Support Local DXB: How to find Dubai's home-grown businesses, from cafes to galleries

A new website is putting local companies in the spotlight

Support Local DXB now has more than 100 businesses listed. Support Local DXB
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How many home-grown businesses in Dubai can you name? Whatever your answer, Support Local DXB hopes to get that number higher.

The independent online directory, created in response to the coronavirus pandemic, lists small companies based in the emirate in an effort to get consumers to support more local entrepreneurs.

Support Local DXB now lists more than 100 UAE-founded names on its platforms. The minimalist website is easy to navigate and categorises businesses into food, fashion, health and fitness, art, lifestyle, marketing and more. It encompasses the diversity of Dubai’s local business scene, from contemporary art galleries and specialty coffee shops to sustainable fashion labels and bakeries.

The website, along with the concept's Instagram page, details each company’s products or services, along with its location and contact information.

The directory was created in late March by David Hammond, an entrepreneur behind art e-commerce site Drawdeck, after closures due to the Covid-19 outbreak struck small businesses.

“It was a simple idea – try to do something positive and use this opportunity to educate people about businesses that need support, outside of just the franchises … Instead of focusing on the negative, we thought, ‘what can we do to make some kind of impact?’,” he says.

“We have friends and contacts who, for the past five or six years, have built their livelihoods [on their businesses]. Then the coronavirus comes along, and it could very easily destroy those five years of hard work,” he adds.

Gathering information from their network and contacts, Hammond and a friend launched the website in three days, while Hammond’s wife, Ryen, is in charge of the social media strategy. Soon, more home-grown stores approached him to be listed, free of charge, as long as they met the criteria of being a local, small business. The platform has also drawn attention from Dubai Tourism.

It can be more difficult for SMEs to get the attention of local consumers, however, due to anything from smaller budgets for marketing to less prominent locations.

“You kind of have to shout a bit louder when you’re a small business," Hammond explains. "I think the majority of people do want to support them, but if you think of shops in places where there is a lot of footfall, the rents are so high. It’s very difficult for small businesses to get in there unless they have big funding.”

The Support Local DXB website lists small businesses across Dubai. Support Local DXB
The Support Local DXB website lists small businesses across Dubai. Support Local DXB

But Support Local DXB is not just an idea to give small businesses a platform during the pandemic.

“We wanted to do something that can be used when this is over, because it is good to do stuff now, but a lot of these businesses will need as much help in three to four months’ time because they still have to pay rent and trade licenses,” Hammond says.

Support Local DXB hopes to eventually launch an app where users can search for local businesses within their vicinity, and to market the platform to tourists who seek to explore Dubai’s organic business scene.