We talk to Majed A Jakka, one of five Emiratis bringing European design to the Gulf
Business can often take you in unsuspected directions.
All the more so when you have an entrepreneurial bent, with an eye on different opportunities and possibilities.
And so it was for a group of five young Emirati businessmen with aspirations to open a chain of coffee shops across the UAE. Little did they realise when they set out on their F&B journey that they would end up in the world of cutting-edge European design, but that’s exactly where they are now as they officially launch their new concept in Abu Dhabi’s renowned arts campus, twofour54.
“It’s been an interesting journey,” says Majed A Jakka, one of the five partners, and at 22 years old the youngest of the quintet.
“We’re a group of five entrepreneur nationals. We’ve been friends for quite a while and had the idea of opening a coffee shop in the UAE. We wanted it to be a new concept - a local concept. Something new for the Emirati market, with international influence by local at its heart. Our idea was to make it a chain - that was our goal.”
But goals can quickly change when new horizons come into view.
Having put together their business plan and started assembling the various parts of their coffee shop idea, their direction drastically changed.
Jakka says: “We’d looked into so much of our concept. The type of coffee we wanted to use, the clients we would be targeting, the different locations in Abu Dhabi and Dubai - lots of different aspects.
“One of the things were were most certain about is that we wanted the coffee shop to have a good brand ID. A brand that would make it stand out because the competitions is so big. It had to be eye-catching and something people would really relate to.
“We scouted a few companies around the world. We wanted to look at companies abroad because they would bring something new to the market here. Through this research we came to a Finnish company called Bond, which came to be our first choice.
“It’s a reatively small company, so we thought they would take care of us, and they’ve not done projects in the region before so it was an interesting prospect for them.”
A series of workshops ensued, with designers from Finland flying to the UAE, taking the partners through potential designs, and understanding their requirements, until one evening things started to change.
“We formed a close relationship with them, and took them out for dinner one day. We were talking about the design business in the UAE and they mentioned it would be nice for them to expand into the region.
“It got us thinking. They have about four or five years behind them in Europe, with a very good client base and some awards to their name. We thought they had a lot to bring to this region as far as design goes, and if we did it the right way, we could change the concept of design and how it is perceived here.
“So we started discussions to bring Bond to the UAE.”
The phrase ‘opportunity knocks’ is rarely used in as accurate a way as it could be for Jakka and his partners.
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