Entrepreneurship has been a game-changer across the globe and MENA is no different. It takes perseverance and a lot of drive to make it work and the plight of the Syrian crisis has been prime grounds for persevering men and women to create businesses wherever they land and thrive.
I used to publish this on facebook and other platforms in the past. I aggregate this list because buying local products or services is a gift to both those you receiving your love and making it.
The rules to making the list are:
Can be ordered online, through instagram (or any social media) or via an online shop
A plus if it supports a cause
The below post includes the following categories:
Tried, tested and loved
Locally (mostly Lebanese) made products or bundles
Gifts supporting refugees
Fashionable pieces from around
Tried, tested and loved
My passport bag and gym duffle from Waste have been with me for years. I adore their fresh designs and collabs; they have something for everyone from beanbags to cardholders
You shop them online here: https://waste.studio/shop/ Or find them in any of the following outlets: https://waste.studio/all-the-shops/ (across Lebanon and in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Green Glass Recycling Initiative (GGRIL)
This project started as a way of preserving the tradition of glass blowing and supporting the last few families that hold this tradition in Lebanon, as well as getting glass bottles out of landfills. I am cheating on this one as they don’t have an online store, but I love this project so much I’m giving it an exception (live with it!)
They have lots of options, from lamps to decanters, bowls and shot glasses, all naturally colored glass and made with love.
You can find their products at all the outlets listed on their facebook post. I personally recommend you check them out at Souk Al Tayeb or other exhibitions as they’ll have a bigger collection
Is your friend or loved one a guitar, bass or string instrument lover? This is the PERFECT gift for them: a state of the art tuner! Best of all it’s designed and produced by the amazing Band Industries team in Lebanon.
You can shop them online on their website: https://www.roadietuner.com/ or on amazon and it ships worldwide.
The gift of endless tunes. I have sent this to friends before and it’s often an instant win (knowing that my friend was sick of ads and their subscription was approaching end). This works as an add-on gift or stand alone, depends on your needs.
Grandma would love the everlasting oldies on replay all day while she makes your favorite treats 😉
You can buy the subscription through the app on iOS or Android or online https://www.anghami.com/giftland – and it plays on all your devices.
Tania Saleh store: http://www.taniasaleh.com/store Mashrou3 Leila store: https://mashrouleila.tmstor.es/index.php Or the wonderful Mostakell مستقل (Supported by Eka3) website for more artists: https://mostakell.com/
Local, organic, ethical, made with care and love. As our bodies and planet revolt against neglect and pollution, taking action in your day-to-day life becomes a way of life and it’s doesn’t have to be expensive and difficult.
You can check out MinstBasil Market’s gift ideas here: https://mintbasilmarket.com/collections/gifts and browse the store for more. They deliver everywhere in Lebanon for free
My favorite tried and tested (& I swear by their effectiveness) body-care brand is Beesline. Dry winters and cities are hell on the lips and I go through at least four of their Beesline Lip Care sticks every winter, nothing ever works as good as they do (trust me, I tired). And for the handy man or lady in your life, the Beeswax Ointment is a miracle worker on the worst chapped skin imaginable. Both fragrance-free.
You can shop Beesline’s Products here: http://ae.shopbeesline.com/en/ as well as on MintBasil Market (above), as well as at most pharmacies in Lebanon
I adore their toddler and children collection, you just can’t go wrong with the witty Lebanese slang and modern-authentic twist on everything. They are perfect for friends living abroad or visiting for the holiday season, or simply for friends that love to play-it-up.
I’m sure you know someone that can use some fresh cufflinks 😉
You can buy them on their website here: https://www.luanatic.com/ or their store on Camille Edde Street or other outlets listed on their instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/luanaticbeirut/
Mimo and Stitch
I bought the below pair of earrings for my bestie’s birthday in October via instagram. The earring were perfect and the service was great; overall love! Keep in mind that custom made (the below were) orders may need extra time, so order fast to get them done before Christmas or check what’s in stock for quicker purchases
You can order online via Mimo and Stitches instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/mimo_and_stitch/
Drop the Moleskin, these Lebanese made notebooks are just as epic!
