The Journey So Far…
So one night, I bumped into “yet” another idea.
Why not start a food forum in UAE? I spoke to Lasheen Yusuf. Apart from being my brother, he is the person that enjoys giving me a reality check. Like…
1. Ya right, like you have that kind of time to do this?
2. Another idea? Seriously???
About 10 in the night, I was convinced that this is happening. Made the group, a cover picture and added all my friends (with a note requesting them to support this “yet another idea”)
It took off like a forest fire. All through the night, the notifications kept piling up. It was hard to ignore that. In a matter of a few months, all the online faces turned into real connections at our first ever food meet at Holiday Inn Express, Jumeirah. We had interactive sessions and a “Smoothie Workshops” by Reema Haseeb.
We started out as “another” food forum. By then there were tons of WhatsApp groups and Facebook groups. To be honest, we did not have a vision at that time but we found a great community to start with. About 10 to 15 “hard core foodies” and friends, who thankfully never asked the question.. “What’s the purpose of UAE Food Guide?”
The vision and the purpose was all revealed over time. Some of the foodies moved away from main stream to the periphery. So we continuously have new faces, new needs and fresh ideas. “The Spirt” of the forum was mainly the “High Quality Interaction” that the meet up brought about.
We went on to Impromptu meetups, Potlucks, Bake Sale, Celebrating legendary Chefs, Restaurant trails and reviews. .
The introduction to the group would not be complete without mention of my Good friend, Zerin Hussain, who supported the Foundation. As we took baby steps, unsure of where we were going, her expertise was invaluable. The event that really made a huge impact was the “Bake Sale”.
We have had some foodies.. who simply stuck through right from the beginning, without Batting an eyelid. They never left.Simply.. Urged me to get moving, when the going got tough. SO Sincere gratitude to Lanzia Basheer and Rasminah Usman.
Right from the beginning, Lasheen Yusuf, the amazing “events guy” and my “small venture consultant”, always worked ahead. Envisioning where we are going, was always far-fetched for me at that point. He had the Vision, and I stuck to what the principles and values required.
Lasheen Yusuf had other plans charted out for him. Apparently! He, passed away in a Car accident about 2 years ago. So quite obviously, going ahead with this venture seemed pointless. The compass ceases to exist physically. Plus, without him, the group lacked a major charm. For some foodies, it was a reminder of his passing. For others…they lost interest in the group transiently.
Many a times, it was sheer mental torture to talk “food” when grieving. Yet nothing really came close to relief as much as food and neutral conversations about food.
Slowly, I along with the group started all over again. Fully understanding that, though I started this, it’s not just about me. We were a platform of “very powerful” 6000 odd people. The meet ups made me realize, it would be invaluable to keep this platform viable, not just for me…also for just about anybody who wants to step on and explore something.
We made our first ever Food Panel. Super creative and energetic. All the “Arms of UAE food Guide” finally started growing. That was the kind of environment that we had to create for all the ideas to bloom into meaningful and sustainable projects.
We are at our best ever now. About 20 people voluntarily pitching in to make this platform “what it is”. To explore, empower and follow dreams. Some of my dreams are on its way and some will take more time, effort and minds. It takes a community to fulfill a dream! We have that community here in UAE Food Guide.
Rini Siyan and Tahseen Rebie, Apparently have been there all along. But came up in a huge way as we formed the panel. The amount of dedication and hard work by these 2 are Unbelievable!
Leneeza Basheer, Narmeen Haefa, Shabina Afzal,Soofia Siddiq Nihila Anas, Aysha Nida,Naaz Zooni,Mehnaz Rafeque, Nikhat Fathima,Sahana Vikas.. Were Some of the members who have actually helped during the foundation months!
On that note I end the rundown on our history, by deeply expressing gratitude to all the foodies who stuck with this forum, not just when it was well… but when it was ailing too.