Workers by day, businessmen by night: How these Dubai expats earn extra income

Some satiate visitors' hunger pangs, while others display their creativity with thread and needle


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Thu 16 Nov 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 16 Nov 2023, 11:33 PM

For some Dubai residents, the day doesn't end with their shift at work. Armed with a lot more skills, come evening time, they shift gears to run their own businesses and earn extra income at the labour community market in Al Quoz. A plumber, electrician, or cleaner during the day becomes a tailor, vegetable vendor, or juice maker by night.

The market features ready-to-eat food; vegetables and fruits; meat and fish; clothes, shoes, and perfumes; mobile phones and electronics; and barbers and tailors. Products are sold at affordable rates so as to cater to the labour community, while authorities ensure they adhere to all health, safety, and food safety standards.

Sweet stuff

One of many such workers is Ahmed Ashfaq. After completing his day job as a mason, he puts on his entrepreneur's hat. “My day is always packed with work. I return at 4pm from the construction site and rest until 5.30pm. After my rest, I work here until 10pm, making freshly squeezed juice from pomegranate, orange, and grapefruit,” said Ashfaq.

Back in his hometown of Peshawar in Pakistan, Ashfaq worked at a juice centre. “My previous job has been very fruitful for me and it is helping me earn extra income now as well,” said Ashfaq, adding that he sells over a hundred cups daily.

Stitching dreams

While some satiate visitor's hunger pangs, others display their creativity with thread and needle. Ashraful is a painter by profession during the day and a tailor after work hours. He attends to his customers after 7.30pm. “I always had a passion for tailoring. Before coming to the UAE, I worked as a tailor in Chittagong, so I decided to turn my hobby into a business after work,” said Ashraful.

“People come here for alterations or to fix up torn shirts or jeans. I even stitch shirts. But I take a day or two off in between as I cannot do the cutting of the fabric here,” added Ashraful.

“I dream of having my own tailoring shop one day in Dubai,” he said.

Many have even set up carts of vegetables and fruits sold at comparatively cheaper prices for the residents of the neighbourhood.

Supporting family

Nadeem Khan, a vegetable and fruit vendor in the evenings, is a cleaner at a private firm. Soon after his office hours, he is up at his stall, selling vegetables and fruits. “I need to come here by 4.30pm as the residents first purchase vegetables after work before reaching their homes. They cook the food and then return to buy more products if they want to shop,” said Khan.

Khan said that this entrepreneurial journey has helped him to support his children's education back home. “As my children grew, it was getting difficult to support their education. When the Dubai Municipality and Dubai Police established this, I decided to have a vegetable stall. This is now generating extra income for my children's education, who are in grades 1 and 3,” said Khan.

Business partners

Muazzam Shafi works as a helper at a restaurant located in Karama. But as the sun sets, he runs my own eatery. "I had worked at a restaurant back in Lucknow, India. And the dishes that I learned from there, I prepare here,” said Shafi.

Shafi entered into a partnership at an existing stall in the market. “I did not want to take risks by investing all I had. I spoke to my business partner and set up a deal with him. He is happy; I am happy as we are good with what we prepare,” said Shafi.

“This extra income is surely helping me a lot. I am able to support my family back home with substantial savings. Someday, I want to own my own restaurant,” said Shafi.


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