More than just a doll: How UAE residents have been passing on the love of Barbie over generations

The new Barbie movie which was released worldwide earlier this month has unearthed a flood of memories for many

by

Nasreen Abdulla

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

 

For illustrative purpose only (Photo: AFP)
For illustrative purpose only (Photo: AFP)

Published: Sun 30 Jul 2023, 1:47 PM

Last updated: Sun 30 Jul 2023, 3:56 PM

For Dubai resident Ann Thomas, the love for Barbie dolls is something she shares with her mother Jessy, as well as her daughters and nieces. “I used to write letters to Santa to gift me a Barbie for Christmas,” she said. “They were terribly expensive then, so I took good care of them. My mum used to brush the hair of the doll, stitch clothes and even crochet dresses. I used to be so crazy about my doll.”

Barbie is a family passion for Ann, her mother Jessy, her daughters and nieces
Barbie is a family passion for Ann, her mother Jessy, her daughters and nieces

Ann is one of the many UAE residents for whom the Barbie doll represents a passion that they shared with other family members. The new Barbie movie which was released worldwide earlier this month has unearthed a flood of memories for many.


“My Barbie dolls were always neatly dressed and kept in the display cupboards after use,” she said. “Many days I travelled with them, ate with them and even slept with them.”

With these memories, Ann lavished on Barbie dolls for her three daughters, Gianna, Anina and Neena. “They also love their Barbies but sometimes I feel like they didn’t value them as much as I did,” she said. “Probably because they didn’t have to wait for theirs like I did. But I am glad they share the love for the doll like I do. Even my nieces Leah and Mariah are big fans of Barbie.”


Ann’s daughters with their collection of Barbie dolls
Ann’s daughters with their collection of Barbie dolls

A bonding experience

Palestinian expat Raneem Abudaqqa who grew up in Al Ain was a big lover of the toy. “Barbie was my favourite doll, but it was difficult to keep it in one piece with my four brothers,” she chuckled. “I am the only sister and they turned me into a tomboy — always wanting me to wrestle with them and play video games. However, I always had Barbie to escape to for some femininity.”

The dolls were also a way for her mother Nabila Abushehab to bond with her only daughter. “My mum used to always design clothes for my Barbies,” she said. “My mum even designed a wedding dress for the doll. She used to always show me the material before stitching the dress and explain to me what she had in mind for the design.”

A gleeful Raneem with her Barbie dressed a bride along with Ken
A gleeful Raneem with her Barbie dressed a bride along with Ken

Raneem shared with her mother the love of building Barbie houses. “I loved baby Barbies and used to design their houses,” she said. “My mother used to help build the houses because an original Barbie house was expensive back then. Barbies were really special, and I enjoyed playing with them while growing up.”

Raneem poses proudly with one of the Barbie houses she made
Raneem poses proudly with one of the Barbie houses she made

Later, when she outgrew her dolls, Raneem’s mother gave them away to her younger cousins who still continue to play with them. “I don’t have any sisters but from what I see, the younger generation is still enjoying Barbie,” she said.

Raneem with her mother over the years
Raneem with her mother over the years

Fulfilling a childhood wish

Dubai resident Merna Fathima has had her Barbie dolls in mint packaging, some of which are over 20 years old. “Growing up, my mother used to love Barbie but during her time, she did not get to collect them,” she said. “At the time, these dolls were very expensive and she being the eldest sibling always had her toys passed on to younger ones.”

When Merna was old enough to play with dolls, her mother Reshma was excited to give her what she herself could not have. “She herself used to buy them for me,” said Merna. “And I was very careful with them. I used to like to keep them in its original package. In fact, there are two or three which I never even opened.”

One of Merna’s Barbie dolls still in its original package
One of Merna’s Barbie dolls still in its original package

Merna recalled how she used to love her Barbie so much, she used to even dress up in pink quite often — a love that she still shares with her mother.

Merna in pink as a child and now, with her mother
Merna in pink as a child and now, with her mother

ALSO READ:



More news from UAE