About Life, special occasions

40, 5, And More!

By human nature, people all over the world tend to mark certain milestones according to age. For example, parents celebrate their child’s first birthday where they spend a lot of time and effort to signify this special occasion. We, then, move to the two digit number ten. From there, we look at the age of thirteen, with anticipation, and the cycle continues as we move along the years.

Turning forty is one of those notable occurrences in a person’s life. It is that four decade phase where a lot of contemplation and reflection hit a person who still feels very young, yet realises major modifications in both her mental and physical growth.

Personally, the minute I realised I was approaching the forties, I admit I was a bit anxious about the transformation those coming years will bring. At first, it weighed heavily on me, thinking that I cannot do anything about it and that annoyed me.

Physically, my body has changed. Even if it is minor, one can easily notice some white hair strands showing from my thinned hair, a scarred belly from my last delivery with the twins, and a few wrinkles that have engraved their marks around my eyes and neck.

But guess what? It is just another birthday, and apprehension is not something I easily submit to. That is why, it did not take me long to realise that it is just a mindset which I can control. Whatever I make myself believe in will definitely have its effect on me. So why don’t I attract the beauty of this age into my being?

To all those who really know me, I have never resrtriced myself to a number, and age is after all a number. Besides, I have never had much interest in Math.

That is why, I perceive age as an achievement. Age is wisdom acquired throughout the years. Age is maturity. Age is continuous learning. Age is a gaining process.

Despite that, I cannot totally strip myself of those numbers which, in a way, have a control on our daily lives, so I use them as a significant reference in my existence.

Coming to this point, I wonder what I have established in the past forty years! One of my greatest achievements is having my own family of seven which is composed of a beloved and caring father and five boistrous and healthy children. To that I am infinitely grateful. It also happens that at the age of forty, I am celebrating fifteen years of marriage where we took the vows to love, protect and support each other through thick and thin. On top of that, at forty, I feel younger than when I was a teenager. Being the woman who eats well and exercises whenever I can, are what help me maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is no secret that I have avoided consuming specific foods and drinks, years ago, to which the results I have reaped now. Finally, my profession as a teacher has helped me in applying a fixed and well maintained routine which facilities my life being a working mom of five.

If forty is considered to be the middle age of a life cycle, then hopefully there is still a lot to be acquired and learned. With this perspective in mind, one would worry less, appreciate the past moments, and grasp new opportunities to come. Although I would not be able to predict what the second part of my life will bring, I want to embrace the coming years in open arms, knowing that it will definitely serve in my growth. Being the positive person that I am, I would want to continue finding beauty in life and live the given experiences to the fullest. I hope that with whatever maturity I have gained so far, I will be able to face any unexpected obstacles which might arise, especially that now we are in the process of starting a new chapter in our lives.

So dear forty, I welcome you into my life where I hope you will find contentment and be wise. I hope you will be proud of the decisions I will have to take. I hope you will add patience and gratefulness into my soul. I hope you will serve in fostering more kindness and acceptance in my thoughts. I hope for a calmer me. Finally, I hope you give me abundant strength in my journey as a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend and educator where I could actually be present for all those who need me!

Parenting, Poems by me, special occasions

A Toast to Every First

With her first child, a mom gets to experience every first for the very first time; the first contraction, the first labor encounter, the first overwhelming love, the first sickness, the first solid food trial, the first tooth appearance, the first step taken, the first birthday celebration, the first day of school separation, and the list continues.

With every new first, there is a mix of feelings. Feelings of happiness, and excitement or feelings of uncertainty, fear, and worry. No matter what the circumstances are, these emotions stay unique because they will always be the beginning of a new challenge in motherhood.

Last night, my eldest traveled on his first school trip. For this special event in his life, and in mine, I dedicate these lines for him.

Here is a toast for another first in my life as a mom;

Where did the time go?

You were my baby just a few years ago!

But you have grown very fast,

And those days are now part of our past!

