The Little Fair Trade Shop Shows Masdar Its Big Heart

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Come sun or more sun, Sabeen Ahmed intends to keep growing the Middle East’s first fair trade store.

Along with other vendors, Sabeen Ahmed set up her little eco-booth for the first time at Masdar City’s Street Fair and Organic Market last Friday. The first to introduce Fair Trade to the Middle East, she normally sells her wares at the weekend Covent Garden Market in Dubai, where she is surrounded by consumers who prefer brand names to the humble products painstakingly crafted by struggling artisans. But the Little Fair Trade Shop’s founder is so passionate about what she does that she presses on despite a flock of obstacles.

Little Fair Trade Shop, Dubai, eco-store, green design, sustainable design

Mrs. Ahmed recognizes my red and yellow bead bracelets crafted by Masaai people in Kenya since she imports similar fair trade products from the same tribe.

But her vision is not limited to the African continent. The high-quality products she sells include stunning copper necklaces from Egypt, incredily detailed embroidered fabrics from India, as well as recycled glass jewelry from South America that caught my wandering eye.

According to Fairtrade International, “Not all trade is fair. Farmers and workers at the beginning of the chain don’t always get a fair share of the benefits of trade. Fairtrade enables consumers to put this right.”

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After returning several hours later, it seems that Mrs. Ahmed is successfully doing her part. With Emirati and expatriate families pulsing through the streets of Masdar, her table was surrounded by half a dozen women cooing over the colorful crafts. My favorite trapeze glass pendant had long been whisked up.

Mrs. Ahmed’s husband Mr. Ali has spent almost his entire adult life working in the hospitality industry, and the Little Fair Trade Shop belongs entirely to his wife. But he supports what she is doing. In fact, he says that he has learned a lot about eco-developments through her efforts.

“I feel for her though since she spends all day in the terrible heat.” Modeled after its namesake in England, the Covent Garden Market in Dubai is an outdoor event that takes place during the “cooler months.” But towards the end, the heat can be unbearable.

Despite her extraoridinary commitment and heart, Mrs. Ahmed explains that she has to go to the UK if she wants her business to be a success. People in the Middle East don’t really understand what fair trade means, Mrs. Ahmed told me.

“Whereas people in the United States and Europe are aware of fair trade principles, I have to educate people from the grassroots up.”

If she is able to do well in England, then Mrs. Ahmed can continue the good work of generating more momentum in the Middle East as well.

To learn more about the Little Fair Trade Shop or to support their work, please visit their facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=187296530075&v=info .

More Eco-design and Products from the Middle East:

MADEO Consolidates Stylish and Eco-Friendly Design Products

This Toothbrush is a Miswak

Online and in Dubai, Ekotribe Caters to the Green Minded

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3 thoughts on “The Little Fair Trade Shop Shows Masdar Its Big Heart”

  1. Dear Sir/Madam;
    Hello & Good Evening from India!
    How are you?

    At first greetings from all of us here at Artisans Effort!

    Brief of Artisans Effort:

    Artisans Effort is a family owned private organization working only with fair trade import organizations and following fair trade criteria.

    The Artisans Effort groups of artisans are from various places in local but most from Howrah (West Bengal – India),all specialists in their own fields in handicrafts items.They came together under one roof as they had heard about fair trade.

    They heard that with fair trade you are treated with respect, that a fair price is paid and that a good relation is built between the producer and seller. All of us attached with this organisation had been previously not treated well. They had many problems like eg. not being paid well, there was irregularity of work and above all were rudely treated.
    Slowly this group started to know more about fair trade procedures and had also attended the Fair Trade Forum in India to know more about the fair trade.

    This is how Artisans Effort was born in October 2003.

    PRODUCT RANGE OF ARTISANS EFFORT:

    LEATHER ACCESSORIES,SILK SCARVES & PONCHOS,JEWELLERY,COTTON EMBROIDERED BEDSPREADS,CUSHION COVER,COTTON EMBROIDERED WALL HANGINGS,EMBOIDERED LADIES TOPS,COTTON EMBROIDERED BAGS,PAPER PRODUCTS,COTTON STUFFED HANGING TOYS,RE-CYCLED PRODUCTS ,COTTON KAFTANS ETC.

    OUR MOTTO:

    WE BELIEVE THAT FAIR TRADE ENABLES BEAUTIFUL HAND MADE PRODUCTS TO BE SOLD AT A PRICE THAT IS BOTH REASONABLE FOR THE CUSTOMER AND LIFE CHANGING FOR THE ARTISANS.

    We always try to build long term trade relation with the handful of customers we work with.

    We hope to give you the best service possible.

    Thanks and God Bless!

    Long Live Fair Trade!

    Best Regards,

    Artisans Effort

    Ejaz & Shaista

    ARTISANS EFFORT

    376/2 SARAT CHATTERJEE ROAD,
    H.I.T. PLOT NO.24 & 25
    HOWRAH-711103
    WEST BENGAL – INDIA

    http://www.artisanseffort.ind.in

  2. Dear Atarah, thanks for the comment. Probably the first fair trade shop was at an outdoor craft market somewhere, and no-one called it “fair trade.” I think it would be virtually impossible to say who is the first.

  3. Wonderful news about the spread of Fair Trade initiatives in the Middle East. However, to correct the author, the first Fair Trade shop in the Middle east was actually in Israel, pioneered by Ahoti, a feminist social movement that addresses the needs of women living on the periphery. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3718597,00.html

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