Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Interview: HAYAWIIA brings healthy, premium gourmet foods to the UAE

Derived from the Arabic term for health, vitality and vigour, HAYAWIIA is a premium destination for gourmet food designed to cater to a healthy lifestyle. Meet Tahany Taher, Co-founder, HAYAWIIA.

Why have you chosen to launch this platform in the UAE?
It was an obvious choice for a number of reasons both personal and professional level.

On a personal note, the United Arab Emirates is my home; it is the place that has given me my greatest joys and made me the person that I am today. The country is one of the few places in the world that follows the principle that acceptance of all is a virtue. The number of different nationalities present in the UAE is a testament to that belief.

On a professional note, UAE is one of the most progressive countries in the world especially on the digital front. It is a place that prides itself on being in the forefront of digital growth in this region. Innovation and perseverance are the bywords that have infused each and every aspect of life in the UAE. 

That also leads to a uniqueness in the cuisines available across the country. There are numerous places catering to the entire diaspora of the UAE from American fast food to fine dining Mongolian cuisine. These are just two of the many reasons behind the birth of HAYAWIIA.

The brand espouses the same ethos. For us, it is about inclusion and the uniqueness of product. Our philosophy will always be to provide as many options and cater to everyone’s needs.

Tahany Taher and Co-Founder Akram Oomer

How do you see increasing demand for healthy and organic in the region?
I think growth in terms of organic and healthy foods and lifestyle has always existed and with the advent of COVID-19, it has just urged people to move towards leading a more fitter and healthier lifestyle. This is definitely not a fad diet, this is a way of living. Understanding the importance of our own health coupled with the health of the world around us is a philosophy that is espoused by a wider audience than ever before.

The surprising and ironic aspect is the fact that technology is helping that shift to take place, from better farming techniques to a better understanding of how food interacts with our bodies. That is the environment that has allowed HAYAWIIA to be accepted by the general public. In the past, HAYAWIIA would have been viewed as more of a niche market rather than the norm, but today, people have adopted such lifestyles and healthier eating habits. Our team is constantly finding new brands and vendors that will continue satisfying the needs of our fellow HAYAWIIANS aka our customers (as we’d like to call them!).

Do you think hotels and restaurants will cater to this by purchasing more of said products?
Most businesses in the past have generally been less inclined to pivot and change due to a number of constraints and biases. Consumer and brand interaction was less and there wasn’t an understanding of their needs. In today’s world that doesn’t stand true, now consumers have a voice. The advent of the internet age has created an environment where businesses are given a feedback on a regular basis – with the help of digitization. A lot of that feedback is now focused on the importance of healthy and organic food. That is the catalyst that has created a shift, by this business segment and others, to move towards a more sustainable and healthier option profile.

Before you would have been hard pressed to find an organic vegan restaurant, but now nearly every upscale restaurant will have quite a few meal options catering towards those who want to lead a healthy lifestyle. Beyond that, the shift has also allowed for creation of several business models that focus on those types of eating requirements – keto, gluten free, vegan etc. I do see a future, where healthier options would compete on a regular basis with non-healthy options. We live in times where even the largest fast food chain in the world is now moving towards offering healthier alternatives. I believe that HAYAWIIA will also help with this transition and be part of this movement.

Every step that we take to make ourselves and the world around us a happier and healthier place are steps that we are taking to safeguard our future. We hope that through HAYAWIIA we are able to contribute in our own small little way to the people, and us taking those steps together. We want to bring about transformation in the way people lead their lives –  give more importance to their health and eating habits.

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