(another Lebanese paper brand worth looking out for in stationery stores is PaperConcept, they don’t sell online but available in most outlets. I have been personally using their ~A6 soft-cover for a two years now)
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls
Not local, but features regional rocking ladies and global role models as well. I bought this for a friend’s daughter a while back and would buy it again for ladies-in-the-making
Handcrafted from premium leathers in Beirut. I was introduced to their work when a friend custom ordered the tote below with lots of pockets in all the right places; a bag lovers dream. The finishing, handy-work and all are of utmost perfection.
These products are handmade, so my advice is to check out what’s ready made (and maybe get initials embossed for personalization) to ensure you get them before Christmas as custom-orders might be tough to deliver.
Let’s get clean! “Natural handcrafted soaps, made from goat’s milk with essential oils” how could you go wrong with that?
Orders can be made by calling 03927198 and check out their instagram page to find Christmas markets they’ll be exhibiting for the season
This is the ideal gift to ship to family and friends abroad or those that are there for the holidays only, or someone who loves exploring new local flavors, a bundle of Lebanon in a box
You can order online on their website here: https://www.koullounabox.com/15-our-previous-boxes and you can order one box or a 3 month subscription, both would be great gift ideas
Give the gift of life, whether it’s a Cedar sapling to plant or one adopted in your loved ones name and cared for by professionals. May your love grow as strong as it’s roots and live on beyond your years, like a Cedar in glory
I have been following Locale for a few month and it makes me want to plan a trip to Sudan sooner rather than later. A country with little cultural publicity and under-appreciated history (upper Egypt).
Locale produces zines that are sold at exhibitions or through online orders that explore Sudanese culture and arts.
We all have that friend that still uses a physical planner, well here’s one that’s designed, developed and made in Egypt! It comes in 4 basic colors, and two formats: Weekly Planner and Monthly Planner
This would make a great corporate gift idea for teams as well.
You can order on Dots’ website or reach out to them on the email provided for bigger orders
Baladi & Palestine on a Plate
The gift of food, but one that keeps giving. I follow Joudie Kalla on instagram and drool almost daily at the miracles that leave her kitchen, each crafted with drooling perfection
Baladi is Joudie’s second book, the first is Palestine on a Plate, so you can always bundle up! The book has already received multiple praises and ranked top book of 2018 in food by multiple esteemed publications.
Christmas is the season of giving, the Syrian, Yemeni and ongoing Iraqi, Libyan crises are some of the worst in recent history. Knowing putting a smile on your loved ones’ faces draws a warm blanket or relief to a refugee makes the gift all more worth giving.
Soup for Syria
More books, more food. “a humanitarian cookbook project whose profits will be donated to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR to provide urgently needed food relief for Syrian refugees.”
Interlink is also the publisher of Baladi and other Levantine cuisine books like Mouneh and The Aleppo cookbook, so do take the time to go through other options as well.
The hype over charcoal activated products, scented soaps and candles can be made even better when supporting local producers in Iraq
Feeling even more generous? Buy yourself and loved ones a gift of pure giving; whether a “Month of Educational Therapeutic Play for a Refugee Child” for $20 or a “Computer for Tech Student” for $600. There’s no limit to your generosity
The most selfless gift of all, for those in London and New York you can physically visit Choose Love’s stores and buy for others what would help them survive.
For the rest of us around the world, you can buy for refugees boots, food, blankets and even mental health support on the Choose Love’s online store. Scroll to the bottom for the “Digital Gift Voucher” option as well
Empowering refugees through mental health support and financial independence. There’s nothing more rewarding than being fashionably conscious, knowing your giving more than just money.
Emirati brand; traditional with a twist. The trend of conservative fashion is a beautiful and comfortable one!
This brand was recommended by a friend (Thank you Farah!) You buy their products directly on Ragmatazz’s website
Ryoko Handmade Leather Goods
Also a friend recommendation (until I realized I own a wooden ring from their older collections). Based out of Dubai, the lovely couple behind the brand are passionate about their craft and making your everyday experience with their products as seamless and functional.
Make sure to check out their “Wooden” section for truly unique pieces. You can buy their products on the Ryoko Bags website.
Websites for local designers and products
Major eCommerce players are not the best place to find authentic gifts, but luckily the internet is budding with boutiques supporting local brands everywhere