Nada Al Bahri, Syrian mom to almost threenager Meera, and Ayah Halawani, Egyptian mom-to-be to a little princess, founded Nook & The Flower Bar located in Jumeira 1 in July this year.
How long have you been in the UAE and what brought you here?
Nada: I was born and raised in Dubai, lived here all my life. I met my husband in Dubai, and we got married here in 2011. We are both originally Syrian so this is the only place our daughter can truly call home, having been born here in 2014; we have not been able to go back to Syria since then.
Ayah: I was born and raised in Dubai – so 27 years! I got married to my husband almost three years ago here in Dubai, and this is the place we have both always called home.
What are your favourite family friendly activities to do in the UAE?
Nada: Every afternoon after nursery, Meera goes out to play with her friends be it indoors in play areas like Cheeky Monkeys or outdoors in public parks when the weather is good. She gets to be exposed to so many cultures at every hour of the day; this is my absolute favorite part of raising a family in Dubai.
Ayah: We enjoy being outdoors, whether camping, beach or just taking our bikes out for a ride when the weather allows it. The summer months are really the hardest on us when we are forced to stay indoors.
What do you miss most about your home country?
Nada: I cannot call Syria home because I’ve never truly been to Syria for long intervals of time, but I am very disappointed that my daughter will not get to experience it at all.
Ayah: I miss home everyday. Although I have not really lived in Egypt, we make it a point to visit at least once a year. I miss being a pedestrian, the culture, the old places and the slow-paced life.
Tell us a bit about your business and why you started it.
Nada: Nook is a concept store specializing in the retail of home accessories along with children home accessories. Our shop includes an exotic Flower Bar to compliment the concept. My partner and I as architects, are also working on developing at a later stage “NOOK – The Label”, which is a line of products designed and produced in-house. This business was part of an inspiration I got when I was looking for the right décor for Meera’s bedroom online. I could not find the style I was looking for available in Dubai. Ayah was already involved in the design business, and somehow we merged our concepts together and extended it to fulfill any persons décor needs.
Ayah: Nook was a concept that came to life after my partner Nada came to me with the idea and the seriousness to follow through with it. As architects, both Nada and I have always toyed with the idea of starting a business related to our field of education, but it only really came together after Nada had her daughter Meera, and was finding it impossible to furnish her room. After nearly a year of research and hard work the store was finally open. The flower bar came as a complimentary concept, as I had been working in weddings prior to that, and I could not give up my love for flowers!
How do you balance work and family life?
Nada: It was a big challenge when we first started working towards the opening of Nook, Meera was much younger and by my side for longer hours. However, I was determined to start doing something useful with any extra time I had, even when it meant late nights. The way that I now balance between work and family is that I try to do all the work I have in the morning hours before I pick Meera up from nursery.
Ayah: So far it has not really been an issue, both my husband and I run an events agency together so we are quite used to organizing our time and making time to enjoy each other’s company – I am sure all this is about to change when the little princess arrives.
If you could give one piece if advice to new/ expecting moms, what would it be?
Nada: My partner is expecting her first baby and the only advice I would pass on to her from my experience is that as hard as any of it seems at the time, you will look back later and see that it was actually not that bitter, maybe it was even a little bit fun; Enjoy it because you will miss it.
Ayah: Would be happy to get any advice myself!
Follow Nook concept store and The Flower Bar: