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A group of ambitious United Arab Emirates University students (UAEU) with an entrepreneurial spirit is planning to use desert plants to produce chemical free, luxurious herbal teas, essential oils, and massage oils. Their startup called Aroma Niche is incubated in the UAEU’s Science and Innovation Park (SIP), a leading research and innovation center for university students in the UAE.

Suzan Marwan Shahin, a Ph.D. candidate in Horticultural Science at UAEU’s College of Food & Agriculture, founded Aroma Niche to express her appreciation towards the jewels of the UAE desert.

Along with Rahaf Ajaj, also a Ph.D. candidate in Horticultural Science at the UAEU, Shahin created the first databank of the local essential oil-bearing plants. It took them more of two years of extensive research and literature review to examine over 800 species native to the UAE. It turned out that 135 of them are essential oils. In Shahin’s view, their rich database can be of help to a wide range of scientists, including pharmacists, biologists, agricultural engineers, medical professionals. They can use the data for research purposes and to promote innovation and discoveries in their fields of academic interest.

The ”Aroma Niche” is now looking for more researchers to join its young team and to work towards expansion. They also want to add a cosmetics line to their portfolio, next to the herbal teas, coffee, essential and massage oils. As Suzan Marwan Shahin pointed out, her brand would be luxury and unique, backed by substantial scientific evidence and based on the cultural values of her native UAE.