The Saudi entrepreneur keeping camel milk flowing in America

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Walid Abdul-Wahab, who runs a company called Desert Farms, was brought up in Jeddah but moved to Los Angeles in 2008. (Supplied)
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Desert Farms products have proved popular and the company model should prove resilient to tough economic times. (Supplied)
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Updated 15 May 2020

The Saudi entrepreneur keeping camel milk flowing in America

  • Walid Abdul-Wahab from Jeddah has built his camel milk company in California
  • The Desert Farms structure should prove resilient in tough economic times.

LOS ANGELES: When it comes to drinking milk, most Americans only think of cows. 

But a company run by a young Saudi entrepreneur has been trying to change habits after introducing camel milk to the US market.

Walid Abdul-Wahab, who runs a company called Desert Farms, was brought up in Jeddah but moved to Los Angeles in 2008 to study at the University of Southern California.

It was there he had the idea to introduce camel milk as an alternative dairy product to health-conscious customers.

“I wanted to bring something positive from back home where I’m from: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia,” Abdul-Wahab said. “I decided to introduce a new kind of breed of milk that is almost 10 times better than cow’s and goat’s milk and actually the closest milk to human breast milk.”

Abdul-Wahab set up partnerships with family farms rearing camels across the US to produce the milk domestically.

He is confident his hard work over the years means his business can ride through the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Whenever you’re dealing with food and your business is fully online, and you actually own your own customers, meaning that you have direct relationships, you know who’s buying, you know where they’re from, it’s very difficult for a business like that to be affected by any sort of recession,” he said. 

Abdul-Wahab said his company sells on Amazon and through the Desert Farms website as well as in regular retail stores.

Along with health conscious customers, another market is selling the milk to Muslims, particularly during Ramadan. 

Although mosques are closed in the US this Ramadan, Abdul-Wahab is working to ensure that Desert Farms can provide milk to Muslims observing the holy month during the shutdown.

As a young entrepreneur, he said he believes challenging times like these are when the best business ideas flourish.

“We’re not in a true recession but it does have a lot of similar traits and I do strongly believe that some of the best ideas are gonna come out during this time,” Abdul-Wahab said. 

He encouraged businesspeople in the Arab world who want to start companies in the US to go for it. “It's honestly the easiest country in the world to start any business you want,” he said.

On top of his business, Abdul-Wahab is trying to make sure his family stays fit and focused during the pandemic lockdown.

“Me and my kids are always extremely active,” Abdul-Wahab said. “We definitely keep a distance from everyone as much as possible, but that doesn’t mean we don’t go out. I take my kids to the park almost on a daily basis, and we just continue doing sports.”

Egypt banks step up anti-virus efforts

Updated 1 min 33 sec ago

Egypt banks step up anti-virus efforts

  • asures recommended by the Federation of Egyptian Banks also include a ban on face-to-face meetings.

CAIRO: Up to half of bank employees in Egypt will be encouraged to work from home under guidelines to counter a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Measures recommended by the Federation of Egyptian Banks (FEB) also include a ban on face-to-face meetings.

In a letter to banks, the FEB said its guidelines were aimed at ensuring sustainable operations “in the current circumstances.”

Banks will continue to operate from 8.30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the public and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for employees.

Previous guidelines were issued by the FEB on March 30 and April 5.

The federation's latest plan includes a follow-up on alternative workplaces to allow departments to continue working in cases of forced interruption.

The plan also issues strict instructions on wearing face masks in the workplace and while using the bank’s buses.

Employees also have been urged to follow precautionary measures while using public or private transport, and to avoid crowded places.

The FEB banned face-to-face meetings, replacing these with video conference meetings, and also underlined instructions to sanitize all surfaces using alcohol-based sanitizers, to regularly sanitize all workplaces at weekends, to provide sanitizers in areas that host employees and clients, and to regularly sanitize all main elevators.

Office boys and janitors have been instructed to wear face masks and to use paper cups instead of glass or metal ones.

The FEB said it will continue to post awareness videos and statements on combating the coronavirus.

It has urged banks to use e-payments, to continue banning delivery persons from entering the workplace, to continue halting the delivery of daily newspapers and magazines, and to continue temperature testing by security officials at workplace entrances.