As you walk into the Ethiopian restaurant Al Habasha, Hor Al Anz, you are ushered into a friendly atmosphere of people chatting and relishing authentic Ethiopian cuisine. The setup is modern, yet has local cultural elements to make an expat feel at home. The owner, Sara Aradi, an Ethiopian expat living in Dubai for the past 25 years, is today a successful entrepreneur with nine branches of the restaurant spread across the UAE.
Sara opened up her first restaurant in Deira 18 years back and it soon became a hanging out place for the community to come together. "Earlier, there was no embassy or counsellor for the Ethiopian community in Dubai - our restaurant was the place to meet and discuss community issues, marriages, meet ups, and celebrate festivities," she shares. "If you work hard and follow the rules - you will find success in the region. The country allows expats to set up their businesses and grow. Plus, one receives ample support from the government. I became an entrepreneur here."
Afendi Muteki, an ethnographic researcher and author, was recently in Dubai for a short trip and is now planning to relocate to the region. "I had come to Dubai to visit my wife, who resides here. I explored the Emirates and visited Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Ajman. Everything about the land pleased me - sophisticated infrastructure, up-to-date technology, and the hospitality of the people. I've made up my mind to make Dubai my home - a comfortable and modern home."