The Three Hats of Emma Riedel

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

Toko

 

Favourite lunch spot with girl friends

Tasha’s (again!) or Slider Station

 

Favourite day of the week

Sunday!

 

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. 

To view more of her fabulous work or to get in touch, visit her website www.lidiyakalichuk.com, her Facebook page HERE or her Instagram page HERE.

The Three Hats of Joanne Hanson-Halliwell

Meet Joanne Hanson-Halliwell, incredibly talented and passionate woman, with the best sense of humour (she is English after all!), and founder of Small and Mighty Babies.

All photography by Jules Seddon of Jewel Seddon Lifestyle Photography.

 

In the short life of this blog (just over a year) I have always shared happy, fun stories. Until now I have never got emotional writing a blog post. But this is a different story, a different topic. One that life gave me a little taste of, and also I probably find more touching because I might have become more empathetic of other women's experiences and circumstances since becoming a mum (funny how this works, especially after having been a super competitive career girl in my previous life!).

I know too well the heartache of going to the hospital to have a baby, only to come back home a few days later with everything we had eagerly and carefully researched and selected for the baby coming home, BUT the baby.

What is for most parents one of the happiest days in their lives, driving back home excitedly to start life as a little family, for us was a trip filled with tears and our eyes fixed on the empty baby car seat. Despite the distress, we felt very fortunate as our firstborn made an entrance at 34.5 weeks of gestation and weighed a whole 2.5 kg, so was only a resident in the NICU for a few days.

Other babies, though, are born far more prematurely, weighing only a few grams, and start their journey into this world enduring weeks and sometimes months in the NICU, at times involving surgery (or multiple surgeries), with their parents only allowed to see them through the side of the incubator. They are small, absolutely tiny in fact, but they are mighty and they are born fighters, and most of them pull through and live full, healthy, and happy lives.

And then there is the heartbreaking story of those who sadly just never made it home (or did, but did not stay long enough). They were also born little fighters but despite everyone's efforts, sweat and tears, their tiny tiny bodies just were not strong enough to survive outside of their mum’s womb.

Before embarking on the exciting journey of mummyhood, Joanne Hanson-Halliwell was a banker whose life was turned upside down by the unexpected arrival of little George, 10 weeks early. So Joanne and George are no strangers to life in the NICU. That was a whole 3 years ago now but after her experience, she made it her quest to offer support and a shoulder to other parents facing the same unplanned start to parenthood, through sharing stories and the pain, and tears that every family that has or has had a baby in the NICU is too familiar with, and to connect families that have gone through it, as nobody else will understand their sorrow better. With this, her amazing group ‘Small and Mighty Babies’ was born.

Joanne is one strong woman that can bring humour to any situation, and I really could not think of anyone better to carry a role like this one. She is completely passionate about this project and her smiley eyes just sparkle when she talks about it. Her work is so amazing that has won her the Time Out Dubai Special Recognition for Pre and Post Natal Care Award at a ceremony held at the Conrad Dubai earlier this month. A huge congratulations to Joanne - so, so, so well deserved!

Do visit the Small and Mighty Babies website HERE. It is crammed with incredibly helpful information for parents of premie babies but also other parents, and links to other support groups.

 

 

JOANNE OF SMALL AND MIGHTY BABIES

'Talking with people who have been through the exact same as yourself is so helpful when it comes to beginning the healing process.'

What do you love the most about Small and Mighty Babies?

Being able to help other people and make what could be a horrific time in their life a little less painful. It has also helped me so much come to terms with what happened to me, became my own little therapy for myself and finally the support I receive gives me so much confidence to always continue and push forward with my support group.

 

What are your current projects?

I am in the process of finalising a signature scent for the Small and Mighty candles, along with a jewellery range, incubator covers and we are working on a memory box for bereaved parents.

 

Your biggest success?

Winning a Time Out Dubai Award for Special Recognition for Pre and Post Natal Care!

 

Your biggest challenge?

It can be very hard sometimes to meet and make progress with some of the hospitals. I appreciate their priority is their patients but what Small and Mighty Babies can offer totally complements there business and I often get so frustrated when they won’t accept my business card because it doesn’t have their logo on. I am trying to help and support and every mother within the group always comments that talking with people who have been through the exact same as yourself is so helpful when it comes to beginning the healing process.

