Alia Al Nabooda, a visionary mother, knew the importance of creating a safe and entertaining space for her children to play and socialize. After tirelessly searching for a perfect spot where her kids could thrive, she realized that the only way to make her dream a reality was to take matters into her own hands. And that’s how Fiafia Play Area and Café came to be. “As a devoted mother, my children have always been the priority and love of my life. My passion for anything related to kids has been unwavering. I have spent countless hours reading about children’s mental health, parenting, and education and researching the most child-friendly products, toys, and holidays,” says Alia.
As a mother, Alia understood the needs of parents and kids alike. She recognized that parents crave a relaxing and rejuvenating environment, while children need a fun and stimulating space to grow and learn. With this in mind, she set out to create a haven that would cater to both. Alia shares, “Over time, my friends and family have noticed my passion and encouraged me to create something that would benefit children and parents alike. After visiting numerous play areas with my children, I realized I could create the perfect play area I had been searching for.”
Fueled by her passion and determination, Alia embarked on a journey to bring her vision to life. She tirelessly worked to create a space that was not only safe and clean but also vibrant and engaging. From designing the play areas to selecting the perfect café menu, Alia was involved in every aspect of the process. “My goal was to create a play area where children could socialize, engage in activities, play, and learn while parents could relax, work, or catch up with friends,” adds Alia.
Despite facing numerous challenges along the way, Alia always retained sight of her goal. Her unwavering commitment to providing a space that would cater to the needs of both parents and children was what kept her going. And today, Fiafia Play Area and Café stands as a testament to her hard work and dedication. With her entrepreneurial spirit and passion for creating a better world for parents and children, Alia is a true inspiration. She serves as a reminder that with the right mindset and determination, anything is possible.
A Girl Dreamt of Becoming a Vet
As a little girl, Alia dreamed of becoming a veterinarian due to her love for animals. However, with the advice of her father, who is a prominent businessman, she decided to pursue a major in business after completing school. Nevertheless, her passion for animals persisted. “During my business studies, I discovered that the concepts and nature of business came naturally to me. Having been exposed to the business world all my life, I began to understand and relate to the discussions I had overheard at business dinners as a child,” recounts Alia.
After completing her master’s degree and becoming a mother of two, Alia decided to put her knowledge into practice and joined her family’s business, the Khalifa Juma Al Nabooda Group of Companies. She currently holds the position of active board member and director of Dubai Printing Press, one of the oldest companies in the group. Alia says, “Despite my success in the family business, I yearned to create something of my own that would combine my love for children and business. It was during this time that I founded my previous business, which eventually led me to create Fiafia Play Area and Café in 2019.”
Through hard work, dedication, and a passion for creating a better world for parents and children, Alia successfully brought her vision to life. Fiafia has become a beloved destination for families, offering a safe and clean space for children to socialize, play, and learn while parents can relax, work, or catch up with friends. “To be honest, the idea of Fiafia had been brewing in my mind for a while, but it wasn’t until I visited the first branch that everything fell into place. I was actually there with a friend who was looking at business units for her own venture, and during the viewing, she turned to me and said, “You know, this would be a nice place for you to open a play area,” remembers Alia. Within 30 minutes, Alia had already made a deposit to reserve the unit despite not yet having a proper business plan or even a name for her venture. Nevertheless, she had a clear vision of what she wanted to create.
2020: A Year That Changed Everything
Fiafia opened its doors just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and within a couple of months of launching, it had to close due to social distancing restrictions. “As the founder, I had to face the challenge of keeping employee morale up during a period of uncertainty. We didn’t know how long we were going to stay closed for, and it was tough,” shares Alia. When Fiafia Play Area and Café was finally able to reopen, it had to comply with strict social distancing restrictions. Adapting a children’s play area to accommodate social distancing while still providing a fun experience was an arduous task. However, Fiafia’s employees, known as the “fun experts,” were up to the challenge. They consistently developed new and innovative ideas to ensure that guests had a great time while staying safe.
“What makes Fiafia Play Area and Café unique is our amazing team of Fiafia Fun Experts. They are a creative and hand-picked team, without whom Fiafia would not be what it is today. They constantly impress me with their ideas and enthusiasm,” Alia proudly claims. Fiafia Fun Experts understand that today’s generation of kids gets bored easily, so they strive to create an ever-changing environment with different activities and strategies that promote interaction and play. “Our birthday parties and outdoor events are exceptional and set us apart from other businesses. We believe that nothing is impossible and go above and beyond to not only meet but exceed our customers’ expectations,” adds Alia. Fiafia aims not only to cater to children but also to their grown-ups, offering something for everyone. Overall, Fiafia Play Area and Café prides itself on providing a unique and engaging experience for families to enjoy together.
