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Dr Hamdan had always wanted to create
a business in the skincare sector. " e
challenge of creating a product that had
the combined e ect of having a healing
e ect on skin and preserving youth, had
always been something that fascinated
me. Although we `o cially' launched
Shi a in 2004, I had been thinking
about it for a long time and actually
started developing product formulations
as far back as 2000."
Shi a, which means `healing' or `to
heal' in Arabic, started in Dr Hamdan's
own home, where she blended and
customised oils, formulated products
and even packaged the products herself.
"In the beginning there was just two
other colleagues and myself. I actually
bought a `Business Plan for Dummies'
book to help me get started. We had
no advertising budget and sales grew
through word-of-mouth alone."
Dr Hamdan's global ambitions for her
skincare range have since been realised
and exceeded expectations, with the
Shi a brand now available in luxury
spas from the Peninsula in Beverly
Hills to the Talise in Jumeirah Emirate
Towers, Dubai. Shi a has further
expanded through a retail partnership
with Sephora, one of the biggest beauty
chains in the world, which operates
approximately 1,900 stores in 29
countries worldwide.
Obsessive in her attention to the
detail of product development, for
Dr Hamdan, Shi a is primarily about
the integrity of the brand's promise.
"As a trained doctor, I am meticulous
when it comes to formulations and the
speci c measurement of concentrations
of ingredients in our products. Most
products are formulated by chemists,
but, both as a doctor and a woman, I
bring a distinctive knowledge mix to the
process. In a sense, I am my own best
client. Any product we develop must
satisfy me rst.
"An interesting trend I've seen is that
more doctors are now getting involved
in skincare product development and
the worlds of dermatology and beauty
are intersecting more and more. I would
like to think that Shi a's success has
contributed to this particular trend."
Dr Hamdan enjoys the autonomy that
comes with running her own business:
"Within the business, I enjoy the work
itself, the scope to formulate the product
as I want and the opportunity to share
my philosophy with our ever-growing
customer base. On a broader level, it
also gives me the exibility to give time
to my family when they need me."
Dr Hamdan and her husband Shehad,
an investment banker, have four
children: Soraya, 16, who is doing her
GCSEs this year; Shehab 14; Faye nine;
and Nimir, who is six. "Of course,
combining the demands of running
a business with the responsibilities of
family life is challenging, but I'm lucky
in that I have a great support network.
In particular, I can always turn to my
own mother for help when needed.
Ultimately, I think, like most mothers
who work outside the home, I just deal
with the particular challenges as they
arise and get on with it."
While she enjoys the dynamism of the
business world, Dr Hamdan admits
she still feels a strong attachment to
the role of the doctor. "I do miss being
a doctor and I suppose I feel that the
business world is a little more sel sh. I
have tremendous admiration for people
in medicine, who give so much of their
time and of themselves, to help others.
is is something we all have to be
grateful for."
For Dr Hamdan, the focus in 2016 is
very much on the future and having
succeeded in the world of business,
she is ready to meet new challenges.
"Shi a continues to go from strength
to strength with ve new products
scheduled to launch this year. But, while
I'm wholly committed to the business,
I'm not ready to be de ned solely by it.
Now that I'm 40, it's natural, I think, to
be ambitious to explore new horizons,
to challenge myself and my existing
capabilities. I'm seeking to make new
discoveries about how I can achieve
more and contribute more."
An avid art collector and a
continuous supporter of various
initiatives and publications on
contemporary Middle Eastern
art, Dr Hamdan has consistently
championed this art at an
international level. She is a Board
Member of the Dubai Culture
and Arts Authority and was
Commissioner of the National
Pavilion of the United Arab Emirates
at the International Art Exhibition
(La Biennale di Venezia) three times,
beginning with the 53rd La Biennale
in 2009. She spearheaded what was
the first participation in La Biennale
from an Arab Gulf country and was
awarded with the Order of the Star
of Italian Solidarity for that work.
Dr Hamdan was also Commissioner
of the UAE National Pavilion at the
54th and 55th International Art
Exhibitions: "The Biennale is the
Olympics of the art world. Each
exhibition presented a tremendous
opportunity to share important
expressions of our culture and to
encourage mutual understanding and
respect. I'm particularly interested in
promoting the work of people who
are breaking boundaries."
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