Meet Emma Riedel, an Aussie who has been in Dubai for 11 years, mum to 3 children: Riley and twins Amani and Noor, and serial entrepreneur (with the occasional assistance of her husband).
Photography by Lidiya, of Lidiya Kalichuk Photography.
Most of you will have heard of me&riley contemporary events LLC, the party organising and styling company that Emma founded in 2008. Then, in 2014 her ventures expanded overseas to make her the proud owner of Arabella on Boossa, a gorgeous private hotel 10 minutes away from the UNESCO heritage listed Galle Fort on the South West coast of Sri Lanka. She is also the owner of Arabella on West, an equally fabulous property with one, two and three bedroom holiday apartments a stone’s throw from the beach in Adelaide, South Australia. Back in Dubai, she also owns and manages Chase Property Maintenance LLC offering professional and efficient services for everything maintenance related from air-conditioning duct cleaning, to handyman services, to plumbing and electrical work.
How did it all start? After having studied Interior Architecture, worked in FCUK Australia and travelled the world, Emma and her husband Myles arrived in Dubai with just (although no backpackers!) 2 backpacks following her husband’s job.
Now they work to travel, and Emma uses their travels to inspire all of their businesses and their life as a family.
EMMA THE ENTREPRENEUR
What prompted you to become an entrepreneur?
I started out of despair! I found it very hard initially in Dubai and spent over 6 months searching for a job, constantly being told I was unemployable and being turned away from jobs. I remember crying outside the Emirates office after yet another rejection!!
Your biggest challenge in owning and running multiple businesses across 3 different time zones?
The expectations of all of the different nationalities and cultural backgrounds that we work with. We try really hard to be true to our advertising in photography as well as text. We are also very ‘hands on’ and most clients have direct access to us which makes it very challenging to manage our time sometimes.
Your biggest success?
For me, it has been building a family environment in the UAE with no immediate family support.
Your biggest dream?
Building a private hotel group from the ground up.
'Never give up on anything that you believe in.'
Is there the one business that needs more of your time and attention than another?
Yes - me&riley! I work in the warehouse almost every day, not because our team need me to, but because I love events and styling!
If we lived in Sri Lanka, then it would be Arabella on Boossa as I love hotels and everything to do with travelling and hospitality – just making sure that everything has been done perfectly and our guests embrace and enjoy the Arabella experience.
I would love to spend more time working with the Chase guys. Our vision for this company was based on DIY and decorating on smaller scale budgets particularly for renters to show that, even though your time in Dubai may be short, you don’t have to live in a nondescript environment with none of your personality.
How do you manage your time to fit it all in, especially with 3 children and your multiple businesses?
Organisation and my Muji notebooks!! I have a fairly average memory and I have to write everything down in job-list style!
Do you have any tips for other mums out there who would like to become entrepreneurs?
Absolutely! Find a niche that is not already flooded – something that you are passionate about and interested in, and then give it your whole self - work, work, work.
Never give up on anything that you believe in. I remember when Riley was about 1 year old and I went to a mums morning group and talked to a few mums about my idea for me&riley, to simply be told that people would not be interested in that type of service and I would not do well. Thank goodness I followed my gut instinct!
EMMA THE MUM
How did your life change after having children?
When we became parents we decided our children would be a part of our lives rather than directing our lives, so we do most things that we would have done without children, with children – I guess with a lot less money though as they are really expensive to look after!!
What has motherhood taught you?
Motherhood teaches me patience, it’s an ongoing lesson … although some days when I am tired, I will just have zero.
Your most challenging aspect of motherhood?
The hardest thing about motherhood and working is trying to make time for everything, and to not be easily distracted (which for me is very often)!!
What is for you the best thing about raising children in Dubai?
The opportunities that they have for everything!! This puts a lot of pressure on us as parents but good pressure, as we have so many choices for everything, from schooling methods to activities and entertainment, as well as Dubai being a travel hub to explore the world from!
How do you help your children to stay in touch with reality as expat children?
Six months ago we decided to have no nanny or maid in our villa and this has been really hard for us, as we have had ‘help’ from almost day one with children, but we are doing it and I hope this will enable our children to see that it’s for the best that they learn how to do daily chores. Their favourite job by far is dropping off the shirts for ironing at the drive-through window at Beach Centre in Jumeirah, there are a lot of fights about whose turn it is!
Favourite spot for mummy & me dates?
Travelling is our passion and we take turns in overseas trips with our children individually, so that we get quality, one on one time with each child! This summer I took Amani to Indonesia with another two people (part of our Dubai family), Myles took Riley to Australia, and he also took Noor to Sri Lanka.
'Six months ago we decided to have no nanny or maid'
Favourite spot for child-friendly breakfast?
Tasha’s in Galleria, on Al Wasl Road.
Favourite stores for children’s interiors?
Zara Home, Marina Interiors and Ikea. When we travel we also buy, so a lot of our interiors items are from overseas. Our children’s rooms are quite grown-up rather than too childish, as I am planning for the future so I don’t have to keep redoing them!!
EMMA THE WOMAN
'I love to know everything and I like to know the truth.'
If you could have a superpower (besides producing 3 beautiful children), what would you choose?
Cloak of invisibility! I love to know everything and I like to know the truth, I feel that sometimes as I have a strong character people feel they have to agree with me…
Favourite holiday destination
Bali is just perfect for everything: shopping, hotels, beaches, restaurants … everything!
Favourite restaurant for a date with hubby
Favourite lunch spot with girl friends
Tasha’s (again!) or Slider Station
Favourite day of the week
Your 3 essentials in life
Happy and healthy children, happy husband, clean car and villa, then successful businesses with happy clients … whoops that’s 4!
Your 3 luxuries
Shopping, fresh flowers and my car - I love my car!
Are you reading a book at the moment that you would like to recommend?
I have just read the Mountain Shadow – the sequel to Shantaram – the reviews aren’t all amazing but I loved it.
Do you have any fitness routine? If so, what is it?
No!! I want one, but it’s impossible to fit in!
If you could invite anyone you wished to a dinner party, who would it be?
My grandfather - I would like to know if he is proud of everything that we have achieved and I would love of him to meet my children and husband.
All photography by Lidiya Kalichuk Photography.
Lidiya is a Dubai lifestyle photographer specialising in newborn, maternity and family sessions in a clean and simple style with an artistic touch. She offers emotive ‘Fresh 48’ and ‘Simply newborn’ sessions as well as indoor and outdoor maternity and family lifestyle shoots. Relaxed, natural and stress free, these sessions are aimed at capturing connection and emotions and the simple everyday moments that matter.