There you are on your first trip alone,

With ease, you move away from my comfort zone!

But my heart is filled with joy

For you my darling, my big boy!

I am so proud of you,

And all the amazing things you will do!

Travel, learn, and enjoy your time,

Escalate any mountain you need to climb!

Explore, examine and rejoice

Let the world hear your voice!

This first school voyage is for you to keep,

Memories of friendships that are genuinely deep!

I love you with all my heart,

I pray for your safety as we part!

Son, have a safe flight,

God’s with you with all His might!

Until we have you back in a week,

I give you endless kisses on every cheek!

Love, Mom

About Life, special occasions

My Thankful List

With Thanksgiving coming just around the corner and the deep meanings it carries along, I decided to tell you more about my way of being thankful.

I can fill pages about the things I am blessed with as a mom living in the 21st century. Women of this era are bestowed with great opportunities which we could make good use of. Not only that, we really do exhibit a beautiful kind of freedom which makes us enjoy and appreciate life. We have reached a point where we have the right to vote, work, and participate in any domain we might be interested in.

Finally, we are all blessed with endless resources like nature, the sea, the moon, the stars, art, music, and modern cures. However, I will be stating only six of my boundless thankful list.

1. Faith:

I am thankful for the faith and trust I have in God. I know that whatever I plan for and whatever I aim at will be guided through His support. Faith gives me a sanctuary to accept challenges and over come them. Faith helps me accept peacefully what fate has designed for me. I do pray that I will always hold onto it as I progress in life, and be able to transfer this belief to my children.

2. Good health:

I am thankful I have all my five vital senses vivid and functional. Being able to read, write, enjoy food, and feel the beauty of life is a bliss by itself. It is true that we take these things for granted. Hence, exerting them without acknowledging this fact, and to only remember them when we lose them or when we are in pain, is shameful. However, that same pain that we sometimes experience, is also a blessing as it reminds us to appreciate the perfection of the human body.

3. My family:

I am thankful for the amazing gift of having my loving family which God bestowed me with. I am so lucky to have them in my life. In addition to having a warm house where we feel safe and sheltered, our home is loving and supportive. We are free to share our pains and fears, happiness and joy, sadness and disappointments – all the while knowing that we are there for each other. I would not have explored love or known the ecstasy of affection without each and every member of my family.

It is true that, like everybody else, we have our ups and downs, but it is through that kind of discomfort, we learn to stick together and solve our problems the best way we can.

4. Education:

I am thankful to have had the chance of earning a good education which has helped in quenching my endless thirst to knowledge. Moreover, through the right direction and guidance I have received, I was able to choose a profession that I truly enjoy.

Doing something that you rejoice in makes a person appreciate her work more. Hence, she becomes more productive.

5. Vacations and holidays:

I am thankful for the ability that we can travel, explore, and learn through our trips and journeys. Those moments are precious as we are able to enjoy our moments together, our children, our laughter – our bond!

Those ‘breaks’ help us get out of our speedy routine, and make us realize the importance of appreciating the given moment.

6. Technology:

I am thankful for the great inventions that were achieved across the years, with the most recent being the smart phones. Despite their negative aspects, my phone is the means through which I get in touch with my dear ones, and connect with people who can support me in my journey.

The relief I experience when I know that I can reach whomever I want by pressing a simple button, is gratitude by itself.

After all, whatever feelings I have can be easily shared with a close person, making the burden and discomfort evaporate.

By being grateful, people attract more positive vibes into their world. They create a cheerful and satisfied heart. They form a live soul filled with energy and ardor. Finally and most importantly, they reflect that exuberance towards others.

And you dear reader, what are you grateful for?

Education, Parenting

What Each of My Children Taught Me

The transformation that happens to a woman when she becomes a mom is something beyond words. The emotions she experiences are way beyond description, and the struggles she faces know no limits.
However, the things that a mom is not aware of are the endless lessons which she attains from her very own children.

So what has each of my five taught me?

