Huda Zainy and Arwa Federal Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: For many individuals, a hobby is just a hobby, but some people manage to turn their favourite pastime into a successful business venture.

Huda Zainy is one of these people. The 20-year-old Iraqi expatriate developed her summer activity into a money-making business last year.

Huda told Gulf News how she began profiting from her jewellery-making hobby.

"I'm the kind of person who always likes to keep busy. Last summer I was bored and decided to buy the basics to create some accessories. From then on, I realised that I actually enjoyed making them and people started to like my jewellery, especially as they were all handmade."

Initially, people didn't believe that Huda's Desert Rose collection was handmade, but after seeing her materials and customised designs, the orders started coming in.

Arwa Federal is another UAE resident who took advantage of her hobby.

Contrary to Huda, Federal always knew she wanted to start her own baking business. The 25 year old has loved baking since she was just a child helping her mother in the kitchen. Deciding to get some experience first, Federal studied hotel management with a speciality in pastry.


The Indian national ended up working at a five-star hotel, but a lack of job satisfaction and growth opportunities pushed her to start her Piece of Cake at-home bakery.

Federal said: "I always wanted to start a business. My family encouraged me to quit and made me realise that I had the potential to start something independently. Five years ago I started off very slowly at home with a sample of friends."

Both entrepreneurs have gathered clientele for their home business, relying on word of mouth to attract new customers.

Huda's Desert Rose Facebook page is her method of communication with customers, who can simply leave an order on the image they like, along with sampling her work at school fairs, Federal also has a website set up for all of her cakes and designs.

These two entrepreneurs have both expressed interest in taking their business to the next level, but they are not yet ready to take that step for a few reasons.

"I'm always 50/50 about opening a store. I'm very hesitant because a home-baked cake is a home-baked cake. If I open a store I wouldn't be able to bake each cake personally. I would have to delegate. I would not be able to give my special touch to each cake because I would have to produce more than just a couple of cakes a day," said Federal, who hopes to start her own cake studio soon.

Huda, however, is hesitant because she would need appropriate financial support such as investors.

According to the Mohammad Bin Rashid Establishment (MBRE) for Young Business Leaders website, "there are no guarantees in business. There is simply no way to eliminate all of the risks associated with starting a small business — but of course you can improve your chances of success with good planning, preparation, and insight."

The eight-year-old establishment is aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship among the UAE's youth.

Unique product

Although Federal believes that it's easy for someone to start their own business in the UAE in terms of accessibility, supplies and available clientele, Huda finds it more difficult because the person needs to find a unique product that isn't already sold in stores and malls.

In the case of finding a niche market, MBRE's website suggests that young entrepreneurs thoroughly study the market in order to find a product or service that they can effectively provide.

In spite of the risks, Huda encourages young business leaders to "go for it" because they can turn a hobby that they enjoy into a successful business.