My UAE: Three’s company for the busy businesswoman Alia Al Mazrouei

A profile of the Emirati businesswoman Alia Al Mazrouei.

Alia Al Mazrouei, who runs three companies, including her family firm. Christopher Pike / The National

Alia Al Mazrouei is a woman of many talents. When not working as the chief operating officer at her family business, ­Mazrui Holdings, she’s leading her other business ventures, JF Street Food and Little Haven Nursery.

Despite having a full workload, the Abu Dhabi-based mother of two says being a mum is her greatest accomplishment.

“Your children teach you a lot, like in the way they ask questions,” she says.

Al Mazrouei, who grew up in the capital alongside her six sisters and three brothers, has always been ambitious. She holds a degree in management information systems and a master’s in global leadership from United Arab Emirates University.

She has held several positions at the Executive Affairs ­Authority, where she spent just over six years, but being ambitious, she began to lose interest in her HR job. Her father suggested she join the family ­business.

“It was a big challenge being a shareholder and the chairman’s daughter. In the beginning, the relationship was very tough between me and my father, because I always felt that the talks were always about work – I missed the soft part.”

The 35-year-old has since set up her first Little Haven Nursery, with another site soon to be added in Khalifa City, and transformed the food chain Just Falafel, which she manages with two of her friends, into JF Street Food.

“We’ve had our ups and downs, like any business does,” she says. “With every success there are failures – I have learnt a lot.”

So how does she decompress? “Once a year, I take 10 days off to travel to New York, and switch off. I go alone, and I walk, walk, walk. I avoid the areas that are full of Arabs, I leave my abaya at home, and just wear my headscarf,” she says. “I feel like a New Yorker in New York – it’s more of my comfort area. I like to explore, go to museums. Every time I go there, I go somewhere new.”

What things you never leave home without?

Notepad, sanitiser, my phone, bottles of water in the car and a coffee (in the morning).

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

I’d like to be able to disappear, so a disappearing act would be good, especially when I’m angry.

What's your favourite travel destination?

New York. I go there once a year. I think I like it because it’s about me being there by myself. I wake up, and there are no kids or husband to worry about, no work to worry about, and I just leave for a walk.

What is your favourite movie and why?

Eat Pray Love with Julia Roberts. It's a movie you can watch and disconnect, then sleep.

What music are you playing in your car currently?

I listen to the radio, English, the morning talks.

Describe yourself in a few words.

Stubborn, quiet (when I’m angry), loves challenges.

What's your advice to young Emiratis?

Nothing is easy; never give up, and if you need help, ask for it.

What's your favourite food?

Manoushe. I could have it morning, afternoon, and night – I just love it.

If you could invite three celebrities for dinner, who would they be?

Oprah Winfrey for the talks, Ellen DeGeneres for the character and Bill Gates.