x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Mini bling

This Abu Dhabi-based personal assistant added a little extra sparkle to her surprise Easter gift.

Mary Morcous's husband bought her the Mini and helped stick on the crystals, but he is still embarrassed to drive it.
Mary Morcous's husband bought her the Mini and helped stick on the crystals, but he is still embarrassed to drive it.

Mary Morcous has transformed her standard silver-grey Mini Cooper with the addition of some pink crystals and Hello Kitty regalia. "The car was a surprise from my husband, an Easter present this year," says the 28-year-old Egyptian personal assistant who was born and bred in Abu Dhabi. The car replaced a teddy bear-filled Nissan Tiida she'd owned for the past two years, and Morcous's first task was to customise the Mini to suit her love of the colour pink.

"I didn't really like the silver-grey colour, so I thought I'd make it more interesting," she says. "And pink is my favorite colour. I love Barbie and Hello Kitty, I wear pink a lot, I even have a pink watch." Morcous came up with the idea of adding a hint of pink to the Mini by covering the wing mirrors with sparkling crystals, but she had trouble finding someone who could do this. "I tried all sorts of different car places but I don't think anyone understood what I wanted to do," she says. So Morcous and her husband took matters into their own hands and chose the DIY option instead.

"We went to a textiles shop and bought the crystals," she says. The couple then spent three days painstakingly sticking the crystals to the wing mirrors with Superglue. "We'd start at 8am and maybe work until 3pm when the weather was still cool. None of them have fallen off," she says proudly. "It is very strong glue!" Inside, Morcous has framed her rear view mirror with pink Hello Kitty decorations, and the famous Japanese cartoon cat also features on the steering wheel and seat belt.

"It's so cute - I call the car my Mini Cutie," she says. Her husband now drivers her old Tiida but sometimes he has to get behind the wheel of the crystal-encrusted Mini. "He was embarrassed, but I think he is used to it now. He is a big guy so it's not really the right car for him," she laughs. "People do look at him in traffic when he drives my car." The additional of crystals and Hello Kitty might not be the last of the modifications to Morcous's Mini, a car she plans to keep for a long time yet. She'd like to add crystals around the headlights and change the colour of the car.

"But I will check with the Abu Dhabi traffic department first, as I think it's more strict than Dubai," says Marcous. A previous My Car star, Lujain Omran, may have provided Morcous with inspiration for the next additions to the Mini. Having read the story about Omran customising her Porsche Carrera with glittery pink paint at Dubai's Foilacar body workshop, Morcous is contemplating a trip to Dubai to change the colour of her Mini, once she gets the green light from the Abu Dhabi authorities.

But in the meantime, she is enjoying driving her crystallised car on the roads of the UAE. Having driven in Cairo as well as the Emirates, Morcous is possibly in a minority when she says she finds motoring in the Emirates to be more relaxing and enjoyable than in her home country. "The traffic in Cairo is crazy, there are cars everywhere and the roads aren't very good," she says. "But here, the roads are very good and I am used to it, I find it much easier."

After driving the less powerful Tiida, she also appreciates the extra oomph the Mini offers. "It is a bit heavier to drive than the Tiida, but now I am used to it. It goes at a good speed, especially on the highway and you have to be careful you don't go crazy." * Georgia Lewis