 

And your biggest dream?

I would love to expand Small and Mighty Babies to different locations outside of the Middle East.

 

 

JOANNE THE MUM

 

'I think motherhood has taught me to live, to be open and to appreciate how lucky I am.'

 

How do you balance your role as the founder of SMB and your family time?

Like any working mother we all find this very hard. I use the morning when George is at nursery for meetings and admin I need to do and then often in the evenings after his bedtime to do more if I have the energy given afternoons are for chasing him around the house, park or beach!

 

How did your life change after having George?

In every way. I always say no woman is every ready for motherhood but when they are born early you definitely aren’t. I saw life before I was meant to. I saw very sick babies fight the biggest challenges you can imagine and come home and sadly, I saw those who lost their fights. I saw what they went through and I saw what their parents went through. Seeing these moments, the saddest and most painful moments anyone could go through changes you. I finally feel like I live and not just exist. I see the good in everything and not the bad and I make the best of everything. 

 

What has motherhood taught you?

Id’ love to say patience here but sadly not – that’s work in progress. I think it’s taught me to live, to be open and to appreciate how lucky I am. 

 

Your proudest moment to date

The Time Out Kids Awards honestly has to be up there but the I honestly think holding George for the first time. At this point he was ten days old, still attached to more wires that I want to remember but I honestly felt like he knew it was me. Even though we had been separated as soon he was born he lay on my chest and his heart rate picked up. It was magical…

 

What qualities do you want George to value?

Hard work, fight for your dreams and always keep your feet on the ground.

 

How are you planning to raise George so that he stays in touch with reality in the world of bling that Dubai can sometimes be?

His playroom has a “grass carpet” which we call the “farm”. Our fridge is covered with family photos from the farm and when we Skype home my mum takes the iPad around the farm buildings to see the real world…however dirty it can be. My husband and I are both northerners and i think those values instilled in us are instilled in George. 

 What qualities do you want George to value?

Hard work, fight for your dreams and always keep your feet on the ground.

 

How are you planning to raise George so that he stays in touch with reality in the world of bling that Dubai can sometimes be?

His playroom has a “grass carpet” which we call the “farm”. Our fridge is covered with family photos from the farm and when we Skype home my mum takes the iPad around the farm buildings to see the real world…however dirty it can be. My husband and I are both northerners and i think those values instilled in us are instilled in George. 

What are you doing to familiarise George with his British heritage in such a multicultural environment?

I love cooking and I always cook traditional English foods for him so through my love of the kitchen is a great way. I love the fact George has friends from all over the world and I celebrate this so this doesn’t worry me too much. With a mother like me he could never escape his northern roots (some may argue he should!)

 

Favourite Mummy & Me date

A trip to one of the lovely beach clubs with diggers in hand…and a chilled Rose for me!

 

Favourite child-friendly brunch

It is honestly a brunch without a child. We rarely go to brunches and George has never been to one, a room full of noise, crowds and sugar is something I don’t want to pay for.

 

Do you have any favourite toys brand for George?

Le Toy Van when he was younger. JCB Diggers, John Deere Tractors and Bruder are all wonderful.

 

Does George have any particular excuses he uses to delay bedtime?

I’m very fortunate to have an excellent bedtime routine which he “obeys”. We often get the but I’ve not eaten all day excuse but its rare, he loves his bed and he loves his sleep…just like me!

 

What has been the most valuable piece of parenting advice you have been given?

Don’t Google it! If you have a question, ask an expert in that field.

 

JOANNE THE WOMAN

 

Favourite holiday destination

The Maldives does takes my breath away, it’s a time to really switch off and reboot with my husband. Ibiza with the girls, and the UK with George.

 

Favourite short getaway in the UAE

So many to choose from, but I love Zighy Bay, pretending to be in what looks like the Flintstones set whilst ‘camping’ under the stars … ticks every box.

 

Your 3 essentials in your handbag

My phone, Eve Lom Kiss Mix and a bottle of water.

