Saima has kept most of our children entertained for hours mamas – as Owner and Managing Director at Cheeky Monkeys, we certainly have a lot to thank her for! A mama of 4 children aged between 19 and 3 years of age, Saima puts huge amounts of energy into her work and her family, dedicating time to both and also mixing it up a little – her kids love to help with new ideas for Cheeky Monkeys! Watch this space for new venues opening soon mamas and read our review of the latest Cheeky Monkeys outlet in Dubai Marina here.
Name: Saima Khan
Occupation: Owner & Managing Director at Cheeky Monkeys
Children: Sarah 19, Shanzeh 18 Mikayel 5 , Jennah 3
How long have you lived in Dubai? 10 years
1) Tell us about your business and why you started it.
I was born in London and raised in North America between Edmonton and Los Angeles. I had a happy childhood, in which we never knew if we were poor or rich. We played in parks, rode our bikes and life just seemed simple back then. When I had my son in Dubai, due to the weather restrictions, going to the park and riding bikes just wasn’t an option for most of the time. There also seemed to be limited choices whereby families can spend time together in a contained environment, one that isn’t restricted to your home or apartment. I also felt a bit lonely as an expat here in this dynamic city with no real support system or place to meet other new moms.
Cheeky Monkeys is an edutainment centre where kids can learn and play in groups and a sanctuary for parents to have a good cup of coffee and quality time with their kids. We do not offer TVs or video games…just old fashioned play, arts and crafts and encouraging kids to use their imagination! The idea was to bring the community together within this platform. Most of our staff come from performing arts or early childcare background and they are trained to be interactive with the children.
2) What do you feel has been your biggest achievements both in your personal life and career so far?
My children – they’re my reason for getting out of bed every morning. I love hearing their stories and their ideas, as well as an insight into their simple and very pure perceptions. The kids are also my guinea pigs, I bounce new ideas off of them every day for classes and concepts we want to introduce at Cheeky Monkeys …they give me wonderful real life insight.
3) As a child what did you dream of being when you grew up?
4) If you had three wishes, what would they be?
I worry a lot about the planet. The way we have lost respect for Mother Nature, the food we consume and feed our children. I know it may sound cliché, but I wish for peace in the world, safety for all children and good health.
5) What does being a Sassy Mama mean to you?
Someone who is current and aware of what’s going on in her community. She’s also a woman with a voice and not afraid to let the world hear it!
6) What’s a typical day in your life like?
I drop the kids off at school and then go to the gym, I am in the office by 10am and then I work until 2pm. I pick up my daughter from nursery and from 2 to 8 pm, then I’m with the kids. After 8pm, I’m either back at work or out having dinner with friends.
7) What’s your guilty pleasure?
Chocolate and chai – together!
8) What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given in your personal life and career?
Not to jump to conclusions, give everyone and everything a chance and try to look at things from more than one point of view…this has been a valuable piece of advice, because a by-product of implementing this then becomes an increased sense of compassion and tolerance.
9) What do you most enjoy doing as a family in Dubai?
We love family dinners at home and precious Friday morning brunch, followed by swimming.
10) What is the ‘best-kept’ secret in Dubai, something fellow mamas should know about?
Greenheart Organic Farms market, located near Miracle Gardens…fabulous organic produce and other goodies at very reasonably prices!
11) Which three words best describe your personality?
Sincere, sensitive and funny.
12) What advice would you have for a new mama?
Enjoy and savour every stage and every moment. Don’t rush to raise your children. It’s not a race. Enjoy the journey; kids grow up so fast.
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?
Think many times before you make the commitment. Once you start a new project or work, it’s very hard to change your mind. Be sure you ask yourself if you are really ready to take that step. Have a career for all the right reasons…there will always be a career opportunity at any age or stage… but an opportunity to focus on raising your kids may be the most important opportunity in your life.
14) If you were on an island and could bring only three things (family not included) what would they be?
Chocolate, music, and tweezers!
16) Describe your style.
Simple, practical…not fashion forward.
17) If there was a movie produced about your life, who would you choose to play you and why?
Angelina Jolie – because why not??
18) Tell us something funny that your kids have said or done.
Every day they say such pure and simple thoughts that are hilarious. The other day they saw my wedding photos and said, “ Hey not fair, you didn’t invite us!”