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Sabeena Ahmed's fair trade mission

Sabeena Ahmed's fair trade mission

Feature Article December 2010 The National News United Arab Emirates

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.


The National Dubai Fair Trade Article

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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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all my fair trade friends and family around the world.

My right shoulder is still very painful and inflamed again and I have struggled to type this blog.

Despite my pain I managed to attend a webinar and record videos about PIE Community members expressing an interest to join.

I joined a couple of sessions about Mental Health and Suicide Training.

These sessions were organised by THRIVE LDN.

Translation in Urdu

نیا سال مبارک ہو!

دنیا بھر میں میرے تمام منصفانہ تجارتی دوستوں اور اہل خانہ کو نیا سال مبارک ہو۔

میرا دایاں کندھا اب بھی بہت تکلیف دہ ہے اور دوبارہ سوجن ہے اور میں نے اس بلاگ کو ٹائپ کرنے کے لیے جدوجہد کی ہے۔

اپنی تکلیف کے باوجود میں ایک ویبنار میں شرکت کرنے اور کمیونٹی کے ممبران کے بارے میں ویڈیوز ریکارڈ کرنے میں کامیاب ہو گی جو اس میں شامل ہونے میں دلچسپی کا اظہار کرتے ہیں۔

میں دماغی صحت اور خودکشی کی تربیت کے بارے میں کچھ سیشنز میں شامل ہوے۔

ان سیشنز کا اہتمام THRIVE LDN نے کیا تھا۔

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Expression of interest to join World Pulse's Powershift Inclusive Excellence Committee  (PIE) - February 2024
Expression of interest to join World Pulse's Powershift Inclusive Excellence Committee (PIE) - February 2024

During December 2023 I was invited to join the Powershift Inclusive Excellence Committee (PIE) ad hoc sub group to encourage and motivate new World Pulse Community members to join.

Despite my poor health and painful right shoulder I have recorded a video in English, edited it and added subtitles in English and Urdu.

Please kindly click below to apply as a member of the Powershift Excellence Committee.

Application Form link https://forms.gle/TUDeGiXwTtzqv4oh6

The date for the submission of the application form is the 2nd February 2024, but this date could be extended. 

I forget to mention in the video that Community members must adhere to the following criteria:

1. Applicants must be World Pulse Community Members for 2 years.

2. Applicants must be World Pulse badge holders.

Continue Reading →

December 2023 - Newsletter Video Blog Summary
December 2023 - Newsletter Video Blog Summary

This December I continued to heal from my shoulder surgeries.

My right shoulder was very painful and inflamed again and I have struggled to type this blog.

I attended the last encourager party webinar for World Pulse 2023.

I joined the second ITC Webinar Series Export Essentials December 2023.

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