The Journey of a Woman Entrepreneur
“I believe that as an entrepreneur today, I am the product of my own experiences as I have not had any female mentors to guide me. In certain situations, I have noticed that women’s voices are not heard as loudly as men’s during heated meetings. Therefore, I had to learn to assert my presence and radiate confidence as a female in a male-dominated environment for my voice to be heard. However, I am happy to see that this culture is changing as more women enter prominent positions,” opines Alia. However, she has experienced firsthand the support and encouragement that the UAE government and leaders provide for women in all fields.
“The celebration of Emirati Women’s Day is a moment of pride and recognition for women’s vital role in building a stable and prosperous future for the UAE,” says Alia. The policies developed by the UAE towards promoting gender equality and empowering women have been a significant aspect of this progress. These initiatives have helped enhance the position of women in society and have paved the way for further progress toward gender equality. Therefore, Alia firmly believes that the UAE is a great example of how to support and empower women, and she is grateful to be part of such a society.
“UAE is a melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities and nationalities. In FiaFia, we try to foster a culture of inclusivity and diversity by promoting equality, respect, and appreciation for different backgrounds and experiences,” assures Alia. This mindset is reflected not only on a corporate level but also within the play area itself, where FiaFia strives to incorporate the different celebrations of different nationalities and provides a chance for families from different backgrounds to learn about other important cultural celebrations. Additionally, FiaFia aims to include every child and anticipates and prepares to accommodate children and adults of determination. This approach helps to create an environment where everyone has the opportunity to excel personally and professionally.
Values as a Leader
Alia’s main core values as a leader include innovation, vision, integrity, empowerment, and people-centeredness. She fosters innovation in her business by encouraging her team to think outside the box and explore new ideas. She values having a strong vision of success that is shared by her team and is the driving force behind all her entrepreneurial ventures. Alia also places a high value on integrity, honesty, and transparency in all her business dealings. “As an entrepreneur, I believe that taking risks is an essential part of the journey, and it can be scary for many people in my life. However, I choose not to listen to unsupportive people and instead focus on my dreams and beliefs. I try to surround myself with supportive individuals who encourage and believe in me,” shares Alia.
Empowerment is another value that Alia emphasizes, as she encourages her team to take ownership of their roles and responsibilities and to develop their potential by providing them with the necessary resources and support. Moreover, she deeply understands the value of human capital and invests in her employees’ growth and development. They make Fiafia what it is, and without them, Fiafia is nothing.
Alia incorporates these values into her business in various ways. For example, she encourages her staff to explore innovative ideas and products that can be developed and marketed in the region. She creates an environment where she and her team are free to experiment and take risks while still operating within ethical and moral frameworks. Alia also invests in her team’s growth and development by providing them with training and development opportunities that help them develop professionally and personally. She leads by example, reflecting a commitment to transparency and ethical behavior, ensuring accountability to stakeholders, and promoting a strong corporate culture. Finally, Alia recognizes the importance of working hard and delivering results, which helps inspire her team to do the same.
Alia has learned several important lessons in life as an entrepreneur. She believes in asking questions and seeking help when needed, building a dependable and loyal team, being determined and persevering even in the face of setbacks, being authentic and true to oneself, mastering the art of negotiation and diplomacy, and having confidence in oneself. She also advises not to listen to unsupportive people, to surround oneself with supportive individuals, and believe in one’s dreams and ideas even if no one else does. “In reality, it may not always be possible to have a supportive network, but I push through and prove that it is possible to achieve success despite the obstacles. I firmly believe in myself and my ideas, even when no one else does. I understand that patience, perseverance, and learning from mistakes are crucial factors for success,” states Alia.
Alia prioritized her family above all else and implemented a system to balance her career demands with family time. Alia says, “For me, my kids are my top priority, so if I have a scheduled event or activity with them, I give it the same importance as a meeting with a high-profile CEO. I strive to balance my schedule to ensure that I am not neglecting either my work or my family.” Although it’s not always perfect, she manages to balance her responsibilities. Alia’s husband is also supportive, and they work together as partners to ensure their family and work responsibilities are met.
For a Fun-Filled Future
Alia is in a constant state of building FiaFia as a brand, and it will be an ongoing endeavor for her. She has plans to expand both horizontally and vertically in the coming years. Horizontally, FiaFia intends to expand to different physical locations around the United Arab Emirates, the GCC countries, and potentially around the world through different business partnerships. Vertically, the company is considering developing concepts for older children, specifically targeting tweens and teens.
“As a team, we are always looking for ways to expand and improve our business. One of our ongoing projects is to explore different ideas for expanding our brand and opening up new locations. We are also looking into new products and features that we can add to our play areas to keep things fresh and exciting for our customers,” shares Alia. Additionally, Alia and her team FiaFia are working on integrating their systems to provide a seamless online customer experience where customers can book, request and pay for all their services online.
Alia Al Nabooda’s story is one of inspiration and determination. Her love for her children led her to create something truly special that has touched the lives of countless families. She is a true leader who has shown that anything is possible with a clear vision and the courage to pursue it.
For More Info: https://fiafia.ae/