Tag Archives: Emirates Golf Club

Motherhood | Omaira Farooq Al Olama | Emirati Mum of three shares her story about raising her three daughters whilst running a successful company.

Omaira Farooq Al Olama, is an Emirati mum of 3, and the daughter of a former UAE Ambassador based in the US where she had spent her formative years growing up.  She returned back to Dubai after finishing university in the US as Dubai’s first female criminology graduate.  Omaira is passionate about her home country, and is determined to help her fellow nationals achieve and strive for their best.  She is the Founder of Advanced Learning Formulas, a company to help young Emiratis connect better with the multitude of businesses and cultures in the UAE.  She works with them, coaching and equipping them in this ever-changing business landscape of today.  She is also extremely hands-on as a mother taking care of her three young daughters, her twin girls aged 7 and a younger daughter aged 6. This photoshoot is probably representative of Omaira’s character; she is a colourful, vibrant and an interesting woman who has overcome personal challenges to recallibrate her life again to create a wonderful childhood for her three daughters.  She is positive, inspiring mother and business woman, who has an incredibly infectious laugh.

How did you create your incredible business, Advanced Learning Formulas (ALF)?

It was in 2010 while I was still working for the government, when I noticed some of my younger Emiratis were just not understanding the trainers, and couldn’t develop a connection to them. It wasn’t that these trainers were bad, in fact, they were great. However, the younger nationals couldn’t relate. It was then that I decided to create a company of the “people” is the best way to describe it, where I would develop, train and coach them. I would be their backbone, someone they could relate to, open up to and in most cases someone that will tell them when they are wrong or what they need to do to further develop themselves to succeed.

Can you share some of the challenges in your business that you have faced and how you have overcome them?

In the beginning when I first launched, I was met with mixed reviews. The large companies were so used to the normal training companies that they didn’t know what to expect. I would explain to them that I don’t do generic training, there are many companies who are more than equipped to handle that. However, if you want to get through to your national, get through to them clearly in terms of work ethics, mindset, creativity, business morale, ethical conducts etc, then I was that person. Our success stories lies within many of the Banking and Government sectors. We have brought down the rate of attrition and we have many quotes from the heads of HR, however one of the newest success stories we can write about, is the number of Emiratis who are going back to school to get an education to quote Mr. Samir Al Maskaris (Head of Emiritization and Business Partner at ENBD) “Our new coaching initiative that is run by ALF Administration, has seen not only Emiratis in our workforce loyally committing to us, but have encouraged themselves to go back to school and get their education. This comes by the passion and dedication of ALF towards the nationals and their continued support in terms of helping them develop themselves in their career.”

There are so many women and mothers wanting to start their own business, what would you tell them?

Follow your dreams, but pick something you are passionate about, that makes you happy, that you can relate to. Don’t waste your time doing something you think might make you successful because you have seen others do it. Do something that interests you.

You have been a motivational role model for Emiratis, mothers, and other young women who are wanting to make a difference in this community, who has been your personal role model?

Amira Haya, her dedication to children and to education is something that is so amazing and so nurturing. She has that aura in her that calms everyone around her and allows people to focus on what is really important.

You are also the mother of twin daughters who are 7-years old and your youngest daughter is 6 how do you ensure a work life balance for your children?

The best part of owning your own company is that you can choose your own work hours. A 9-5 job had the best salaries and lots of adult interaction, however, for me being able to choose the days I want to spend home with the kids, or even just to do something for myself, this gives me more flexibility

What do you hope to instill in your children when they grow up?

To work hard, but have ethics. If they make a mistake I want them to tell me, I teach this to my students all the time. Its ok to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.

There are parents from multicultural backgrounds here who struggle to decide which education system to put their children in (British, IB, American, French etc); you grew up in America so how did you decide on the current system that you have chose for your 3 girls?

While I respect all the education systems that are available here in the UAE, I chose American as it encourages creativity and allows my children to have the rest of the day after school to go to activities and not stress too much about homework or tests at this moment in time. Though I do feel the British system prepares from university, I still feel more comfortable with the American system.

What kind of mother would you describe yourself?  Are you pretty relaxed or would you describe yourself as a #tigermum? 

Depends on the situation. I’m very relaxed for certain things, for example, if my daughters want to dye strands of their hair, or put  makeup on etc. However, I’m very strict when it comes to behavior. I grew up respecting elders and I really want to instill that in my children. It is also important to have a good attitude and positive outlooks towards life. We are all so fortunate to be here and to live the lives that we live, and I never want them to forget that.

What are you very strict about at home with your daughters?

Discipline. I love to let them explore and challenge things so that they get a better understanding, however, I won’t let them cross that line and become rude kids, I’m always conscious of how they act, and sometimes I get a bit strict with them, which I do try to be more relaxed about.

Can you share three things that you have learnt as a mother?

Patience, always have a stash of sweets and hide my make up!

I believe the training that you do for the Emirati community also has a relevance for any mother in the world wanting to go back into the workforce, can you share 5 pieces of advice for mothers wanting to work again after children?

