We chatted with Ouafa Moussi, the founder of the latest spa sensation on the island, Dar Wafa, and found out more about her story and the desire to open such a unique space.
“I wanted to create a space where my customers would feel welcomed and as if they were in my home.”Ouafa Moussi
OHLALA – You are French-Moroccan but have been living in Bahrain for almost 20 years. Can you tell us about your journey and connection with the country?
Ouafa Moussi – I arrived in Bahrain in 2004 to work as a flight attendant for Gulf Air. It was supposed to be a two-year experience before going back home to France, but I ended up meeting my Bahraini husband and staying. I have since worked in various fields, such as luxury retail, event management and working with my husband on his businesses. I consider Bahrain my home, and I am very grateful for all the opportunities it has offered me.
OHLALA – Dar Wafa is one of Bahrain’s newest spa/beauty salons. What is the meaning behind the name? Can you explain the concept of this Moroccan haven and what makes it so special?
Ouafa – Although my name is spelt Ouafa (French spelling), It is pronounced Wafa, and in Arabic, it is Wafa. So the name of the spa means my house, I wanted to create a space where my customers would feel welcomed and as if they were in my home. I wanted a place that was honest and straight forward about treatments and prices and also charming and fun to be in. Somewhere you can go by yourself and feel taken care of and enjoy as much as when you go with friends, sisters or with your mother. I put my heart and soul into each detail of the décor and designing each service. I used my personal experience in other salons for all the dos and don’ts. I also listened to my female friends and took their advice into consideration to ensure each aspect of the business was considered. I would say that what makes Dar Wafa so special is the heart I put into it and the attention to detail.
OHLALA – Dar Wafa is a women’s sanctuary where they can get the ultimate Moroccan experience but also network and empower each other. Why do you think it is important to create a space that offers this kind of feel?
Ouafa – Women have a lot on their plates these days. Between work, house and family, women always put themselves last and forget about their personal needs. It was important for me to have a comfortable place for them to unwind and to be able to recharge their batteries, but also a place where they could meet up with their girlfriends and let their hair down (literally and figuratively). I have met wonderful ladies since the opening that were instantly very supportive. I try to keep the place interesting by organising workshops, fitness classes, etc. I’ve also started collaborating with other female entrepreneurs by letting them use my premises for various events.
OHLALA – The decoration of Dar Wafa is very quirky and does take you to a perfect day in Marrakesh. Why was it paramount for you to create a place with such a visual appeal?
Ouafa – Although I am not from there, Marrakesh is my favourite Moroccan city. I have always loved the architecture, the vibrant colours and the amazing hospitality this city offers. I wanted people to have a taste of authentic Morocco but with a modern twist and feel as if they’d taken a direct flight to Marrakech for a few hours. In this type of business, the services matter but the atmosphere and décor play a big part as well in the overall experience.
OHLALA – Do you think the spa helps reconnect with your roots? Why did you have this drive to give life to such a unique place?
Ouafa – Absolutely. I lived all my life in France before moving to Bahrain, but every summer as a child, we would travel to different parts of Morocco, which was my favourite time of the year. I’ve been wanting to open a spa for the past 10 years and it was always clear to me that it had to be Moroccan-inspired. It is very important for ladies there to take care of their appearance and we have so many ancient beauty rituals. My mother has taught me everything I know and I wanted to share my experience and Moroccan beauty tips with others.
OHLALA – What do you think is the main reason Dar Wafa has been so popular since its opening?
Ouafa – I think it is the fact that it is so different from your typical spa/salon when it comes to the architecture and the variety of services offered. Dar Wafa is a one-stop shop. We have a complete menu and we offer every type of beauty and hair service that exists. At Dar Wafa, you can not only pamper yourself but also attend belly dance classes, have a meal or celebrate your birthday. You can also bring your laptop and work from our terrace or by the pool. We have also become very popular for our gift vouchers, so our spa is starting to be considered a treat or a place to bring people visiting you from abroad.
OHLALA – What do you love most about Bahrain?
Ouafa – Besides my husband (lol), I love Bahrain in its totality. It has welcomed me as if I was Bahraini myself. I feel comfortable here and, most importantly, I feel safe and relaxed. Bahraini people are amazing; they are kind and very hospitable. Also, it is really businessfriendly. I would never have had all the professional opportunities I’ve had here anywhere else, and I most probably couldn’t have had the chance to open a place like this and make my dream come true.