My eldest D:
As I look back to that young mom in me, almost 13 years ago, I would smile and observe how much I have changed. I was six months pregnant with my first baby, and I was more than excited to that moment where I would finally wrap him in my arms, drinking in his scent.
I was still living in France back then, and life was not at its best. I was working as a full time teacher, I barely saw my husband due to the hectic work routine, I was homesick, and I felt bitter.
What killed me the most was the fact that I knew I had to keep my baby boy at a nursery at the age of 3 months and go back to work. I was simply not ready for that kind of separation and it tortured me to even think about him being taken care of by a complete stranger.
One night, I put my hand on my round tight belly and prayed with all the strength and faith I had, asking the Almighty to take us somewhere – just anywhere – away from the country. A month later, with happy tears streaming down my cheeks, I was packing to live in Abu Dhabi for a year – or that is what we thought would happen!
From that day on my first son has been my mentor in strengthening my faith and in believing that “To pray is to let go and let God take over.” And so He did!

Whenever I feel uncertain or worried about my big boy now, I know he has his own protectors and I humbly accept the difficult challenges I had when he was smaller.
Being a first time mom, back then, I thought that motherhood came with a manual where everything is perfectly set in place.

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First time mommy has taught me about strengths I never imagined I have. It taught me to endure physical and emotional pain. It empowered me in ways I did not imagine I would, and it made me more realistic than I have ever been.
With him, motherhood was a mysterious deep ocean filled with anxious wild rides through which I experimented all those new emotions with uncertainty. At the same time, I learned to capture unique successful moments through the tangled twists and turns which resulted in the mother I am now.

My 2nd Son R:
The arrival of our second son was a blissful moment. I was delighted to have two little buddies who were there for each other, play with one another, and take care of each other. As I knew that I would not stop at two kids, I welcomed being a mom of two boys with pride.

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Unlike the first time, I had a very smooth delivery filled with confidence and assurance. I even gave him his first bath, a few hours after delivery, knowing exactly what I was doing – not even looking at the nurse standing next to me.
Since the day he was born, I learned that a mom’s love is infinite and grows bigger and bigger with every additional child. That miraculous moment when a child breathes for the very first time and cries out, is just filled with a magical kind of love and gets repeated with every new child born.

My second son came to life with a thirst to learning and acquisition which taught me all about rationalism when it comes to parenting.
I learned that I could not force them to do what I want them to do. For children to learn to do things out naturally, they need to be convinced of its goodness and how well it serves them. It has to become a habit, a mode of living, and it is very difficult to attain. That is why, patience is the key. After all, it takes years of tears and trials for us to reap what we sowed.

I gradually learned to worry less as the frozen fears which I had, as a first time mom, slowly started to melt leaving greater space for me to enjoy them more. It was then that I quickly realized that children grow way too fast, and I wanted to make the best out of motherhood, in the finest way possible. I was more than happy to realize that I was no longer that apprehensive mommy.

My Third Son S:
I experienced the real joy of motherhood with the presence of my third boy. His addition brought me an extra mile of satisfaction. I was more confident, patient, mature, and I somehow knew more about the impulsive traps of parenting.
Being alone with him at home, while the other two went to school, he soon became my companion and my buddy. I spent such precious moments with him, and when the other two came back home, that joy was automatically transferred to them.
My Third, clarified the idea of being easy going and of not judging myself too much. He taught me of being happy for the mere fact of having them with me. His buoyant character and self confidence made me appreciate the presence of my three little boys beyond words. I was so grateful for that contentment which I truly feel to this very moment.

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Moreover, I learned to take any failure as a learning opportunity, just like them. I also became more focused on expressing my love towards them, and I deliberately attained the art of apologizing when I make mistakes or behave in a negative way.

