A paediatrician at Infinity Clinic who’s a mama too – frankly just the combination us mamas want when faced with a sick little person! Rania has not only been Sassy Mama Dubai’s paediatrician of choice for many years (seeing us through reflux, flu, ear-infections and gently telling us if we’re just being a little paranoid) but is also one of our valued contributors. Mama to Victoria, aged 5 and Richard, aged 2, she balances her children at home with treating hundreds of children each week (often following up with parents out of work hours) and is just the friendly face you need when your kiddos aren’t well. Thank you for everything Rania!
Name: Rania Ayat Hawayek
Occupation: Specialist Paediatrician
Children: Victoria (5) and Richard (2)
Nationality: British Lebanese
How long have you lived in Dubai? For the most part of the last 24 years – with a large chunk of time spent in London. I moved back here 5 years ago.
1) Tell us about your work.
I’m a paediatrician at Infinity Clinic, which is a wonderful polyclinic in Jumeirah. I love being part of the family at Infinity where we pride ourselves on being a centre of excellence. We provide our patients and the wider community with care by highly-qualified professionals, long consultation times to allow for a thorough assessment and management and education that spreads beyond the boundaries of the clinic into schools, coffee mornings and publications like this one!
2) What do you feel have been your biggest achievements both in your personal life and career so far?
My biggest achievements are creating a beautiful family with my husband Joe and managing to build a successful and exciting career in Paediatrics alongside that.
3) As a child what did you dream of being when you grew up?
Becoming a doctor was always high up on the list, as well as an architect and when I was really dreaming, I even thought of becoming a detective. I was a big fan of the Nancy Drew books.
Long and healthy lives for the ones I love.
The perfect nanny/driver/cook/housekeeper – an all-in-one lady – I’m sure that many mamas agree that such a lady is impossible to find and would be a godsend to many of us working mamas.
Being able to eat and drink whatever I like without piling on the pounds. I had to throw that one in!
5) What does being a Sassy Mama mean to you?
A Sassy Mama is first and foremost a mama. Being a mama is what ultimately defines her, but she’s so much more than that as well. She’s a strong, successful and an independent woman, capable of juggling a dozen things or more at the same time. She’s a woman you can depend on, laugh with, talk to about everything from the latest gossip to current affairs, go shopping with and party with. She’s a woman who prides herself on being able to do well at her job, cook a scrumptious meal, read her kids a bedtime story, live a love story with her other half and look really good doing it.
6) What’s a typical day in your life like?
Wake up at 6 (or 6:30 if I’m lucky), cuddles with the kids, get ready for nursery/school/work, arrange drop-offs and pick-ups with my husband and nanny, spend a day at work, followed by gym or grocery-shopping, homework, the occasional play date, cook dinner, showers and bedtime, glass of wine and wind down with my husband and bed (usually falling asleep before my head hits the pillow) – so it can all start again in the morning.
7) What’s your guilty pleasure?
Hot freshly baked bread – or simply ‘bread’ of any kind.
8) What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given in your personal life and career?
To base everything I do on a set of core values and principles.
Honesty and the belief that trust has to be earned.
Empathy and compassion.
Family is of the utmost importance.
Commitment to the team – both at home and at work.
This is the best advice I’ve been given, by the two people in my life to whom I owe almost everything, my parents.
9) What do you most enjoy doing as a family in Dubai?
When the weather’s nice, we love going to Ripe market at Safa Park on Fridays. There’s a great family and community feel to it, and there’s always something interesting to buy or yummy to nibble on.
10) What is the ‘best-kept’ secret in Dubai, something fellow mamas should know about?
This may not be a ‘secret’ to many of the mamas out there, but I think House of Prose is a fantastic find. It’s a second-hand bookshop that has so many treasures to rummage through. We make our way down to the Garden Centre most weekends, for a quick breakfast, and a walk through the rows of plants and flowers, and then we always lose ourselves in the House of Prose corner. The kids have bought so many books from there for a fraction of their regular price. We often find books that you can’t find elsewhere. I imagine that some are from people who move to Dubai and then decide to sell them. The great thing about this bookshop is that you can trade your well-read and very-loved books in for different ones whenever you like.
11) Which three words best describe your personality?
Determined, caring, passionate.
12) What advice would you have for a new mama?
Enjoy it. Don’t panic. Get help when you need it. Don’t let conflicting advice confuse you: what works for one mama doesn’t necessarily work for another. Sleep when you can. Try to step away from the chaos, really look at your amazing baby and simply fall in love.
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?
Go for it! It’s not easy, but it’s worth all the effort and many women around you have become very good jugglers. Talk to others and find out what mechanisms they have in place to help them balance their home and career. Good time management is fundamental and prioritisation takes on a whole new meaning. Your family will always come first, and you will at times feel very guilty that you’re missing that school assembly, or that you can’t make it to that play date, or that you’re sometimes not home in time to tuck them into bed, but you’re doing this or them as much as you’re doing this for yourself. They’ll have a dynamic, happy and productive mama and be proud of it!
14) If you were on an island and could bring only three things (family not included) what would they be?
My phone, sun lotion (with a good SPF of course) and reading material (a couple of good books and magazines should do it).
15) Top three books?
The Harry Potter series, Pride and Prejudice and Atlas Shrugged.
16) Describe your style.
Classic with a sassy twist!
17) If there was a movie produced about your life, who would you choose to play you and why?
It’s difficult answering this question without sounding egotistical, but it has to be Julianne Moore. I love her! She’s a very accomplished actor, as well as being a children’s author and of course a wife and mama. She has acted in various genres from comedy to thrillers and always comes across as a strong, determined and sensitive woman.
18) Tell us something funny that your kids have said or done.
On a public holiday when my kids and husband were off and I was working, my daughter said, “Mummy, if you want to be on holiday like us, you don’t have to worry about all the sick kids you see at work. Another doctor can look after them!”
Another funny thing my kids said to my husband today was, “When mummy says ‘no’, we ask daddy”.