EPPSTEIN, Germany: Dates have always been omnipresent in Nora Blouza’s life. The 37-year-old is from southern Morocco, where her late grandfather once owned a date plantation. “Dates would always be in the house,” she told Arab News.
When Blouza’s Dutch-Moroccan husband came to Germany due to his work in 2018, she followed him with their three children after having lived in the Netherlands for 17 years.
“Originally we planned to just stay for three years,” she said. But the coronavirus pandemic thwarted the family’s plans.
They had to stay, and due to the lockdown they spent most of their daily life at home. To Blouza it was a double-edged sword.
“The bad news was that we were staying at home. The good news was that we started to develop ideas and put them to good use.”
It was during Ramadan last year that her daughter brought up a topic that gave Blouza a new idea.
“She reminded me of the high amounts of dates people consume, especially during Ramadan, of the many different types and tastes.”
It was then that Blouza had the idea of launching her own date business in Germany and importing large amounts. Although she was raised on dates, the business itself was something new to her.
As Blouza is Moroccan, her home country and its neighbors Algeria and Tunisia were the first that came to mind as potential suppliers, but none of them met her criteria.
“The amounts there aren’t as large as I’d like,” she said. “Neither could they provide the kind of diversity that I wanted.”
Diversity and quality were her top priorities. Eventually, it was dates from Saudi Arabia that she saw as meeting her criteria.
“Saudi Arabia has many different and often unique types of dates,” she said. “Ajwa, for example, is something that only grows in the city of Madinah.”
Blouza undertook research and found a supplier that suited her ideas best: Nakheel Alya, a company in Madinah.
Although it sells its products to 30 countries, Nakheel Alya is relatively new, having been founded in 2015.
Despite that, it “met my criteria,” said Blouza, who fulfilled her dream and launched her business, Nakheel Fruits, in August 2021.
Boxes of different products such as natural dates, date cookies, and dates covered in chocolate and filled with almonds or walnuts, fill the company’s warehouse in Eppstein, a town in the state of Hesse at the edge of the Taunus mountains.
“We mostly supply supermarkets and individual clients that order our products via our website,” said Blouza
While individual clients are from all over Germany, the supermarkets are mostly from Hesse, with demand rising during Ramadan.
Despite her original plans to stay in Germany for only three years, she now wants to stay indefinitely. “I like it here. And I love my project.”
She hopes that her business will grow and expand nationwide. “My dream is that we will develop further and that German customers will discover the quality and diversity of Saudi dates and date products.”