The Twins:

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The birth of the twins was a simple reflection of life’s endless miracles, the faultlessness of human formation, and the perfection of how God deciphers His astuteness through us.
I confess I did not really get the chance to fully rejoice motherhood with them, as I wanted to be completely present with each one of them. Of course many are the times when that was not possible. It is then that I accepted the fact that aiming at being the ideal mom would leave me frustrated and hopeless. Slowly, I redirected myself into focusing on the present moment and dealt with what needed to be done first.
The first few months were tough on every one at home. We felt we were all moving in different directions, but the support system I had back then, reduced those worries and made me more focused.

So prioritising my duties according to what suits them best was the key for me to overcome that period.
Finally, the twins’ presence, despite the differences in character, made me aware of the precious bond these two beings have. The love and affection they feel towards one another is unimaginable. Their bond is so pure and true, and the delight they pour into our hearts is heavenly.

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It is really true that “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”

With my five I learned all about the ironic feelings of motherhood ranging from hopelessness to success, from acceptance to change, and from certainty to ambiguity. I learned all about perseverance, resilience, fear, guilt, and pride. I also learned about that unconditional love that drives us crazy many times a day. That is why, I will never cease to learn from them, and try my best to exert my patience in the best way possible in order for us to enjoy this period of time together.

What has your child taught you?

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Please share this post on your social media as it helps us connect with other moms and keep the learning opportunities wider.

Poems by me

My Faith

Out in the river I could see

Golden light shimmering with glea,

I held my breath and gazed

With this beauty I was amazed.

Nature is so perfect, so pure

It is my harmony, my silence, my cure

And if you listen carefully,

That silence is so godly.

The flawless light led me through

Preparing me to what is True!

Suddenly, it carried me in midair,

Making me aware

And opening my eyes,

Just to make me observe and realise,

That things change, and people leave

What remains is what you believe;

Faith, my ultimate weapon,

Is my guard, my armor, where I could summon;

Hope,

That secures me like a rope.

Strength and Power,

To face misfortunes of the hour.

Comfort and Peace,

Where my trust continues to increase.

Yet holding evenly to Faith is dense and hard on my soul,

As if I’m carrying hot burning charcoal.

As I am human after all,

And many are the times when I do fall.

Yes, I am far from perfect or supreme

I do have my sins, my guilt and misdeeds!

I sometimes feel weak and broken in two,

I get shattered not knowing what to do.

Sometimes I am hopeless and forlorn.

Poisonous anger pricking inside me like thorn…

Other times I feel empty and bare

Leaving me shiver with despair.

Oh that ego and its own bitter self

It just takes me away from the real Wealth…

But then I remember that perfect Light,

So I pull myself up tight.

Dwelling in that Faith of mine

Making it again my shrine.

It is then that I regain my serenity

And feel the One and His joyful unity!

I do pray that I honestly and deliberately…

deserve that ultimate Tranquility.

Rania Hussant

Oct. 2017

Poems by me

The Teenage Life

I’m so into poetry these days, as I feel the need to express my real emotions through it.

It is my way of dealing with the many changes we are currently experiencing.
Check my poem “The Teen-Age Life” which is dedicated to my eldest who is almost a teenager and to every parent who has one!

He has grown a lot

He is almost a teen!

He sometimes burns hot

And tries to be mean.

But his heart is made of gold

And with a warm hug,

Everything can be solved.

Those years are tough,

Life for him is rough.

He thinks he is now a man

Acting so wise and cool,

But suddenly he is no longer a fan

And he wants to rule!

His hormones vaulting up and down

At one instant making him smile, then frown –

Laugh, cry, shout, or scream

Sometimes I do wish it were a dream!

Shattered orders he gets,

Sometimes a behaviour he regrets.

But his mindset is out of hand

He needs us to understand.

Love, affection to provide

Support, patience and empathy is our guide.

Those years are heavily dense

But it is up to us to make it less tense.

As we dig deep and understand,

Teenagers need a helping hand.

Full of physical, emotional and mental change

Oh my, what a delicate stage!

Wrapped up in a separate world,

Communication seems to be absurd!

What adolescents really need,

Is some freedom to heed.

