Abu Dhabi: Local and homemade Emirati sweets are the favourite among people during Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr shopping as families grab baskets of sweets to present to friends, families and relatives they visit.
A number of Emirati women entrepreneurs run the business from their homes and they receive orders directly from individuals through their social media accounts. They make the sweets and deliver the packets to the buyers or individuals pick them from their homes.
The sweets in the market are mostly locally made chocolates, traditional sweets and dates filled with dry fruits, which are most preferred by particularly Emiratis and some expatriate communities.
Gulf News interacted with a number of sweets traders, dealers and local women who produce the sweets at home.
They produce chocolates or sweets similar to popular European brands but these are more nutritious and richly blended with cashew, almonds, pistachio and walnuts.
Speaking to Gulf News, 18-year-old Emirati Shamma Al Shamsi, who runs Heavenly Bakery from her home, said: “We make nine flavours at home which include pistachio, peanut butter and homemade rocky-roads. We buy ingredients ourselves and then prepare the sweets at home.
“We have Instagram and WhatsApp accounts and people place their orders on that. All information about sweets, flavours and prices are there.” Al Shamsi works along with a partner, 17-year-old Mahra Al Hammadi.
She said she gets more orders in Ramadan and Eid than any other months of the year, and she receives orders from different emirates of the country, too.
“People place their orders on our accounts and we deliver them or they pick it up from our homes,” said Al Shamsi, who is based in Sharjah.
Asked about the prices, she said, “We don’t sell in kilograms. We have boxes of different sizes containing pieces of chocolates or sweets. A box containing nine pieces of sweets, called ‘give away’, costs Dh25. The prices go up to Dh300 for the bigger boxes comprising four flavours or more.”
It’s an Emirati culture to present some sweets when people visit a family during special occasions and festivals, she added.
Some Emiratis believe it’s more than a business because they want to support women entrepreneurs and popularise local and traditional sweets among their community.
Mohammad Al Hammadi, 30, owner of Blossom Sweets in Sharjah, said, “We get sweets from local women who prepare them at their homes and we sell them through our retail shop.
“Around 50 local women are in my contact who prepare these sweets. In fact, we support women entrepreneurs and at the same time we promote our traditional sweets.”
He added, “Local people like traditional sweets and these women prepare such sweets at their homes. By selling them through our outlet, we give them moral and financial support so that they could start a full-fledged business in future.”
Abdul Wahab, salesman at Atayeb Chocolates in Abu Dhabi, said, “We have more than 50 flavours, including Belgian, Italian and French chocolates. We add pistachio, hazelnuts, cheese cake, lotus and biscuit flavours, which are the most preferred ones. We have customised these sweets in the UAE to meet our local customers’ demands.”
Mostly, people love Italian pistachio flavour which costs Dh120 a kilogram, while Belgian chocolate is priced at Dh100 a kilogram, he said.
“We have our own factory to produce them.” Atayeb has its branches in Dubai and Al Ain too.
“Mostly, people like the locally made chocolates and but some prefer the traditional home-made sweets,” Wahab said.
Mohammad Shaaban, salesman at Karaz Chocolates in Abu Dhabi, said, “Mostly, people like pistachio which starts from Dh120 a kilogram. Sweets are mostly purchased by locals, Arabs and Europeans to gift their friends and relatives on occasions like Eid, Ramadan and birth of babies.”
Karaz has its branches in Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah and Al Ain.