Frustration, boredom and unemployment resulted in a 23-year-old Emirati turning to baking for solace. Khulood Al Muhairi's answer to a life not going exactly her way was to create cookies.
"It was the end of 2009 and job hunting wasn't going too well," she said, recalling the difficult days.
That is when Khulood started baking up a storm in her kitchen. Two years later the cookies are in great demand in Abu Dhabi.
"I've always enjoyed cooking. I see it both as a passion and an art. I used to make pastas and salads in my free time, but baking was a new experience," she said.
"One summer day, I decided to make dessert for my family and friends. I started playing with peanut butter and cookie dough, and that's when it all began."
To her joy, everybody loved the cookies and asked her to bake some more.
She started experimenting with ingredients like chocolate chips, coffee, pistachio, coconut, cinnamon, ginger and almond. It resulted in Khulood creating five different original cookie flavours.
Then her older sister suggested she start a little home business. At first Khulood was hesitant.
"I wasn't sure at first, I thought it was a silly idea, and I was scared of failing, but with the insistence of my sister and close friends, I decided to give it a try," she said.
It was then, with the support of her family and friends that her brand, ‘K's cookies', was launched.
"With financial support from my mother in the beginning and help from my friends in the brand concept and design, I launched a Twitter page dedicated for cookie orders."
Word started to spread, and the orders started coming in.
In no time, K's cookies had more than 200 followers on Twitter. She then started taking orders by phone and by e-mail, and later launched a website.
During that time, Khulood got hired for a full-time job in the media department of a company in Abu Dhabi. She was forced to divide time between her day job and K's cookies.
"I spend the day at work, come home and rest for an hour. I then start baking at 5pm and sometimes that goes on until after midnight, depending on the orders that I need to deliver," she said. "It's extremely tiring working all day, taking orders, arranging for deliveries and dealing with last-minute cancellations."
She said: "My cookies have a certain quality and standard, which my customers are used to. It's not easy finding the right ingredients for that while being cost-effective."
In a year's time and if all goes according to plan, Khulood is hoping to open a K's Cookies store in Abu Dhabi.
Her advice for every young person with an idea, hope or project in mind is: "Dream, dream and take action. Be courageous, be confident, take the opinions of the people around you and accept constructive criticism."
Follow her on twitter: @Kscookies