Don’t look at other peoples success or failures as something that defines you, what works for some might not work for others.

Do something that interests you and that you are passionate about

Don’t feel guilty, as long as you know you are spending time with your children, it is ok to go back to work and follow your dreams. They will respect you and look up to you just as much as when you were staying at home with them.

Be kind to others and never feel threatened by other peoples success. The worst thing is watching women not be happy for one another.

And follow the old saying “if at first you don’t succeed, try try again!”

SensAsia Urban Spa | Indulge for a good cause |In the Pink treatment in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Salina Handa, founder of my favourite spa, SensAsia Urban Spa, is one of Seashellsonthepalm’s Mums of 2015.  She places a strong emphasis on organic living, loves Pilates and  a huge supporter of charity.  She highlights this good cause by launching the In the Pink treatment.  Breast cancer, shockingly, still accounts for 30% of deaths in women in the UAE.

The 1 hour and 50 minute treatment costs 565 dirhams and every single dirham is donated to the local non-profit organisation, Friends of Cancer.  We applaud Salina and her team at SensAsia Urban Spa for this brilliant initiative.  They also have their best-selling signature oil that costs 99dirham, and all proceeds will also be donated to the same charity.

What we tried: In the Pink Treatment 1 hour and 50 minutes 565 dirhams

This treatment is ideal for Seashellsonthepalm.  If time was on our side, we should all follow the rule of thumb and use treatments on our bodies that we can consume, and this is one of those amazing treatments that is good enough to eat.  The treatment is a combination of a scrub, a mask and followed by a soothing Balinese massage.

The scrub – treatment time 25 minutes.

It is a homemade receipe created by the SensAsia Urban Spa Team of ground rice, rose hip, lemon juice, lemon essential oil, and fresh yoghurt.  Anna, my therapist, applied firm pressure to remove all the deadskin, and the scrub definitely brightened up my skin.

The body rub mask – treatment time 25 minutes

This is another homemade receipe made from clay, coconut, milk, fresh yoghurt, honey and rose hip.  The mixture is rubbed all over the body, and you are wrapped in plastic sheets and towels to allow the ingredients of the mask to absorb into your polished skin.  I was told that the coconut milk is absorbed better into the skin after a good scrub. During that time, Anna gave me a much needed relaxing head massage.

Balinese Massage – 1 hour

After a good polish and scrub, it is then time to indulge in a wonderful and relaxing massage.

Top tip: Ask for Anna.  She is a very experienced therapist from Indonesia, and applies the right and appropriate pressure

Results: It has been two days since the treatment, and before the treatment I had extremely dry skin on my legs because of the hormones from breast feeding.  I have since stopped breast feeding but my hormones are still readjusting, and one of the effects has been scaly legs and dehydrated skin.  The scrub and clay treatment definitely helped improve the my skin’s complexion, and it is a novelty compared with your typical sugar scrubs.  It is more hydrating and soothing on the skin.  Love the smell of the ground rice mixed with rose hip.  It smelt like a mochi ice-cream.  Yum.

Five minutes with Salina Handa – Founder and Managing Director of SensAsia Urban Spa.

It is generous of you that you are donating all In The Pink treatments revenue to Friends of Cancer and we love supporting businesses that give back. Why is raising breast cancer awareness so important for you?

Honestly, it was Dr. Sawson at Friends of Cancer. From the moment I met her, I was bowled over by her passion for the cause. Her relentless drive for helping and detecting underprivileged breast cancer patients, and what she was doing for the UAE community, is what made me want to do start the partnership. We’ve been working together for 10 years, and it has never felt like a charity arrangement, where you’re not actually sure where the money goes. I know every SensAsia dirham is being put to amazing use.

Why did you choose this particular charity?

Dr. Sawson! But another story that completely strengthened my choice is quite a personal one for SensAsia. We suspected one of our attendants, Evelyn, who worked at the Palm Jumeirah spa, had a lump in her breast two years ago. Dr. Sawson diagnosed her, so, that year, instead of giving our October donation to Friends of Cancer, we gave it to Evelyn to get the treatment she needed. Dr. Sawson has also visited the spas and taught our therapists how to conduct a self-exam, and also how to guide clients how to do this for themselves. She is truly amazing.

What exercises do you do to keep yourself fit and healthy?

I’m a huge advocate for Pilates. I will actually do the Stott Pilates Teacher’s Training at the end of this year. I don’t plan to teach, but it’s just something that really interests me in learning more about, that I know will complement everything I do with SensAsia. Also regular EXTEND Barre classes, and I’m a member at the Emirates Golf Club gym to get my cardio bursts in.

Do you believe in organic foods? If so, what products do you ensure that your family chooses organic?

Yes! I order organic chickens and eggs from The Farmhouse in Souk A Manzil, which is conveniently a few doors along from SensAsia! We have weekly deliveries from Ripe; I make my own granola… The list goes on, and the general rule is that nothing comes out of a box. Food is just so much more refined than when my husband and I were kids, and it is so important to me to educate my daughters to know the difference. They use the term “factory food” now, which is actually a little something we picked up from Jason Mraz when he was in Dubai for the Jazz Festival two years ago.

