Emirati businesswoman's bamboo towels promote green living and cultural celebration

Hanadi Al Fahim promotes green business practices through a sustainable line

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An enterprising Emirati businesswoman is helping to clean up the planet after rolling out an eco-friendly line of towels made of bamboo and recycled plastic bottles.

Hanadi Al Fahim launched Bu – short for bamboo – in October this year to help drive efforts to safeguard the environment.

It offers a range of beach and gym towels on its website which are “culturally inspired and sustainably crafted”.

The products will also be on sale during Cop28 at the Terra Sustainability Pavilion, part of the green zone open to the public.

Ms Al Fahim had previously established a project to champion the UAE's national tree, the ghaf, in 2005, and opened an art gallery a year later.

Bamboo shoots of eco recovery

But she feels like she has found her calling with her latest venture, which brings together her love of creativity and green causes.

“Bu towels started because of my love for the environment and particularly the beach and my passion for the arts,” Ms Al Fahim said.

“I consider myself fortunate to have discovered a business that combines all my passions under one umbrella.”

The towels showcase designs inspired by Emirati culture and traditions and made in collaboration with local artists.

“The towels are like canvasses – a platform to showcase Emirati culture and a new medium to exhibit the works of artists from the region,” she said.

Sustainable focus

The creation process involved sourcing the right fibres, learning about their properties and exploring various styles of towel weaves.

“I thought it was going to be an easy journey but it wasn’t without its challenges,” said Ms Al Fahim.

“Starting in the vast towelling industry, I simply knew I wanted bamboo as the main ingredient in my towels, setting the foundation for Bu.”

Adding recycled plastic to the mix ensured the towels had a sharp print on the surface.

The company also sells reusable make-up pads, and scented candles using non-toxic wax and scents, while its canvas bags are plastic-free and biodegradable.

Bu donates two per cent of its net profits to Emirates Nature-WWF, to help support environmental initiatives.

Customers are also urged to return used towels back to Bu, which are then donated to animal shelters.

Towels can be handed in or it can be arranged for them to be collected by the company from the customer's home.

“Growing up within the family business, I was taught that whatever business you start, you have to donate a part of the profits to charity,” said the businesswoman.

Emirati culture on display

As well as promoting an eco-conscious mindset, Ms Al Fahim is eager to celebrate the best of the UAE for her colourful products.

“I envisioned these towels not only as a local celebration but as ambassadors of Emirati and Arab culture. When tourists buy them, they carry a piece of the UAE, showcasing our culture worldwide as the towels journey across the globe with our cultural prints.

“As a former gallery owner, my passion for supporting the arts inspired me to collaborate with artists in the UAE and the region and give them a new platform and medium to showcase their works.

“I have plans to expand the range to include items such as hair towels and bands. The possibilities are limitless, as long as bamboo remains the key ingredient in our products.”

Ms Al Fahim will continue collaborating with artists to feature Emirati and regional art.

“I have a whole line-up of artists I’m eager to collaborate with, and I’m so excited about the possibilities,” she said.

Her advice to others seeking success in life and work is to pursue their passion.

“I say it and I really believe it, do what you are passionate about because you will go through moments where you want to give up and where you question yourself but your passion will keep you going.”

UAE businesses go green

This factory in the UAE can recycle 1 billion plastic bottles a year

DGrade's recycling factory in Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD).

In September, The National shone a light on other UAE businesses embracing sustainable solutions to combat the climate crisis.

A drive to make the traditional abaya – a robe worn by millions of women across the Arab world – more sustainable is being led by a young Palestinian entrepreneur.

Zein Altawil, 24, a computer science graduate at Khalifa University and founder of Yello, wants to make production of the garment more ethical and better for the environment.

She said the making of a single abaya could generate 12kg of carbon dioxide emissions.

Meanwhile, a company in Dubai is helping to improve recycling rates by turning millions of plastic bottles discarded each month into clothes.

The team at DGrade said the more items they make, the less plastic waste that ends up in landfill.

From T-shirts to jackets and caps to face masks, the high-quality yarn made from recycled plastic bottles replaces traditional polyester yarn.

Updated: November 22, 2023, 9:59 AM