Handmade items/Hobby ~ business in Dubai.

Dear Friends,

Often I have been asked on my blog if I run classes and could employ people and/or for some kind of guidance in this field.

Recently amongst the many calls I receive for some guidance was a call from Rida Farooq who also wished for some direction in this matter, staying in UAE.

Firstly, by no means, am I, an expert but I could only provide some of my own experience in this field.

I am a papercrafter and create handmade greeting cards, altered art, book binding and recylable items.  To view a full range of my cards and papercrafting creations, please click here.  In the past I have taught in schools and institutes but realized that these venues provide a large limitation on budget and generally dont fullfill their pledge when they advertize a product to their clients.

Therefore, I decided to offer private classes for children as well as ladies. I offer classes from my home at the Arabian Ranches every quaterly. For the children, there is a beginners and advanced art class covering all aspects and mediums of creating art works including water colors, arcylics etc.  And for the ladies, classes are limited to the various aspects of papercrafting.  I am not a sewer (which I would have loved to be !)

5 years back, I chose not to get involved in full time business for various reasons which do not apply now. But becoz you could be in a similar situation I am disclosing it to you.

1: My kids were alot younger and I prefered to do something on the side, rather than jump into a full time commitment which I may not be able to fullfill.

2: Business, in this part of the world is rather complicated with the involvement of trade liscence, visa procedures, having a partner’s constant involvment ( to have a business in Dubai or UAE, one must have a local “arbab” who is the local representative or sponsor of the business, although his involvment could be limited, in terms of finance and decisions, nevertheless, one has to pay him a fee on an annual basis, depending on the individual case )

I too, like many, prefered to manage from the comfort of my home while waiting for the right opportunity. (Which by the way, may not be the most ideal situation for you, but it “WAS” for me.)

Having said that, now, for what you should do, if you feel you have a talent which has the potential of bringing in, monetary gains ? Well, Primarily find out what exactly you wish to pursue ? You have the choice of selling your product or selling your skills ? Which would you prefer. That is ‘THE’ most important question. Please realize that most people who visit us in our homes or our friends, are going to praise our “ART” skills, becoz that is the polite thing to do, but are they appreciating it so much as to buy it ?

Next, having determined which direction you choose, “NETWORK”  … It is a KEY WORD. Talk to people at work or spouces’ friends, or neighbours, friends of friends and spread the word that you can offer some skills or you have products which you would like to sell.  Which ever, but first find out from your community, what response you get.

Another important aspect is “LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION” as they say in the business jargan . Perhaps you reside rather far from where your potential customers are. Well, then you have to find a way or a channel to come to them, if they cant come to you.

Here, I can also suggest that selling online is also another option. It has benefitted several folks, I know. And its really not as complicated as we make it out to be. There are several sites where you can join to be able to sell thru eg : ETSY.

One drawback about handmade items is that , being handmade, naturally they are always above the regular prices, and there is generally only a particular kind of clientele which appreciates handmade. So reaching them is the question here.

In my opinion, ARTE ~ Artisians of the Emirates,  provides an excellent and very balanced platform for the new hobbyist. They are a monthly “souk” ~ exhibition/fair where you can participate on a monthly basis once you register with them. What I would advise to some one like Rida, is that you should probably visit one of their exhibitions/fairs which is held every first friday of the month at the Times Square on Sheikh Zayed road. Get a feel of how they exhibit and what are the kind of products that sell, talk to the vendors, and see how you think, you can place yourself there.  You can reach arte from here : ARTE  or join their facebook group here : Arte

One amongst the score of ladies selling handmade crafty items at the fair. She creates fantastically creative wall hangings.

If you feel more confident then this could be one way you could choose to move in. Another permanent option is where you take up a space/store/shop in a small sized mall or a larger mall. Depending on your budget, these are the basic two ways to go in. Both can turn out to be fruitful provided you believe you have what it takes to make it suceed.

I know of ladies, who have started out from Arte, moved on to get a space thru the Freezone but they struggled, becoz they were located far from the reach of the “REAL” client and I also know of women, who persisted with home business for years before actually opening up large size stores in more renowned malls. We all have our own situations to deal with, so in the end, it boils down to what your situation and budget is like.

I could go on forever on this subject but the most important thing is, that you set your priorities right first and see where you place your hobby/skills. There are scores of books written on this subject. But the bottom line is, as my closest friend Judith put it when I was in a delimma too, was “Running a store/shop/full fledge business is like getting on an ongoing  threadmill”  If you get what I mean. Are you 100% committed ? If so, and if not so too, trying out opportunities is alot better than waiting to let things happen to us, get out there, RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH and atleast make an effort to know where you stand with your product.

If I can be of any help. Feel free to contact me.

