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The Sassiest Mama: Kamelia Bin Zaal

Family LifePost Category - Family LifeFamily Life - Post Category - That MamaThat Mama

The Sassiest Mama Awards 2015

Passionate about the environment, this mama has not only helped create one of the most beautiful spaces in Dubai but also recently scooped up an awesome silver award for her stunning ‘Beauty Of Islam’ garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. She loves early morning nature walks with her little boy, homemade chocolate and a divine sounding 6-hands massage – and believes that a happy mama means happy kids. A-MEN to that!

Who’s The Mama?

Full Name: Kamelia Bin Zaal
Occupation: Creative Director at Al Barari
Children: Zaal, 2 years old
Nationality: Emirati with a British mother
How long have you lived in Dubai? 20 years

1) Tell us about your business/businesses and why you started them.
I have grown up always watching my father in the garden. He has always loved flowers and the sense of peace a garden can give. I worked in the Government for four years and while I enjoyed it, I felt as if something was missing. At the time my father was planning the concept of Al Barari, a plant nursery, maybe a horticultural school, and it was this conversation that made me think of garden design. Within one month I was at the Inchbald School of Design studying garden design.

I then returned to Dubai inspired to create intuitive and stylised outdoor living spaces. I began my career as a freelance garden designer working on residential villas until I established my own landscape architectural practice, Second Nature, in 2006, working on both large commercial projects and unique residential projects. Later I formed an association with my family’s property development company, Al Barari, where Second Nature, now part of Green Works, created the lush botanic surrounds and themed gardens that the address has become recognised for. I have served as the Creative Director at Al Barari for the past seven years.

2) What do you feel have been your biggest achievements both in your personal life and career so far?
The most meaningful achievement of my career so far would be the Islamic garden I created for the Chelsea Flower Show. It has been a dream of mine to showcase my garden at the prestigious flower show. I never thought I was good enough, but David Dodd from The Outdoor Room and Jo Thompson, an award-winning garden designer, gave me the confidence to push myself and go for it and I am so grateful for that. It’s difficult to explain to people who don’t know, but Chelsea is like the Oscars for landscape design. Getting accepted as one of the 15 main show gardens was truly an honour. It’s the Royal Horticultural Society and the people involved are my mentors. It was an incredible feeling to participate with the best garden designers in the world, I am very humbled.

3) As a child what did you dream of being when you ‘grew up’?!
A marine biologist because I love dolphins or a ballet dancer.

4) If you had 3 wishes, what would they be?

  1. For mankind to realise the importance of living in harmony with our environment with future generations instead of depleting its resources and flora and fauna.
  2. For the humankind to feed itself sustainably and organically like we used to.
  3. Not only be a great mother but to travel the world with my son so he can learn about other cultures and societies.

5) What does being a Sassy Mama mean to you?
To me a Sassy Mama is strong, sensitive, compassionate, a good role model, and instils good values and morals in her child.

6) What’s a typical day in your life like?
Mornings are my favourite time of day. I’m up early at 6AM as my son wakes up then. We have breakfast together and take a morning walk together through the gardens. With my hectic schedule of taking care of my son, managing the marketing department at Al Barari, and overseeing landscape design at the development, I strive to maintain a healthy work life balance. Late afternoons are about tying up loose ends from work that day and making sure everything has been done that needed to be done. I like to be as efficient as possible and get work done during the day so I can have as time as possible with my son in the evenings. Evenings are my time to switch off (slightly) and be surrounded by friends and family.


7) What’s your guilty pleasure?
Homemade chocolate made with raw cacao, vanilla essence, coconut oil, cranberries and goji berries.

8) What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given in your personal life and career?
Never give up and do not be scared of failure, instead learn from it. If you are passionate about what you want, stay focused and keep pushing forward to make your dreams a reality.

9) What do you most enjoy doing as a family in Dubai?
Dining together. It’s a great way to spend time together and catch up on each other’s lives while tucking into delicious food.

10) What is the ‘best-kept’ secret in Dubai, something fellow mamas should know about?
Heart & Soul spa. I’m not being biased. Just try the 6 hands signature massage and feel your stress melt away. It’s the ultimate in relaxation and me-time!

11) Which three words best describe your personality?
Determined, positive and outgoing.

12) What advice would you have for a new mama?
Follow your instincts and enjoy every moment. They grow up so quickly!

13) What advice would you give to a mama who wants to go back to work or start her own business but is worried about juggling family and career?

You can do both. My advice is to never give up on your dreams. It isn’t easy leaving your child to go to work, but if you organise yourself and your schedule, it will be a lot easier. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Going back to work keeps you happy as an individual, which means your child will happy. It is important to follow your own interests outside of your family life as long as there is a balance between work and family.

Always make sure you build in quality time with your children, whether it’s a weekend away or a holiday.


14) If you were on an island and could bring only 3 things (family not included) what would they be?
Music, camera and a Kindle with hundreds of books on it.

15) Top 3 books?
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, The Qur’an and The Wheel of Time, a series of novels.

16) Describe your style.
Contemporary with a soft edge.

17) If there was a movie produced about your life, who would you choose to play you and why?
Everyone says I’m a lot like Sandra Bullock because we’re both fun, outgoing and I respect her because she’s a single mum like me.

18) Tell us something funny that your kids have said or done.
My son refuses to say the first letter of every word and I’m sure it’s on purpose!


Thanks to The Studio for the gorgeous pics! Book your photography experience on (+971) (0)4 347 1745.

Special thanks also to Sassy Mama Dani for coordinating mamas and photographers while juggling 3 little ones too!

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