 

Your 3 little luxuries

Jing Tea which I ship to the UAE from London, a regular hammam treatment at the Zabeel Saray and those little parcels that arrive from Net-a-Porter!

'They say you don’t die thinking of all the good nights’ sleep you have had … I live by this.'

 

Do you exercise regularly?

I try to fit in classes at Physique 57 and go to the gym with a wonderful trainer Jes Body. She has the most eclectic energy that honestly lifts your body, mind and soul. It’s a full work-out with Jes, not just physical but also on your attitude.  I miss training with her at the moment as I am using all my spare time for Small and Mighty, but when you know this girl she stays with you forever so at times I will just close my computer and go and skip (or try to!) in the garage! 

 

Favourite date night restaurant

Marina Social at the InterContinental Dubai Marina.

 

Favourite spot for a girlies night out

Bagatelle at the Fairmont Dubai … I have been home at 4am and up again at 6:30am with George, it was totally worth it! They say you don’t die thinking of all the good nights’ sleep you have had … I live by this.

 

Favourite place for breakfast

I am not a morning person so have to say, my own dining table. I love cooking and my husband says I do the best breakfast in town. Plus you can’t go around Dubai in your PJs!! If I’m up and about - Baker and Spice!

 

Do you have a favourite fashion style

I wish I did! Heat and children don’t go together so I try to be ‘cool’ – literally - with loose tops and tailored shorts.

 

What do you love the most about living in Dubai?

The convenience of everything (except the roads!). I feel so safe here, I love the culture and the mix of people that live here. 

 

Are you reading a particular book at the moment that you would like to recommend?

Sadly not, I love Kinokuniya at the Dubai Mall and plan to visit again soon and buy some new books!

 

If you were allowed to invite anyone at all to a dinner party, who would be your 3 top of the list guests?

Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou and Princess Diana.

 

Photography by Jules Seddon of Jewel Seddon Lifestyle Photography.

Jules is a family, maternity, newborn and event photographer currently based in Dubai. She specialises in lifestyle photography which mainly aims to capture portraits and people in situations, real-life events or milestones in a photojournalistic style. Her style is natural and relaxed; she likes to capture those candid moments so that you can look back and treasure those memories forever. She makes use of natural light in order to achieve soft, gorgeous portraits that feel genuine.

For her contact details and to see more of her beautiful work, please visit her Facebook page JewelSeddon Photography, Instagram @jewelseddonphoto or Website www.jewelseddonphotography.com

The Three Hats of Deepika Gupta

Meet Deepika Gupta, a.k.a. Dee, founder and sole administrator of one the UAE's most popular Facebook mums support groups, Dubai Marina Mums.

Photography by Jules Seddon, of Jewel Seddon Lifestyle Photography.

I first came across the Dubai Marina Mums group some 5 years ago when I was a real rookie at this business of mummyhood and everything appeared so complex and daunting. So through playdates, mum events and lots of conversations on the page about the baby’s feeding and sleeping issues, solutions to nappy rashes, recommendations for best nurseries, birthday party venues and organisers, family friendly brunches, etc my first mummyhood friendships were formed in this lovely, supportive and caring community.

Dee has not only been the founder of the group, but also a true pillar in the community of mums in the Dubai Marina, as well as inspiration to others to create similar support groups. Being an expat comes with a lot of benefits but by the same token, also with the challenge of being away from home and our families, circle of lifetime friends, neighbours and so on that are so important when bringing up children - it takes a village and all that. And Dee has created the village in the Marina and by now, beyond the Marina as well!

Prior to being 'Dee of Marina Mums', she and her siblings grew up as expat children in Australia and London, before moving back to India once their dad retired. Being no stranger to expat life, after marriage she followed her husband to Dubai and ended up making a community of her own! When she became a mum she had to give up her full-time job realising that without family or full-time child care she would have to own motherhood. Starting Dubai Marina Mums was a seed she found missing as a new mum in a new city without a group of women supporting each other. So creating the group helped her bring the cool back to being a SAHM and removing the guilt from it.

Dee welcomed us to her beautiful home where we had a few giggles while she played tea party with her girls, Saira who is 9, and Annika, 7. Oh ... and we also got to have some delicious Indian Chai!

