Dollar Store – in Dubai ?

Dollar stores have been sprawling all over the US and Canada for several decades.  England has its own version as the Pound store and I am sure, the rest of the world too has them.

Here in Dubai, we’ve been spoiled for choices at the numerous 10 dhs – 20 dhs stores and Day to Day stores.

We even have a Japanese counterpart ‘Daiso’ providing most items at dhs 7.

Dollar store in Dubai (1)

Let me tell you 26 years back, when I landed in Dubai for the first time, these exact stores offered 1,2 and 5 dhs items. Infact you still might find a few of them in certain pockets of Sharjah and Ajman.

A “certain class” of people tend to have a biased view about their products, looking down upon them as cheap Chinese goods. However, I believe that is a blanket statement that just does NOT apply.  Some of the items you find here, are really good quality and some are far from it. But I would not generalize it.

For the longest time, I used to pick bulk goods from these stores for filling “return gift bags” for my children’s birthday parties.  (from Kindergarten to grade 5 !!)

Infact I remember, I used to add note pads, pencil cases, little stuffies or toy cars and some cupcakes or juice packets for valentines days for all my boys’ classmates till they completed Primary schooling, alternating the items with puzzles, popup books, coloring books, stickers, rubic cube, etc as they grew older.

When you have to pack, 70 – 80 bags, one has to be wiser with the penny and the pound ! For years, my sons’ friends looked forward to these bags.  Once secondary school began, everybody had such tech-related needs !!

Finally a few years back, Dollar Plus opened its doors at Madina Mall.

Located in Al Qusais – closer to Al Muhaisnah

This is just a quick glimpse of what you’ll find at the store.

My next post will be more elaborate with a theme !

Click on the above photos to view them in detail.

These colors are so delightfully appealing !

I love their collection of earthen mugs, colorful pails, fancy candles, baskets and those lovely vintage pictured vanity/mirror cases ! Oh so chic !!

My next blog post will also be related to the Dollar store but it will be focused around the creative aspect of what appeals to a Crafter in a Dollar store.

I am very excited to share plenty of tips and ideas of how and what to make use of, at the store. Please be sure to SUBSCRIBE to my blog, lest you don’t miss that post.

PS. I am NOT being reimbursed by ANY Dollar store for this post.

When I share my experience or any information with you over here – it is done purely to help, moms, teachers, crafters, students and people who don’t have the time or energy to research for these avenues.  I have NOTHING to gain from it except perhaps some appreciation from people who leave kind words of gratitude in the comments.

Thank you for visiting me today. Have a lovely day and be sure to subscribe to my blog (top right column)and my instagram here.

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Creative Craft Mornings

Over the past several years, my skills have evolved.  I feel a sense of satisfaction after every completed project. Sometimes, even a little disappointed after a failed completed project – never the less, just the sheer joy of being able to create something with my own hands is exhilarating.

Till the period we were living at Arabian Ranches, I held craft workshop for ladies and art classes for children. That was, till 5 years back.  And then we moved to Al Warqa.

I missed my routine friendly creative exchanges with ladies and the young ones too.

There is such immense joy, when you have been instrumental in helping someone discover a latent talent.

Hence, moving to The Villa – Dubailand, gave me the opportunity to restart my workshops.

It was one of the best things about 2017, for me – CCM (creative craft mornings).

I was conducting craft workshops for women at my villa.

After a hiatus of nearly 5 years, I restarted this initiative and I was overwhelmed by the response.

In Dubai, we have sewing/quilt/crochet clubs, and we have quilling/papercrafting classes, however, I feel, there are far too many crafts that cannot be categorized and thats exactly, what I was offering.

There were ladies from the age group of 22 right upto 72 years !!  These were ladies, who had the zest to learn, inspite of busy schedules and running a hectic lifestyle, between career and family.   Ladies, who had to pick children from school, prepare a meal, manage their homes, attend meetings and yet they believed in giving the workshop, a chance.