They’ll eventually learn from every mistake,

And consider what actions to take.

Difficult as it might be,

I have to learn to let go and see.

How that little human of mine,

Will grow and mature and just be fine!

events, special occasions

Women In Business

In the past few decades, women have achieved great successes and attained unique goals. We see them in different fields of work, inventions, and businesses. They have used their creative multitasking skills and chased their dreams inspiring and empowering others.

September 22 marks the founding of the American Business Women’s Association. Its mission is ‘to bring together businesswomen of diverse occupations and to provide opportunities for them to help themselves and others grow personally and professionally through leadership, education, networking and support.’

In honor of such super women, I got in contact with the following business ladies who were delighted to tell us all about their startup businesses, and to inspire others attain their dreams.

  1. Razan Nabulsi – Dots and Links Skills Development Center – UAE

Being in the business for five years and a half now, Razan explains how rewarding their work is when they see tangible proof of children and adults leading significantly better lives after completing the BrainRx program. That is what mainly inspires her to continue providing people with such a unique learning opportunity.

The business life, according to Razan, has many challenges. One of them is having work life balance where she has to manage her time and prioritize her social life. Her working life makes her do only what really matters and be with people who truly mean a lot to her.

In addition to the above mentioned, the difficulties she faces at work is not being able to take a time off as she is always on call. By time, she learned to only stop at what really matters and keep her focus on delivering amazing results with all their students. According to her when a person has a focus and a clearly defined purpose, things become easier in the business life.

2. Vanessa Bosson – Hallabolou… where every child’s a star! – UAE

Working as an Early Childhood Educator for 18 years, Vanessa saw a need for a program that would allow children to learn while having fun. The idea of ‘Hallabolou‘ began in 2010 which was a dream that had been floating around in her head for quiet a while.

At the beginning, her initial concept of ‘Hallabolou’ was just a theater program, but it has expanded since then to greater aspirations to include science, technology, engineering, art and imagination. She created ‘Hallabolou’ with a unique educational philosophy behind it based on “The 5 Points of Discovery”.

As in all businesses, there are difficulties, and one of her biggest quandaries is explaining how they teach. She states that they may present similar classes and camps as other companies do, but they do take great pride in how they teach and not just what they teach. That is what they call, The Hallabolou Way.

In fact, the Hallabolou Way builds on each child’s own unique qualities, adjusts to each specific environment, and makes every child a star! Mr. Rogers once said, she quotes, “Play is really the work of childhood.” So whether it is constructing in the bRiK Programs, or building a rocket ship and watching it launch 100 feet in the air during EXTREME Steam, each program and event incorporates learning through play, which is the absolute core of ‘Hallabolou’s’ existence.

Their growth and change stems from expectations of the extraordinary, belief in a superior participant experience, and outstanding customer service. All this combines to make ‘Hallabolou’ not just a business, but an experience that she is proud to share with the community!

She continues saying that the main element that inspires her is to have fun!


She reiterates stressing the fact that learning should be an enjoyable process. Growing up with a learning disability herself in the 80’s was hard on her. She wasn’t even diagnosed until she was 14 years old. That is why, she struggled and compensated the best way she could, but it was the teachers who made learning fun, and that made the difference. They are the teachers she still remembers to this day. She ends saying that she wants all children to learn as knowledge is power and they are the future.

3. Janis Sarraf Tabet -Photographer – Lebanon

Back in 2007, Janis opened her own studio in Jdeitat el Matn and has been working in it since then. Her main focus now is capturing special moments for kids, newborns, families, and fashion photography. According to her, in order to run a photography business a person also needs to be a skilled marketer, accountant, and digital editor.

As a photographer she spends all her time behind the camera, which is normal, and she is not able to focus on issues like marketing for instance. So her challenge as a professional photographer, was to find her niche which is newborn photography, family portraits, kids photography and stick to it. By doing so, she is now able to multi-task and enjoy what she does best.

