I would like to thank all the journalists who have supported The Little Fair Trade Shop.
The National were the first newspaper to write about The Little Fair Trade Shop back in 2010.
Read the full article below or see it live on The National UAE here.
In the midst of the bustling market on The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence, on a warm Friday afternoon, Sabeena Ahmed is telling passers-by the fascinating stories behind each of her handmade products.
The founder of The Little Fair Trade Shop - Dubai dreams of one day starting the first Fair Trade organisation in the emirate.
Mrs Ahmed, a native of Pakistan who grew up in Manchester, England, is now based in Dubai with her husband, whom she describes as her biggest supporter.
Her apartment is filled with a collection of items from Egypt, Thailand, Chile, Mexico, Afghanistan, India and many more as she continues her travels to knock on Fair Trade doors.
When she travels to countries to source products, she meets local fair trade organisations, tribes and artisans, before purchasing local handicrafts to sell to the UAE market. Mrs Ahmed's next trip will be to India.
"So many places know about Fair Trade, so I am hoping we can make Dubai a Fair Trade city," she says.
Mrs Ahmed first found inspiration for her venture in 2008, while living in Al Khobar in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.
"I was studying long distance with the Institute of Islamic Banking and Insurance, London, while living in Saudi Arabia. During my last assignment, I came across a paragraph about how Islam promotes the equal distribution of wealth, and realised I had to do something."
What followed next were months of research into the World Fair Trade Organisation, to which she applied for associate membership.
Last year, she founded The Little Fair Trade Shop after moving to Dubai.
"Fair trade is about helping the low-income person get a better start. Why can't I, as a human being, help people regardless of who they are, or where they come from, so they can support their family with a decent wage?"
Carola Reintjes, the chief executive of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) says Mrs Ahmed's company is the first from the GCC region to have applied for membership.
The WFTO has a global network of 449 members that aim to promote what Mrs Reintjes describes as social and economic justice.
"Fair trade might be practised in the UAE, but it is not yet part of the global network. I hope the efforts made by The Little Fair Trade Shop will motivate and create a foundation for other initiatives," she says.
Mary Jean, a Lebanese-American living in Dubai who frequents Mrs Ahmed's stall, says she is a supporter of the cause because there is "far too much injustice around the items we usually purchase".
"I used to work in retail and visited a few factories," she says. "What I saw saddened me and made me more conscious." Mrs Jean says she now includes as many Fair Trade products in her daily life as she can.
Some Fair Trade organisations support hundreds of artisans - so the bigger the order, the more people they can support.
One such organisation is Zardozi - Artists for Afghans, a non-profit organisation supporting Afghan refugees based in Kabul and Jalalabad in Afghanistan, and Peshawar in Pakistan. Since 1984, the organisation's sewing centre has worked with more than 3,000 families in refugee camps along the Pakistani border.
It is one of the Fair Trade organisations Mrs Ahmed supports. Rafia Sultana, the organisation's marketing and distribution manager, says working with The Little Fair Trade Shop is a means of introducing them to the Middle East.
"Mrs Ahmed is working for a big cause of Fair Trade and wages, which is the cause of Zardozi too. It's not the size of the company which matters, it's the idea which the company is working on," Mrs Sultana says.
Apart from issues in finance, the only other challenge that lies in Mrs Ahmed's way is the language barrier.
"I wish I spoke a little more Arabic to reach out to the local community. But I also wish I had more support from them, because Fair Trade in Islam is really important," she says.
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I was invited by Manor Primary School and children of Year 5 to talk about fair trade.
We started the lesson by watching the Max Havelaar Chocolate Song.
The world in my shopping basket - children learnt where fair trade products came from.
Year 5 tasted fairtrade Divine Milk Chocolate and Green & Blacks Maya Gold.
The children watched a fairtrade video about Tayna a young girl who visited cocoa farmers and their communities in the Dominican Republic.
Children learnt about the fair price, social premium, social standards and the environment.
The children showed their support for fair trade and we ended the session with lots of happy memories.
I hope they will be the future fair trade stars and campaigners in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.
This September I am still tolerating the torn ligament in my right shoulder, however, I managed to Skype with Paksy Plackis-Cheng founder Impact Mania based in Calfornia, USA.
My tribute to my late mother was tweeted by the Women's Words Manchester project.
I received a wonderful birthday present my new business cards from my Creative Director Helen Barlow Scott.
Attended the Salam Sisters Network Dubai (SSND) monthly meeting.
Taught fair trade to Year 5 at the Manor Park Primary School, Dubai.
Attended the ZB Foundation lunch with founders Dani Wilson and Saima Khan and presented a fair trade talk to over a 100+ ladies.
Participated in Live Create Meditate event with Mariam Yasin and Amruta Kshemkalyani.
This August I was diagnosed with a torn ligament in my right shoulder which will require surgery and physiotherapy.
I finally managed to Skype with Dr Sara Calvo Martinez founder of Living in Minca and professor at the Middlesex University Business School, London.
My fair trade story was featured in the Story Exchange Women Mean Business website.
I organised meetings with Mr Daniel Ludvig and Mr Sayed of Sheraa, Sharjah.
Had coffee with Sandra Stephenson senior lecturer at the Middlesex University Dubai, and met founder and chairperson of ZBFoundation Dani Wilson and Saima Khan.
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