You may have noticed the Marl’s Organic container at Al Bahar at the Corniche, serving 100 per cent organic food since last year’s Mother of the Nation festival.
Mohamed Al Shaibani and Rana Luqman have been planning to open a cafe that would recreate all the healthy dishes they loved to make at home ever since they were married in 2014. Now their dream is about to come true – with the first Marl’s Organic Cafe opening in Masdar City.
The name? Marl is the grey base color of their business, as well as combination of the couple’s initials. As for the food, each dish is cooked to order from the freshest organic ingredients, aiming to nourish and satisfy. Think cold press juices, almond mylk smoothies, superfood salads and wraps, and hot dishes including salmon fingers and beef empanadas.
“Take a few deep breaths and be grateful to be alive and to be given the body you have,” reads their website. “And let us take the burden off you when thinking about where your food has come from.”
The couple never planned to open a beach container first, jumping at the opportunity when it arose despite both still holding day jobs and building their family (Luqman just had the couple’s third child in early March).
“Moe and I would attend to our full time jobs during the morning and then meet up at the festival and Juice up to our customers in the evening,” says Luqman.
With delays in the cafe, they built their takeaway business from the container. Once the cafe is ready, the goal is to build their business further by selling their products through gyms and yoga studios.
“We have definitely learned a lot on how it is tremendously difficult to set up a business in Abu Dhabi,” says Luqman. “But with the motto of ‘it only gets better’ and the family emotional support, and our determination, patience and perseverance, I would say, we are almost there.”
Check out Marl’s Organic Cafe’s recipe for almond-crusted Chicken Tenders.
Ann Marie McQueen
Ann Marie McQueen is the founding editor-in-chief of Livehealthy and host of The Livehealthy Podcast. She is a veteran Canadian digital journalist who has worked in North America and the Middle East. Her past roles include features editor for The National, trends writer and columnist for the Canadian newspaper chain Sun Media, and correspondent for CBC Radio.