Nasreen Ali, managing director of Hunza Global Ventures, explains why she’s on a mission to help the UAE beat its single-use plastic habit, the business returns of sustainability, and aspects you need to look at before investing in a water filtration solution

Nasreen Ali, managing director, Hunza Global Ventures

Established in 2017 with a mission to source and market key new inventions that are solutions to the problems of present and future generations, Hunza Global Ventures is driven by passion and purpose, committed to sustainability and relentless in providing communities with innovative products, solutions, inventions and new technologies across industries around the globe. Its products range from hydration solutions to nano technological industrial solutions that support the principles of sustainability and add value to the environment, drive efficiencies, reduce operational cost, enhance performance and support the shift to a carbon-neutral economy.

Here, Nasreen Ali, managing director of Hunza Global Ventures, explains why she brought FloWater to the Gulf, how it can help the UAE beat its single-use plastic habit, the business returns of sustainability, and what you need to know before investing in a water filtration solution.

While Western markets have seen awareness about the dangers of single-use plastic bottles increasing – whether from a health, waste or sustainability perspective – it feels like the Gulf still lags behind in many ways. Can this at least partly be attributed to the fact that most people here don’t feel comfortable drinking tap water?


That’s right. We can also observe an increasing awareness in the Middle East around protection of planet, oceans and health hazards of plastics. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has one of most advanced water treatment systems in the world but most of the population still uses bottled drinking water mainly due to convenience.

From a business standpoint, what are some ways in which investing in sustainability initiatives can benefit long-term ROI? Besides FloWater, can you recommend any other examples of smart, sustainable investments Gulf managers should be considering?

Sustainability goals are about balancing profits versus impact of the business on the society and the planet. New generation of customers and employees have a heightened sense of environmental and social impact of businesses. These issues include biodiversity, diversity, inclusion, habitat protection and human rights. Therefore, it is important to understand that sustainability is all about making the right and ethical choices in business and taking responsibility for the businesses’ impact.

Single-use plastic bottles, as well as waste from takeout containers and plastic bags, make up a substantial share of litter in the ocean

For some people, sustainability is too benevolent or utopian to measure in something as concrete as dollars and cents. However, the reality is that it is still possible. Because you’ll be using less resources, spending less on them, make more thoughtful and conscious decisions that will impact the business in the long run. And this will benefit the planet too.

For example, FloWater Refill Stations will eliminate single-use plastic bottles, which will not only protect wildlife and oceans and offer a much better-quality water to users but will also reduce costs significantly. So, it can be a direct investment in health and well-being of employees and customers. It can also boost sustainability and foster a sense of responsibility in employees and families.

A few other aspects where ROI can be measured include:

  • Reputational coverage – attracting and retaining more and new set of like-minded customers
  • Brand equity increase – PR and marketing coverage
  • Employee satisfaction and retention – Well-being through a healthier hydration option; less caffeine and soda; better productivity

A lot of the awareness around the dangers of single-use plastic has been raised around the impact on oceans, the health dangers of microplastics and the sheer degree of waste that bottles create. What are some things the average person might not be aware of when it comes to plastic bottles?

There is a lesser awareness when it comes to the impact of bottled water on human health from plastic exposure. Several medical research papers have proved that plastic bottles leach harmful chemicals and toxins such as bisphenolA (BPA), lead and phthalate. These toxins get mixed into the bottled water. Medical studies also suggest that these toxins negatively impact endocrine, hormonal and auto-immune system contributing to diseases such as diabetes, asthma, thyroid disorders, heart and kidney diseases, reproductive disorders, behavioral and learning disorders, and breast, prostate and thyroid cancers. So it is best that we avoid or minimise our exposure to plastic and PET products.

What is the upfront cost of installing FloWater products in a home or office? How about filters, etc?

The upfront cost of a FloWater Re-fill Station is about Dh26,000. Throughout an average 15-year of life FloWater will cost only about 11fils per litre. Note that this is not conventional bottled water but high-end, alkaline, oxygenated functional water that is free of UV radiation, chemicals, bacteria, viruses and microplastics.

To give flexible and more affordable options to customers, we have partnered with several banks offering easy payment options up to 12 months with 0 percent interest and no banking fee. We also have monthly rental options for corporates that cost only Dh50 to 60 per day, including maintenance, service and annual filters change.

There are plenty of companies operating here that, on the surface, seem to offer a similar product – particularly with regards to FloWater. What questions would I, as a consumer, really need to ask when considering these products? What are some common shady practices carried out by their purveyors?

That’s right, there are many companies offering similar products and solutions. But there are very few that offer technologies capable of completely removing bacteria, viruses, chemicals and microplastics. If you are investing in something that doesn’t remove these harmful elements from water, then the investment is useless from a health perspective.

The microplastics found in single-use bottles have been linked to a vast range of health conditions

People should understand the types of technologies that are used for water treatment to eliminate bacteria and viruses i.e. chlorine being the most basic option and ozonation the latest and most effective. In between, there are microbial chemical technologies such as BioCote and UV radiation, which are not very effective compared to ozonation technology. Customers should also look for the capacity, COVID safety, flowrates, filter life and maintenance costs – not only financial but also environmental.

Other important elements to consider are the efficiency of the equipment/product, power consumption, auxiliary water wastage and frequency of service requirement. Many RO-based products waste a lot of water – up to half of the water used – and some also need pre-filtration systems and cannot be used independently.

We believe FloWater is ahead of all other options because:

  • It is free of chemical coating and UV radiation
  • It uses medical-grade sanitary features making it more suitable for a pandemic
  • It is self-sanitising and doesn’t need any service for internal cleaning
  • Seven adjustable temperature settings, from boiling hot to extremely chilled water
  • It has fastest flow rate (time saving) and highest internal capacity
  • It comes with touchless options to dispense water
  • It has a recessed nozzle that makes it cross-contamination-proof and ideal for big corporates, schools, hospitals, hotels and events
  • It requires minimum human intervention to use
  • It needs minimal maintenance, making it the technology with minimum carbon footprint