Meet the Emirati woman behind Dubai’s retro ice rink – News

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Throwing disco parties and skate jams, Aliyah Al Banna and her sister let the good times roll with RollDXB



Published: Sat 1 Oct 2022, 09:29 PM

Last update: Sat 1 Oct 2022, 9:30 PM

Gen Z and millennials in the UAE must have seen the neon lights, disco vibes and bunny tunnel of this ice rink at Mina Rashid in Dubai by now. After all, it’s all over Instagram and TikTok.

What many don’t know, however, is that behind the funky hobby spot RollDXB lies the inspiring success story of a fiercely independent Emirati woman, Aliyah Al Banna, and her sister.

Born and raised in Rashidiya in Dubai, Aliyah – who has four other siblings, including her 13-month-old older sister, more like a ‘twin’ to her – was a self-confessed ‘naughty kid’, although there had no complaints about her “excellent grades” at both Dubai International School at Al Garhoud and Dubai Women’s College. She earned a degree in Business Information and Technology at the turn of the new millennium.

Initially, after completing her studies, she took a job with the state-owned group Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc) and later tried her hand at running a abaya Company.

In 2016, Aliyah’s older sister – her role model – started toying with the idea of ​​creating an indoor ice rink, which was lacking in Dubai, despite the growing popularity of ice rinks in the city for more than a decade. Both Aliyah and her sister were crazy about figure skating and roller skating during their formative years.

“The following year, we held several pop-ups across Dubai, such as at City Walk, Bab Al Shams and Design District to gauge the popularity of indoor rollerblading among Emiratis and expats,” Aliyah said.

When they decided to put their money into the business, they didn’t expect a return. But to their surprise, the roller rink turned out to be a big hit.

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“The response to the pop-ups was overwhelming, which reinforced my sister’s intuition that she had the pulse of the people of Dubai,” a soft-spoken Aliyah recalled.

“At the same time, we were in talks with Clint Riegelman, owner of Ridel Skates, to bring his Moxi brand, the highest quality of fun and fashionable gear to Dubai. Michelle Steilen, President and CEO of Moxi Roller Skates, also known by her pseudonym Estrogen, also came to Dubai and led workshops in our pop-ups, which became an overnight rage,” she added.

With the proof of concept in place, the division of labor was firmed up.

Aliyah took on the role of operations manager and her older sister became the brains behind Dubai’s unique business model.

Soon the duo went on to acquire the 10,000 square foot premises at Dubai Maritime City in Mina Rashid in 2019.

“That’s how RollDXB, the one-stop-shop for everything – from roller disco parties, skate jams, event rentals, school trips, birthday parties – and the largest such facility across the Middle East has was designed,” Aliyah said.

Disc jockey booths and a cute bunny tunnel were among the funky additions that captured the hearts of skaters, cool kids and yuppies who just want to have fun.

“We are delighted that Emiratis and expats flock to our room, including Ladies Night on Wednesdays (6 p.m.-11 p.m.), which has resonated with women. In fact, we launched an academy in December last to offer indoor roller skating lessons,” she added.

“Our headcount has also grown from three to nine as the business has grown exponentially since launching in April 2021, although a good year has been lost due to social restrictions and lockdowns induced by the Covid-19 pandemic. 19. We’ also host several monthly events such as Afro desi, pajama party, Halloween, Hawaiian party, etc.”

Ticket prices

Skating enthusiasts can use the premises for one hour — 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends — against a payment of 90 Dh. Students can benefit from a 20% discount.

Skates and safety equipment, except helmets, are available for rent.

Those who really love roller skating can celebrate their birthday there or improve their skills by taking lessons. Here are the prices:

Package 1: 1,850 MAD

  • One hour skating session
  • A private party room
  • 10 polaroid images
  • 15 people are allowed

Package 2: 2,500 MAD

  • One hour skating session
  • A private party room
  • One kilogram birthday cake
  • 10 polaroid images
  • 15 people are allowed

Package 3: 3,250 MAD

  • One hour skating session
  • A private party room
  • a skater
  • One kilogram birthday cake
  • 10 polaroid images
  • 15 people are allowed

Private classes

  • One session: 367 Dh
  • Four sessions: 1,054 Dh
  • Eight sessions: 2,108 Dh

Group lessons

  • Four sessions: 735 Dh
  • Eight sessions: 1,470 Dh
  • 12 sessions: MAD 2,205

RollDXB has a cafe on the first floor and the property is pet-friendly. Aliyah staff members also sell UK-made products such as sweatpants, wheels, pads and straps for roller skates, which can cost between Dhs 500-5,000 depending on the bespoke nature. goods.

Now, Aliyah is gearing up for two upcoming month-long pop-ups in Silicon Oasis and Dubai Media City, as the United Arab Emirates gears up for ‘the coolest winter ever’.

His sister immersed herself in crunching the numbers to make RollDXB the biggest indoor skating brand in the UAE and the wider region amid ambitious plans to expand operations while seeking investors. like-minded potentials.

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