NAT 200218 SHE BURGER AKK-6-1583576693332
Shaikha Eissa, Owner of She Burger, located in Dar Al Wasl Mall. Dubai. Photo: Antonin Kélian Kallouche/Gulf News Image Credit: Antonin Kélian Kallouche/Gulf News

Dubai: You are unlikely to find an Emirati woman running a restaurant in Dubai much less supervising its kitchen. But at ‘She Burger’ Shaikha Eissa does just that. The result speaks for itself. In less than three years of its launch, the home-grown burger joint has already started to give established industry giants a run for their money.

“There are several top burger brands in the UAE but there was no local brand until now. I have put my heart and soul into this restaurant. We can’t afford to compromise on quality. Everything has to be perfect,” said the founder of ‘She Burger’ located at Dar Wasl Mall in Al Safa, speaking to Gulf News ahead of International Women’s Day on Sunday, March 8.

Self-taught cook

A self-taught cook who started cooking at age 12, Eissa made a foray into the world of gastronomy as a hobby but it wasn’t until she graduated in business management from the American University in Dubai in 2010 that she plunged headlong into it and blazed a trail in restaurant business, largely regarded as a male domain.

“I have always loved cooking. As a child I would spend hours with my eyes glued to the television, watching the Food Network to learn new cooking techniques and get myself acquainted with various cuisines. “Initially I used to prepare desserts but overtime I moved to other dishes,” she said.

NAT 200218 SHE BURGER AKK-2-1583576684337
Shaikha Eissa, Owner of She Burger, located in Dar Al Wasl Mall. Dubai. Photo: Antonin Kélian Kallouche/Gulf News

Eissa said the idea of her burger business originated from a casual conversation she had with some friends who showed up at her place some years ago. Reinventing burgers

“I made some unconventional burgers for them and they liked it so much that they suggested I post pictures of my creations on Instagram which I eventually did,” she recalled. “The response was staggering. Within days I was flooded with orders, prompting me to launch an exclusive on demand burger service from my Mirdif home,” recalled the young business woman who now has nearly 50,000 followers on Instagram.

In 2017, she opened ‘She Burger’. The place became an instant hit. The following year the fast food joint acquired even more fame when Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council turned up here for lunch.

NAT 200218 SHE BURGER AKK-15-1583576681695
Shaikha Eissa, Owner of She Burger, located in Dar Al Wasl Mall. Dubai. Photo: Antonin Kélian Kallouche/Gulf News

Eissa said she’s happy with the way things have shaped up for her. “What started as a homegrown business has now found a permanent home. It’s a dream come true. In the beginning my family was a tad reluctant to see me run a restaurant but when they saw my passion they rallied behind me and helped me launch this outlet,” she said.

Secret sauce

Eissa said it’s her secret sauce that makes She Burger stand out from competitors. “I love experimenting with different flavours and creating my own sauces. Sometimes you have to be bold and follow your gut,” she said as she made us run through her menu which offers eight burger choices including their best sellers - Mad Chicken which comes with Santa Fe sauce, and Damn Burger - a cheddar infused black angus patty with home made sauce, crispy beets onion and caramalised shallots.

NAT 200218 SHE BURGER AKK-10-1583576678823
Shaikha Eissa, Owner of She Burger, located in Dar Al Wasl Mall. Dubai. Photo: Antonin Kélian Kallouche/Gulf News

Other firm favourites include Shark Bit burger with fish fillet, lettuce, cheese and lemon tartare; and Cuban burger – a “biggy munch” with shredded potatoes, a red sauce, mayonnaise, cheese and onions.

Besides locally-crafted burgers, the restaurant also offers a wide array of salads, mocktails, desserts and shakes.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Eissa is planning to launch her next outlet in Riyadh later this year. “I want to branch out all over the GCC and then, perhaps beyond the region,” said the ambitious woman. “The UAE is a model for women empowerment in the region. Our visionary leadership has created a highly supportive environment for women, which explains why you see women here breaking stereotypes and entering into male bastions,” she said.

Women in the workplace

  • Today women age 15 and over constitute 46.6% of the labour force.
  • Women make up 66 per cent of public sector workers, with 30 per cent in leadership roles and 15 per cent in technical and academic roles.
  • UAE women comprise over 40 per cent of all employees in education, at least 35 per cent work in the health sector and approximately 20 per cent in social affairs.
  • About 75 per cent of positions in education and health sectors are occupied by women.
  • 23,000 Emirati businesswomen run projects worth over Dh50 billion, and occupy 15 per cent of the positions in the boards of chambers of commerce and industry nationwide.
  • Source - International Private Schools and Education Forum (IPSEF)