I prefer to address all of them as my friends, rather than my students becoz, in essence, I learnt more from them than I taught them.  If we are really passionate about something, we will find a way to pursue it.  One of my dear friend came from Arabian Ranches and another friend from Mamzar while yet another from Jumeirah Beach Residence !!!

Finding a haven where you won’t be judged or laughed at, is precious. We learn better, we explore deeper, we grow further and we develop faster.

We did a project, where my friends had to hammer nails into a block of wood. I was really surprised to observe how quickly they learnt, steadied their hands and hit the hammer with firmness and not only that, its quite tiring having to hit the hammer 25 – 30 times.

Every project they attempted was remarkable, considering no one had attempted such projects before.

Every one learnt something new, a skill, a technique, a design,  especially me.

I learnt that, making friends with like minded creative people is A GIFT !!  And I cherish these friendships.

I was truly overwhelmed.

Enthusiasm, patience and perseverance are the only ingredients needed to brew any success story.

Needless to say, the results were amazing.

Here are some photos :-

I am determined to restart these workshops again this year as well.

I truly hope to be able to carry on with newer projects here in Mirdif too.

Do you enjoy a particular hobby ?  Are there any workshops close to where you live ? Would you like to join CCM in Dubai ?

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Thank you for visiting me today.

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Have you visited Al Serkal Avenue ?

The Quoz Art Fest was a an absolute treat !!

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The colors, the energy and the vibe – phenomenal !!  For those of you, wondering where the fest took place, it was at the Al Serkal Avenue, in Al Quoz.

Although Al Quoz does not exactly hold the usual Dubai glamour, with cement factories, labour camps and extreme dust, it is here where the local Dubai art scene took hold.

As in other big world cities it is not unusual for artists to flourish in cutting edge spaces and Dubai is no different. In fact, the warehouses in this area provide the ideal wide empty spaces that make for perfect exhibition venues.

Contemporary art by budding artists from the region can be found here. Gallery names such as Art Sawa, Ayyam Gallery,  Flying House and The Third Line are worth looking out for.

Let me take you on a virtual tour.

Lets begin with the trendy food hot spots.

Wasn’t that yummy ???

And now for some awesome art work –

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Phew !! This post has been a visual feast, isn’t it ??

For someone who loves most things, quirky, modern, trendy and fun,  this exhibition was an spectacular visual treat. I loved it but had one regret – regret not having had more time to sit back and take in the experience at a leisure pace.

Ofcourse, this is just a a tiny glimpse of the entire experience. I hope you enjoy it.

Thank you for visiting me today.

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Organizing Craft workshop and designing masks.

Did you know, not every great artist can be good teacher.

Arts and Crafts are a very personal affair and very few of us have the flair to “teach”.

Most of us are excellent at demonstrating our skills as artists and designers but teaching is a skill, all on its own and not all of us are equipped with what it takes to be an motivational teacher.

I believe a ‘good’ teacher is one who can inspire you, one who has patience, and one who is prepared to accept the chaff (those who may not be exceptional talented but who are zestful and eager to learn ) as well as the wheat grain.  Alot of people believe that you have to be born with artistic skills – but I don’t adhere to that theory. Skills can be cultivated and talent can be honed.  Everyone who stumbles upon a craft-kit, is not looking to build something magnificent – but he might find comfort in simply ‘trying’ to build something abstract out of it – maybe that is his prowess. That’s where the creative adroitness of the instructor comes handy.

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I’m going to talk more about crafts here, rather than arts.

I have been teaching crafts for the last 12 or so, years, in schools, art institutes, with corporate organizations, and one aspect that stands out in “crafts” is that, alot of planning and organisational skills are required for a workshop or class.

