An upmarket Kiwi bottled water company has added the ruler of Dubai and other Middle Eastern royalty to its client list.
Point Chevalier-based WaiLife, which produces "alkaline water" infused with saffron, rose and cinnamon, among other spices and flavours, has signed an exclusive deal to supply Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his family with its water for their residences around the world.
WaiLife is also in talks with representatives of the al-Thani royal family in Qatar, and a distribution company with connections to royalty in Saudi Arabia.
Afghanistan-born entrepreneur Bari Samadi, founder and managing director of WaiLife, said the supply deal was worth $500,000 annually - and expected to grow.
WaiLife was founded in 2018 with the Middle Eastern market in mind on the idea of high alkaline water infused with "old remedies" and ingredients with perceived health benefits.
Samadi said WaiLife caught the attention of an acquaintance in Dubai who had connections with the royal family and through that he was able to secure a meeting with the royal family's pharmacist.
He met the pharmacist in March last year and had a second meeting in September.
"Over there, they have strict rules and regulations, they've got to test all products before they are passed on to the royals for consumption. We did our test and came off on top against all of the other brands."
Within a week of the first meeting, the company received an order for its saffron-infused "liquid gold", Samadi said.
"They were really interested in that because in the Middle East saffron is one of the most sought after spices, and the most expensive."
The royal family had also ordered the company's plain and rose-infused waters, he said.
So far, the company has sold eight pallet loads, the equivalent of more than 10,000 bottles, to the royal family. It sends products to the family about every four months.
WaiLife is currently in talks with high-end supermarket chain Choithrams to supply its product for its stores in Dubai. It has also recently signed a four-year supply deal with a major Chinese distributor.
Samadi said the company was on track to become worth $50 million within the next three years. Almost $1.5m was invested into the business in its first year.
The company contract-manufactures its water in factories in Auckland and Napier.
Samadi, a design engineer by trade, is also the founder of Auckland-based Afghani restaurant Samadi, which he runs with his family, and halal infant formula company Ariana Holdings.
He has been doing business in the Middle East for the past eight years, selling infant formula in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
WaiLife is sold in pharmacies in New Zealand and it costs $11.99 for a 500ml bottle of saffron-infused water, $6.99 for rose and $5.99 for pure.