Why Dubai is a Wonderful Place for a Family Friendly Holiday

Yesterday I left Dubai.  Said my final goodbyes and left.  Yesterday was my final day as a Dubai resident and I headed back home.

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.

Dubai Mall Umbrella Dubai HolidayThe 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…

dubai holiday

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….

old dubai

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.

image from And Then There Were 2

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.

Why Dubai is a Wonderful Family Friendly Holiday Destination



  1. May 26, 2016 / 12:57 pm

    I think this is all so very true
    Dubai would be perfect – it is for me too
    Good luck with your entry and, if you win
    Make room in your case, and please fit me in!

    • Laura
      May 26, 2016 / 4:05 pm

      Good luck with yours as well Victoria! I love Dubai and my husband is out there for 10 weeks without me.

  2. May 26, 2016 / 1:15 pm

    What a fascinating insight into such a unique place. I can see why people fall in love with Dubai – the warmth and the colour . This sounds like a perfect 4 days to me and I know that my kids would just love it. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  3. May 26, 2016 / 1:50 pm

    Oh, to live the Dubai Dream! Having never visited the country before except in transit, It would be marvellous to experience the wonders of this enigmatic destination.

    • Laura
      May 26, 2016 / 4:05 pm

      And transit is an experience in itself with DXB airport!

  4. Zoe
    May 26, 2016 / 2:46 pm

    Wow the Dubai fountain looks absolutely amazing! I would love to go to Dubai just to see that yet there is so much more all in one place – it is almost too hard to imagine so I will have to go there to find out for myself The beautiful beach beckons me, incredible concerts and entertainment, retail heaven and then relax and unwind by trying out traditional spa therapies at the hammam! The food in Dubai looks divine and I bet it is delicious. My husband would love the adventure sports, golf courses and falconry. There is something here for everyone. Dubai is my dream destination.

    • Laura
      May 26, 2016 / 4:07 pm

      The golf courses are incredible, my husbands favourite place in Dubai. I’m petrified of birds so Falcons and falconry have always been out!x

  5. May 26, 2016 / 2:55 pm

    So great to read a post from someone that has lived there. We stayed by JBR and it was lovely. There were a lot of expats around there with family visiting. I liked those screens where you can take a photo and e mail it home. Yep easily pleased! I never realised the fountains played different music. We had some classical music when we went. Would love to go back and see them at night. We got so lost in Dubai Mall! Which made me eat my words of it not looking that big from the top of the Burj Kahlifa!

  6. Richard Beesley
    May 26, 2016 / 3:14 pm

    Dubai looks simply amazing. So much to do, so many different worlds all wrapped up in one gorgeous place. Looking at what Dubai has to offer, I’ve been really impressed by the range of family-friendly options – theme parks, indoor fun sessions, skate parks – as well as sports, stunning beaches, and entertainment.

    What I hadn’t realised was how much variety there is in Dubai in terms of food and culture. Our son is a huge foodie, despite being only 10, and would love visiting some of the restaurants and tasting the new flavours.

    As a family we would love to be able to visit Dubai, and experience just a taste of what is on offer. Our elder son loves nature, so would enjoy the different wildlife on show. And dad… well, quad-biking in the sand dunes would suit him perfectly. As for mum… of course Dubai is a shopper’s paradise! And I’m sure we would all enjoy a tour of historic Dubai, as well as the many museums. There truly is something for everyone.

    The hardest part will be choosing what to do. It really does seem that Dubai has it all, a wealth of opportunities to explore and experience.

    Dubai really is the city of possibilities and I want to ‘Discover All That’s Possible In Dubai’.

  7. May 26, 2016 / 4:07 pm

    It must have been amazing to live in Dubai. I have been but before the children but it’s one place I did think I could live for a while and I have to say my first impressions were how safe I felt and what an amazing place it would be to have children. Families were so visible and all out together late at night.

    It left a huge impression on me and I would love to take the children. We’d have to do a waterpark, go skiing, go to the beach and ride a camel but I’d be most excited to take them to see the fountains. We have a canvas of the fountains on our bedroom wall, made from a photograph I took. I tell the children you can see them from space but they don’t believe me!