Some of the aspects, you should figure out before committing to a workshop are :-

  • The length of the activity
  • The age of the group
  • The ability of the group
  • Will any assistance be provided for a group larger than 7 or 10 participants ?
  • The venue and availability of wash basin, electric socket.
  • Hanging equipment if project needs to be hung for drying.
  • Leg work on the theme :- research the theme, source photographs, make a fancy power point presentation and have a small write-up to introduce the background story to the students
  • Plan all the supplies needed.
  • Inorder to calculate all the supplies and quantities needed, I suggest to ‘actually’ work this activity out and figure out how much time and the quantity of supplies needed. Then add that by the number of participants.  And remember to carry spares.
  • Visiting the venue atleast once before the workshop is a good idea. And it also helps to develop a smooth rapport with the coordinators.
This December, I was invited to give a workshop at DUCTAC located at Mall Of Emirates.

Crafts are so much fun but it can be challenging when we coordinate the activity with the curriculum or in this case, the theme.

The theme was Threads:  A link between two totally different cultures or countries, of a peculiar habit, tradition, game, food, ritual, structure etc. Obviously, I had to come up with a craft based on it as well.

I found this theme very exciting and after a day of relentless research, i was fascinated with what I discovered. While at it, I also realized, what separates us, are our differences, while in our similarities, we find solace and unity.

Here are just a few of the similarities I found, in my research. (ofcourse, there must be a few hundred more !!)

  • China – India                                                            ⇔ Kites

    Both the countries are known for the zest with which they enjoy the sport of playing with Kites. However, kites in China, are much more elaborate and designed in various shapes, much unlike India.

  •  U.S.A – Russia – China – Burma                       ⇔ Bells

    Amongst many other countries, these four countries are known to have Bells playing a remarkable and important historical role.

  • Egypt – Mexico – Cambodia – China                ⇔ Pyramid structure

    Although the Egyptian Pyramids are the most popular structures known worldwide, Mexico, Cambodia and China are also known to have their own ancient mystical prism structures.

  • Africa – India – China – Japan                           ⇔ Masks

    Different cultures symbolize the mask with various deities, animal, spirit or human. Made from ceramic, wood etc, communities use masks for weddings, funerals, coming of age. They ask for spirit blessings, protections etc. They use it to tell stories and impart wisdom. Used in puppetry as well as ceremonial celebrations.

  • Australia –  USA Arizona                                    ⇔ Boomerang

    Although the earliest boomerang was designed in Australia, it is widely used and played with in Arizona – USA.

  • Mexico – China                                                     ⇔ Bowls

    (Taco Bowl / Bowl to eat rice and noodles) Rice is one of the staple grains in both Mexico and China – Infact they handicraft their own bowls to eat it in !

  • Bali – Mauritius                                                    ⇔ Woven baskets  

    Both Bali and Mauritius weave their own baskets but in different designs and colors and techniques.

I decided that my subject would be Masks.  It intrigued me just as much it did, to the children.  I provided the children with cardboard after the power point presentation on how, why, when and where masks are worn,  all over the globe and then asked them to design their own masks, providing them inspiration and a whole lot of recyclable material. It was amazing what the children came up with – far beyond expectation. mask-making-craft-3

Here are a few samples from one of the groups.

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One of the reasons, I love this project is becoz it helps children play and utilize scraps of foam, cardboard, buttons, macaroni, foam cups, beads, thereby realizing and understand the main concept of reusing items found around the house.

Clearly the kids enjoyed it and got to take a little of History and Geography back home too !!

I believe imparting  knowledge and information is very gratifying.

I hope I have been able to inspire you into trying something new, something unique and something fun today. If so.. please do write to me.

Thank you for visiting me today. Trust you will stay a while and leave some love in your comments.

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Where do you buy craft supplies from, in Dubai ? Part 2.

24 Years in this beautiful city called Dubai, and I’m still in love with the spirit of this city.  I believe, Spirit is not defined by tall, fancy structures, sophisticated transport system, exuberant hotels or a show of unimaginable wealth. But the spirit of a city engulfs, the culture of its native inhabitants, the simplicity of their existence in a rapidly growing and glowing environment. It is also characterized by how quickly, it can adapt to change while preserving its hospitable nature as hosts. The maintenance of regulations, the observance of discipline and respect, the conservation of its fauna and flora are just a few to name.  Infact, today, I feel, this vivacious city, bloomed right before my eyes.

