With the worst of summer behind us, have you been saying you should get outdoors more? I’ve found the perfect combination of luxury and desert experience with Arabian Glamping. Whether you love yoga, pilates, meditation or fancy reading books and star gazing in the wilderness, Arabian Glamping design a trip that is especially made for you. That means no last-minute shopping, endless packing or tent pitching.
All you have to worry about is which outfit to pack and whether or not you want your favourite book with you. From overnight options to al fresco dining in the desert, their packages are all designed to help you relax, unwind and immerse completely in the stunning Arabian nature. You simply tell them what you fancy doing and they’ll create your very own retreat itinerary. All you have to do is turn up, take a deep breath and smile. Scroll through the pictures and get to know Arabian Glamping co founder Magda Orzechowska!
Full Name: Magda Orzechowska
Title and Company Name: Co-Founder of Arabian Glamping
What year did the business start? 2016
Why did you launch the business?
When I came to the UAE in 2014, I immediately began exploring the country. As I am an outdoorsy person, the desert was one of the distinct points of interest, and I fell in love with it at first sight! After a couple of desert excursions, I realised I was physically shattered though – there was so much to prepare and pack, so much equipment to buy, not mentioning sleepless nights a tiny, uncomfortable tent. The mornings after were the worst! No bathroom, no running water! And all we had for breakfast was cold, stale leftovers from the night before. Not much fun!
I quickly learnt I wasn’t the only one feeling this way about the desert. I realised there were so many girls around who have never been out there because of the sheer fear of roughing it somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Plus they didn’t have the necessary equipment, transportation or idea where to go. Most of them, like me, couldn’t even pitch a tent. Those who have experienced the magic of golden dunes absolutely loved it but had to rely on their (male) friends to help out every time. Boys are practical however their ability to add some glamour and a few daily “luxuries” of our lives, was rather limited. Most of the women I spoke to struggled with the very same issues I was experiencing when exploring the desert with my husband. So I spotted a common problem…
I first heard of Glamping when I lived in London, and the idea appealed to me immediately – spending time outdoors in nature without sacrificing the usual homely comforts… warm bed, shower, soft towels, comfy dining area, beautifully furnished tent, almost like a 5* hotel room, indulging in gorgeous food, whats not to love? I thought to myself: if it works in a cold and rainy country such as the UK, and in so many countries around the world, why not here in the UAE where we are truly blessed weather-wise for most of the year? I started doing some research and found out in the UK alone there are over 150 glamping establishments and it’s one of the fastest growing trends in the tourism industry. Here in the UAE, I couldn’t find a single company offering true glamping. What I was looking for was a personalised, private and glamorous experience – not a mass market desert safari with food leaving loads to wish for and sub-standard tent accommodation. I knew the problem, and now I discovered a market gap!
I conjured this beautiful vision of setting up a boutique glamping company. However, I didn’t want to do it alone. Quickly two of the closest people in my life came to the rescue – one of my best friends and… My husband! Being three brains rather than one we started planning, researching, questioning and challenging ourselves. We knew we were on the right path, we felt it in our veins. We were ready to shake and disrupt the desert industry in the region!
Who is your target market and why are they so important to reach?
Our primary target market is women of the UAE, both Emiratis and Expats, and their families. Women like us who love nature and being outdoors but hate the hassle associated with organising outdoor adventures and refuse to rough it. We take their desert experience to a new, glamorous and painless level – all they need to worry about is who to bring along and what to wear! We want to help them immerse completely in the beautiful Arabian nature, take some time out, relax and just enjoy quality time with their loved ones.
Another significant market segment for us are people looking for unique ways to celebrate special occasions. Whether it’s a proposal or engagement celebration, anniversary, birthday, bachelorette party or baby shower – we take the pain of organising it all off their shoulders and tailor the experience to reflect their personalities and dreams. It’s important to reach this group to help them create unforgettable moments and life long memories.
Share 3 of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt so far in business.
