Zaina and Rania consider themselves “proud Palestinians” and say they “consider the world our home”, but they grew up in Montreal, Canada and moved to Dubai in 2010 (“from -50°C to 50°C). They arrived in the UAE “craving change”. “Dubai was growing fast, it was flourishing, a desert turning into this metropolis dream, we were given the opportunity to witness true visionary leadership and progress, and that was an opportunity we couldn’t say no to,” says Zaina. When the siblings arrived in Dubai they set up e-commerce site Ananasa, which is still going strong, selling products by local artisans. Their love of cycling motivated them to start producing their second online business, Charicycles, in 2014. The bicycles the sister sell are all vintage models saved from the scrap heap and upcycled. “We love bikes,” says Zaina. “We also really love creating ideas and being able to execute them. They say be the change you want to see in the world, and we want a world where businesses give back. The products we sell are good for the environment and their consumption results in wellness of body, mind and soul.” Zaina and Rania say they squabble like all sisters but it keeps them on their toes and helps them stay creative.
Zaina and Rania cycle every day, and Heritage Village in Bur Dubai is one of their favourite places to explore on their bicycles. “When you cycle there it feels as if the walls are whispering their secrets to you,” says Zaina. “It’s a very quiet and Zen area and it encourages dreamers to dream.” The sisters believe everybody should take up cycling without delay. “A bicycle gives people the chance to be happy, all day everyday, and if we have the power to capture this blissful emotion, there is no reason to delay it, “ says Zaina.
Dubai has not always been a particularly cycle-friendly city, but Zaina say things are changing thanks to the sense of community amongst the city’s cyclists. “It’s amazing to see how unified voices effect action. We are blessed to be living in a country where the government listens to its residents, and slowly but surely we see more things happening to change it from a non-friendly to a more cycle-friendly city. An active body keeps and active mind. It is a sort of meditation and meditation keeps people innovating. Dubai’s 2021 plan pushes for a smart and sustainable city with happy and creative people. A smart city is a green city. So promoting cycling is good for the environment of the city and good for the happiness and creativity of its people.”