Her gorgeous duplex in JBR is oh-so airy and almost has a villa feel to it with the large spaces providing plenty of different areas for family rooms and for entertaining, and ... a bar that if my husband knew existed, would not stop nagging until he had a copy of in our house (pictures of the said bar were not taken on purpose, as I know he does read my posts). Their lovely terrace wraps around the apartment and has views of both the marina and the sea. Dee's home is a beautiful and rather eclectic blend of urban modern, Art Deco and shabby chic, with Indian accents and Zen elements like the numerous Buddhas that bring a sense of peace and calm to every space. When her girls host play dates they tend to end up in big dance-up sessions in front of the oversize mirror in the reception, perfect to burn off all their excess energy!

Her house is also dotted with amazing family heirlooms: the most beautiful pieces of pure Indian silver in the dining room display cabinet, which include her grandmother's tea set and the most intricate bowls and jugs gifted to get by her in-laws (who obviously know how to make a girl happy!); and in the guest room, in a beautifully framed setting that is worthy of a museum, her great grandmother's nose ring.

So I spent an afternoon d-r-o-o-l-i-n-g ...

DEE OF DUBAI MARINA MUMS - because it takes a village

How did it all start?

Completely out of desperation to reach out and make some mummy friends! I saw the potential JBR had in the communal Plaza Level when we moved in. JBR experienced a baby boom back in 2006-2007 with new mums hanging out in the little gardens hidden behind the buildings, juggling conversation along with pushchairs and baby food. All of us, lost expats, converged on the JBR Plaza searching for a way to connect! Marina Mums started as a way to make my own little virtual village, the idea grew and numbers increased through word-of-mouth from 5 mums to 4,000 in 7 years!

Your biggest challenge?

I don’t see it as a challenge now but in the early stages, when Marina Mums had just started, I used to host Thursday playdates at a little garden just by our apartment. The word started spreading and soon I ended up organising story-telling, music, and arts and crafts sessions for 50 kids each week! The mums would pitch in by bringing juice and snacks, helping with arts and crafts, and handling registrations. It became a home-grown play group with mums volunteering their time and talent to get the community together.

Your biggest success?

Dubai Marina Mums has been my baby. I love setting up my laptop, with a big cup of coffee in hand, and give my time and energy to all the posts and queries I receive.  I get more than 200 posts a day on the closed group. A mum has a query, we suggest, it then leads to a discussion and onto a solution… love the whole journey! It gives me a real buzz, especially when we help out mums who aren’t a part of the Marina, or may not even be in Dubai and are seeking info on moving to the city.

Marina Mums as a forum has also demonstrated its power to make a social difference. In the past, we have successfully managed many grass-roots community initiatives, from helping Pakistani flood victims, to collecting and distributing 450 dental kits for children from the lower economical background with zero dental health in Delhi, to helping a fellow mum whose son had been diagnosed with cancer - all of these initiatives have led me to believe in ‘being the change you want to see’.  Small baby steps that go a long way! For me personally it has meant getting away a little from the life of privilege in which we tend to lose ourselves in Dubai and reaching out and helping out! 

Your biggest dream?

I would love to start a blog soon to store all the wealth of information shared on the group in a more structured fashion: blog posts about living in the amazing area of the Dubai Marina, featuring all the great services at our disposal. I would then like to keep the Facebook group mainly for support!

'The fact that a stranger would take the time to help another stranger, type words of encouragement, lend a hand, refer a doctor or share their experience always amazes me - all offering help just because they have been in the same boat. It's simply fascinating!'

 

What do you love the most about the Marina Mums group?

The Mums!! It has been so successful mainly because of the involvement of the mums in the community – the ever active group members. The fact that a stranger would take the time to help another stranger, type words of encouragement, lend a hand, refer a doctor or share their experience always amazes me - all offering help because they have been in the same boat. It's simply fascinating! After so many years it runs like a well-oiled machine where I do not need to micro-manage the forum anymore.

