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Fri 3 Nov 2017 11:07 AM

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UAE students use desert plants for aromatherapy start-up

United Arab Emirates University team plans line of herbals teas and coffees, essential oils and massage oils

UAE students use desert plants for aromatherapy start-up

A team of entrepreneurs from United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) are aiming to use the jewels of the desert to bring a new, environmentally-friendly dimension to aromatherapy.

The team is developing a start-up company ‘Aroma Niche’ at UAEU’s Science and Innovation Park (SIP), a research hub and student innovation incubator.

They hit on the idea of extracting the original aroma of native species of desert plants to create chemical free, luxurious, and locally produced healthcare products.

Targeted at the aromatherapy market, their start-up is focusing on producing a line of herbals teas and coffees, essential oils and massage oils, and the students hope their new established startup company will help to put the UAE’s entrepreneurial ecosystem on the map.

“Aroma Niche is a reflection of our deep appreciation towards the UAE,” said Suzan Marwan Shahin, a Ph.D candidate in Horticultural Science at UAEU’s College of Food & Agriculture, who is the founder of the company.

After her initial research, Shahin, her best friend, Rahaf Ajaj,  who is also a Ph.D candidate in Horticultural Science at UAEU and two others created the first databank for the Emirati essential oil-bearing plants.

The databank was compiled over more than two years of extensively reviewing literature on around 800 species native to the UAE. Of these, 135 are considered to bear essential oils.

"I felt such an extensive databank could be a potential tool for scientists from multiple disciplines, such as biology, pharmacology, agriculture, medicine and engineering, which will accelerate their research and promote innovation and discoveries in various fields,” Shahin said.

The ‘Aroma Niche’ team is now looking to work with researchers to look at potentially expanding the business to include a cosmetics line after creating different prototype lines, including herbal tea, coffee, essential oils and massage oils.

“This luxury brand will be unique, based on a solid scientific background and great cultural values that will be emphasized through the fact it has been established from native UAE and GCC plants," she added.

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