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By Launching Abdul's BBQ, 16-Year-Old Entrepreneur Abdulla Al-Janahi Is Turning His Passion Into Profit "I want to own a restaurant that serves a product every weekend that makes you want to wait for it the entire week!"

By Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

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Abdul's BBQ
Abdulla Al-Janahi, founder, Abdul's BBQ.

When 16-year-old Abdulla Al-Janahi discovered that he had an innate passion for cooking, he decided to channel all his energy towards improving his culinary skills- and that's what led him to eventually launch his own F&B brand, Abdul's BBQ, which serves Texas-style smoked briskets. As for why briskets, well, Al-Janahi has a very personal reason for that. "I always wanted to cook something like brisket, which is well-cooked and tender, because I'm not a fan of rare, cooked meat!" Al-Janahi says. "Kids, in general, are not fans of bloody meat or steak!"

This, in effect, is how Al-Janahi's interest in Texas-style briskets began, and his curiosity about it led him to want to find out more about it, watching video after video about what he calls a "phenomenal and beautiful" dish. "Brisket is a dish that needs time to be served in the best way, and I always wished to try it one day," Al-Janahi says. "But I couldn't find a place that sold the brisket that would fulfill my expectations, and so, I took it as a challenge to create one myself. My first attempt was at home with the simple equipment that I had at that time. My family were the first people to try my dish. They were the reason I took this huge step, and started my own business. I was hesitant at first, but I am glad I got started. In the end, everyone encouraged me."

Al-Janahi thus launched Abdul's BBQ as a drive-through F&B concept in December 2022 -when he was just 15 years old- in the Al Quoz area of Dubai. Having carried out intensive research into the science behind the dish, Al-Janahi says he was thrilled by the cultural implications of him -an Emirati teenager- trying to master the art of an American style of cooking. After all, the slow cooking of beef briskets is a culinary method whose discovery is attributed to the South American state of Texas, and began centuries ago in the early 19th century. "We all know that brisket is a Texas-style dish, but imagine a young Emirati kid cooking brisket of authentic quality- or maybe even better!" he says. "This gives a message to our young generation that if others can do it, then why shouldn't we? It also shows that the F&B landscape in the UAE is very dynamic and diversified in terms of a multicultural society, but I believe Abdul's BBQ stands out from the competition, because of its quality."

Source: Abdul's BBQ

Related: The State Of Play -And The Road Ahead- For Startups And Investment In The GCC

Indeed, a focus on quality has meant that Abdul's BBQ uses beef that has a marbling grade of seven and above- in beef cuts, a higher amount of marbling (or visible white streaks of intramuscular fat) entails a higher grade, which means that particular beef cut will be comparatively more tender, packed with flavors, and juicier. "The brisket we use is a Grade 7 marbling Wagyu beef, smoked at low temperatures," Al-Jahani elaborates. "I'm proud to be the first in the industry here to serve this product. Cooking a single brisket takes 16 hours, and sometimes even longer. During the smoking process, I need to keep my eyes on the small details, such as the seasoning that needs to be well-balanced, so it doesn't become too salty, or bland with no taste. My goal is to create the best crust that surrounds my brisket, and serve it with homemade sauces and sides."

Abdulla Al-Janahi, founder, Abdul's BBQ. Source: Abdul's BBQ

Al-Janahi's efforts in perfecting his briskets have certainly worked out well so far, and the teenager now hopes to build on his business' momentum to eventually launch a food truck as well in the near future. "I can now see myself in a place I will be proud of, and make my family and supporters proud too," Al-Janahi says. "I want to own a restaurant that serves a product every weekend that makes you want to wait for it the entire week!"

Eureka! Abdulla Al-Janahi on how to make an idea a great one

Great ideas happen as a combination of creativity, existing products, and your own touch "Ideas come from chasing opportunities that others may not see. Whatever strength you have, no matter what it is, it's going to be attached to an opportunity. Keep your eyes open, because we live in a world full of opportunities. Success won't come easily, since it's a journey full of experiments, trial and error, and explorations. There will also be nights with no sleep. That's what happens when I want to make sure that the next day, I am going to serve my customers the best brisket they ever had!"

Get feedback from those you trust "For Abdul's BBQ, the first, second, and third brisket trials were always done through family, relatives, and close friends. Such a close circle of people will always want the best for you, and support you. They will give their honest review, and they will be the first people to clap for you when you reach your goal."

Listen to your customers "I had to learn how to respect and implement customer feedback. I once had feedback from one of my frequent customers about a point that I had never noticed. He suggested I should change the packaging from a boring brown box to an elegant black box. This really helped my product to become more appealing. As soon as I had different perspectives, I was able to develop my product, and make it more appealing."

Related: 16-Year-Old Tejas Ravishankar Is Hoping To Harness (And Celebrate) The Magic Of Coding Through His Tech Startup, Dimension

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Features Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East.

She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and was also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program.

Ahmed is particularly keen on writing stories involving people-centric leadership, female-owned startups, and entrepreneurs who've beaten significant odds to realize their goals.

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