Some of my happiest memories, again, are of the playdates at the little garden behind my home - lots of ‘messy gooey play’, storytime with Dee and finger painting with 50 mums and kids. It was the base that led the community group to building a reputation beyond the Marina, everyone in ‘New Dubai’ was talking about it and pretty soon Time Out Dubai, Khaleej Times and Gulf News all wanted to feature us in their articles! It was one of the first times a community came together on such a large yet informal scale with social media as its foundation, and created such an active virtual support group.

DEE THE MUM

How do you balance your family time vs your time on Marina Mums?

Multi-tasking and periodic ‘Phone Bans’. Mornings after school drop-off is my MM time, where I try to save the world (pun intended) with support!

I have been able to give more of my time to the forum since both the girls are in full time school. Their pet peeve is seeing mummy on her phone so I try to keep the phone away on charge when it’s home time.

I do sneak in a few peeks when I am on soccer mum duty, swimming lessons, drama classes and lots of waiting outside the classes. Glad it keeps me mentally busy!

I have also been blessed with amazing house help, without whose support I would be drowning, plus amazing grandparents who are ready to fly to Dubai whenever I feel the kids and I need some TLC!

How did your life change after having children?

Tremendously! From giving presentations to corporate clients in my business suits and stilettos ... bang!, within 6 months I was a breast-feeding machine. It took me a year to get my head around raising a child. Prior, I had thought it would be very easy … take a few months off work … pop the baby out … baby goes to nursery, and off I go back to work - super easy! But my bubble popped when my first-born was one of those ultra fussy, colicky, cluster-feeding babies, and hours felt like days. She was an exclusively breast-fed baby and I was one of those ‘I don’t need to hire help’ kinda mums, sticking to my ‘I can do this’ mantra. I burnt out, yes I did!  I missed having my sisters and my mum around, and I just buckled up till I really had to give myself a pep talk to get a grip and ‘use your professionalism in raising a baby’:

  • Step 1: You need a team - we hired a wonderful lady when the baby was 12 months old
  • Step 2: Move to a community - JBR it was!
  • Step 3: Make some Mummy friends - MM happened
  • Step 4: Schedule, schedule, schedule! Everything was in a schedule: naptime, bath time, walk time, playdate time, you name it ...

This newfound motivation resulted in me having baby number 2 within 18 months of first becoming a mum. And I have been on a ‘Career Break’ ever since!

'It took me a year to get my head around raising a child.'

 

What have you learnt from motherhood?

Patience, patience and more patience - from raising babies to going past the terrible twos, settling them in school, now raising little pre-teens. But I am enjoying every bit of it, each with a new set of challenges!

Did you take any parenting advice from your mum or have developed your own style?

I tend to keep repeating the stuff my mum used to tell me while I was growing up. It felt very annoying then, but I’ve got my head around it now! My mum is known for her particular style of “Mummism”.  A classic quote was “First Deserve, then Desire” any time I asked her to buy me something. LOL … I hear myself saying the exact thing to the girls now. I remember her being so relaxed and positive, whilst reining in three young independent girls in a society where the girl child was not (and still isn’t) celebrated. I respect her so much more now … more than ever!

What do you wish for your girls?

For them to grow into content, compassionate young women and always remind themselves of their self-worth! Raised in this beautiful community with such a mix of cultures and values, I wish for them to always remember where they come from and to be open to the world! 

And yes, as a mum I want to help shape their personalities - guide them towards an alternate way of thinking (away from stereotypes) with young impressionable minds especially in an age of sexually stereotyping young girls, I like steering them towards a more gender neutral path!

'Raised in this beautiful community with such a mix of cultures and values, I wish for my daughters to always remember where they come from and to be open to the world.'

 

How do you get your girls to stay in touch with reality whilst they grow up as Dubai expat kids?

Frequent visits to the homeland (India) sort them out for a few months. We support a few charities back home; also the first hand experience of giving and sharing is something the girls are blessed to be doing whenever we visit!

Oh yes, and lots of house work; they are in the phase where they love helping mummy out.  I do hope that stays on till they are teenagers! 

What is your favourite activity with your girls?

Going to the beach! I feel blessed to be living 60 seconds away from one of Dubai’s most fabulous beaches. We just stroll down, hire one of the day beds and camp there for the afternoon. Option 2 is Marina Mall. My children love visiting the bookstore or getting a sparkly treat from one of the fashion stores! 

