Start-up of the Week: MagiCup aims to become a global online store

Updated 19 September 2018

Start-up of the Week: MagiCup aims to become a global online store

People usually start their days with a cup of coffee or tea — and they would certainly enjoy their hot beverage more from a creatively designed cup.
MagiCup is a mug-designing Instagram store. It offers cups with various designs, colors and sizes, magic cups that change color with heat, and travel mugs.
It was established in May 2018. Customers can customize their own cups with their desired designs.
The co-owner of the store, Futoon Saif, explained the inspiration behind creating the store from her background in interior design.
“When I was a student in the interior design field, I realized how good designs have an affect on our lives; they affect everything around us, even the small products we use daily like mugs.
“Me and my partner Majed started MagiCup because we know how lovely it is for people to start their morning with their favorite cup that is designed.”
She said that mugs will always sell no matter what. “We choose to design cups because these are the things that are never going to be replaced by technology, and people for sure won’t stop using cups, so we want to keep on making wonderful designs for people to start their days with.”
Designing mugs is quite a process.
“In the beginning, we start by deciding which kind of mug we are going to use, the normal sized or small sized one, or the travel mug. After that, we start making the design that is going to be printed on the mug, and when we finish the design we create a mock-up for it to make sure it’s going to look good. The last step is that we print the design on a custom paper and print it on the mug itself.”
MagiCup wants to expand its reach and become a global online store.
“We will not open a physical store, but our store is going to be an online store that will serve you much better than a physical one. It is also an advantage that we make our store come to you rather than you come to it.”
She explained the connection the designs on the cups have with their owners. “I learned that designing is storytelling and I just want to make our clients day happy by designing their stories on their lovely cups.”
Saif said that MagiCup strives to achieve customer satisfaction.
“We take our customer’s idea and add our own twist to it. Even if it was a ready-made picture or design, we adjust it, consult and follow up with the customer,” she said.


Traditional dish nourishes hope in Kabul

Updated 25 January 2020

Traditional dish nourishes hope in Kabul

  • Expats and Afghans queue together for taste of local eatery’s authentic stew

KABUL: The soft snap of customers breaking bread punctuates the silence in Waheed’s Restaurant in the heart of Kabul.

As the diners dunk pieces of hot and crispy naan into bowls of freshly cooked chinaki, or mutton stew, waiters can be seen craning their necks, looking for empty tables to accommodate those queuing outside the entrance.

The aroma of the traditional Afghan dish — made with lamb chops, lentils, onions, tomatoes, herbs, and spices — draws people to the restaurant every day, Abdul Waheed, the owner, told Arab News, adding that it is the least he can do to keep an authentic “Afghan tradition alive.”

“Other dishes like pizza, kabab and rice are much easier and take less time to cook,” the 43-year-old Waheed said. “But we are taking the trouble to keep the tradition alive despite getting the low returns on the dish compared with other meals.”

Chinaki is also known as teapot soup because of the vessel it was once cooked in — a teapot.

With a recipe dating back 150 years, the local dish is served by only a handful of Kabul restaurants and is one of the few remaining on menu lists as cafes and restaurants offering foreign cuisines take over.

Typical chinaki is cooked in small chinaware teapots, rarely available in markets and hard to mend after repeated use. Since the taste of the dish varies if cooked in a metal pot, customers are always on the hunt for restaurants that prepare the dish in the traditional style.

Depending on the number of pots, one or two cooks stand for hours to constantly stir the soup with a wooden spoon, adding a small amount of water at regular intervals to keep it from burning.

The arduous cooking process means the dish is cooked only once a day and served at lunchtime. Regular customers, however, know exactly what time to walk in.

“I come here at least four times a month,” Sher Ahmad said. “I like chinaki, it is my favorite food. I know people who have heard of this restaurant in other parts of the country and come to try it when they visit Kabul.”

Waheed said he hopes to keep his familiy tradition alive for as long as possible.

“I inherited the restaurant from my grandfather and father. We have been serving people for nearly 70 years,” he said.

The eatery is located on the second floor of a ramshackle building in an old and bustling part of a bazaar which was demolished by the British forces in the 19th century and destroyed again during fighting in the 1990s.

Waheed’s customers include MPs and government officials accompanied by armed guards for protection.

A former interior minister, Amruallah Saleh, who often travels in an armored vehicle, has been to Waheed’s restaurant twice, according to Feraidoon, one of the cooks.

“He liked it a lot and on one occasion ate twice in one day,” Feraidoon said.

Women wishing to eat rely on takeaways since there is no section for them in the restaurant — another sign of a male-dominated society.

In upmarket parts of Kabul, expensive restaurants have increased in the past 20 years, especially with the arrival of foreign troops and aid workers who brought along dishes from their countries of origin.

Abdullah Ansar, a manager for the Cafeteria, a leading restaurant in the city, said that although his menu features more than 300 foreign-style meals, local dishes were still a favorite for both Afghans and expatriates.

With more than four decades’ experience in the industry, Ansar has been host to regional and world leaders, including former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Ansar said he relies on local products, but also imports ingredients such as cheese, fish, prawns, olive oil and canned fruit from the UAE.

“Afghanistan has delicious local dishes. If peace comes, tourists will come here, and the restaurant and hotel industry will further flourish,” he said.

But like many Afghans, Ansar does not know when the fighting will end and stability will return to the country.