I hope you found my little article informative, inspiring and educational. If so, kindly leave a comment to tell me how and what you feel.

56 thoughts on “Handmade items/Hobby ~ business in Dubai.

  1. hi Naush,i just came across your blog and i found it very informative.thanks for sharing these information with us.i love to craft.specially needle craft and sewing.what you have said about handmade products are very true.i personally love handmade,home made any thing and everything..but that is a very limited crowd who value handmade.so i think selling our hand made products are bit difficult and very challenging..

  2. hi,

    We are launching a website in the Middle East which will allow women who make hand made items to sell for free through the site. Would this interest you?


  3. hi Naush
    what a splendid blog! thank you so much for your visit and consequently featuring the ARTE Artisans of the Emirates. We hope to see you back as a vendor one day soon.

  4. Hi Naush, this is a very informative article, however I would warn one word of caution for those who wish to run business/teach from home, hold group parties selling things etc, it is actually illegal unless you are Emirati, so you need to be very careful who you are teaching and must make sure that money is not seen to change hands at something like this. I know of one Expat lady who used to do some craft lessons from home a number of years ago. Her working partner (another Western Expat) fell out with her and reported her to the municipality for working from home. So while it’s a great idea, and I think should be allowed, you need to be aware of what could happen. As an artist, I attend ARTE too, and have done so since the very first one in Crown Plaza and agree that it’s a good platform for someone starting out, selling their crafts. It would be good to see more artisans there demonstrating their skills too. This creates a point of interest for people to come back and see, and also helps them understand why hand crafted items are more expensive than manufactured ones. – one brief word about the timing – Times Square is on the SECOND Friday of the month and Festival City is on the First Friday of the month. I also 100% agree with you about Research, and having found it there is a market for your items …. then you could begin the trawl of likely shops in Dubai, too, that mioght sell your precious items.

    Good luck to all who venture into hand crafted items …. Thanks for writing this Naush.

    • Dear Friends,
      Carrie has made some excellent and importants points here. I appreciate your comments carrie. Thank you so much for poping over and leaving some love in my blog home 🙂

  5. Loved your article. Everything you say I have found to be very true – especially the importance of Location, a good marketing plan and most of all networking. All of this I have been able to do through ARTE. They have been a great support for young handmade businesses. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Dear Naush,

    You have definately found a great friend in ARTE..
    Yes ARTE has helped people in ways more than one
    I too have my daughter who is very good at art but due to school and other time constraints is unable to participate much at ARTE.
    Would there be some way that we could find a way for her to develop her creative works especially hand made cards .
    do let me know


  7. hi naush, thanks. it was very informative. I am an artisit + crafter my self. I always wanted to take this seriously but my kidz were & still are too young 🙂 by saying that i mean the younger one is 10 months old :). but i have just started my work and wanted sum guidelines… to exhibit my work in dubai.

    ur blog is very informative…. & on top of it all, i m glad to knw, dat something craft related IS going on in dubai…


  8. Hey.
    Your blog is great and i´m very impressed what you made of your talent! Beeing creative is a way to get relaxed and makes happy when you see the result of this lovely work. Isn´t it?
    I make teddybears since 6 years. For babys, for children but the most for adults.
    In germany i sold it very successfully but here in Dubai i don´t know how i can do it. I
    And getting an own business? Oh no, i think it is toooo difficult and risky.
    I saw there a little market where you also sell your lovely cards. Maybe this is a posibility for me? I would be very happy if you answer me.
    Kind regards. Christine

  9. Thank you; some really good advice and helpful tips and information. I feel I can really relate to a lot of what you have written about and it’s great to know I am not the only person with such thoughts and ideas. Thank you for writing your blog, it is very inspirational.

      • Hi Naush, thanks for such a great and informative article! I have been trying to find this out too -whether one needs a licence to sell from home. So far I’ve been told no, both by two locals, one being a sponsor. But still somehow don’t feel sure. Is this correct?

      • Thank you for writing to me Nabeela. I would strongly recommend that you check with the municipality department as well as the economic dept regarding this. I would only go by someone who is in a position of authority ~ even since the rules here, tend to change very quickly.
        Best regards

  10. HI..I need your help:) I am making some handcrafts and diaper cakes and I am also wondering do I need licence to sell my crafts. If u can send me ur aanswer on my email : iffkica@gmail.com.
    Thanks in advance 🙂

  11. Hi, thank you for your blog, very encouraging. i make handmade things at home too and wanted to start selling them, its a very small selection at the moment,,, do i need to register it or get licensed if its a hobby that makes a little bit of money? your answer will really help. thanks !

  12. HI, thank you so much for such an informative article, although I am still a little unclear about selling online. do we have to be affiliated with a website like Etsy to sell, or can we sell from our own website… your answer will be very much appreciated. 🙂
    Thank You.

