Hakuna Matata – Happy Pets! An interview with Faten

Discover more about this exciting, enterprising pet services company from Qatar!

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Introduction
Hakuna Matata – Happy Pets is a local home based business in Doha, Qatar. Hakuna Matata is mainly focused on creating nutritious homemade dog and cat treats using 100% natural healthy ingredients but they also offer professional pet photography, custom made pet themed jewellery and pet sitting/walking, boarding services.

More recently the company has also been involved in hosting successful fund raising events to help raise money for the Qatar Animal Welfare Society (QAWS).

Behind this work is a couple with affection to animals and an understanding of the importance of healthy living, so naturally the idea of providing pets with healthy life style nutrition options came about. 

The folks at Hakuna Matata are doing something really positive and inspiring for animals and for Qatar, so we decided to interview Faten Ali, (Co Founder) to find out more about the philosophies of Hakuna Matata and the services that they offer…

1. How did Hakuna Matata – Happy Pets first get started in Qatar?

It actually all started out of frustration when we adopted a dog from QAWS and started training her. We realized then how limited the options are in the market when it comes to dog treats. The frustration got worse when we started to read the ingredients lists on these foods – discovering that most of them are chemical preservatives, added salt, sugar and food colorant with vague references to actual natural ingredients. 

We both come from a generation that witnessed the rise and fall of heavily processed canned foods. When we were kids, it was the cool thing to have but now we know the negative effects of such products on our health. That’s why we decided not to expose our pets to this diet and on the contrary, try to offer them alternative options made with natural ingredients and absolutely no added preservatives or chemicals. 

We started experimenting with some recipes and we did a wide range of research to know what’s good for dogs and what’s not. Soon after, we mastered a couple of recipes and started thinking – why not making it available for other pets? And why not expand our products to include cooked food and not just treats? 

We drafted a simple business plan and here we are 7 months later with over 15 recipes of treats and food for dogs and cats. The pet photography, Jewellery and other services that we offer such as boarding and dog sitting/walking is complimentary to our core experience and it draws on our passion for pets. 

Another important aspect of our business is the social responsibility. As we started the business we also started volunteering at QAWS becoming aware of the situation they and other active groups are facing to save and improve animals conditions in Qatar. This is why we wanted our business to be responsible and give back to the community. We allocate a percentage of our sales on regular basis to help a number of groups such as QAWS, Cats in Qatar and others. 

Occasionally we also host special fund raising events to address the eminent needs of these groups. Although we are a small business at the moment, we have built in a sustainable mechanism to give back to the community, which allows us to have a bigger impact as we grow.


2. Who makes up the Hakuna Matata team?

We are a team of 2 at the moment. Faten Ali and Aziz Louksah. Aziz handles issues related to marketing while Faten is pretty much running everything else. This includes researching and creating recipes, baking treats and preparing food, photography and jewelry design. We use a local jeweler to manufacture the various designs that our customers select. 

We often work with the customer to identify what they want and we make them the design they want within the budget they decide. We also have an advisory board that helps us with testing the products and fine-tuning our recipes. These are our 2 cats Kabkoubeh and Pico and our star dog Sayuri.


3. What sorts of natural ingredients do you use in the healthy pet food products?

We have two main lines of food products. Home made cooked food and home made treats. The cooked food is what makes the main meal of the day, this is usually rich in protein – essential to the growth and well being of dogs and cats. We also add all of the important vegetables to provide pets with the vitamins and minerals that they need. Treats on the other hand are used to reward good behavior during training or to simply supply an energy boost when pets are playing or exercising. 

Our treats use wheat or oats as a base and to that we add a lot of natural goodness such as vegetables, fruits and meat. Carrots for example are a component that we use a lot as they give pets their necessary supply of Beta Carotene which is good for their eye health – carrots are also beneficial for human eye health. Beta Carotene also has a positive effect on immunity and it helps in preventing a number of other diseases. 

Other good vegetables that we use include; broccoli, sweet potato, and spinach. In addition, we use homemade applesauce, pumpkin pure and peanut butter in our recipes. So as you see, we try to have control over ingredients we use to avoid any added chemicals, sugar and salt in ready products. 

We have a special line of treats for dogs trying to lose weight. In these recipes we use oat, fiber and rich vegetables to give them energy but not calories. Other recipes include higher protein ratios and are great for long walks and runs on the beach. 

The important thing is that all our recipes of food and treats use only fresh natural ingredients. We use fresh locally sourced prime quality meat, chicken, vegetables and fruits. We don’t add salt or sugar to the recipes and we keep a simple rule in mind; if you won’t eat it, you shouldn’t feed it to your pets. As a matter of fact, some of the sweet treats recipes we make are becoming the favorite compliment to a cup of tea for our friends and ourselves. 

The sweetness we get from honey and natural sugar in fruits is not as overwhelming as added sugar and it allows us to enjoy the other flavors even more.

Soon we will provide gluten free treats for pets with allergies and we will introduce a whole line of recipes based on coconut milk, oil, flour and meat. Coconut, packs a whole lot of nutritional value and is one of the super foods for dogs health but this is not the space to address all of its benefits.


4. Why should pet owners in Qatar choose the food products that you offer over those in the supermarkets?

The way we see it is that taking a pet into your house and family is a responsibility. The pets become totally dependent on us to provide them with food, care and love. That’s why it’s important to consider your options when it comes to feeding them. You should ask yourself some simple questions; Would I want to eat something out of a pack with more than 6 ingredients that I can’t pronounce? And; Would I want to eat a meal that has a shelf life close to my life expectancy? 

Your dogs or cats probably don’t want that but they don’t have an option unless you give them one. We are here to provide you with that option. The benefits of selecting healthy, natural, good-quality foods and treats for your pets is extended to you on a long term basis. Poor diet often causes health issues for pets resulting in more visits to the vets and more nutritional supplements to complement what they are lacking. Needless to say, this could be costly not to mention the emotional burden of it. A healthy diet makes for a healthy, happy pet and that is what we want for pets and their parents. 

5. You have Facebook and Instagram page’s that show some really cute animal photography. What else can people find out by following and liking your online pages?

We depend mainly on social media to reach out and connect with our customers. In this regard our Facebook page, Instagram and twitter accounts are very important for us to keep an ongoing dialogue with customers and with the community of pets owners in Qatar. 

We want to hear from them and to help to inform them. So besides the lovely photos, we will start in October a weekly facebook post that addresses an important issue related to pets. It could be about nutrition, training, grooming, health, play or anything else. 

We aim to create an online space where people in Qatar who share our passion can meet and interact. We have already launched a facebook competition to choose the cutest pet – it was very successful and a lot of fun! So we plan on doing more of these activities on Facebook and Instagram. We have many plans that are still cooking – you will be first to know! Our main goal is to be the hub of the growing pet parents community in Doha.

We are now in the final stages of finalizing our website which will give visitors a better idea on who we are, what we do and how they can get our products. We have started a free delivery service for orders above QR 150 and the website will help customers making their orders in an easy simple way.


Support Hakuna Matata – Happy Pets and stay informed by visiting, 
following and Liking their 
promotional pages!

Like!  – The Hakuna Matata – Facebook page
Follow – @HMPets – Twitter

Contact them directly

Phone+974 6674 0049
Email: faten@hmpets.com