She ends by saying that her children inspire her every single day. Due to them, she switched from fashion photography photo-sessions and ended up in doing 80% kids photo-shoots by 2017. Jannis ends affirming, ‘I owe it all to my daughters, and I am obsessed about taking pictures of them. 🙂 ‘

4. Aleen Chehayeb Alame – The Garden Child – KSA

Nearly a year ago and after becoming a stay at home mom, Aleen decided to take on her passion for crafts by designing handmade accessories for young girls. That is how ‘The Garden Child‘ came to life.

Being accustomed to office work, and freelancing off her laptop, she was actually stepping out of her comfort zone by choosing handcrafting as a profession. At the same time, she knew that she did not need to wait any longer, and decided to launch immediately, acknowledging the fact that she will learn to improve as she goes.

Like in all businesses there are many challenges. One of them is the tendency in getting easily distracted by what happens on a daily basis. Still, she tries her best to stick to a schedule where her main work would be during the time when her daughter goes to play-school or takes a nap. Naturally, that helps her stay dedicated and focused whilst juggling her responsibilities towards being a mother, wife and homemaker too. Moreover, she always challenges herself by making her designs classic, yet unique at the same time.

She adds, and I quote; ‘The good part about working on your own is that you get to be in control of the direction of your creative business. Every success and failure is on you. Thankfully, I have a very supportive surrounding, starting with first and foremost, my husband.’

Aleen ends by stating that she has always appreciated anything handmade. She loves the fact that through ‘The Garden Child‘ she gets to be creative, and that she can get to bring that creativity into others’ lives.

5. Nadine Chamaa – The Kitchen Babe – Lebanon

Since the age of twelve, Nadine has had a unique relation with the kitchen. It took her some time though to establish her own business, but when she did she excelled.

She currently runs a food blog named ‘The Kitchen Babe’ where she enjoys most of her time in her kitchen. Two years ago, after her children left to study abroad, she felt she had to share the food that she prepared on her social media. Then, she decided to create a food blog, through which she shared her recipes, her approach to food, and how she prepares it in her simple yet beautiful and colorful way. She also started following different food trends in order to understand the market. Then, she worked on testing more recipes until she finally created new food concepts like her artisitc and mouth-watering “Labneh Cone”.

Soon, she started developing recipes for brands and restaurants. Then, she prompted food styling for advertisements and movies.

Some of her difficulties were mostly on learning to build a website and understand SEO – Search Engine Optimization – which were a new dimension for her. She even had to take digital photography courses so that she does justice to the food that she was creating. Sometimes she spends around six hours, researching, creating, executing, food styling and propping. Finding the right lighting, shooting, editing, posting, writing and interacting with her audience are also tasks she has mastered.

Now that her children are back and they saw what their mom has achieved while they were away, they are proud of how far she has come. Nadine ends by focusing on her belief that if a person is happy in her kitchen, it reflects on the home atmosphere. She knows that there is still so much for her to do, and since she is passionate about what she is doing, each day is a new promise for her to push her limits and create something new. She is willing to continue learning everyday and to continue to share what she learns.

6. Khadijah Lajam – Chateau de Sable stores in UAE

Khadija talks about Chateau de Sable with affection and fondness. Her business started when she had just given birth to her first baby boy at the beginning of 2009. He was only a few months old, and she was already at the design stage and sourcing for locations. By the end of 2009, she finally opened her first boutique in Wahda Mall.
Like any new business, Khadija explicitly talks about the personal and professional difficulties she passed through. Firstly, she was a new mother and was pregnant with her second. She was juggling between learning how to be a mother and setting up a store at the same time. It did not take her long to learn that its all about time management, but what has also helped her was that her babies slept a lot when young!

