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Meet The Locals- Connecting Expats and Emiratis!

Meet The Locals help tourists in UAE to connect with the unique blend of cultures from all the seven emirates!

Entrepreneurship is on the rise in the UAE, and everyone wants to explore the startup scene! However, every entrepreneur’s journey is different with their own share of highs and lows but what binds each one of them is the passion to commit, and the ‘never-say-no’ attitude.

Meet The Locals also had it’s fair set of setbacks and challenges before finding their sweet spot of success. 

The brainchild of two emirati social entrapreneurs, Abdullah Matar and Khadijah Behzad  was founded to fill the gap between the detached expats and the locals! 

What is ‘Meet The Locals’ and why was it created?

Meet The Locals

We are a group of enthusiastic Emirati nationals who love meeting people from all around the world. Our country has a beautiful mix of people from different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds.  

So why do expats and Emiratis rarely mix in Dubai? After all, we shop in the same malls, we send our children to the same schools and we picnic in the same parks.
Well first are the statistics: for every 9 expats, there is only 1 Emirati in Dubai. Emiratis are clearly outnumbered by the large numbers of expats living in Dubai. 

Many expats are visiting the UAE or have been living here for such a long time without or with a very limited chance to meet or interact with local Emirati’s.  

We felt that this is creating a gap in knowing and understanding us and the culture of the country they live in or visiting.

Therefore, we stood up to make a social impact in the society with “Meet The Locals” initiative!

Our initiative aims to provide interaction opportunities between Expats and Emirati’s to open bridges of cultural knowledge and understanding providing an authentic Emirati culture experience.

The percentage of expat population is increasing over years while the number of Local Emirati is still considered the minority.

How does ‘Meet The Locals’ work?

We organize events/tours/cultural inductions where interested expat people can attend and have quality conversation with our team and share experiences with cultural understanding mindset.

Our team discuss topics which our attendees wants us to talk about and we keep the floor open to any questions.
We tailor some of our services based on the customer’s needs.

Founder Of Meet The Locals

Khadija Behzad, co-founder of Meet The Locals is an Emirati female driven by creativity and innovation.

Why do you think your team is best placed to deliver your vision?

We are two co-founders and we started it from scratch but without the team that we were blessed with we wouldn’t have been able to do it alone. A lot of members has been with us from the beginning because they were passionate about it and they were giving us their time volunteering.

Walk us through your start-ups early life and upbringing to what you are doing today?

Well, it was an idea with logo, name, concept and a plan on a peace of paper.

We pitched it in start up’s incubators, we had mentors and lot of people call them expert business consultant. Although, few of them liked but most of them did not believe in our concepts and rejected the business model.

Rejection is part of entrepreneurship! We had a vision and we said that’s it, we’re doing it no matter what!

At that time the concept of social entrepreneurship was not common among the entrepreneurship world and it was hard to educate investors about it but today UAE is ranked among the best places to be a social entrepreneur!

Social enterprises are not NGOs or non-profit organizations, they are companies that prioritize the social impact that they’re making and they have a specific KPIs related to that as well as money making in order to cover the cost/expenses and make profit.

Abdullah Matar Cofounder of Meet The Locals

Abdullah, co-founder of Meet The Locals is a social entrepreneur that loves travelling and passionate about meeting other cultures.

How do you make sure that the tourists have an authentic Emirati experience with locals?

Every experience promises to take you off the well-worn path to gain an insight into the nation’s past and present!

Gladly now we are peoples first choice when it comes to cultural experiences in UAE. :’)

What was the most important part of your whole business journey?

Everyday we meet people and we make a difference in their lives, we make this world a better place for living by spreading cultural understanding, tolerance spirit and peace.

The most important part of our journey is the never-ending support and trust that we have got from Her Excellency:
Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs!

She is incredible and we are so grateful to have her holding a big responsibility to empowering youth.

YearNumber of interactions

Where do you see yourself in the next 3-5 years?

We have started offering our services in Dubai, now we are providing our services in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, we’re planning to expand to all Emirates in the next year, God-willing! 🙂

For us there is a big room for growth since we can make interactions in any format. So, our major KPI will be how many interactions we make per hour, day, week, month and year.

We know what we want to provide, we know our direction, the Expo2020 is coming and we’re solving a big problem, which is that the population of expats is getting higher and higher.

What’s your growth story?

Once people started learning about us we had an influx of demand pouring in from different groups of residents, tourists, government entities, private companies, schools and universities.

There is far more to our land than sun, sand and shiny buildings!

Each of the seven emirates that make up the UAE boasts their own marvels and as guardians of this rich heritage, we love to take people on a journey to explore the very attributes that make our home special.

Meet The Locals

Journeying through the emirates with a Meet The Locals tour guide is a fascinating experience!

What’s your secret to keeping customers coming in?

There is usually a demand from customers end because they get curious to know more about us, “the locals” and the great leadership in the UAE.

We organize cultural events, for example cultural meals where expats can come and try Emirati food with Emirati people.

All of our tours offer a warm and welcoming environment for people to make themselves at home, enjoy our Emirati hospitality, ask the questions that have always been on their minds and engage in honest conversations.

Our slogan is “We take you a step closer to the Emirati culture” and whenever you feel that you are a step closer curiosity keeps you engaged and the feeling to discover more keeps you going.

Curiosity drives our startup! 😛 

What is the current runway and future funding plans for Meet The Locals?

I believe we are in a journey where we got to follow our passion and do the best to reach our big goal.Meet The Locals is self funded by the Co-founders, we haven’t raised any funds but we’re looking forward for it.

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