From harsh unforgiving dunes rose a mighty tower that attracts more visitors from all over the world – by the hour !!! From a trading port, today, it is recognized equally for being a tourist haven. Dubai has changed perceptions.  Dubai has challenged and accepted challenges. Dubai has morphed from a transit city to a tranquil dwelling for thousands. It has smoothly flourished and enabled thousands to burgeon as well.

15 years back, I started toying around, with the idea of crafting with my toddlers, reawakening a latent passion for arts.  However, there were no classes, workshops or tutorials to cater to the craft enthusiasts. (ie non-art academic students) And neither were there, any specialized hobby stores.

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Ofcourse, where we’ve been fortunate with some excellent stationery stores like Dubai Library distribution, Farouq Stationery, Al Furqaan, which, carry basic school, office, art supplies in addition to kits for various activities eg. knitting, jewelry making, cardmaking and such  .. but there were limitations … infact plenty of limitations back then.

From an ‘era’ where internet was about the long and erratic wait to a dial up connection and where, skills were limited to enrolling in specialized classes, the average ‘crafting Joe’ struggled with realizing his potential quirky element !! Infact, names of some supplies were still unheard of then !  While rubberstamping was a rage, soon scrapbooking and Card-making followed suit.  Dozens of  hobbies became easily attainable and convenient for the avid but non-art-student with the advent of the ‘world wide web’ like quilling, decoupage, mixed media, paper-making, mosiac, print-making, flower making, sewing, knitting, origami, photography – just to name a few !

However, an optimistic craft enthusiast and an ardent shopper, has been a beastly concoction brewing within me ! My pursuit to explore and ‘gather’ (notice I used the word, ‘gather’ which gradually qualified into hoarding !!) rubber stamps, embellishments, die cuts, decoupage sheets, quilling needles etc,  had me rummaging through the bustling nooks and crannies of a ‘more tame’ and much more smaller Dubai and Sharjah !  Stores in Deira that would stock laces, beads and buttons – the local haberdashery, mainly for fabric and textile purposes – but it was an adventure and when I would finally land on an ‘ideal’ store – it was like hitting jackpot !!

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Paper lane, Creative Hands and Elves and fairies were one of our first sources for scrapbooking and card making supplies.craft-supplies8

While Wasco White star in Jumeirah, was a teacher’s paradise. They hosted top quality, costumes, party ware and school supplies, all made in USA.

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I bought my son’s first craft kit from …………………………………….. Toys r us !!!! (In all honesty, my little guy never got to use it – It was mine from the moment we got home  😉 )

If you ever google “hobby crafts” – it would lead you to stores which carry motorized toy cars, helicopters, boats and hummers ! ( you get, which ones I mean, right ?)

STEIN, GERMANY - JULY 05: A variation of colour pencils are displayed at the industrial selling shop at the Faber-Castell factory on July 5, 2011 in Stein near Nuremberg, Germany. Faber-Castell is among Germany's leading manufacturer of pencils, pens, art supplies, office supplies and high-end writing instruments, and was founded in Stein in 1761 by Kaspar Faber. Through a marriage in 1900 to the noble Castell family the company took its present name and is currently lead by Count Anton von Faber-Castell. The company still has two production plants in Germany but has its biggest manufacturing centers overseas, including in South America, Indonesia and China. The company will mark its 250th anniversary on July 8. (Photo by Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images)

Fast forward 2016, we are spoilt for choices !! Some amazing stores that have been providing a vast variety of scrapbooking, paper crafting, decoupage, fabric, textiles, paints, canvases and other hobby supplies are :-

Three stores that carry a wide stock of art and craft supplies as well as ready made products are :-

craft-supplies3

I would not like to belittle the importance of the dhs 1 – dhs 10 stores, scattered all over the city, much like the Day to Day stores, these outlets can also act as catalysts for the innovative mind. (Their only shortcoming limited to their quality)

Ofcourse, Ace Hardware is every DIYer’s paradise ! But I also loved the DIY section at Clas Ohlen .

