Business Categories Reports Podcasts Events Awards Webinars
Contact My Account About

How JUANA Is Navigating the Middle East Cannabis Beauty Market

Published July 4, 2024
Published July 4, 2024

While drugs like cannabis have been illegal in the Middle East, with the region enforcing a strict zero tolerance policy on drugs, CBD-based skincare products have actually been legal since 2021. JUANA is the region’s first pioneering CBD-driven skincare brand that is on a mission to revolutionize the way consumers in the Middle East perceive, produce, and use CBD-based products. Since its launch in the market nine months ago, the brand has experienced over 40% month-on-month growth, a 14x increase in sales value, and 85% of repeat orders from its customers, highlighting an undeniable product market fit.

On the cusp of a highly attractive second funding round, BeautyMatter had the chance to speak with co-founder Yann Moujawaz Martini, who is French with a Syrian heritage, on how he is navigating a tricky, regulation-riddled market like the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and what he thinks the future holds for cannabis-based beauty in the region.

JUANA is the Middle East’s first CBD-based skincare brand. Could you please tell us what inspired you to start it, and how you came up with the idea?

JUANA was inspired by a vision to introduce the wellness benefits of CBD to the Middle East. My journey began when I recognized a gap in the market for clinically proven, high-quality, natural skincare solutions that promote wellness and vitality. As a former strategy consultant at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), wellness had become a priority for managing my hectic lifestyle. And I was seeking out products that were clinically proven to be effective and enhanced my overall health and wellness while emphasizing clean and natural ingredients. This led me to explore the potential of cannabinoids to balance the equation between clinical effectiveness and cleanliness and natural purity to create top-of-the-line products. With my family  deeply entrenched in the medical field consisting of doctors and surgeons, I had the unique advantage of understanding and accessing the compound from a medical perspective—as well as access to this knowledge fueled by passion and drive to develop JUANA’s innovative line of CBD skincare products.

What was your motivation behind entering the CBD skincare market in a region that has such high regulations around cannabis?

My motivation stemmed from a desire to offer potent, wellness-enhancing products amid stringent regulations in the local community. CBD’s benefits for skin health and overall wellness provided a strong impetus to be a pioneer in this market in the Middle East. Despite being extremely challenging, I believed that our local community would greatly benefit from having access to such products to enhance their health and wellness. As a result, at JUANA we are committed to do and invest whatever is required to make this happen.

Have you faced any challenges or obstacles along the way, and how have you overcome them?

The journey included navigating regulatory hurdles and educating stakeholders about CBD's safety and benefits. Overcoming these challenges involved persistence, comprehensive compliance, and robust educational initiatives. We have also dedicated significant resources to build strong foundations and provide clear evidence to back all our claims. Rigorous clinical efficacy studies in France and Germany, prestigious certifications, verifications and awards, and initiatives to build active and strong endorsement from the medical community are some of the key activities we have prioritized to establish rock-solid foundations.

Could you help us understand how you formulate your products, including sourcing of raw materials and ensuring compliance with regulations in the region?

The philosophy guiding our formulations has been unwavering: to achieve optimal clinical efficacy and health-enhancing results without compromising on formulations, integrity and safety. Performance and health safety are two key metrics that we are absolutely obsessed with. This means incorporating and sourcing the highest quality active ingredients such as cannabinoids and hyaluronic acid complex while maintaining a zero tolerance policy towards potentially harmful ingredients. You can say that we have quite a minimalist approach to our formulations—and believe that there is no need for a long list of unnecessary ingredients. We also collaborate exclusively with best-in-class researchers, formulators, and global dermatological institutes to ensure our products achieve peak performance. Additionally, strict adherence to regional regulations and rigorous compliance underscores our commitment to efficacy and consumer safety.

While the Middle East has a zero drugs policy, CBD-based products have actually  been legal since 2021. Yet there are no other beauty brands in the region that include CBD in their products. What opportunities do you foresee for CBD-based products in beauty and other sectors in the region?

JUANA has been a trailblazer in the introduction and development of CBD in the GCC market. We are the first brand legalized and authorized to market such products in the region, an achievement that we are extremely proud of and feel a great sense of responsibility for. This fuels our commitment to continue to invest, build, and  lead the future of cannabinoids here a globally.

How do you educate your customers in understanding the benefits of CBD skincare and how important is education when it comes to building and growing a brand like JUANA?

Education has always been at the heart of everything we do at JUANA. It is a critical element in building trust and raising awareness. We prioritize sharing knowledge and educating our customers about the benefits and safety of CBD. This mission extends beyond just selling our products; we want to help our consumers understand how CBD based products can enhance their overall wellness journeys. Additionally, we have also garnered strong endorsements from the medical community and forged partnerships with esteemed global wellness institutions like The Lanserhof in Germany and the UK. These alliances have provided us with a great platform to responsibly educate our audience.

How has the response been so far in terms of accepting your products in the region, and how do you anticipate this evolving in the future?

The response so far has been really positive, reflecting a growing acceptance of CBD's wellness benefits in the region. The future definitely looks promising, and I believe that as we build awareness, the demand for natural, effective skincare solutions like JUANA will continue to soar.

"Education has always been at the heart of everything we do at JUANA. We prioritize sharing knowledge and educating our customers about the benefits and safety of CBD."
By Yann Moujawaz Martini, co-founder, JUANA

Could you share some examples of some marketing/PR activities that you have employed to spread the word of JUANA in the region?

Some of our flagship initiatives include, medically led educational content and world-class partnerships with globally renown clinics and institutions. We have also just recently closed our second funding round, and we are busy developing ambitious PR a marketing campaigns in the region and globally. We are privileged that the latest funding round received the support of some of the world’s most influential key opinion leaders and groups, particularly in the beauty and wellness spaces. So, we have lots of exciting plans in the works that we are really looking forward to.

Are there any exciting new product launches/innovations/ developments and/or partnerships that you are particularly excited about in the near future?

Yes absolutely. We are already exploring new verticals within the overall wellness and health space to  build a comprehensive, 360 range for our growing community. Unfortunately, I cannot disclose this information at this stage, but keep your eyes and ears open because there will be exciting and unexpected products coming soon.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to enter this space in the region or in other regions with stricter regulations?

As someone who has worked both as a corporate and as an entrepreneur, I believe that entrepreneurs must focus on compliance, education, and innovation. Ultimately, it is about  building trust in your products, standards, capabilities, vision, and processes and making people believe and buy into that vision. The truth is that there really is no shortcut there. Patience, persistence, and staying fully committed and invested are all key to success. As well as of course a comprehensive understanding of the regulations while continuously educating the market and innovating all the time.

And finally, what do you think the future holds for CBD-based skincare and other cannabis-based products in the Middle East, and what role do you think JUANA will play in shaping this future?

At JUANA, our mission is clear: to shape the future of cannabinoids in the region and expand globally. We strive to be at the forefront of this new era and want to lead the way by raising awareness, fostering acceptance, and educating consumers on the benefits of cannabis-based products in promoting overall wellness.


2 Article(s) Remaining

Subscribe today for full access