Muse Two, an Emirati student in Paris, is animatedly explaining the concept of a traditional gathering to promote local business to Muse One. Abandoning their game of carom, Muses Three, Four and Five adjust their jalabiyas and all five ladies plonk down between the diwan bolsters to sip piping hot tea and brainstorm the launch of The Muse Majlis, a pop-up store with a cultural twist and charitable aims.
These Muses may be tight-lipped about their identities for now, but their veils will come off at their first pop-up majlis in Al Bahia in Abu Dhabi this evening.
The five Muses, all stylish Emirati women in their 20s, call The Muse Majlis an underground majlis hub that will provide home-grown businesses with a platform to expand their clientele. "We want to change the way our majlis is viewed," says Muse Two, who came up with the idea two weeks ago. "I did not want the majlis to be about girls gossiping, but creating an experience which would allow for a fun time as well as intellectual conversation."
The Emirati, who studies policymaking in Paris, wants to apply her lessons in a practical setting. "I wanted to see how we could change policy in the Emirates to focus on and cater for small and medium local enterprises."
The young women do not want it to be another trunk show with vendors stuck in uninspiring spaces, but instead be representative of their culture and raise money for charity.
The media professional of the bunch says they want to be "nomadic" in their approach. "It is in no way static and will embody the features of our traditional majlis. When we say majlis, what comes to mind is a relaxing atmosphere where you can network, discuss ideas and have a good time. This will differentiate us from other shows."
The first majlis is open to women looking to indulge in some local delicacies and purchase fashionable brands and customised gifts for Eid.
"We are trying to move away from an exhibition feel where everyone is boxed up and there is a coldness in attitude," says one of the Muses. "We want visitors to feel comfortable and encourage interaction." About 23 companies are participating in tonight's first Muse Majlis, whose costs have been borne by the Muses. They have asked the participants to donate 20 per cent of their proceeds to a charity that supports less fortunate Emirati families.
Some of the local brands exhibiting include Mochi, a label that sells embroidered boho-style clothes, MKS Jewellery launched by Sheikha Mariam Khalifa Saif Al Nahyan and White Coffee, a local coffee shop selling modern Emirati food.
The clandestine approach
Their hush-hush marketing - such as their insistence that they are referred to as just "Muses" - has created a buzz, with more than 150 people expected to attend. Their ideas were also encouraged by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development. "Over a game of carom, he advised us how to move forward and provided clarity. We were so excited when we began, wanting to conquer the world. He stepped in to calm us down and give some direction," says Muse Two.
Tonight, the Muses will reveal themselves and disclose the name of their charity. They plan to hold the Muse Majlis seasonally while building a not-for-profit financial model. "For our first show, we have not expensed our vendors. But for the next one we will only be charging to cover our costs, so it will be cheaper to work with us as well as gain access to our contacts." The Muses say the majlis will move, depending on demand, and they plan to take it abroad as well. "It will not be stuck in a place, but the vibe goes with it."
The Muse Majlis, for women only, will be held in Al Bahia, Abu Dhabi, between 9pm and 1am tonight. Follow @themusemajlis or call 050780 4589 for the exact location.