Naif Road and the back alleys of Gold souk still remain my favorite hotspots for buttons, beads, lace, fabric and embellishments. However, these are stores that are wholesalers, hence if you are looking for only a dozen buttons, its not worth struggling in this area – the store keeper is not going to entertain any quantity, lesser than a carton !!!

There has been a positive shift and crafters are utilizing the convenience of online shopping as well !!

My previous post on the same subject was nearly, 4 years back. Its pretty obvious how many more outlets have opened doors and virtual doors to creative individuals.

One of the most common comments, I receive on this blog are not comments – but questions !

Questions about where to buy supplies from, what material is durable, which glue is best for which surface, what are my go to stores for which items, which paint for what project, how to design a small garden etc. These are some of my most asked questions I receive.

I hope to be able to enlighten you with all the answers in a few weeks. Meanwhile, I hope you take advantage of all the above information and enjoy, shopping and completing creative projects.

Thank you for visiting me today. Trust you will stay a while and leave some love in your comments.

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Gift wrapping, Gifts and Favors in Dubai.

Hello friends,

Like I mentioned in my previous post, I find myself struggling more and more to find time, between the various arty crafty projects lined up for Doodle Buddies and the favor company, Aspen House Gifts, that I have been working on.  Aspen House Gifts is purely a reflection and an extension of my love for creative design and presentation.

Kindly visit :-  Facebook Aspen House Gifts or Blog Aspen House Gifts, if you’re looking for some outstanding party favors, bridal shower favors, Baby shower favors, Wedding favors, Eid Favors or corporate gifts.  We specialize in personalized party favors, bespoke keepsakes and corporate gifts.

With an eye for design and a love for all things creative, each gift reflects your lifestyle and personality, complete with glitter, ribbons and innovative ideas.

Paper World Middle East took place between 2nd and 4th of March 2015.    Over the years, it has developed into my most anticipated event of the year. The marketing world showcases its products on the internet however, to have a proper glimpse and examine the product, meet the manufactures, distributors etc is an excellent experience. And a very rewarding one, at that !  It poses as a fantastic opportunity to meet the people of your industry and familiarize with the latest trends, virtually at your door step !!

If you were unable to attend this year, fret not. I’m sure you will indulge in the following photographs which cover some of the gift wrapping stores that were participating in the exhibition.

Boxes and bags !

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Party supplies.

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Napkins, tissue paper.

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Paper bags (Love the polka dots)

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Innovative gift wraps.

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Apothecary bottles.   A recent trend in the favor business.

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Embellishments

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Pastel shades

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It was a pure feast for the eyes ! The colors, the presentation and the designs ! My next post will contain the other aspects of the exhibition.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and comment.  I really appreciate it and I hope you join me next year in visiting the Paper World Middle East.

Before you leave, just a quick reminder :-

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Gifts in Dubai.

Hello dear friends !

I’m an erratic blogger 🙂  (But you already know that, by now 😉 )  There have been times when, you could read three posts, back to back and then there are times, when you see me once in three months. In the blog-world, consistency is VERY IMPORTANT.  I am yet to play by the book !

Over the past 11 years, I have been fortunate enough to have a beautiful relationship with any and all forms of art.

I did not restrict myself to water colors or decoupage ~ I am a restless eager soul, I have experienced and enjoyed every craft.

What started from card making has just made it way thru to DIY and home décor.

Sometimes I find myself going on a spin in a perplexed state when ‘newbies’  ask me what I fancy most.

The past 5 months have been remarkably fantastic and have helped me, better define myself.

I cannot thank Almighty Allah swt enough for his grace.

November and December 2014~ were months dedicated to a dozen or more craft fairs. I love fairs and all the planning, preparation and exhaustion, that comes with it !

January 2015 ~ Gulf News published an article about me and my work !  I was beside myself.

January 2015 ~ We completed a 3-Day Art and Craft workshop.

February 2015 ~ Organic Café and Foods Supermarket, displayed my handmade greeting cards.

