Inspiring mums in the UAE
We love our job – and one of the reasons? Getting to meet so many amazing mamas who are not only doing a great job at raising their families but who also follow their personal and professional dreams at the same time. Our ‘That Mama’ this week is the uber inspiring Elham Al Qasimi, the first woman and UAE National to reach the North Pole (yes, you read that right, and you can read more here!), a mama to two gorgeous kids and a business professional. Elham really does prove that women can do it all!
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your career?
I’m an investment professional, making and managing investments in the heavy industry, and more recently, the ethnology sector. I started my career in investment banking in London before moving to the principle investor side here in the UAE.
Can you talk us through your career pre and post babies? How did you get back into the swing of things after having children?
There is definitely a lot more active managing required post-baby when it comes to my career. Pre-baby, I only needed to think about myself and what career challenges I could handle. Now I also think about whether it’s worth it – time is a very valuable currency to me as a working mum. Getting back into the swing of things was more mental and emotional for me than physical. From that perspective, I found pregnancy and motherhood empowering, in the sense that it brought into sharp focus what really mattered. It shifted my priorities by showing me what was not worth spending time or energy on in the workplace.
How do you balance work and motherhood?
When I’m at work, I’m at work 120% and when I’m home it’s exactly the same! I treat family time as sacred and protect it from noise or distraction. I see the two as a deep commitment that I can’t do when I’m only half focused… Having said that, I don’t think balance is an end point, but a journey of constantly adjusting.
How do you save time? What are your organisational tips and tricks?
I categorise all activities into “high quality interactions” and “low quality interactions”. All of the former I do myself wholeheartedly and all the latter I outsource or hire help to take care of to save my time for what matters the most
Do you have any tips for aspiring “mamapreneurs” and other working mamas in Dubai?
At home you are a mamma first and foremost, but to be the master of your own career outcome means that, out there, you have to assume people don’t know, and don’t understand those personal duties! Therefore, you have to create the right career environment that works for you as a mother. This sometimes means being creative to solve inherent time conflicts between the two, because no one else can (or should!) be solving them for you.
Favourite activity with your kids in Dubai?
My kids love going out to the horse stables near Al Qudra, every chance they get. I like any activity where we are surrounded by nature and animals.
Favourite kid-friendly restaurants in Dubai
Definitely, Clinton street!
Favourite family-friendly holiday spot?
My favourite would have to be Le Touessrok in Mauritius.
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
Treat date night as sacred, no matter how tired you are! Don’t lose sight of all the small, romantic gestures that recognise your partner as a simple human being who also needs love and care.
Favourite date-night restaurants?
Center Cut, at the Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
Not to be afraid of your children going through hardship, it’s how they grow and fulfil their own destiny. Protecting them from every uncomfortable experience can in fact hurt, rather than help, them.
Give us your essential new mama advice that might never occur to other women.
What you eat effects you and your baby not only physically, but also emotionally. It’s essential to eat balanced for your mental health as a new mom. Rushing to lose the baby weight too fast hurts you and the baby, during an extremely important moment of bonding.
As a mama I wish I were better at…
Playing kiddie games with them for hours.
My most humbling mama moment was…
Birth. Everything else that I thought mattered so much paled in comparison to the simple goal of nurturing my child.
One thing I won’t sacrifice as a mama is…
My children’s physical and spiritual health. There is no cutting corners on these two aspects of their wellbeing.
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about….
My children’s safety…. How to create more time with them… How to create more magic in their lives and in their day-to-day experiences. Childhood should be magical!
Even when my children have families of their own, I’ll still…
I don’t know! I can’t imagine them that big yet!
My favourite moment of the day is…
Morning cuddles and giggles.
I always feel saner after…
I little me time- gym, spa, sister time whichever.. I feel armed to keep going!
I wish I had more time for…
Making my house a home more and more
Bedtime is always smoother when…
My husband and I are both present – the kids are calm and comfortable when they have the sense we are both focused fully on them.
Thanks to our fab photographer Louise Shrigley for these beautiful snaps of Elham and her family! Check out her website here.