GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK: Meet the women changing UAE’s sustainable business game

Steering the country towards a greener route, these female-led sustainable businesses are transforming the UAE’s luxury market, one amazing initiative at a time

If there is one thing that has got the entire country buzzing, it is the upcoming COP28 summit. Which directly translates to sustainability being at the fore of everything, from businesses to consumer habits and beyond.

Given the UAE’s aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, sustainable entrepreneurship has been on the rise in the country for a while now. And it is the women of the region who are leading the charge. With a focus on ethical practices and a dedication to making a positive impact on the environment and also their communities, these female entrepreneurs are revolutionising the business landscape in the UAE.

Leading the throng of these pioneering businesses CRUZI creator Gina Dillon. When heavy grocery bags weighed her down, she rose to combat the challenge with a brilliant idea.  With a vision to create the world’s first luxury lifestyle stroller, she set out to design something efficient, stylish, and above all, sustainable.

Dillon’s dedication to the project is evident in her determination to overcome every obstacle that arose during the development process. From factory closures and trademark expiration to the challenges posed by COVID-19, Dillon refused to be deterred. Her perseverance ultimately paid off in the form of CRUZI Company’s recent entry into the market.

“Change happens. Don’t be afraid to modify. There’s this magical balance that needs to be achieved. You need equal parts of commitment while still being flexible, confident and knowledgeable. Know what is going on in your chosen arena. Be in touch with your industry,” advises Dillon to budding business owners in the UAE.

With a green factor being key to the design, Dillon’s passion for sustainability is reflected in every aspect of the CRUZI stroller from its materials to its production methods. Aided by a female product designer and a female-led factory in China, she has successfully realised her vision. And thanks to the same, the UAE will now have access to a chic trolley for heavy bags and hot days.



Female Business Owner Gina Dillon


Another shining example of innovative and sustainable practices being embraced is Unwrapped.

Founded by South African entrepreneur Charlene Nawar, the brand offers consumers locally-made, handmade soap and skincare products that are both sustainable and ethical. With a focus on simple, nutrient-dense ingredients, Unwrapped’s products are free from harmful chemicals and are produced in small batches. What sets them apart from cheaper supermarket alternatives is fair wages, a luxury offering that is inarguably superior in quality, and of course, attention to customers and community like no other.

And if all that wasn’t enough, the company also gives back to the environment by partnering with nonprofit organisations through 1% for the Planet.

When it comes to talk of sustainable entrepreneurship, one would be hard-pressed to ignore the apparel industry. However, Nadia Al Shimmari from Denmark has that covered with Hello & GoodBuy.

With thrifting fast becoming popular with all, the preloved clothing platform offers fashionistas sustainable and affordable fashion. By offering an alternative to fast fashion, the company provides eco-conscious patrons the opportunity to buy, sell, and trade preloved items, keeping them out of landfills and reducing waste.

While challenges from the popularity of fast fashion will perennially remain, Al Shimmari remains dedicated to educating her community on the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

Given that the UAE is still young in the sustainable entrepreneurship world, it is encouraging to see female business owners paving the way. By creating innovative, ethical, and sustainable businesses, they are challenging the status quo and inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.

In a sea of good ideas, however, it could get arduous to identify a great one. For fellow budding entrepreneurs, Dillon advises, “This magic comes from timing, launch location, price, consumer need, marketing, political, economic and environmental factors. There’s a trend towards healthier living, environmental consciousness and making the most out of life. Find a consumer problem, solve it, and do your absolute best to not only follow the basic business procedures but sprinkle in the pixie dust while doing it.”


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Image source Gina Dillon

Caroline D’Almeida

A little bit of India, a little more of the UAE, and a lot of shawarma perhaps best captures Caroline’s anatomy. An avid believer in value for money, her hobbies include putting the ‘elite lifestyle’ to the test. And finding cheaper dupes for it all. A Sharjah girl new to the capital, she hopes to discover the pulse of the emirate.