Besides managing her time, the market in 2009 was different. Back then, there were not many malls in Abu Dhabi. In fact, there were mainly Marina Mall and Abu Dhabi Mall which were very established and had no vacancy. Luckily, Al Wahda Mall had just opened then, and she had to prepare a very well thought of presentation to secure a space over for her.
The difficulties did not stop there. The market was less established in terms of entrepreneurship and sourcing for contractors who are familiar with retail for SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). A lot of the bigger groups had their in house design and execution teams for their concepts. Fishing around Abu Dhabi for small things like a graphic designer for paper bags took a lot of effort!

She even mentioned how once the contractor was not meeting his deadlines, so she took the liberty to paint part of the store herself, and help with the clean up too in order to successfully meet the target date.
Once the set up was done at Al Wahda Mall’s boutique, she started learning the in and outs of retail in UAE and the rest as she said is history! Khadijah did not stop there and has played a major role in helping keep the ball rolling for their subsequent stores in Yas Mall and Dubai Mall!
I loved how Khadijah got the inspiration of managing her own business! She simply says that it was all about her family. In fact, her father is a businessman and was always an inspiration. At the same time, her mother consistently continues to work on developing herself. Naturally Khadijah grew around them as her role models.
However, the final push for her to go into this field was also family, but this time it came in the form of a cute little baby boy in her life! When she gave birth, she found shopping in the UAE to be hard. There were not too many choices. She either had to invest a lot of money in big brands which babies basically outgrew or soiled themselves in, or she had to settle for generic brands which didn’t suit Ali, her son, well. It turns out that he had eczema and she had to be careful around fabrics with a polyester mix which is unfortunately a lot of what retailers produce. She wanted to be practical, but it was hard with the offering given then.
One evening she just looked at her husband and discussed how all she wanted were nice clothes that are affordable and of utmost quality. She smiles as she repeats his words saying, “If nothing you want is available, why don’t you do something? I’m sure there are more mothers like you!”.
At first, she was hesitant as she already had a lot on her plate at that stage of her life! However, he pushed her to work on it encouraging and supporting her through that life-changing year. Today, she celebrates her seventh year in Abu Dhabi, and they have just finished five years of operation in Dubai as well!

7. Afaf Balaa – Da3douka – Lebanon

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Afaf’s journey with ‘Da3douka‘, which is a natural homemade play dough made with 100% food grade ingredients, started as one of the products that she provided children at home and her mobile workshop known as ‘Junior Art’. The children used to play with play dough as they learned, while having fun, and relieved their energy at the same time. Soon, parents asked for having ‘Da3douka’ at their own homes, and that was how the idea of selling came up, back in 2013.

However, Afaf’s husband got sick, and she was forced to minimize her operating work in order to stay by his side at home. He, unfortunately, passed away in 2015 and did not live to see her succeed. Despite all what she went through, Afaf did not give up and wanted to pursue her dream. She strongly felt that her husband has always encouraged and motivated her to move on with her project, which was her dream since 2010. Her main challenge at that time was finding a matching fund! That did not stop her. She got her loan and started from home.

Being a specialist in Early Childhood Education, she believes that art is a form of education that enhances the necessary skills and confidence to meet life’s challenges. She developed ‘Da3douka‘ with the intention of helping kids develop their communication, socialization, and fine motor skills. Finally, she ends by saying that working with kids inspires her everyday!

8. Rania Wehbe – Engineering for Kids of Lebanon

To Rania’s delight the less than six months start up business ‘Engineering for Kids of Lebanon’ is growing fast and customers are more than satisfied with the outcome. The center brings STEM education to children in a fun and challenging way. In fact, STEM is relatively a new curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – in an interdisciplinary and applied approach.

Currently ‘Engineering For Kids’ is operational in 30+ countries worldwide in addition to 35+ US states, and Rania has succeeded in bringing it over now to Lebanon! Their programs and classes stay current, meet strict safety requirements, actively engage kids both mentally and physically, and encourage them to think creatively and intelligently. They offer various fields of Engineering programs for boys and girls aged 4 to 14 years old divided in the following programs: Junior engineers (4-6 years old), Apprentice engineers (7-11 years old), and Master engineers (12-14 years old).

