Shamma Al Ali, a 25 year old Emirati lady has been an inspiration to all entrepreneurs. All she had were a bowl, a spoon and a whisk. This young Emirati decided to carve a career for herself by choosing her hobby over her vocation. Shamma Al Ali from Ras Al Khaima might have never thought that her mixing, blending and baking skills would be the ones to lead her into the business world.
She started baking as a hobby at the age of nine but never considered it as a career option until a few years ago. Ms Al Ali graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the UAE University in 2018 and hoped to find a suitable job.
“I thought that once I would receive my degree in mechanical engineering, I could immediately find a job with a good salary. But that was not easy and somehow [became] impossible,” she said.
“I thought over and over again about my future and what I really wanted to achieve. I’d lost hope in finding a job and starting a career in mechanical engineering. I always wanted to be productive and an active member of society, but it never occurred to me that my baking skills would shape my future and become my source of living. My family and friends nudged me to start a bakery so I decided to replace my toolbox and mechanical skills with my baking tools and techniques”, she recollected.
Ms Al Ali improved her skills by reading cooking and baking books, online blogs and watching videos. “I was obsessed with baking. My first baking attempt happened 16 years ago when I was 9. I remember it was a tray of chocolate cookies,” she said. “It was a total failure and a real disaster but that did not stop me from trying.”
Six years later, Ms Al Ali not only baked perfect cookies and cakes but created her own recipes. “Whisking flour, eggs, milk and butter while adding my own ingredients and flavours into the mix is what I enjoy the most. It is where I find my true happiness,” she said.
“I used to spend all my pocket money on buying baking tools and ingredients. And each time my parents or brothers think of buying me a gift, they choose to pick something related to baking because they all know what makes me happy”, she said.
In 2018, Ms Al Ali approached Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development for financial support. Her initial plans were to open a small kitchen and a takeaway bakery but that changed after she secured funding.
Ms Al Ali’s bakery is on Flamingo beach in Ras Al Khaimah, where freshly baked cakes, desserts, cookies and brownies along with hot beverages are served to customers. “I started bread baking trials and managed to prepare brioche, focaccia and sourdough bread. We will soon put fresh bread and bakery-style breakfast on the menu,” she said.
“I always intend to add my own touch, try different ingredients such as saffron or change the overall layout of the cake to offer a new experience to my customers and sometimes introduce a new version of a traditional dessert”, she spreads hope to all entrepreneurs.