Describe a typical healthy meal in your home?

I love to cook. It really soothes me. A meal that would suit the whole Handa family would be Shepherd’s Pie, made with lamb and cauliflower mash instead of potatoes. I love to make sweet potato fries with a dusting of cinnamon sugar and parsnip shoestrings too. I have a great cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld called Deceptively Delicious and love to make her zucchini meat burgers, healthy Bolognese and quinoa salads.

SensAsia Urban Spa has four locations, The Palm Jumeirah, Emirates Golf Club, Souk Al Manzil Downtown Dubai, The Village.  For more information about the spa and locations go to www.sensasiaspas.com

SPA-TACULAR summer in Dubai | SensAsia Urban Spa

Due to popular demand, SensAsia Urban Spa is bringing back its very successful Summer Massage Celebration.

SeasAsia Spa is celebrating its 10th anniversary and from July 1 to August 31, is giving you the chance to enjoy a selection of their most-booked massages for a very special price.

The Summer Massage Celebration prices apply to the signature massage treatments listed below, and can be booked and taken between 10am and 4pm on weekdays, at all four SensAsia Urban Spa locations.

HAI YOGA STRETCH MASSAGE (60 mins) – Dynamic, stretching and stress-busting


YUMMY MUMMY-TO-BE MASSAGE (60 mins) – Completely bespoke and bump-friendly


BALINESE MASSAGE (60 mins) – De-stress and unwind with this classic massage


KNEAD IT MASSAGE (60 or 90 mins)– Intensive massage that is just as it sounds… much needed!

WAS: 440dhs (60) / 540dhs (90)

SUMMER CELEBRATION PRICE: 299dhs (60) / 351dhs (90)

BALI CHIC MASSAGE (90 mins) – That little bit more… and pure urban bliss


SENSASIA HOT STONE MASSAGE (60 mins) – Relaxing, detoxifying and seriously stress-relieving


For more information visit:


NYLA Method | Beautcamp | Fairmont Hotel | Palm Jumeirah

Unfortunately or fortunately, being pregnant with number 4 means I can’t take part in Dubai’s latest craze, The NYLA Method Beautcamp.  It is a gruelling camp to work muscles that never existed to your knowledge especially at 630am.  I hear from other mums that have attended that the NYLA girls are still incredibly enthusiastic even at that hour.  I then volunteered an unsuspecting friend, Sophie Weller,  to try out the beautcamp for a week.  Here is her verdict on survivability.  Sophie also has her own health and fitness blog, Now For The Last Ten.

When I first walked out on to the beach of the Fairmont on the Palm for my first NYLA Method class it felt like something straight out of a dream. The beautiful view of light fog over Dubai Marina gradually lifted to reveal the breathtaking skyline, making the 6am start infinitely more bearable.

The NYLA Method team has currently taken over the beach for it’s 5 week women’s only Beach Body Beautcamp. This is an intensive course taking place at 6.30am five days a week; for ladies to achieve dramatic results in a fairly short period of time due to a unique combination of Barre and other targeted strengthening movements.

Prior to my first session I was slightly apprehensive. Despite being fit through regular cardio, strength training and more recently Crossfit, I hadn’t ventured in to the world of Barre before nor was I familiar with its technique. I’m also not a frequent yogi, so I didn’t know if I’d have the agility required for such a workout. I needn’t have worried. The NYLA Method is simple to follow but puts you through your paces at the same time, regardless of your level of fitness.

Rather than a cardiovascular workout, which I wouldn’t describe it as, the focus of the NYLA Method was primarily on bodyweight and band assisted moves which created a serious ‘burn’. Throughout the workout you are pushed to your limits in terms of repetitions and I was encouraged to keep going longer than I would have done had I been working out on my own. It’s clear that the Method aims to create long and lean muscles through targeting each muscle group with different toning exercises. Particularly tough were the thigh and ab sections; each day I woke up feeling as though they’d had a thorough workout

The highlight of my week on the NYLA Method Beautcamp really was the instructors. Founder Andrea De Bellis has brought together a team of seasoned professionals who know how to get the best out of each and every woman in the class without feeling at all intimidated. Making sure you were pushed to your limits without putting you at risk of injury; each instructor took the time to walk around during the class to check form was correct and that no one was struggling with any of the movements. Exuding super high energy with toned/sculpted bodies themselves, they acted as a fantastic motivator and really made my NYLA Method experience stand out from any other workout I have done.

I’ll definitely be popping in to see the girls in their new studio when it opens later in the year (location to be confirmed). Until then, there is still two weeks left of the Beautcamp – to check it out for yourself and find details of how to sign-up for a class here.

If you prefer to do personal trainer for prenatal or any other classes this bespoke can also be offered in the home.   Check out their website www.nylamethod.com