February 2015 ~ Aspen House Gifts, got the much needed boost it so anticipated, with several baby shower favors and wedding favors orders.

March 2015 – I was requested to be chief guest at the Arts and design Faculty of the American University of Dubai. It was an honor beyond words !

Over the years, I have been blessed to accomplish, all the creative adventures, I dive into, thanks to Allah swt and a lot of patience from my better half and boys. However, there are times, when I question myself, if I am, more of a mixed media artist, or a craft teacher or a carpenter, a card maker or a business woman or a DIY enthusiast. Perhaps, the past 5 months, have given me a glimpse of all who I am.

An amalgamation of all these endeavors.

Today, Let me share with you alittle about Aspen House Gifts.

Dubai is an exceptional city. It is as modern as can be yet, adherently holds to its cultural roots. Arabs, have been known thru out history for their strong traditions and hospitality.

Aspen House Gifts was initiated alittle over a year ago, as a gateway to introducing the latest, most innovative and personalized party favors, party supplies, corporate gifts  and one-of-a-kind personalized keepsakes.

We personalize party favors and custom-design gifts to suit our clients personality and requirements.

I trust you will help spread the word in the blog-world and ‘like’ our facebook page too.

Blog :- Aspen House Gifts

Facebook :- Aspen House Gifts

Whatsapp :- 00971-50-4545049

Having a creative background gives me an edge in designing, understanding color statements, and packaging and having been in Dubai for 22 years, procuring my supplies is relatively easier for me.

Three of the key principles, I adopted from the hospitality industry, for over a decade are, professional attitude, punctuality and exemplary presentation.

Here is a collage of some of our creative assingments :-

Aspen House Collage1

Elegant, vintage, classic, formal, fun or floral, we can design and personalize it for you .

I’m glad that I was fortunate enough to share with you something personal and something professionally about me.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and comment.  I really appreciate it and I hope you get some time to do what you love to do this week. 🙂

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6th fair in Dubai.

Our last fair participation was at Uptown Mirdiff. It was a relatively small fair, mainly for the community. But it was well organized.  Being so close to Al Warqa, we were nearly in our comfort zone 🙂

With every new fair, something new is learnt and some improvements are made. You tend to learn to be better prepared.

Here are some of the pictures of the set up.

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The outdoor fair season is relatively short in Dubai, so one has to make the most of it, while it lasts.

Thank you for visiting us today.

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Carnival Games in Dubai.

Remember, I mentioned in my previous post, about how young boys find themselves, feeling and believing that arts and crafts were a ‘thing’ for the girls ??!! Its not their fault, really. Sadly enough, a large number of Asians, do inculcate such values in their children. Categorizing certain activities to a particular gender, in a world, where we have more male chefs at any given day and more career oriented women, seems like a wasteful thought and a way of placing limitations to your child’s horizons, but in reality, it IS practiced 😦

Necessity is the mother of all invention ! How apt !!

So while the little girls stamped their cards or embellished their frames, the brothers accompanying them, just dilly dallied around. My boys decided, they would introduce some carnival activities to liven the atmosphere in our next fair ! Our hosts obliged and it was a total hit.

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The first time my son manned a stall all by himself was when he was 6 years old !!! We were participating in a fair at St Andrews College. Nearly half an hour, before the closing time, the lady who was conducting some of the games stall, decided to pack up early. Her table lay empty. A couple of minutes later, Lo and behold, sawaab (our six year old ) has set his table full of his old toys !!! He had actually carried a bag full of all his old toys in good condition, to sell.  To our amazement, he started getting a lot of young customers too !!! What really surprised me is how he sold his toys for dhs 2 and could count change so easily !!

Sawaab has always been inclined towards business. His mind is always racing and charged with ideas. Where as Buddy is the inventor (creative and highly academic minded)  while young Eman is the charmer ! His personality and sense of humor ~ leaves me in complete awe !!!

All three are blessed with spectacular talents.

In the above pics, all three of them were in charge of their own games and once again, proved just how well they managed their new “venture” 🙂

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