When Dr Iman Alashkar founded Marssai she never thought she would see her products flying off shelves so fast. With constant hand washing and using hand sanitizers recommended as top ways to keep COVID-19 at bay, Alashkar, a Syrian national, has been working non-stop to ensure her company is churning out as many personal care products as possible to meet the unprecedented demand. While Marssai already had antiseptic hand wash in its inventory, Alashkar felt duty bound to produce hand sanitizers when she was told there was a shortage. After some incessant team work, the company came up with the formula and packaging, got the green light from the municipality and it’s been go, go, go ever since.
Alashkar says despite the frenzied pace she has been living during these extraordinary times, she feels satisfied “I love the fact that we’re making a difference and keeping the quality,” she told Arab News. “It’s what keeps me going, and when you see it, it gives you that power. You have a purpose, and it gives you energy and light to keep doing. It’s tiring but fun.” The entrepreneur, who is a member of the American Society of Cosmetic Chemists, also told the English daily she feels it’s her place to help the community. “It’s my specialty, so I can’t just go and rest. People need more.Maybe next month I won’t be needed, but now is the time I can serve my business and my community,” she said.
Perhaps one thing that has helped her cope well under so much pressure is all the hard work she had to do for her Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences, which she obtained in Boston. It was after working for a few years in Technology Consulting that Alashkar decided to move back home to Syria, where she had family already involved in the pharmaceuticals industry. However, the civil war saw her pack her bags once again, this time to head to Dubai. She followed her dream and founded Marssai, which means “my anchor” in Arabic. “I wanted to start with what’s essential for us in terms of wellbeing in our life, something we use every day and that should be well made as part of consistent hygiene,” she told Arab News.
Made in a factory in Dubai Science Park, Marssai products can be found in a number of supermarkets like Carrefour, as well as pharmacies in the UAE. The company, which also produces a baby line called Peekaboo and shampoo, sources essential materials, like water, locally. And as Alashkar made sure her factory was built the same way as a sterile pharmaceutical lab, risks like cross-contamination aren’t a factor.