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The Sassiest Mama: Rana Akkad Atassi

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

Rana is one of our Sassiest Mamas 2016…

When her mid-level autistic little boy Jad was denied admission to 22 mainstream schools in Dubai, mama Rana decided to take matters into her own hands and work to create equal educational opportunities for all children in a similar situation. After founding a support website called, she received hundreds of emails from parents  looking for support and alternative education options. These emails grew into plans for a centre Modern Alternative Education. Affiliated with Clonlara, one of the oldest homeschooling programs in the US, MAE is a non-profit special education centre/school for children with mild to moderate learning difficulties or delays aged between 8 – 18 years old. Rana is mama to 3 boys (Zeid, aged 11, Jad, aged 9 and Adam, aged 3) and has touched the lives of so many families and children in Dubai, who have had the chance to flourish because of her dedication and hard work.

Autism Dubai

Tell us about your businesses and why you started them.

I am a mother of a mid-level autistic nine-year-old child, Jad. When Jad was ready to enter school at the appropriate age, he was rejected admission by 22 mainstream schools in Dubai! I tried hard for 18 months but without any luck, he was rejected by all of them. He was not severe enough to be in a special-needs school, but since it was my only option, and after waiting for a couple of years on the long waiting list he finally made it in one. It took me not more than one week to realise the big mistake that I’ve done since he started regressing and all our years of hard work, therapy, and money invested was going to waste. The only option we were left with was to move away from Dubai, the place which my husband has lived in for a long time and has his business in.

Instead of leaving the region, I became determined to stay back and lay the foundations of a community that offers children like Jad – and others who have a range of learning delay diagnosis – the opportunity to get their basic right of education so that they can reach their potential and enrich our society as they lead independent lives. In 2011, I started a support website called and was surprised when I received hundreds of emails from parents like me looking for support and alternative education options. These emails grew into plans for a centre Modern Alternative Education that can put into motion the techniques and training we know are critical to our children’s future self-reliance and success.

Affiliated with Clonlara, one of the oldest homeschooling programs in the US, MAE is a non-profit special education centre/school for children with mild to moderate learning difficulties or delays aged between 8 – 18 years old. These children do not get accepted or cannot be properly handled by mainstream schools, and should not go to special needs schools as they are not severe enough.  They are simply left behind with no or little schooling if any.  MAE is a much-needed centre in the region to cater for these children and fill the existing gap between mainstream schools and special needs schools.


What kind of cake would you order for your birthday?
Lemon Cake

If we handed you a concert ticket, who would you wish it was for?

What colour do you wear the most?
Pink and black. That might give you an idea of how moody I am 😉

When did you last cry?
Yesterday, and I can any minute lol

What’s the best thing you can cook?
I would say lamb leg, but I really don’t enjoy cooking.

Where do you get your hair done?
No specific place, I like trying different places.

What do you feel have been your biggest achievements both in your personal life and career so far?
Personal: My kids.
Career: creating MAE. It feels great knowing I had a hand in creating a place that will accommodate children like my own and giving them the chance of reaching their maximum potential. Not to mention giving their parents a peaceful state of mind.

As a child what did you dream of being when you ‘grew up’?!
Interior decorator

If you had 3 wishes what would they be?

  1. Find a cure for autism
  2. Keeping my family healthy
  3. Seeing the future

What does being a Sassy Mama mean to you?
It means a lot since I’m sure just like any other mom we all like to be appreciated, and what better way than such an acknowledgment.


Guilty pleasure?
Junk food.

Tell us about a typical day?
I’m literally all over the place all the time, don’t have any set routine or schedule.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given in your personal life and career?
Personal: not to take myself too seriously
Career: not to compare with others, be a pioneer

What do you most enjoy doing as a family in Dubai?
Staying at home in PJs doing nothing. Everything moves so fast here that the idea of doing nothing sounds like a treat.

What is the ‘best-kept’ secret in Dubai, or something fellow mamas should know about
The best Falafel place in Barsha 1 called Foul & Falafel.


If you were on an island and could bring only 3 things (family not included) what would they be?

  1. Laptop
  2. A friend
  3. Junk food

Describe your style?
Super casual comfortable look.

Tell us something funny that your kids have said or done?
My 11 years old son turned up to me once while I was struggling with his homework (year 5 math homework) and says: “I know you always tell me not to be rude or mean, but you also say I should be honest, as a mom shouldn’t you know more”!!!!

I didn’t know if to punish him or be ashamed of myself. From that day I started prepping before sitting to study with him.

How do you juggle work and family?
I’m blessed to have my family here in town, which helps a lot. My Hermes bag is like my youngest child, I carry it with me everywhere as it’s full of my work.



A huge thank you to Monica Chindalia for the beautiful pictures of Rana and her family.
To book a photoshoot visit facebook/monicachindaliaphotography

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