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Emirati students win Dh45,000 each with unique gym idea

DUBAI // Two Zayed University students have won Dh45,000 each for their idea to open a gym for pregnant and elderly women.

Sumaia Alharthi, and Shamma Alfahim, both 21, decided to enter the “Business for Better” competition as this was a good chance for their voices to be heard, said Ms Alharthi.

The competition was aimed at encouraging young entrepreneurs, and eight universities from across the UAE took part.

Ms Alharthi said that students were more creative at producing ideas that people truly need.

The two Emirati women came up with their idea after looking into the demands of people.

“We know what are the demands of the people and actually we studied economics and know the market demands, so we followed that and we came up with the gym,” said Ms Alharthi.

Ms Alfahim, who has two daughters, could not find a gym that catered to her needs during her pregnancy.

“When I was pregnant, there were many spas available but they had a policy that they were not allowed to give massages to pregnant women because they are afraid something would happen,” said Ms Alfahim.

“I really wanted a massage, and I really wanted not to gain that much weight.”

This led the students to think of a gym for women that would include an outdoor swimming pool, special programmes for pregnant women, an area for fitness games for children to play and a nursery.

“Because of the Vitamin D deficiency, we decided to have an outdoor swimming pool to get the exposure,” said Ms Alharthi.

She said that more Emirati women needed to focus on their health, as the number of people with obesity and diabetes was high in the UAE.

Ms Alfahim said: “With our gym, pregnant women can feel free to come and have yoga classes, have consultancy services. They can get advice from people who have experience and they can have their massages with specialised trainers.”

The gym, which they hoped to open soon, would have every facility a pregnant or married woman needs, said Ms Alharthi.

“Nothing will stop women from exercising – that’s the point.

“We will offer all the services they need to not have an excuse. Some of them, they don’t go to the gym because of their children, so bring your children with you.”

When the winners for the competition were announced, the women could not believe it. They each received Dh45,000.

Although the prize money was not enough to open their dream gym, Ms Alharthi said they would still strive to get their project off the ground, perhaps with the help of outside investors, or possibly using their own resources.

Ms Alharthi said she wanted to thank Al Ansari Exchange and Western Union for organising the competition, and her university professors who helped the team create a business plan.

Other prizes in the competition included Dh30,000 for second place and Dh20,000 for third.

Special awards were given for the most innovative idea, the most socially responsible business and the best presentation skills.

The awards ceremony took place in Dubai on Saturday.

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(via The National)