32 years of 'baking for Dubai'


32 years of baking for Dubai
With 60 workers in total, seven of which are full-time bakers, the bakery operates on two 12-hour shifts.

Dubai - Working at Habib Bakery, Moyin blends into the background as customers hurriedly walk past him to get some respite from the hot air outside.


Kelly Clarke

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Published: Sat 19 Aug 2017, 8:27 PM

Last updated: Sun 20 Aug 2017, 9:40 AM

Kunhi Moyin could be mistaken for any older man standing at the end of the checkout till, packing bags for customers. He's the unassuming type with a humble demeanor. You can instantly tell he's a no-nonsense, simple man.
Working at Habib Bakery in Hor Al Anz - one of the oldest bakeries in Dubai - Moyin blends into the background as customers hurriedly walk past him to get some respite from the hot and humid air outside. 
But what many may fail to know about Moyin is, he has been working at the bakery for 32 years now. He was there when it first opened its doors in 1985 and he's gone from packer to salesman, and now, director. Yep, that man bagging the customers' groceries is the director of Habib Bakery.
"I first came to the UAE in 1978. I worked at a bakery in Sharjah as a salesman before moving to Habib in 1985," he tells Khaleej Times during a visit to the shop.
In 2005, after 20 years of hard work, Moyin became a working partner at the bakery. And in 2016, after securing the licence of the place, he became the official director.
But for him, fancy titles mean nothing. As far as he is concerned, it's still business as usual; and business means keeping the customers happy.
"This is more than a job for me. The bakery makes me happy. It is my passion. If I am feeling down, I will come to my shop, speak to customers," he says.

Paying the bakery back 

After dedicating more than 30 years to the bakery, Moyin says the decision to become director was easy. 
"I never inherited any money from my family, I earned it all from working here. So taking the bakery over was like my way of paying the shop back as a thank you."
Noted as one of the oldest bakeries in Dubai, with 32 years under its belt - 30 of which have been spent in its current location in Hor Al Anz - Moyin has managed to maintain a family feel among the place, with two sons and two brothers helping him run the business. 
And it is that sense of home comfort that keeps their customers coming back, he says.
"Many of our customers are repeat customers. We have been seeing some of the same faces for as many as 20 years. The bakery remained the same for around 28 to 30 years, and I think customers are also like that."
But that family feel stretches out to some of the bakery's workers too, like Iran-born Hussain Ali.
After landing in Dubai in 1987, his first job saw him packing items in a retail shop. But in 1991, Ali moved to Habib Bakery and has remained there ever since.
"Ali has not been home for one Eid in all those years," Moyin says. "Eid is one of our busiest times and he is so dedicated to getting the job done, so he never takes leave at this time." 
Now working as a supervisor in the shop, Ali works 7am to 4pm, six days a week. But like Moyin, his supervisor role does not get in the way of him getting stuck into hard work. 
"One of my favourite things to do is to pack the celebratory items. I love doing it as it allows me to be creative." 
And though his mother tongue is Arabic, after 16 years working with many Indian co-workers, he's now fluent in Hindi.
"I picked the language up for my co-workers. For me, it is a sign of respect."

How the bakery runs

Working on a 24-hour operation, Habib Bakery never sleeps, with machines, mixers and ovens constantly on the go.
With 60 workers in total, seven of which are full-time bakers, the bakery operates on two 12-hour shifts, with 350kg of fresh baked items produced in every 24-hour cycle.
"The majority of products we sell, we freshly bake every day," Nikhil K. Das, production manager at the shop, told Khaleej Times
So what's the best seller? Well, according to Das, it's the Lebanese bread or Kuboose as it's traditionally called.
"We produce around 3,000 to 4,000 packets of Lebanese bread every day. This is definitely one of the best selling items," Das says. 
Made with water, yeast, flour, salt and sugar, each mix takes about 20 minutes to complete, by way of an industrial sized mixer. To make 200 packets (containing six breads each) it requires 100kg of flour, 50 litres of water, 5kg sugar, 5kg of salt, and yeast.
Working at the bakery since 1997, it's Muthu Narayanan who takes the lead on this section of the bakery. And when you enter his domain at the back of the shop where the production line is in full swing, it's the intense heat that first hits you. But Narayanan says it is just something you get used to. 
"I don't feel the heat anymore. And I don't have the urge to eat sweet treats anymore either," he laughs, admitting that working with cakes and bread all day has taken its toll on his sweet tooth.
But when Moyin is asked the same question, his reply is quite the contrary. 
"I still love to eat sweets and cakes and I love croissants and cheese. My job is to taste the food and that's a great job to have."

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