| Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Hotseat: Tickle your fancy

From perfect parties to salubrious spas, Maya Abbar, owner of Tickles & Giggles, spills the jelly beans (all 52 varieties) on her upmarket party venue

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© ITP Images

So tell us about Tickles & Giggles…
I wanted to create a special kind of party place. There are lots of party venues in Dubai which are great, but they’re not super tasteful. We wanted to provide Dubai with celebrity style parties; parties with the wow factor.

Your store and party venue do look quite posh…
Yes, they are. And we pride ourselves by trying not to accept more than one birthday party a day because we put so much work and effort into it and it takes us so long to set up! The experience here is ultra-personal, right the way from the invitations to the favours, the entertainment, the catering and, of course, the cake. We’re carrying designer party supplies, not necessarily the Disney stuff you’ll find in other stores. We will of course do Disney parties if requested, but in our own, chic kind of way.

How do you come up with your ideas?
All our parties are customised and made ‘special to order’. We sit down with the kids and interview them to see what they really like – it’s not just about what’s convenient for mum! Do they have favourite colours or toys, or a favourite character perhaps? We’ve had aeroplane themes, circus themes, catwalk parties, pink parties, and of course we provide the games, characters – we have our own costumes – face painting and entertainers.

So parties are your main thrust?
Absolutely, but we also have loads of kids’ activities such as arts and crafts, story-telling, movie nights, baby yoga, etiquette classes and much more. We’re also the first exclusive kids’ spa in Dubai. Our spa here is made for little girls to give them a break and a treat from everyday life. We provide manicures, pedicures, a salon and glam make-up. It’s getting little girls ready for what the future entails.

You don’t worry that sends the wrong message?
No, not at all! We do it in such an innocent way. This is such a girl’s world, it’s a cute, mini-prep for a way of life in the future.

And what about the lads?
We have the salon where we do all sorts of coloured tips and funky styles like the spike, as well as normal haircuts, of course. We also have 17 different flavours of shampoo – a full menu for the kids to choose from. They can go for the basics or combine them using our suggestions into banana split or root beer float. Boys and girls love it, and, importantly for parents, all the products are completely natural and
non toxic.

Seventeen flavours of shampoo…
I know! Isn’t it great? And we have 65 different colours of balloons, 38 shades of party cups and plates, more than 30 colours of M&Ms and 52 flavours of jelly beans. It’s important to have a lot of colour.

I can see six shades of green paper plates. Are kids really that colour conscious?
We’re all about attention to detail. We have lime green plates, pastel green and dark green – every shade you can imagine. If you’re a picky enough mum, then you’ll appreciate that.

You’re a colourful character… what’s your background?
I was in investment banking for 10 years! There couldn’t be a more grey profession. But this has been something I’ve always really wanted to do. I love entertaining and I love children, and I really felt that nothing like this existed in Dubai. Of course, it helps that I’m also expecting my first baby, but I started the idea long before I knew I was pregnant.

Congratulations! Boy or girl?
It’s a boy. He’s due at the end of March.

I bet he’ll be in his element here…
Yes, it’s just worked out perfectly. I plan on involving him – in the shop and the projects. I’ve bought him a teeny outfit to match the staff, and I’ve ordered a highchair that fits with the décor. I’m going to be a working mum, and I’m sure he’ll love it because it’s such a happy environment. Our motto is ‘make happy times’ – which is something I think people in Dubai often forget about.
Drop into Tickles & Giggles (04 432 8681) to check out their party supplies and activity schedule, plus details of their membership programmes. Located at Sadaf 1, Plaza Level, JBR The Walk; www.ticklesandgiggles.com.

By Time Out Dubai Kids staff
Time Out Dubai,

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