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The Movement, Dubai

1 March 2015

An independent bicycle store offering a carefully curated selection of bicycles and accessories for urban riding, The Movement is on a mission to help people in Dubai live a healthier, happier and greener lifestyle

Not all bike shops are created equal, says Rooman Latif, owner of independent bicycle store The Movement, as he polishes a 1950s-inspired Linus bicycle. The UK expat is only half joking. Latif and his wife, Julie, opened The Movement in Dubai Garden Centre four months ago, because they had struggled to find the retro-styled bikes and urban riding community that they hankered for in Dubai.

But as well as filling a niche in the city, the eco-conscious entrepreneurs say The Movement is about making a difference. “Our mission is simple: to encourage healthier, happier and sustainable living,” says Rooman. “The majority of bicycle shops in Dubai are geared towards sports and recreation, we want to inspire more people to ride a bicycle for stylish day-to-day cycling instead of driving a car for those short trips, whether that’s to the beach, local market or in and around your neighbourhood.” 

Despite seeing a surge in urban bicycles since the opening of their store, Rooman says the UAE’s urban bicycle ridership hasn’t yet reached the levels that you see in many other countries. “We hope to build on this momentum that we’ve seen to date. As well as our passion, The Movement was about starting something that matters. 

"We consider ourselves eco-entrepreneurs and were keen to support the UAE’s vision of becoming a sustainable city. One satisfaction of the business is the knowledge that we’re providing our customers with non-polluting transportation, and when we leave Dubai – whenever that might be – we hope to leave it in a better place.”

As an independent bicycle shop, The Movement specialises in well-built bicycles with classic designs that are comfortable and practical, as well as the accessories to match. Reminiscent of the traditional local family bike store of treasured childhood memories, Rooman and Julie handpick and test the products they sell. 

They only stock what they love in a store they have designed themselves; from The Movement’s pared-back logo and branding, to the rustic feel of the salvaged wood pallets that line the store’s walls. The duo’s passion and enthusiasm for their store, urban riding and the environment is contagious. As a result they have fast built a very loyal and growing clientele of likeminded suppliers and city riders. 

“We feature brands that not only share our passion for urban riding but also have their own story to tell. Linus, for example, is a brand that we have admired for a number of years. Our range of bicycles and accessories suit wherever you need to go and whatever you need to carry with you on your journey,” says Canadian-born Julie. 

Some of the brands stocked by The Movement include Linus accessories and bicycles from California, which are inspired by the clean lines of 1950s and 1960s French bicycles, “non-dorky” lightweight helmets from Vancouver based Sahn, and wicker bicycle baskets from the US brand Nantucket.

“We wanted to build a lifestyle brand based around urban bicycles and ‘the ride’ rather than performance and competition. The vintage, contemporary look and feel of the brand and our space is an extension of this philosophy. That was one of the main discussion points my husband and I talked about before opening. We wanted it to feel genuine and real,” says Julie. 

“The space itself has qualities that we love. The energy that comes from the wooden bicycle frames we created for the window display is unique. The way the sun comes in in the morning and the beams of light that come in in the afternoon is picturesque. Couple this with the energy coming from our clients and it makes for an amazing experience; the whole idea of hanging out, talking to people, sharing bicycle routes and journeys. It was important for us to have this community feel. Having that relationship with your local bicycle shop is wonderful and it’s what makes this all worthwhile.” 

But in a fast-growing and bustling city such as Dubai, what is the future for urban riding, and can it ever be a relaxing experience? Rooman and Julie are adamant that the answer is yes, citing the government’s drive to provide more and more cycle paths across the city. They believe urban bicycle riding in Dubai will continually become a safer and more rewarding experience. 

“Dubai is definitely advocating and establishing a better cycling infrastructure, and there is expected to be a huge amount of growth in the city’s cycling culture because of the ambition to make it one of the most bicycle friendly and sustainable cities in the region,” says Julie.

“What has impressed us the most is the speed of progress. Dubai has already launched its own bike share scheme and new cycle routes have begun to proliferate, so you can see that the Government recognises the scale of the opportunity; the change bike riding might bring to the city and people’s lives.” Rooman agrees. 

“I think Dubai is so much more bicycle friendly than people give it credit for. We both owned bicycles before moving to Dubai and brought our bicycles with us when we came. We take our bikes pretty much everywhere and even the traffic or hot summers cannot keep us off our bikes. My Linus bicycle is the best therapist, most potent anti-depressant and one of the best friends I ever had.” As for the future of The Movement, the husband and wife team say they just want to continue improving on what they’re doing. 

“The first four months since our launch have been overwhelming. We’ve always felt that a good part of our success isn’t measured in the number of bicycles we sell but in the satisfaction of meeting the good people who want to be part of The Movement,” says Julie with a smile. 

themovement.ae

Words and images: Sandra Tinari 


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