E-boutique startup launched amid virus outbreak brings touch of Morocco to UAE

Beldi Bazaar celebrates the universally admired artistic craftsmanship of Morocco. Supplied
Short Url
Updated 08 July 2020

E-boutique startup launched amid virus outbreak brings touch of Morocco to UAE

DUBAI: Almost four months ago, as Dubai authorities announced sweeping precautionary measures to combat a rise in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the UAE, a 29-year-old entrepreneur did the unthinkable – and launched an e-boutique.

Rita Bennani’s business venture, Beldi Bazaar, is a platform that celebrates the universally admired artistic craftsmanship of her native Morocco.

“My friends and family told me not to launch, saying that this was not the time to do so. But then I thought that it didn’t matter because I needed to start and see how it went. It was the best decision I made because there was a huge movement to support small businesses during the pandemic,” she told Arab News.

The platform has provided interior design aficionados with understated and earthy colored home decor items. Supplied

Bennani, who has a background in event planning, moved to the UAE in 2017, and recalled how former colleagues often asked her to bring back keepsakes from Morocco, triggering the idea for her startup.

“I found that in the UAE, it’s not really common to find Moroccan products, except carpets. And for me, Morocco is so much more than just the carpets,” she said.

Bringing a touch of Morocco to Dubai, Beldi (meaning “traditional” in Moroccan Arabic) Bazaar has provided interior design aficionados with understated and earthy colored home decor items – including delicate coffee cups and bowls, luxury tagines and orange blossom candles, and hand-stitched textiles designed by the north African country’s traditional artisans.

Shoppers can find everything from hand-stitched blankets to luxury tagines. Supplied

“I have a strong relationship with a group of women who come from remote villages in the Atlas Mountains. Every single hand-woven blanket and cushion that we have in Beldi Bazaar was made by them. Through Beldi Bazaar, I really wanted to empower women,” she added.

Bennani, who was raised in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, prioritized promoting modern brands that “showcased Moroccan savoir faire.”

Portrait of Rita Bennani. Supplied

Through every hand-picked item available on the platform, Bennani aims to embody the pillars of Moroccan visual and social culture, from presenting diverse color palettes of blues and browns to expressing a sense of warm hospitality to all online visitors.

“What makes Moroccan products – such as ceramics, wood, or zelij – really special is the use of techniques that have been passed on from one generation to the next,” she said.

5 reasons to add spinach to your diet

Updated 08 August 2020

5 reasons to add spinach to your diet

DUBAI: Devinder Bains, personal trainer and nutrition coach at Fit Squad DXB, shares her advice on the superfoods that will help you lead a longer and healthier life…

If you want a food that’s cheap, versatile and packed with nutrients, then you can’t go wrong with spinach. Throw a handful into a fruit or vegetable smoothie, cook it as a side dish with meat or knock out a saag curry as a main and reap the health rewards listed below.

Improved eye health

Spinach is high in the antioxidant pigments zeaxanthin and lutein, which protect your eyes from damage caused by sunlight. They also work to prevent macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of vision loss in the elderly. Studies have also shown that zeaxanthin and lutein play a part in preventing cataracts.

Healthy pregnancy

As spinach is packed with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, iron, folate and potassium, it’s the perfect food for pregnant women. Leafy greens are also rich in powerful immune-boosting antioxidants and contain plant compounds that may help prevent constipation, a common problem among pregnant women.

There are plenty of health rewards to be reaped from the super food. Shutterstock

Blood clotting

One spinach leaf contains over half of your daily requirements of vitamin K1, which is essential for healthy bones. It also helps white blood cells to clot effectively, preventing you from bleeding out when you are injured. Anyone who is taking blood-thinning medication such as Warfarin should speak to their doctor before increasing their intake of spinach or other leafy greens.

Healthy teeth

This super green is high in catenoids, which our bodies turn into vitamin A. This vitamin plays a key role in keeping gums healthy and in building tooth enamel. Spinach is also high in calcium, which helps harden your enamel, strengthen your jawbone, and build strong bones. In fact, spinach is also rich in vitamin D, dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamin C, all of which are important nutrients for bone health.

Healthy hair

This is where vitamin A comes in again, as it is necessary for sebum production to keep hair moisturized, helping it to look glossy and grow. It can also help reduce hair loss. Vitamin A is actually used in the growth of all bodily tissues, so it is essential for healthy skin as well.