It would seem on the surface that the last few years have been years of change. In our race to deal with Covid, many of the pressing issues that face us however have been ignored or pushed to the side. Climate change, sustainable manufacture, pollution, environmental waste has become second fiddle to the most pressing challenge the world has faced in decades– dealing with a pandemic.
There is a tsunami of plastic waste in our oceans, bloated with medical waste such as masks and gloves. Environmental damage from Covid will become increasingly clear and the focus on clean-up will change our attitudes to waste and how we buy and use products. Even the much-touted e-commerce growth comes with a price to pay. In my local neighbourhood, I am shocked at the waste in terms of packaging that is destined for landfill not reprocessing.
One of the most significant developments locally was the UAE’s announcement of ‘Operation 300bn’. This ambitious plan aims to develop the UAE’s industrial sector and enhance its role in stimulating the national economy. It aims to raise the industrial sector’s contribution to the GDP from AED 133 billion to AED 300 billion by 2031. The strategy is aligned with national goals and international commitments relating to advancing sustainable economic growth, deploying clean energy solutions, driving industrial innovation, and promoting responsible consumption and production.
When a country focuses a budget on the same issues that we as a company are developing products to address, this becomes a moment of great hope and change. For small industrial businesses there is already evidence of increased willingness to support us via innovative and cost-effective funding from banks like Emirates Development Bank as well as support from government bodies like Dubai Exports. This excites us for 2022.
The Camel Soap Factory mission is to create simple honest skincare with its roots in regional traditions and legacy. In the belief that honesty means being good for both people and the planet, we have always developed new products with a specific focus on the environmental impact and reducing waste – all of our soaps are in eco-friendly package and creams in fully-recyclable aluminum bottles. We feel consumers are probably now more ready to try products with less environmental impact.
One of the gaps out there is bathroom waste. Speaking to our customers, many remain unaware of the impact of their bathroom waste on the planet, but we find most are ready to listen and willing to try new ways of doing things. That said, shampoo and conditioner bars will be part of focus in 2022. These have a cult following among the converted especially in Europe, but these sorts of products have not yet become mainstream especially in the Middle East.
Supply chain disruptions are likely to continue for much of 2022 but improving towards end of year. This will impact cost of goods and force companies to watch costs very carefully. However, it could and should also force change in terms of where goods are made and shipped, where we source raw materials, and how we manufacture product. Perhaps this is the time for massive disruption to the supply chain status quo.
And finally, we see great reason for hope and change in travel and tourism in 2022– the life blood of our business locally. Expo 2020 Dubai has proved hugely popular and successful in attracting large numbers of visitors to the UAE and presenting a great show to the world. We are proud to provide Expo licensed skincare souvenirs for all the visitors. But the world is still struggling to deal with new variants of Covid and we see that even in a country like the UAE, which has adopted a very pragmatic attitude towards handling the pandemic, is still vulnerable to a very fast changing travel environment.
That said, I hope that 2022 will see a much more pragmatic approach to travel, and we anticipate that towards the end of this year we will see some normalisation in travel and tourism.