Enabling Creative Spaces for People

Alia Al Banna – Co-founder and General Manage RollDXB – talks about her passion for sports and what empowerment means to her as an Emarati woman
Enabling Creative Spaces for People

Tell us a little bit about yourself, major influences in your life and work?

I am the co-founder and General Manager of RollDxb, the Middle East’s only indoor roller-skating venue. I am a mother of four and have always been passionate about sports. From an early age, I have actively competed in a wide range of sports – roller skating, show jumping, fencing, motocross, and shooting.

We would love to learn more about your professional journey.

I have a degree in Business Information Technology and after a highly successful career with Enoc, I went on to find an abaya business. I also design individual pieces of jewelry for a selected audience.

Enabling Creative Spaces for PeopleIn 2021, after many years of roller-skating around the streets of Dubai and being an instrumental part of this fast-growing community, I launched RollDxb with my sister Reem.

Our passion for roller skating traces back to our childhood, where we’d eagerly roller skate around our neighborhood after school or gather at Safa Park with friends and cousins. In 2016, while sitting in my sister’s apartment, we conceptualized the idea of establishing pop-up roller rinks. That same year, we initiated ‘RollDXB’ as a pop-up rink venture, spanning across various locations in the UAE. Witnessing the overwhelming interest from the public, we resolved to establish a permanent facility. We opened Rolldxb also to have a safe space for people to come express themselves and have fun!

Managing our facility has been an incredible journey, marked by continuous learning since the inception of this venture. Our role extends beyond mere rink operations, encompassing entertainment, event coordination, and pop-up arrangements. I enjoy the entire process, and witnessing the happiness that our rink and events bring to people’s lives is wholesome. It doesn’t matter if they’re experiencing it for the first time or have become regulars at Roll– each smile is a testament to the fulfillment we strive to provide.

What do you think of the term empowerment and especially in relation to being an Emirati women?  

It means we can celebrate all other Emirati women and myself for all the accomplishments we have achieved so far. There are so many Emirati women out there who have accomplished more than I have, and I am proud of every single one of them. I feel empowered to be able to dream and achieve those childhood hobbies into a business as an Emarati woman. It gives me a sense of joy and pride in opening doors of the first indoor roller-skating venue for the residents of Dubai.

What are some of the challenges that you have faced in your professional life and what has been your strategy to overcome them?

It’s important to acknowledge that gender disparities persist in certain industries. As women with limited technical backgrounds, we faced challenges when dealing with certain contractors in the early stages of our venture. While some supported and helped us with our growth, others posed difficulties. However, we always maintained positive relationships with our suppliers, and our interactions with certain contractors offered valuable insights and learning opportunities.

Tell us about your work and its impact?

I have built a creative space for people to enjoy with friends and family which makes me happy.

The interview has been lightly edited for clarity

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