  13. Hello friends….
    from morning I m hearing about arte…I crochet afghans and have made a collection of crochet clutches n purses….I dunno whom n where to giv them…..

    • Dear Dr Simmi, I suggest, you should build up your network group of friends, since the code these days is social media networking. You can join the Arte Market at Times square, or the Ripe Market at Safa park or the Courtyard. To begin with, all these venues are good launching pads.
      Thank you for visiting me.

  14. Hi Naush,
    Your article is very helpful, thank you. I wanted to ask you a question according to your experience in the field. I make notebooks, they are half handmade and half made with machines, I’d like to sell them in the UAE so I was thinking of contacting retailers and stores,but I don’t know if that’s possible. Do they require papers or license to do so. I’m from Egypt so I don’t know the law in the UAE. In Egypt I just go to a store, make a deal with them, and my products are in their store on the same day. Is it that simple In the UAE or is there any requirements?

    Thanks a lot,

    • Thank you for your comment Rola. In Dubai, in order to sell your products, you need to have a Trade license. Unless, you join a handmade items market like ARTE or join the Courtyard. Kindly google for both.
      Best regards

  15. Hello Naush!..love your blog!..i am an expat leaving in Abu Dhabi and wanted to ask you if its illegal to teach crafts from home?…and if it is, is there a license one can have in order to teach crafts at home to individuals?… i know a lot of ladies give workshops to their homes but haven t figure out if it s legal or not!
    i would love to teach how to make jewels… any reply could help!..thank you very much!

    • Hello Maria. Thank you for visiting my blog. To the best of my knowledge, anywhere, where there is an exchange or transaction of money for any kind of product or service without a trade license is considered illegal. The rules and regulation of Abu Dhabi are slightly different from that of Dubai’s so I would request you to kindly approach the Economic department for getting relevant and updated information as well as for procuring a license. Jewellry making is fantastic and Its great that we have a seasoned Jewelry making teacher, amidst us. Would love to meet up some day and view your pieces of art. Do you have a blog, I could visit ?

    • Hi Sallyann. Thank you for your visit and message here. Could you kindly call me on 050-4545049 and we can discuss the valentine cards.

  16. Hi naush
    I’m making hanmade jwellery. do I need a license to join ARTE Market or to sell in other crafts markets


    • Hi Anju. You do not need a license to sell your jewelry, if you join the Arte Market or any other craft fair. However, in any other case you would need a license. I suggest, primarily, you should have a facebook page or a blog to display your goods.

  17. Aoa! Hi Nash!
    I’my an art lover and creative upto some extent. I make handmade cards for my close ones. Now thinking to take this creativity to next level by making handmade cards on order. Can you please guide me from where I can get the raw material in Abudhabi for card making.
    I’ll be waiting for your reply.

    • Walaikum salam Zunaira. Glad your taking your hobby to the next level. However, I may not be the best person to give you guidance on locations in Abu Dhabi.
      Please check if Dubai Library distribution has a branch in Abu Dhabi. I generally buy my cardstock from them in large piles. They have a huge color variety as well as perfect paper strength.
      All the best.

  18. Hi would like to know if u need license for hand made jewellery …I just started making from the month of March this year…as of now my friends buy from home…but would like to know more regarding the license…I have a 6month old baby so would b diff for me to stay in stall whole day …so I would like to Know if selling from home to u need license.

    • Hello Rheanna.
      I am glad to know that your jewelry is being appreciated however please remember, if you are going to participate in any of the fair like Arte, Ripe market or others, you DO NOT NEED a trade license but any product transaction that carries exchange of money, requires that you must have a trade license.
      If you don’t wish to acquire a full fledge business ~ then you can opt to sell online by procuring a ecommerce trade license. Please check with Dept of Economic development for exact requirements.
      Best of Luck.

  19. Hi there.

    Just checking is selling on etsy legal from dubai? Selling illustrations or digital art? Even if im not apart of arte?

    • Kay, I suggest, you should check with Dubai Economic Department regarding this. There are a few grey areas and hence It would be best to have the laws pertaining to Etsy, straight from the horse’s mouth.

  20. Hi Mam Naush,
    I’m always avid fun of this kind of blog (about craft) i love crafting and wanted to sell some of my handmade stuff. it’s inspire me more whenever i’ve come to this topic. just wanna ask if there is necessary documentation and fees in order to join in Arte, Times square, or Flea market?
    thank you in advance.