- Doing it alone is tough. If you’re not lucky enough to have awesome business partners, surround yourself with smart, positive people. Find genuine connections with highly energising and motivating individuals. Having a coach or a mentor is great, but it’s not always easy to find an excellent one you can actually trust and connect with. Get involved in a local or online business start up community – you can ask questions, validate your ideas, get tonnes of great advice, share your fears and uncertainties and get that kick when you most need it!
- Work never stops unless you stop it.Running your own business is hectic to say the last! As it is rewarding if you don’t give up during the darkest of times (oh I’ve been there!) and carry on. There’s never enough hours in the day – make sure your loved ones are always a priority and keep the right balance between them and your business. Don’t get me wrong; your social life will probably slow down if you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and give it all you’ve got, but it’s important to use your judgment and decide what’s worth sacrificing and what isn’t. Our family and true soulmates are the most valuable and beautiful assets we could ever have – do not neglect them! They will pay back with love and support.
- Marketing is accessible and inexpensive. Having worked in multiple international corporations, I’ve witnessed millions spent on advertising and marketing. The idea of running my campaigns was overwhelming having virtually no marketing budget. Luckily, I quickly realised that traditional marketing channels were not right for our business. As we mainly want to reach to women based in the UAE, it’s so much more effective to connect with them through local bloggers, influencers, community groups and at various events held around the country. It’s relatively inexpensive, and we can do it ourselves, without the need of employing a costly marketing agency. It’s all about building the right relationships, collaboration, communicating with passion and genuinely willing to help and serve your target market. The authentic message will filter through to your customers, and they will come!
Who do you admire or look up to in business?
I admire organisations focused on doing well (economically) by doing good. The whole social enterprise movement inspires me, and I want Arabian Glamping to fall into this segment. We’re very conscious of our impact on the environment, reuse whatever we can, produce a minimal amount of waste and source locally whenever possible. At the same time, we promote local tourism and enjoying the great Arabian outdoors responsibly, and in style, amongst those who wouldn’t usually take their loved ones on a desert adventure.
Authenticity – I believe in the power of a unique and authentic voice and not following common standards or practices if they don’t resonate with my values. I get drawn to companies that are not afraid of showing their human side, talk about their people and who they are, are honest and mindful of what’s happening around them, and have clear, meaningful values.
What is your one piece of advice to those looking to start a business in your same industry?
Don’t get discouraged by the sheer amount of companies already operating within the UAE tourism and events industries. A lot is going on and a lot of the same too! Bring a breath of fresh air to the market with your unique, niche idea or, if you decide to have a go at something where competition is dense – win by being authentic, have a meaningful purpose and drive positive change within your community.
What is a quote you live by?
“I learned that real happiness doesn’t come from getting but from giving.”
― Gabrielle Bernstein
Whats next? Share your plans for the business in the future.
Our second season is upon us. While the first year was about proving the business concept to ourselves and the outside world, now it’s time to start building on what we know works and adjust where necessary.
Much of our focus in the coming months will be on forming new b2b partnerships – teaming up with selected business to allow us to reach new audiences and to be able to enrich our offer with new add-ons created with our partners. It’s very encouraging to have received a lot of interest and positive feedback already, and we honestly feel there’s a great scope for collaboration within the industry.
We’re also planning to start building a small team around us – as there’s still only three of us doing all the work, from strategic business planning, through customer service to cleaning and washing the dishes!
We aspire to become a #1 boutique glamping & picnic organiser reaching to every corner of the UAE. Currently, we mainly operate within Dubai emirate, and it’s vital for us to expand to serve all other Emirates. Outside investment will be required, and we now feel empowered, with all the gathered market information, customer feedback and actual sales data, to draw up a plan and spark interest amongst potential investors.
We’re extremely excited to be still in the game after our first year of operation. Unfortunately, so many businesses don’t survive this very early stage. We’re looking forward to creating even more beautiful life events and unforgettable moments for our guests.
Dream it. Try it. Love it.