Part of our “Better Together” Photo Story series, featured in the February 2017 issue of Inc. Arabia. Insider stories from sibling and spouse pairs in the MENA Region that co-run companies; and the good and bad that comes with running a family business.
Rania and Zaina Kanaan – Dubai, UAE-based Siblings
Established in 2014, Chari Cycles is a homegrown brand that sources abandoned Japanese bicycle frames and revamps them to suit their customers’ liking. For every five bicycles the Kanaan sisters sell, they donate one to refugee camps around the Middle East. Zaina and Rania also co-run an e-commerce website, Anansa, which commercializes handmade products.
ZAINA: I was shocked at the amount of money Rania had spent on a bicycle she brought home one day. I wanted one too, but I didn’t want to spend so much. We decided to take on a DIY project, watching several YouTube videos and reusing parts of an old bicycle. The end result was exactly what I had envisioned my dream bike to look like: A sea blue color and a basket with flowers. Everywhere I rode it, I got people’s attention and that’s when the first orders started coming.
When we started Chari Cycles, we wanted to make a business that was not just good for the people, but also tied in with all the volunteer work we did. My parents are Palestinian and so they know what it is feels like to have no stable homes. We noticed that there was a severe lack of mobility at camps such as Amari camp in Ramallah, where we spent some time.
Having said that, running a business is expensive in Dubai and the infrastructure here is not made for people who are starting up. Even so, we are fortunate to have a supportive family help us and be proud of what we do.
We look alike, but are opposites. I am creative, and Rania is tactical. She likes things in a format, but if you give me steps, I suffocate. We are best friends too, which means that sometimes, we do lash out at each other when things go wrong. However, Rania and I are deeply spiritual and self-aware, which means that we are constantly exercising our forgiving muscle.
Our generation is taught that over-consumption is the way to happiness. That is something we want to change that with Chari Cycles.
Photograph by: Gabriela Maj