Dubai: When Turkmen expat Keya Bayramova first came over to Dubai in 1993, all she wanted was to establish her own identity and stand on her own feet.
Not ready to rest on the laurels brought to her family by her beloved father Durdy Bayramov, the famous Central Asian artist who was awarded the highest honourary title in his country, she started off her expat life by working as a sales executive in a hotel in Dubai.
Her vision, coupled with hard work over the last three decades resulted in her becoming a successful businesswoman by setting up companies in construction, catering, general maintenance and real estate sectors.
With her business partner Shyam Lala, she started a manpower supply company that recruits, provides accommodation and feeds workers even on the site. At one point of time, she was at the helm of the company with 2,700 employees who worked in landmark projects.
Having thrived in the highly competitive and male-dominated construction sector, Keya also launched a unique concept to welcome and help expat families settle in the UAE through a conceirge service (Parent Concierge Services). The service not only helps migrating families with paper work for moving in, but also assists them with a myriad of services—from sourcing properties either on lease or to buy, placing kids to schools, getting them into sport clubs, purchasing a car, hiring a driver and a nanny, setting up business, arranging laundry services and much more.
Complementing the one-stop-shop concierge is a real estate service (Green Home Real Estate) too that helps families find homes in the UAE and also plant trees from every transaction to champion a green cause in association with landscaping companies.
With two of her three sons having allergies, Keya founded Professional Line Building Maintenance (Proline) as an answer to eco-friendly cleaning services and supplies that would benefit the environment of families like hers.
A recipient of the Brilliant Minded Women’s Award from Canada, what makes this single mother stand apart as a business woman is her passion to support women in her diverse businesses. When she finally achieved her dream of becoming a businesswoman in Dubai, she always gave preference to hiring women and empowering their families. The reason: She wants to help women become independent, something that her father had done to her and her three sisters.
As she shared her story to Gulf News sipping coffee from a "magic mug" which has a beautiful painting by her father, Keya said: “That is how my dad raised us, four sisters. He always wanted us to be independent.”
Having been an orphan, her father had lived with the pain of not seeing his parents, let alone getting the warmth of their love and care, Keya recollected.
“He had to depend on himself all his life. And he used to say –the responsibility of my mother and I is to give you girls the education. How you want to pursue your life is up to you. But remember, nothing is impossible.”
“We used to hear this from mum and dad almost every day: You have to do this by yourself. There is no help. That’s how we grew up.”
Because of this reason, Keya said she used to wonder why people would ask a customary question when they met her for the first time back home.
“Apart from my name, they would immediately ask whose daughter I am. I always wondered why. I didn’t want to say to people that my father is a famous artist. I wanted to just say my name. I always wanted to have my own identity and be independent. That is why I came over to Dubai.”
The first six months were hard, she recollected. Struck by homesickness, she would call up her elder sister and cry almost every night. But when her sisters and mother asked her to return home, she decided she would chase her dreams.
“I worked in the hotel for four years. Then I got the opportunity to open my own business in the field I was in. So, I opened a general trading company dealing with foodstuff. Then I got my first son and I was on a break. A friend of mine offered me a marketing job in a manpower supply company. Later on, I realised that I can start my own company in the recruitment business,” Keya said, describing how the journey of her entrepreneurship began.
Even after floating diverse companies, she said she “came out of her cocoon” after her father passed away in 2014.
Big dreams in art
Though she was doing well in business and her degree in economics had stood her in good stead, she had hardly used her degree in arts to do something significant. She had got a degree in arts to keep her father’s legacy, just like her sisters, though all of them were free to opt for a career in their favourite fields.
Though art was around her all her life, it was after her father’s demise that Keya did something big related to art. She joined her sisters in setting up a foundation and an art museum in his memory—the Durdy Bayramov Art Foundation and the Bayramov Museum in Toronto, Canada.
Now, it is her wish to establish a Central Asian Museum named after her father in Dubai, the place that is now her home and has made her an investor.
“It is my life goal. It can become a cultural home of all Central Asian countries. And I want that to happen here in Dubai, my favourite city. I dearly love Dubai which has given me the opportunity to grow, and made me what I am today.”