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That Papa: Aly Rahimtoola of Skincare Brand Herbal Essentials

Aly Rahimtoola and his son
Family LifePost Category - Family LifeFamily Life - Post Category - Cool DadsCool Dads

Dads In Dubai

Let’s hear it for another awesome dad! Aly Rahimtoola introduces us to his gorgeous family and chats everything from date nights to favourite family activities plus shares a little about his background as Founder of award winning beauty brand Herbal Essentials (if you haven’t tried it yet then do – the SPF 50 sun oil is one of our absolute sassy faves…).
A big thanks to Lidya Kalichuk for the gorgeous pics (any mamas looking for a family shoot – Lidya’s your gal!).

Can you tell us a bit about your background? What brought you to Dubai? What do you do?
I moved to Dubai in 1996 when it was a very different city than it is now. I was born in Pakistan but grew up in London and went to University in the States. After graduating, I worked in New York and London before a short time back in Pakistan before settling here. For me, Dubai is the perfect blend of East and West which reflects my background and mindset. I come from a business family where we have diverse interests but my main focus is on a skincare brand that I founded about 7 years ago called Herbal Essentials which I run.

Aly and his wife Maliha

How many kids do you have? What are their names and ages? And your wife’s name?
Maliha, my wife, and I have one son. His name is Zain and he is going to turn 3 in May.

How did you choose your son’s name?
We wanted the name to have some meaning and went through quite a few before settling on Zain which has multiple meanings in Islam such as Friend or Beauty.

What do you hope your son gets or doesn’t get from you?
I hope that Zain gets my wife’s calmness and kindness coupled with my work ethic and discipline. I think we both have a good sense of humour, which we hope he has, as it is always good to be able to laugh – even at the hardest moments. It keeps one’s perspective balanced.

What’s your favourite part of your parenting routine?
Before bedtime when I get home from work is the time I get to spend with him and bond.

Who plays good cop and bad cop between you and your wife?
I am meant to be the stricter one but if I am honest I think I am maybe too lenient with him. Then again he is only 2 so hard to say ‘no’ too many times. I am sure that will come in time.

Read more: Olympic Values to Instil In Your Children

How do you keep the romance alive after having kids?
We take the odd little escape trip together as we are very lucky to have family members who can come and babysit for a long weekend or a week – that plus the odd impulsive gift or even a call in the middle of a busy day never hurts.

What’s the best thing about being a dad in Dubai?
From talking to my friends in the UK and Europe I think family life in the UAE is a lot closer and easier to manage time wise for working parents than in the UK or Europe. 

aly and his son Zain

What’s the hardest part of being a dad in Dubai?
To be honest since I’m a Dad for 2 years, I have yet to experience a real hardship. I waited a while to be a parent so am enjoying every moment so far.

Biggest lesson learned?
When I was younger I didn’t really follow any financing planning policies. I don’t have any regrets as I enjoyed myself but in hindsight living and raising a family in the UAE isn’t cheap so I wish I had saved a little more than I did.

Read more: Fatherhood – What Being a Dad Means to Me

What’s the funniest parenting story you can share?
We have an amusing moment literally every day as Zain is a fun loving active toddler who manages to make Maliha and me (and himself) laugh. Probably no different than any other household.

How has having kids changed the way you define work?
Having Zain in my early 40’s makes me want to work harder and succeed more than ever so that I can give him and Maliha the financial security for later in life. Having Zain relatively later in life has given me the impetus to drive forward even harder, which might have slipped before he arrived.

aly and his son Zain

Do you have any tips for soon-to-be dads in Dubai?
Start a Savings Plan! Education costs are going up.

Favourite family-friendly restaurants in Dubai?
We like going to Bystro on SZR which is close to where we live as they are family friendly and the food and service is great. Zain has also discovered a fondness for pizza!

Read more: The Best Burgers in Dubai

Favourite activities with the family?
We go to the beach on weekends.

aly and his wife Maliha

Favourite date night spots with your wife?
We alternate between some of the really nice restaurants in DIFC like Zuma or La Petite Maison or Coya at the Four Seasons Hotel to going together to discover some very simple cafes or places hidden away in either Al Barsha or Karama. That is the fun part of Dubai as it has everything.

Favourite place for a little grooming (we know all men do it!)?

What are your favourite foods to eat?
If I said gluten free and low carb foods then I would be lying! Jokes aside, I love all types of food but my favourite has to be Chinese food – Royal China in DIFC is a particular favourite for all of us including Zain. 

Read more: Neighbourhood Guide to Downtown Dubai

If you had 3 wishes, what would they be?
To be honest, all my wishes are fulfilled at a basic level although I wouldn’t mind being fitter/healthier and being able to take longer holidays as the ability to switch off from work when you are self-employed in a young early-stage business is hard.

When’s the last time you cried?
One of my key team members who had worked with me for 20 years died suddenly whilst on holiday and I cried when I got the news in the office as I have a small team and they are like family.

If your family had a theme-song, what would it be?
I like all types of music as does my wife but what’s hilarious is Zain seems to like Justin Bieber songs as he gets all excited when he hears them on the radio. I shall remind him of this when he’s older and when he tries to denies it!

Read more: Sassy Mama’s Family-friendly Playlist

What do you think your kids are up to right now?
Zain will either be in school or at home playing with his cars – he’s obsessed with cars.

A huge thank you to Lidiya Kalichuk of for the gorgeous photos! 

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