I don’t have much of a green thumb. When we moved to Dubai, Matt wanted to buy several house plants. I haven’t had a great experience with plants in the past. My last plant was acquired in a pub quiz, an unwanted prize that was left behind. I consistently forgot to water the plant, and eventually Matt rescued it and took it to his apartment to revitalize it. The plant – named Tenzing after the Nepal fundraising quiz were we obtained him – is now residing in Palmerston North, care of Matt’s mum. Needless to say, I wasn’t too excited about the prospect of more house plants.
In Dubai, however, succulents seem to be all the rage! This is great. Succulents basically need no care. They survive for months in the desert with no water. They are perfect for a slightly irresponsible plant mother like myself.
Enable UAE is a social enterprise created by the Desert Group. After initially hiring a number of cognitively disabled Emirati to work as gardeners, the Desert Group expanded its operations to creating beautiful succulent products for general sale. Enable UAE was the winner of the Princess Haya Award for Best Institutional Initiative in 2017, and the Ta’atheer award for Best Community Development 2016. The products for sale are really beautiful and of a high quality – and reasonably priced. The potted succulents start from just 25AED, and go right through to 400 or 500AED for a suitcase full of them! They also sell fountains and small sewn goods.
If you visit the Enable UAE community space in the Dubai Design District, you can even pick the plants and containers you would like for your arrangement, and they will make one up for you! The website does say it was open until 31 May, but it was still running a few weeks ago when I visited. You can also buy Enable UAE products at Dubai Garden Centre, or direct on the Enable UAE website. They are very popular throughout the UAE – even the Jumeirah Etihad Towers had them in their bathrooms!
Of the profit made by each sale, 15% goes to the person who actually created the product, so you are both helping to support the viability of the programme and the person who makes the arrangement. The programme aims to not only create beautiful products, but also help to develop entrepreneurial skills in its participants, helping them to integrate and take part in society.
And the best news? The little succulent bowl I bought during my second week in Dubai is still alive. That’s a testament to their hardiness!
Website: Visit here
Pop-up store: At the Dubai Design District – Enable Community Space
Purchase: Through the website, pop-up store or Dubai Garden Centre