The Final Countdown; Our Big Dubai Bucket List Challenge

So that’s it, we have moved out of our villa.  All of our possessions are on their way to a “big ship” ready for our next adventure and we are seeing out our final weeks in Dubai in a serviced apartment.  Make way for us to start working on our Dubai Bucket List.

You know, the list of things you’ve been saying that you’ll do but just don’t seem to have gotten around too just yet, then fast forward to three years later and you have to cram it all in somehow?  But cram it in we will, and we have weeks to play with not days.

But just what makes the cut and what doesn’t?  Do we get the kids involved or not?!  To be honest it really is a mix of both, with items on the list ranging from old Dubai to glitz Dubai, from nature to city, from child friendly to child not welcome.   Some of the things you tend to find on the Dubai Bucket list, the more tourist things, we have already done, we’ve headed up the Burj Khalifa, we’ve splashed about at both Wild Wadi and Aquaventure water park, the malls are frequented (too) often, the aquariums have been visited on many occasions, the fountains have sang and danced for our amusement many a time.  I have no interest in throwing myself out of a plane for SkyDive Dubai no matter how spectacular people tell me it is, similarly I don’t want to visit Ski Dubai, I’m going to get the chill factor (albeit minus snow) enough when we get home.

Above all else it is OUR Big Dubai Bucket List, personal to us and our tastes, and we intend to have fun ticking each one off.

Our BIG Dubai Bucket List

Cocktails At The Top

We’ve been to the top of the Burj Khalifa, taking the Big One when he was a Baby.  Admired the view, pointed out our house.  Ears popping as we shot up in the lift, marvelling at the structural engineering work that went into creating the tallest building in the world.  No, the Burj Khalifa doesn’t make it onto our list for a daytime visit.

burj khalifa
At the top – Burj Khalifa

An evening visit however, does make it to the bucket list, a cocktail or two to be enjoyed up on Level 122 in At.mosphere as we look out over the place we have called home for the past three years.  Reminiscing, laughing, talking, indulging in cocktails.

A Weekend in the Capital

In our three years in Dubai we have been up to Abu Dhabi to visit the airport.  A trip to the zoo.  And I went up once for a meal with an old NCT friend.  So, in all honesty, we’ve not really been.  Ever.

This is changing this coming weekend with a trip planned to Yas Island, staying at the Yas Island Rotana with the boys.  Meeting friends who are flying in for the weekend, a cheeky brunch, a fun filled morning swimming, lazing on the beach before heading back home.  A staycation away from home, seeing the sights in Abu Dhabi.

A Final Photo Shoot

I adore photos.  I love having well taken, brightly lit, candid shots of my boys around the house.  I tend to be the one behind the camera most of the time and I have managed to capture some wonderful memories of the boys through their childhood which I share over on Instagram.  But what about getting in front of the camera?  We had a wonderful shoot with Sophia Mattia when the Baby was first born, and I turned to her again to ask her about a leaving Dubai shoot.

Sophia Mattia
Our first capture as a family of four

She was fantastic, as much as I love the beach shots with the Burj Al Arab in the background we wanted something a little bit different. When my best friend left she had some beautiful shots taken in Old Dubai, by the creek, on an abra. Those shots. Sophia knew exactly what we are after and we are booked in on the 29th April to get some family shots. The boys have matching shirts, I have a new dress, the husband has his birthday shirt, we are good to go. And knowing what fabulous photos she took last time I can’t wait to see the results this time!

Champagne Brunch at Yalumba

Some things in life you should just get the babysitter in and head out to rekindle the romance.  Whilst romance might not be at the forefront of the party atmosphere in the iconic Dubai Brunch at Yalumba the bubbles flow freely, the food is a mix of a la carte and buffet, and they have the best dynamite shrimp I have ever tasted.  The one and only time I went I managed four plates of the dynamite shrimp on top of everything else, I was rolled out.  That time was a girls only brunch, next time I want to go back with the husband.  Wear my most glamorous stretchy pants, eat, drink and chat to our hearts content.

Breakfast at Ripe Market

Fridays are the start of the weekend here, and every Friday there is the Ripe Market Dubai.  It’s something which we haven’t really taken much advantage of.  Running in the cooler months held at Zabeel Park with plenty for the boys to look at, visit, see.  Organic fruits and veg, local crafts and space for the Big One to run.  Choosing breakfast carefully before spreading out the picnic blanket and enjoying people watching in the sun as we eat.

Barbecue in the Desert

Considering we live in Dubai we haven’t done much with the desert.  One desert safari when the husbands “boys” (plus wives) came out to celebrate the husbands 30th but nothing since.  Which is silly really considering we pretty much live in the desert.

