Matar al Mansoori took a big risk when he set up Al Badeyah Eyes Tourism last summer in a place where desert safaris are 10-a-penny. He knew he had to offer something different if he wanted to carve out a niche in the market. Al Badeyah, meaning “the life of the Bedouin”, is how he wants his guests to see his camp, through the eyes of the Bedouin. The camp is bedecked with luxurious tents in the area where he grew up, close to his family farm.
Giving his visitors a more authentic experience than the expected belly dancer and shisha pipe, the experience focuses instead on the real culture and heritage of Bedouin life. Mr al Mansoori, 34, is among a generation of young Emiratis launching their own small businesses. He has been employed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1998; during his tenure he worked with the country’s ambassadors in Morocco and South Africa.
“They say success is a long journey and along the way you must face a lot of obstacles and failures,” he said of his business, “but I must continue with this.” Born in Liwa and raised in the Al Khazna area in Al Ain, he dreamed of starting his own business many years ago. But it was the Khalifa Fund that finally made it a reality. Although more than 550 people have been on Mr al Mansoori’s tours since they began in August he is in no hurry to expand his payroll, even if it means working seven days a week and driving guests himself.
“We’re keeping it small and simple for now while we make this successful,” he said.