Sweet aroma of Kenyan tea wafts in Dubai

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Mdila Mweru at Dubai's Global Village. [Courtesy]

Mdila Mweru can barely catch a breath at his tea stand in the expansive Global Village that is a few metres away from the trade exhibition district where the Expo 2020 Dubai is taking place.

He finishes serving one of his 2,000 daily clients, then prepares for an interview with me. It is 6:19pm Middle East Time and the lights are up in the middle of market-like commotion.

Another client walks towards the tea stand, carrying all brands of Kenyan tea that rent shelves in the retailer supermarkets in Nairobi.

“Me want another cup,” he mumbles broken English accompanied with deep Arabic accent as he hands me a five Dirham note, thinking I was part of Mweru’s team. I point at Mweru who by that time, had just put the water and milk to boil.

In another four minutes, the client picks hot brewed Kenyan tea with two Dirham change. “That’s his seventh cup today,” Mweru disclosed as the client walked away. I am in awe.

I inquire why and he intimates that Kenyan tea is loved in Dubai due to its authenticity in tastes and smell.

“Clients troop in here because they know the value they get when they consume tea from home,” he shared. “Other countries too like Rwanda and Ethiopia and a few Asian countries like Sri Lanka or Indian too have tea but they still don’t match Kenya’s brew.”

According to Mweru, Kenyan tea is pure bearing an authentic taste and aroma - better than teas sourced from other countries.

Consequently, he sells well over 2,000 cups of tea. It takes him less than three minutes to mix and brew the beverage. A cup goes for two Dirham (AED) (about Sh65). “I have to be very fast when serving the client, they love it, and they want that Kenyan only,” he said.

On a normal day, he makes over Sh100, 000. Sometimes he makes double the amount. 

He is also fluent in Arabic and as his supervisor inquires on something and he replies in the Middle East language.  “I have been here since 2007, so I had to learn Arabic. At first it was hard but now I am fluent,” he said.

Mweru, originally from Mombasa took a break in 2020 and returned home but was called back to work in Dubai. “I left Kenya because as a casual in one of the industries in Mombasa, my income was low and wouldn’t meet my needs as I have a family. Other jobs were also hard to come by, so I came to Dubai to seek opportunities,’’ he revealed.

He worked in other places before finally landing the job at the Kenya tea stand where he’s employed.

Through his exemplary work and referrals, he has been asked to bring more workers from Kenya, creating bigger opportunities for nine others whom he referred and trained for other sales and services jobs.

Mweru says working in Dubai has given him fortune, and helped him create other sources of income in Kenya. He is married with three children. “My firstborn is almost done with high school, I bought a piece of land and built and I have another business on the side,” he revealed.

He says there is a lot of opportunities in agriculture and food as most of the food consumed in Dubai is imported - Dubai being a desert, with minimal arable land and crop farming only works with high mechanization.

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