A futuristic city perched on the edge of the Persian Gulf, Dubai is an easy holiday destination with children, as long as you take care in the sun. But there’s a lot more to it than just sandcastles and sea. When you tire of the city, you can leave it behind and head off for a desert adventure in complete safety.
Dubai is one the most fashionable holidays spots. Year-round sunshine, world-class sporting facilities and a good sprinkling of remarkable hotels provide the perfect ingredients for an exotic and exciting experience. It is a particularly safe place to visit too – and ideal for the whole family with plenty on offer for all ages. Golf ranks high on the list of attractions and championship courses include the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, the Emirates Golf Club and The Montgomerie Dubai. Water sports abound while a more traditional yet very popular sport is camel racing.
The Dubai World Cup (the world’s richest horse race) and the Dubai Shopping Festival attract crowds each year, many of whom just spend a few days here. Behind the futuristic architecture of the coastline, the rolling desert landscapes take over. Visit the Bedouin tribes, experience the excitement of dune driving, or opt for a slower form of transportation- the camel.
On holy month of Ramadan where Muslim must not eat, drink or smoke during daylight hours. There is also no live entertainment or music anywhere in Dubai for the entire period. To respect the Islamic faith, guest should be aware that even though hotel restaurants are open, alcohol is not sold during daylight hours. However, from 6 pm onwards, all hotel bars operate as usual. This can be enjoyable time to visit and, once dusk falls, the hotels present lavish feasts in sumptuous Ramadan tents.
When it come to pioneering developments (Including ones literally erupting from the seabed), Dubai sets a new standards. The Palm, Jumeirah is completed and whilst the construction of The Palm Jebel Ali and The World continues. Such creations add miles and miles of sandy beaches to the Dubai coastline and provide a unique setting for accommodation and entrainment facilities. Other large developments are underway on the mainland too, including construction along the coast. Though projects are visible from certain hotels, it is recognised that any unavoidable disruption is to kept to a minimum.
- The skyscrapers, including the Burj al-Arab, shaped like a sail hoisted above the water
- The Burj Khalifa, the highest building in the world at 828m! Take the lift, which shoots up 124 floors in just a few seconds – quite an experience for anyone, but especially a child.
- Palm Jumeirah, an artificial peninsula in the shape of a palm tree with amazing villas and hotels
Beaches And Water Sports
- Beaches, such as Jumeirah Beach Park, positioned on the edge of parks allowing you to play in the shade
- Beaches at the luxury hotels (open to non-residents), offering water sports and great facilities for children
Traditions Full Of Eastern Promise
- An excursion on board a dhow. Set off from Abu Dhabi along the coast to see fishing ports and dolphins.
- Spectating at a horse race and going to watch the camels train at the camel race track
- Watching a falcon on the wing at the Heritage Village (Abu Dhabi), a well thoughtout museum on Emirati traditions
- A glimpse of the Emirates before the oil boom at the small emirate of Umm al-Quwain, with its old town, superb beaches and bird colonies.
- The old district of Bur Dubai and of Shindagha, and the souks selling gold and spices in Deira.
- The water slides at the Wild Wadi Water Park – guaranteed thrills!
- Spending a morning surfing on the sand dunes, before throwing yourself down the slopes at Ski Dubai, the indoor snow dome at the Mall of the Emirates.
- Flying over the desert at dawn in a hot-air balloon (from age five)
- Taking a dip in the Hatta Pools in the Hajar Mountains… These natural bathing pools in the gorges are in the northeast of the Emirates.
- A 4WD excursion or camel ride into the desert from Abu Dhabi, followed by dinner in a tent with the Bedouins
BEST TIME TO GO
October to November and March to April are the most pleasant times, as it is hot but not unbearable (30°C in the day, 20°C at night). From December to February, it is milder (24°C on average) with slightly cooler evenings. Apart from these times, the heat is infernal (48°C in July/August, and very humid).
Dubai is notoriously expensive, and its seven-star hotels can be exorbitant, but more affordable (and still luxurious) accommodation is popping up all the time. On the other hand, there is practically no cheap accommodation in Abu Dhabi. Throughout the Emirates, if you avoid the top restaurants you’ll find that delicious local food is quite cheap. Budget for activities such as indoor skiing, as they are quite expensive.
In Dubai, taxi, buses, abra (floating taxis) and the driverless metro make getting around easy. Collective taxis are practical for longer journeys. Driving in the Emirates can be taxing – the Emirati tend to follow their own personal highway code. Nonetheless, with a little care, hiring a car can be the best way to tackle a one- or two-day trip from Dubai.
There is a strong Lebanese influence in Dubai cuisine. Children will enjoy the mezze, and mixed grills, which let you try several different dishes. Shwarma are everywhere and are tasty, filling and cheap. Specialties from Iran might be worth sampling; some kids love the spices and the sweet and savoury combinations. But, with so many restaurants specialising in foreign food (European, Indian, American, Russian, Chinese), there is something for everyone. Most restaurants offer children’s menus.
BOOKS FOR THE YOUNG TRAVELLER
- The Turtle Secret, by Julia Johnson, is a great story for pre-teens that touches on the wildlife and culture of the Emirates.
- I Spy From a Beach in Dubai, by Suzanne Kalloghlian, is an inspirational rhyming picture book for little ones.
- Cuddly toy camels: small, large or huge!
KEEP IN MIND
During Ramadan, it is forbidden to eat, drink or smoke in public during daylight hours. Some businesses close or operate on limited hours. However, children are not affected, and restaurants in most international hotels remain open.