Rustic wicker chairs juxtaposed with plush auburn seats, a minimalist linen sofa and a host of leafy plants set a warm and welcoming tone on the ground floor of Paus, where sunlight radiates through sheer drapes. If not for the tree erected in the centre of the space, you’d think you were in the living room of a host who has a soft spot for bohemia and is remarkably in tune with current interior design trends.
Paus, a multistorey villa on Al Wasl Road, is the brainchild of sisters Sophiya and Sarah Faizal, both of whom are in their twenties. It houses a coffee shop, a community co-working space and numerous rooms for movement classes and healing treatments, such as Pilates, barre, yoga, meditation, breathwork, sound healing, reiki and cupping therapy.
Paus is Dubai’s newest wellness space – though the sisters aren’t keen to label their venture as such. “Inclusive” and “inviting” are the qualities they’re aiming to embody. “You shouldn’t have to feel like you have to be in that ‘wellness sphere’ to belong,” says Sarah. The end game, she says, is “to start a slowdown movement in a hurry-up society”.
Born and raised in Dubai, Sophiya and Sarah are of Indian heritage and are the daughters of Faizal Kottikollon, founder and chairman of Kef Holdings in the Dubai International Financial Centre. The pair say that growing up, they were enthusiastic about fitness and sports, yet felt something was missing. “We went through depression and anxiety at different times in our lives, and experiencing this made us realise that health isn't just physical,” explains Sophiya. “We felt there was a lack of safe spaces online for conversations about this, especially where young people could be heard and connect with others with no judgments.”
Enter Soph: an Instagram platform that Sarah launched in 2020 as part of a university project while studying graphic communication design in London. The page is centred on promoting honest conversations about holistic healing through food, self-care, movement and well-being. Recent posts feature tips on boosting serotonin naturally and signs of dehydrated skin, alongside uplifting affirmations galore.
“We see it as our own digital community of people who might share the same pursuit of wellness – but everyone is in different places in their journeys,” says Sarah. For this reason, the Faizal sisters wanted to make sure that their platform was all-encompassing instead of focusing on any one aspect of well-being, and it quickly became clear there was appetite for a more tangible, real-life enterprise.
From Instagram to IRL
“When people started responding with so much love, we knew this had to be a physical experience, because as humans, we are social beings, and we always have that need to come together in one space,” says Sophiya. “Soph has always been the vision and Paus is the action – trying to walk our talk, so to say.”
They started planning the details for the physical space in January, secured the villa in February, and opened this month. The two see Paus as a community wellness hub where visitors can start their day with a coffee or smoothie downstairs while working, and finishing on a relaxing and holistic note. “At the end of the day if you feel like a good meditation session to wind down, why go somewhere else – just go a level up and we have got you,” says Sarah.
Coffees, teas, juices and home-made iced teas, as well as smoothies infused with superfoods, are all on offer, as are bites such as vegan tarts, energy bars, cakes and banana bread.
The ambience is undeniably soothing, with luxe, minimalist and earthy details that will resonate with every age group. Throughout the villa, there are touches of jade and emerald tones. Trendy terrazzo tiling lines the floor of the bathroom, where a vase of dried flowers decorates the countertop alongside Aesop soaps. The decor is borderline-bougie, yet exudes an aura that is charming and grounding. “It’s not a space that’s stoic or perfect," says Sarah. "We just want people to feel comfy and have a relaxed sense of belonging. We want to break the mould of what people expect wellness brands to look like.”
While self-care has become a thriving industry, the Faizal sisters are scaling back to the roots of health, fitness and wellness, through holistic and spiritual approaches that target numerous aspects of well-being. “Because we are all beautiful puzzles made of different pieces that need attention, we can’t just focus on one area of our lives and then forget the rest. It’s all connected,” explains Sophiya.
“We recognise the reality that real rest doesn’t mean stopping and escaping our lives; it’s about intentionally making space to breathe,” she says.
Earlier this month, Paus hosted its first workshop on how to breathe – a seemingly simple practice, but one that underlines every element of our existence. The sisters plan to launch more courses and workshops, as well as an extended food menu in the coming months, but for now visitors can check the schedule and book a range of movement sessions and healing experiences through the website.