Desert Safari with the husband
Desert Safari with the husband

I then had a conversation with the Big One as we drove to nursery about desert and sand.  It involved a lot of whys.

Why is there sand?

Because it is a desert.

Why is it a desert?

Because there is a lot of sand there.

Why is there a lot of sand there?

Because it is the desert…..

You get the gist. So I’d love to take him up for a barbecue in the desert, I’d like to say I’d go as far as camping but I don’t think I could cope with the lack of facilities.

Drive Jebel Hafeet

This is a recent addition, Jebel Hafeet is the second highest point in the UAE standing at 1290m tall.  A winding drive up what has been said is one of the greatest roads to drive in the world, you are rewarded with a view of Al Ain from the top.  Where there is also a hotel for a much needed pit stop.  Not only that, but in the foothills of Jebel Hafeet are the Green Mubazarrah with plenty to do for children.

Re-visit Abu Dhabi Zoo

We headed to the zoo when I was pregnant with the Baby, and fed a zebra.

Abu Dhabi Zoo, Me, the Big One, the Bump and the Zebra

You can’t get much cooler than that?  Other than actually staying at the zoo and seeing giraffes and zebras eating their breakfast……

Feeding the Turtles at the Madinat

The Turtle Rehabilitation project is run in conjunction with the Dubai’s Wildlife Protection Office, with essential veterinary support provided by the Dubai Falcon Clinic and the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory.  It is the only project of it’s kind in the Middle East.  Whilst we’ve watched the turtles swimming happily when we’ve been out for Brunch at the Mina a Salam, we’ve yet to go along at feeding time and help feed them.

Play the Majlis

And finally, one off the golf loving husband, he wants to play the famous Majlis course home to the Desert Classic.

Is there anything else you’d add to your Dubai Bucket List?

Wander Mum


  1. April 1, 2016 / 6:54 pm

    Dubai seems a very family friendly place to be. I’d love to travel there but I get scared of all the rules and laws.

  2. April 1, 2016 / 11:00 pm

    This sounds like a fabulous way to spend your last few weeks in Dubai! I look forward to reading all about it and I’m sure it will inspire me to visit.

  3. April 1, 2016 / 11:15 pm

    How amazing! I would love to visit Dubai one day! Such a fantastic list

  4. April 2, 2016 / 12:38 am

    I am SO jealous of your three years in Dubai….it is currently top of my dream places to visit and this post just makes me want to go there even more. Enjoy your last few weeks there and have a safe journey back home when the time comes around xx

  5. April 2, 2016 / 12:44 am

    Hope you manage to tick it all off your list xx

  6. April 2, 2016 / 1:05 am

    Oh Laura you’re all going to have a fab time!! Drinks at the top of the Burj Khalifa, very jealous 😉

  7. April 3, 2016 / 1:09 pm

    Oh these sound really fun – definitely looking forward to reading about Abu Dhabi and seeing the photos.

  8. April 3, 2016 / 3:16 pm

    oh wow how exciting and your pictures are just stunning

  9. April 3, 2016 / 5:11 pm

    J goes to Dubai at least once a year on business and I keep threatening to join him (once I convince someone to sort the kids out for a few days!!), I have been once before and would love to go back. I’ll be using your bucket list to plan our trip- thanks xx

  10. April 5, 2016 / 5:13 pm

    I had mixed emotions when I left Dubai 2 years ago – it has been my home for 7 years and the memories I’ve made there were the best (both the good and the bad). I wish I was able to fulfill some of the things I wasn’t able to do before I left though and a photo shoot would’ve been a great idea! Good luck on your new adventure!

  11. April 5, 2016 / 8:10 pm

    What an amazing list! I am getting excited for you just reading about all those fun things! The brunch sans kids and cocktails at the Burj sound particularly tempting. I’m surprised you haven’t been to the Abu Dhabi GP! We went a few years ago and loved it. Enjoy your final weeks in Dubai! Thanks for linking to #citytripping

  12. April 5, 2016 / 11:58 pm

    Sounds lovely living in Dubai . Hope you manage to get everything done before you leave.

  13. April 8, 2016 / 11:19 pm

    I like the idea of cocktails at the top of that hugely tall building, although I would want to go up there during the day too! And getting out into the desert sounds pretty cool to me too.

  14. April 14, 2016 / 1:27 pm

    Although I’ve been living in Dubai for more than 11 years, there are lots of places and activities that I still haven’t done. The city always has something new almost every week, it’a hard to catch up. Must be mixed emotions leaving a place that you considered your temporary home. I might end up crying buckets when it’s time for us to leave!

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