Today I am back in the UK, with my boys, with my husband (for the next 4 days) and with my Mum. Over the past three years whenever we’ve told people that we were living in Dubai we were met with gasps, Dubai, with children, with a family?! Dubai family friendly holiday?! No?? Surely Dubai is a playground for the rich and famous. I can state that no. No it’s not. Dubai is so much more. Dubai has culture. Dubai is perfect for a family holiday destination. Not only that Dubai was a wonderful place to live, and will always hold a special place in our hearts as the birthplace of the Baby.
Dubai, quite simply, won our hearts so when I saw that there was in fact a competition running with Tots100 and Visit Dubai for not only a Blogger, but one of their readers who leaves the best comment, to win a trip for a Dubai family friendly holiday for four days I simply had to join in. After all, part of my heart is in Dubai (along with my husband) and I want you all to know just how special a place it is…
Our Dubai Family Friendly Holiday would include:
Exploring Dubai Mall
After a leisurely breakfast, and the Baby having a nap we’d head over to the Dubai Mall in time to catch the lunchtime shows of the iconic dancing fountains. Stopping for an early lunch in one of the lake view restaurants (OK stopping for lunch in Carluccios because you can guarantee the Big One will eat pasta) before heading outside for 1pm to watch the Dubai Fountains, to see the water dance in time to the music. Leaping in the air, twirling through the sky, in the shadow of the Burj Khalifa. A majestic backdrop for a spectacular show.
It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been the fountains never fail to take your breath away. I’ve never seen the same show twice and I have to say my favourite was Thriller. As this is one of the most spectacular (and free) things to do in Dubai we’d nip in for a slice of cake from Magnolia Bakery, a fortifying sugar rush, before heading outside for the second show at 1:30pm…
After the excitement of the fountains, and a chance to cool off inside the air conditioned mall, we’d really explore. Three years of living here and I’ve still yet to master walking the biggest mall in the world, each time I visit I find something new to see.
The dinosaur hidden within the Souk. The umbrellas lining the ceiling in the Village. Then of course there is the Dubai Aquarium, home of one of the largest suspended aquariums in the world. The mythical and eery tunnel walk, with sharks swimming above your head. Sting rays gliding past. Small colourful fish darting in and out. And of course, the majestic King Croc…
Learning About Old Dubai
You often forget that Dubai hasn’t always been filled with skyscrapers, golf courses and 7 star hotels. That you can scratch beneath the surface and discover old Dubai with a little help from the Sheikh Mohammad Centre of Cultural Understanding. Take a tour through history and learn about Pearl Divers. Walk through time in the recreated market places of a bygone era. Before heading down to the creek to jump on an Abra to see the souks of today.
A peaceful afternoon meandering through the backstreets, your nose filled with the heady scent of spices. Nutmeg, cardamom, turmeric, paprika, garlic, lemon. All vying for attention. Wooden bucket filled with colours, shop owners only to happy to help. To explain what is what. The Big One questioning what’s this spice for? What’s nutmeg? Where’s the cinnamon….
Imagination Overload at City Walk
Dubai’s newest attraction for their younger clientele is Mattel Play! World. Think KidZania for 3 year olds. While the nearly 4 year old would love to be a pilot with the KidZania Emirates area, the poor Baby would not like being confined to the pram. Mattel Play! World solves this problem with lovable character themed areas from Fireman Sam.
To the Barney playground. Bob the builders yard to the Thomas soft play. A child’s paradise, with healthy food options available for lunch you really can spend all day here. Especially after a fortifying chocolate brownie and coffee halfway through the day. The only thing I’m worried about is the Fireman Sam theme tune on repeat in my head long after we’ve left….
An Evening Celebration at Iftar
Dubai is a Muslim country which means that Muslim religious holidays are celebrated. Living in a Muslim country for the past three years has given me a greater cultural understanding of Islam. This year, June marks the holy month of Ramadan, where you fast for the hours of daylight. The breaking of this fast is known as Iftar, a wonderful celebration as you listen for the cannon signaling the breaking of the fast. A date. A sip of water. Families celebrating. There are so many Iftars happening all over Dubai you’re spoilt for choice, though I love the look of the Iftar at the Sofitel, reviewed by And Then There Were 2. I love eating together as a family, and if we keep the boys on UK time then we don’t run the risk of them being crabby as the sunsets.
Cool Down in the Water
The Big One is what I would call water cautious. When he’s swimming he needs to feel the floor with his toes, though we are working on it with his swimming lessons.
It’s still a work in progress. This means that although both Aquaventure and Wild Wadi are amazing, full of slides and rides for the whole family, we would end up spending all our time in the shallowest pool, tag teaming back and forth to ride the likes of Poseidon’s Revenge. It doesn’t make for a relaxing day out. Instead I’d love to take my little ones down to the beach at JBR. Splashing in the waves.
Before heading up to Splash Pad a kids paradise. Especially those who want to keep their feet on the floor. A range of wet and dry play areas, imagination play blocks, with daily games and activities.
After splashing around, we are sure to have worked up an appetite, which could only be satisfied by cheesecake. And the best cheesecake all round with The Cheesecake Factory.
Four Days in Dubai…
Will wet your appetite and leave you wanting more, even with 3 years there I still didn’t manage to tick off my Dubai Bucket List – maybe now I’ll be in with a chance to go back and try. Oh and visit the husband who is stuck there without us for the next 9 weeks….
This is my entry into the Tots100 and Visit Dubai #DXBDreams competition. But that’s not all, they are also offering a second holiday for the best comment on the winning blog post – so tell me, after all my Dubai ramblings, what would be top of your list? What are your Dubai Dreams? And maybe, just maybe, they will come true.