and make coffee on his favourite coffee machine imported from China.
“A cup of coffee will cost you just 30 fils only. I found it better than any costly branded coffee.”
Meanwhile, he started dabbling in watersports.
“A colleague who was a diving instructor inspired me to try it. I like watersports because it is challenging.”
He took voluntary retirement from his job in 2008 to pursue his passions of coffee making and diving and opened the shop selling his favourite Chinese coffee machine and diving equipment and offering their repairing services.
“I made waterproof business cards to distribute to people on the beach as I go there to promote watersports and my products.”
When he realised the need of product diversification to sustain in business, paddleboards and kayaks caught his attention in 2016.
Then he learned the basics of paddle-boarding and kayaking on YouTube, practised them and made it a hobby before adding paddleboards and kayaks to the shop. He said video demonstrations on social media made his learning easy.
“Social media is a useful platform. You can practically experience the theory you have already learned. It makes the things easy to grasp. It is much more effective than a text book,” Al Redha says.
However, he clarified he doesn’t have anything against textbooks in general.
“You must always refer to a text book for further learning.”
He says he learned repairing coffee machines and diving equipment at factories in China. “Social media does not work in this case. You have to learn it from an experienced mechanic. When I can’t fix any technical problem while repairing coffee machine and diving equipment, I send an email to the Chinese companies and they promptly offer technical support.” .
But when it comes to promoting his business, social media is what Al Redha relies on. “I use Instagram to market my products and services,” he said, adding he runs the shop alone to keep himself busy.
“I want to do everything myself to keep me busy. After all, this is my passion.”
He opens his shop at noon and works till 8pm. Since he does not have an employee, he has to close the shop to attend to personal matters. “I close the shop when I go on my annual vacation for two weeks a year.”
It is not economical to keep a fulltime employee to open the shop for those short periods, he says.
“It does not affect my business because of my regular customer base. I inform them before going on vacation and they buy whatever they want before I leave.”
He says he is happy with his small-scale business and does not want to expand, adding that he has seen many businesses collapse because of aggressive expansion.
“There is no problem in being ambitious in business. It is good to have ambitions. But if you have unrealistic ambitions, you may fail,” he says.