When at home, we love lots and lots of cuddles, Tickle-monster and story time!! We behave like a bunch of cubs when it’s tickle time!!

Favourite child-friendly brunch?

Hmmm … we are not much of a brunchy family but the weekends generally do involve eating out. We have tick-marked and family-reviewed most of the restaurants on JBR The Walk, and Eggspectation seems to be a firm favourite so far! 

What advice would you give to Dubai newcomers or new mums who would like to make mum friends?

Reach out! Don’t hesitate to reach out and get yourself out there!

Dubai, contrary to what people believe, is one of the friendliest places to reach out and make connections, unlike being back home where people stay within their cliques. Expats here are open about making new friends and have time for different sets of friends: mummy friends, baby group friends, school mum friends, couple friends and the list goes on. You have to open your heart out without the fear of being rejected! Making friends as a grown adult isn’t very easy, but do it for your child they do need their little ‘baby posse’ while growing up …

DEE THE WOMAN

What fashion style best describes you?

Casual chic - ripped jeans and white tee! For school runs, active wear.

Your 3 essentials in life?

Right now, in this phase of life: COFFEE - lots of it! WiFi and Yoga (I practise 4 times a week). Oh, and also reading - I love my books! A good book can give me the biggest high!

Your 3 little luxuries?

Hmmm ... without sounding pretentious or too materialistic: my diamonds, my Rolex and Chanel! 

Favourite breakfast spot?

Going to Le Pain Quotidien at the Dubai Marina Mall is a weekly family affair on Saturdays.

Favourite date night restaurant? 

Anywhere down by the beach!! Our favourites come in phases. We have a fave for a few weeks and then we move on! Right now its The Maine Oyster Bar & Grill at the Double Tree by Hilton on Jumeirah Beach; love the vibe in that place and another reason we love going back is because everyone there knows us by now! 

Favourite spot for a girlies night out? 

We are spoilt for choice, living in the Marina! I am loving the new places on offer at JBR, although I might be a bit of a rebel sometimes and will meet my girlie friends half-way across Sheikh Zayed Road!!

Favourite holiday destination?

England. Both my sisters live there and I love spending our summers with the whole family gathered together there. Destination number two would be Kenya with its safari around the Masai Mara. We went once and havent been able to get that holiday out of our heads, so were planning to go back in summer 2017!

Favourite short getaway in the UAE?

Eventhough living by the beach feels like being on holiday already, we do love our sporadic weekend breaks at the Banyan Tree in Ras Al Khaimah where we have been 3 times in the last 5 years. We also went recently to The Cove Rotana Resort RAK and were pleasantly surprised!

Favourite short getaway from the UAE?

India. So much to do there for the Easter break: we have booked a white water rafting tour by the foothills of the Himalayas, we have been to the back waters in the South of India, skiing up North in Kashmir, chilling on the beaches of Goa and taking it all in at the palaces of Rajasthan. Its a world in itself!

Are you reading a particular book at the moment that you would like to recommend?

I recently finished 'All the Light We Cannot See' by Anthony Doerr and couldnt stop thinking about the story for 2 weeks! Right now I am reading Americanah by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which is a very powerful story about race and identity.

What do you love the most about living in the Marina?

The outdoor living, proximity to everything, the festivals on our doorstep, and the pedestrian lifestyle. All the traffic we have to face on a daily basis is absolutely worth it! And at weekend, we just have a strict 'no car' policy in our family!

Photography by Jules Seddon, of Jewel Seddon Lifestyle Photography.

Jules is a family, maternity, newborn and event photographer currently based in Dubai. She specialises in lifestyle photography which mainly aims to capture portraits and people in situations, real-life events or milestones in a photojournalistic style. Her style is natural and relaxed; she likes to capture those candid moments so that you can look back and treasure those memories forever. She makes use of natural light in order to achieve soft, gorgeous portraits that feel genuine.

To see further details of her work, please visit her Facebook page JewelSeddon PhotographyInstagram @jewelseddonphoto or Website www.jewelseddonphotography.com