    • Hello Bob, I apologize for the delay to this message. Crafting is a way to channelize your creative energies in the right manner. There is a table fee at Arte, which covers your table and advertising charges. While I encourage you to try our Arte first, I would discourage you from trying Flea markets. From my experience, the crowd that you get at flea markets, may not appreciate ‘handmade items and the prices along with it’. However when some one is visiting Arte, they are aware that they are paying for high quality handmade products, hence they are prepared for the prices.
      I hope you continue to work on your crafts and find success in it.

  21. Hi. I just happen to visit this blog.

    Is your shop still existing where you let ladies sell their hand made creative things

  22. Hi Naush, I’m a stay-at-home mom of one in Abu Dhabi, and I am really interested in DIY arts and crafts and recently I’ve been thinking of selling a few crafts, not as a big business but just as a hobby, like most. I once saw a lady selling small crafts at our complex near waitrose super market, I could not get any details from her if she was doing this alone or through some sponsorship as I was in a hurry. Seeing this and a couple of my friends who sells items in other middle eastern countries I was interested in doing something similar in a smaller scale (don’t want my talent to go to waste). I don’t really know anyone here who does anything similar and I can’t work full time either (though I have a degree in Interior design). I really want to know how exactly I should start on this, it would be great if it was as easy as selling things on a table in our own complex, but what procedures are there to be followed? Is it legal to do so? If not what are the procedures for that?

    • Hi Saku. Thank you for your mail. Its always lovely ‘meeting’ a crafty friend. However, most of us are in the same boat as yourself. Most people prefer to get an immediate response and monetary return, and hence join craft markets. (Which I think is great), however, if you feel, your handiwork will be appreciated on an international level, then you could open an online etsy store or a shopify store as well. The only way, to sell products in UAE is by procuring a trade license thru the Economic Department. (which is an unfortunately long, tedious, and expensive route) however, if you join the craft markets like Arte, you don’t need a license. You are then selling under their umbrella license. I wish you all the best Saku. Please let me know how your creative journey progresses.

  23. Hi, I am relocating n have loads of organza drawstring pouches of various sizes n colors, srubber stamps, jewelkery making accessories, crystals etc etc, blank cards n envelopes , how n where can I advertise to sell these. Thank you.

    • Hi Jenny. You can try to sell your surplus supplies on Dubizzle or any of the New Dubai, community pages. Could you please call or whatsapp me on 050-4545049. I might be able to pick your stamps, jewelry findings etc. All the best with your move !

  24. Hi naush !u r a real ispiration for all of us who r craft lovers n makers .My name is nazia mother of 3 .Goin shops n running business is not a cup of tea for me.I reside in Arabian Ranches n really have no idea how to approach customers n sell my product.I hve been crafting gift items with paper foamie n felt material .Would really need guidance to how to start (arte again not easy for me ) as have 3 kids to take care alone.please if u cn give me proper guidance i will b really happy .tc

    • Thank you for your lovely mail Nazia. I suggest you should try and find portals, like craftihood, Biddi to sell your goods, thru.

  25. Hi Naush, your raised quite a few good points in your article, good job!

    We recently launched Craftihood (http://craftihood.com), a free platform that will hopefully help all the artisans in the UAE to easily showcase their talent and maybe make some money out of it 🙂

    All the best with your crafting and let’s work hard to make the handmade world of the Middle East grow!

  26. Hello Nayush! Very nice article. Myself Kavita . I am house wife staying in Dubai. I am planning to make tealight candles for diwali at home and sell them. For that also do I have to take license and register for making candles at home or I can sell in arte . Can u please give me some guidance!
    I will be obliged.

    • Hello Kavita. Primarily, you should set up a facebook site for your product so you have a platform for you customers to view and order your products. I suggest, you join the Arte fair where you wont need a license.

  27. Hi Naush,
    im so happy found your website, i too love doing some handmade products it’s actually become my stress releaver, im a working mom but still love to do crafting infact i planned my time in order to manage doing this hobby, theres no day i woke up thinking about crafting, it inspired me to do something from making card, jewellry made of beads, house decoration, ribbons and paper flowers, even recycling some stuff or the used items from our kitchen. was planning to join the arte but it’s not opening the website, would like to know if still ok to join the Arte fair?

    thank you for sharing your experienced it helps people like me who love crafting.

    • Hello Anna Liza. Its wonderful to meet someone who is a working mom and still manages to nurture her creativity. Truly inspirational.
      I would highly recommend that you start a facebook page and an instagram page. They are the bare minimum necessities, these days.
      Please get in touch with Miriam at Arte. https://www.arte.ae/
      In addition there are a few spring fairs which are taking place in certain schools too.
      Ripe is an excellent platform but a bit too pricey.
      Please find out if the market in Al Barsha park is running or not.
      There is market set up in Al warqa park but its new and quite expensive for 10 days.
      I am only too happy to guide and help anyone trying to navigate the hobby industry.
      Much Love

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