x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

'Being a rebel helps me'

This much I know Mica Ruzmanovic, owner of Mica's Tooth Design in Dubai, on her youth in Serbia and Sweden.

Mica Ruzmanovic opened her clinic on Jumeirah Beach Road one year ago.
Mica Ruzmanovic opened her clinic on Jumeirah Beach Road one year ago.

Mica Ruzmanovic owns Mica's Tooth Design in Dubai.
I was born in Serbia in the countryside, 100km from Belgrade. It was very basic. My mother had to go two kilometres to bring water from a well and she had to go to the river to wash the clothes. We had two cows. Before school, my mother and father used to make me stay with cows for one hour to make sure they'd take their food. I worked as a child but I was told that this would be what the rest of my life would be like if I wasn't good at school. I am happy because of where I'm sitting today compared to where I was. And I did it myself, without a man.

We moved to Sweden when I was nine years old. My father moved us there to get a better life. He was making fine furniture in Serbia but there was no work for him. Every summer, he'd make my sisters and I pick the hay for the cows. I wanted to go out and see boys and go to the cinema but my father would make us work. When we came to Sweden, my father kept his culture. He didn't want to adopt the Swedish culture. He was afraid to adopt something new and lose what he had. That's why he was strict, strict, strict.

When I was 18 years old, I got married. I just wanted to run away because I was a little bit of a rebel and that was a way to do it. My husband came to Sweden from Serbia, too. He said, "Do you want to get married?" and I said, "OK". I had only known him for one month. We were married for 10 years but then we got divorced. We were not compatible. I wanted to start a business and he wanted to sit at home and watch TV. I did everything I could, I gave it a chance but it was not a love marriage.

After we were married six years, my daughter was born. She always wanted to be an actress. When she was seven years old, I came home to find her saying, "Thank you for my mother. I want to thank my mother". I asked her what she was doing and she said she was practising for when she gets her Oscar. I always told her to go for it, she had to do what she believed in. She is 27 now and she has the main role in a play so I was not wrong.

After I finished school, we had work experience. I was told that I should become a dentist but I spent two weeks with a dental technician and I found out about tooth design. It was far more interesting and creative than just being a dentist so that is what I studied and trained to do. It is very important that people know the difference between a dentist and a tooth designer. The dentist just screws the teeth into the mouths but I spend hours creating teeth and crowns and veneers that look good but still look natural.

There's a difference between aesthetic dentistry and cosmetic dentistry. Aesthetic dentistry makes teeth that look good naturally but cosmetic dentistry makes teeth that are perfect. But perfect doesn't always look right. It can look terrible, like piano keys. I opened my clinic on Jumeirah Beach Road one year ago. I've been in Dubai for four and a half years. I was working for another dentist when I first got here and for two years I worked at Dubai Ladies Club, but I got very bored. So I wanted to start my own business.

I was having some problems with immigration but I was very lucky. I ran into Sheikh Mohammed at Emirates Towers when I was having coffee and I just asked him for help. I said, "Please help me. I am a single mother in Dubai and I am stuck with some problems with immigration" and he sent help for me. He was so kind. Where else in the world can you go to the leader and he will actually stop and listen to you?

I used to have a tango bar at my house in Sweden. I served food and I learnt how to teach the tango. I wasn't really making any income from the bar, it was just a passion for me. I still do tango dancing at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. You fight to be a woman. We have the right to be in business as women, to do unusual things. But being a rebel helps me here in Dubai. You have to be twice as good to compare with a man. I do what I think is proper but I do not want to hide the fact that I am a woman. I am a proud European woman.