Being a working mother of three adorable girls has always been a main challenge in her life, and she has always struggled to manage. “Not to boast,” she states,”but as a perfectionist, I cannot afford compromises in either way.” Despite the challenge of finding the time while working a full-time job, she has always had this passion to build something through which she can contribute back to the society at large, and specifically to the education of children. She has realized that no matter what people do in their lives, they will always fall short of time, and it is up to each person to decide how busy she wants to be and define her role and contribution. In her case, she explains that she does a lot of planning to overcome this. That is why, you find her planning her weeks way ahead and up to the finest details. This keeps her alert and, to an extent, in control.

She explains that starting a new business is certainly challenging, and a lot of it has to do with how big of a risk appetite a person has. However, this argument is diluted when one truly believes in what she is doing. The excitement in what a person does helps in getting through all the challenges that one might face. She strongly believes that with enough faith in oneself and with an established motive, a person can succeed. After all, everyone should find out what triggers their inspiration. In her case, she enjoys reading a lot about successful business leaders, who really inspire her to achieve more. One of the inspiring things she has lately read and that is worth sharing was about a successful entrepreneur who plans his day on 5-minutes slots. To some that might sound aggressive, yet it is worth thinking of.

Last but not least, she explains that she owes a lot of what she has achieved to her husband – her partner for life. When the decision was taken earlier this year to launch their own business, the idea was not clear back then. But after extensive thought and research, she decided to take the ‘Engineering For Kids’ route, and bring these enrichment programs to the children in Lebanon. Her husband was very supportive, as they decided to get into it together. Luckily enough, they both share the same passion for educating their own children and inspire them.

She ends stating that they strongly believe that children deserve the opportunity to have such a unique experience. And as we speak, she informed me that they have just kicked off their operations out at their Center in Sodeco, Beirut. The plan, in the future is to expand to cover all regions of their beloved country, in an attempt to give all the children in different areas such a unique opportunity.

9. Shadi Khazei – Dan-Dee Designs – UAE

With the help of her two children, Shadi designed a product for water bottles to help children identify their water bottles from those of other children. The whole idea started in October 2016, but the first cap was finally created in March 2017. Currently, Shadi heads a design company in Duabi named Dan-Dee Designs.

The ‘Dan-Dee Caps, The Real Bottle Cap’ is a bottle cap that fits perfectly over the existing Water bottle caps. The inspiration for undertaking this project stemmed from her children’s frustration that they could not easily identify their water bottles, especially in large crowds, sports events or in birthday parties. That is how they worked on creating a unique cap that would be appealing to both children and adults. Until they finally developed and designed colorful and fun food safe silicone caps.

Along the way she faced hurdles which she was able to quickly overcome since there are many resources in Dubai that help budding entrepreneurs. For example, in the conception stage, she didn’t know where to begin and how to bring the idea to life. After some research, she found a work space in Dubai where she learnt about casting, design and mold making. There, and with the help of instructors, she was able to make a prototype of the caps. The biggest barrier, according to her, was obtaining a patent and registering a design. Again, through firms in Dubai who specialize in patent law this was possible. She found out that the best way to overcome obstacles is through perseverance.

Shadi adds that although their inspiration is to create fun and safe caps for kids, but as a mother, her aim is also make life a little easier for other mums. Because this creation solved a problem for her, she felt that it would be beneficial to others as well.

Those pretty and very practical designs can be seen on their website www.dandeecaps.com and on Instagram message as @dandeecaps.

Shadi concludes by explaining more about her current work where she is looking forward to creating new designs for the bottles which will appeal to all ages. At the same time, she is working on creating a website aimed for mothers who would like to go back to work full time, par time, or as a volunteer. The website will focus on helping them to land the job interviews.

In conclusion, I can say that I have been honored to have had this discussion with those fantastic business women. They all represent the strong will each woman possesses and how this will can be directed into a fruitful and inspiring future. I would like to take the opportunity to thank each and everyone one of them for participating in this project.

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