Dubai: Omaimaa Fagier firmly believes in the magic of Dubai. The Sudanese expat has watched the emirate grow in stature to become a favourite destination for businesses and tourists.
Even when she lost her banking job amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Fagier did not lose hope. She trusted the business environment of Dubai and rebuilt her life.
That was three years ago. Her end-of-service benefits amounted to around Dh250,000. It barely lasted a year, having to pay for house rent and children’s education.
With just Dh3,000 left in her pocket, the Sudanese expat was at the crossroads in life. A single mother, Fagier’s future looked bleak. “I had to think not just about myself but also my children, their education, and their lives. It was a very sensitive time in our lives,” she said.
Time for some tough decisions to stay afloat and safeguard her two children’s future, she thought. “I wanted to start a business, an online life coaching service,” Fagier, 52, said, adding that she was unsure if Dh3,000 was enough. “A friend suggested I visit the Department of Economy and Tourism in Duba and see what’s possible,” she added.
An official at the Department told her that Dh1,070 is enough to procure an E-Trader licence, besides a service charge of less than Dh500. There were no other expenses.
“I was pleasantly surprised. I checked the DED website and was so happy to reconfirm that these were the only expenses,” Fagier said.
After submitting the name of her business, a valid email address, and telephone number along with other documents, Fagier soon set up her first company — Ikigai Life Coaching.
It was a success. More successes followed. She met other entrepreneurs through networking events. An investment company based in Dubai, made her managing partner. Fagier became an entrepreneur, managing multiple businesses.
“My life turned around. This experience also taught me something very important: that saving is also fundamental to sustaining life,” she said.
Fagier attributes much of the change in fortunes to her belief in Dubai. Having grown up in the city, she can’t imagine living anywhere else.
“My father came to Dubai in 1973 as a banker. I was a year old. My sister and I went to schools here. So it is difficult for me to live elsewhere,” the Sudanese said.
Recalling her schooldays, Fagier said: “We were blessed. The school gave us cash at the end of the year. We were given cloth for our uniform, and we only had to get it stitched. Every day we were served a meal of a banana, orange, cheese, jam sandwich and a juice. I can never forget this.”
Having received so much support from the UAE, Fagier wanted to repay the nation. “I studied, worked hard, and joined a bank as a clerk-cum-typist. By the time I was terminated, I had become the credit control manager of the risk management department,” she said.
Land of opportunities
Fagier, who lives with her two daughters, aged 16 and 10, calls Dubai a land of opportunities. “It is all about making yourself aware of these opportunities and grabbing them. A strong mindset and confidence helps,” she added.
The Sudanese is no stranger to challenges. “Facing odds is not new to me. I was obese at one point in my life. I found a running coach who helped me become fit. The same mental strength pulled me out of joblessness. I knew I had to fight to succeed,” Fagier said, looking back at her journey. “I did.”