    Good luck with your entry and welcome back xxx

    • Laura
      May 26, 2016 / 4:18 pm

      Thanks lovely! The fountains are my favourite each time I see them they take my breath away x

  8. May 26, 2016 / 4:36 pm

    If some-one who has lived there, and just arrived back in the UK yesterday, wants to win a holiday to go back for four nights. Well, that is just about as big a compliment as I think you could possibly give Dubai.
    And I don’t blame you based on all the research I have been doing. Mattel Play World is on my top 5 list, as my children are 2 and 6. I love that Dubai really has something to accommodate everyone.
    Similarly with the Dolphin experience, even my two year old would be able to join in from shallow water, though I expect my hubby might want to try scuba diving.
    An evening safari to a Bedouin camp would be a great experience, to learn about traditional culture, and the Friday Brunch experience sounds delightful!
    Good luck with your entry.

  9. Anne Rutherford
    May 26, 2016 / 4:52 pm

    I wouldn’t hesitate to go back – not a day goes by without something reminding me of our 2.5 amazing years in Dubai, I never thought I’d miss it so much! And hey, being asked when we will be going back at least once a week by the kids just makes it worse…. We all miss Dubai and all it’s got to offer. We miss our friends, we miss the school, heck I even miss the roads (that says a lot!) and my lovely American Ford (so much we’ll be getting a Ford Ranger here!). Welcome back to the UK Laura (isn’t the weather just fab????) I hope our families will both be jetting off to Dubai again soon! Xx

  10. Bernadette Cooke
    May 26, 2016 / 5:20 pm

    I would love to take my grandsons on a Dream Trip to Dubai – a clean, safe, family-friendly holiday destination, with plenty of activities to choose from for any age range. As well as relaxing on the beautiful golden sand of JBR Beach with its warm, calm and shallow waters we would all enjoy a dune-bashing safari followed by a camel ride and BBQ dinner in a Bedouin desert camp.

    We would visit the Dubai Museum in the Al Fahidi Fort to learn about life from a bygone era as a contrast to the amazing architecture of the modern city which we could view from the front or rear carriages of the driverless Dubai Metro system and then take it all in from the At The Top observation deck of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

    The free and impressive Dubai Fountain water, light and music show can be watched from one of many waterfront cafes just outside the Dubai Mall. The malls in Dubai have many family attractions to choose from. The boys could try ice-skating, helped by the ‘penguin pals’, visit the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo and also see the giant 155 million year old dinosaur skeleton (DubaiDino), all in the Dubai Mall.

    The boys love theme parks and this summer Dubai will open the world’s largest indoor theme park – IMG Worlds of Adventure with four themed zones inside including Marvel, Cartoon Network, Lost Valley – Dinosaur Adventure and IMG Boulevard. This will be completely enclosed and temperature-controlled with 1.5 million square feet of entertainment space!

    Our only problem will be going home with so much more left for us to see and do in beautiful Dubai

  11. May 26, 2016 / 6:56 pm

    It must have been a dream to be there! I’ve always thought about visiting one day x

  12. May 26, 2016 / 7:21 pm

    I must admit I was as one of those people who didn’t think Dubai and family holiday went in the same sentence but glad to hear different.

  13. Rebecca Beesley
    May 26, 2016 / 7:45 pm

    What you have told us about the mall and despite living there for 3 years not quite conquering it, is totally mind boggling – I can’t even begin to imagine. I love that photo of the unbrella ceiling. There seems to be so many quirky and interesting sights to see beyond the usual tourist things and that is what most appeals to me. I would love to immerse myself in the culture and history of the place as well as doing all those must-do things. It really does offer something for everyone and I know that I wouldn’t hear the usual ‘mummy I’m bored’ cry of the kids in Dubai – Now that is worth going for in itself! Thanks for the inspiration.

  14. May 26, 2016 / 8:08 pm

    Wow! There is no better recommendation than from someone who has lived and breathed the life there.

    I love how you talk about “old” Dubai, you are right that everyone assumes that it is all skyscapers and millionaires, it is lovely to hear about the history too!

    Good luck in the competition.

  15. May 26, 2016 / 11:59 pm

    Dubai has been at the top of my bucket list for many years now and reading you post has made me want to visit so much more!

    Souks, skyscrapers, sand and sea, Dubai really has something for all the family and the possibility of visiting this incredible city is making me super excited.

    I’d love the opportunity to win our perfect family holiday in Dubai; a holiday for the four of us, that combines unlimited opportunities for fun and adventure. We’d be able to
    escape the ‘day to day’, making memories and recharging our batteries. And it would give us the chance to simply spend our days together as a family, enjoying each other’s company before Jack starts school in September.

    There are so many amazing adventures we’d like to experience, but our top 3 would have to be:

    1// A day of aquatic fun at Atlantis’ Aquaventure Waterpark to cool off in the Dubai heat. Aquaventure caters for all the family with its record-breaking rides and slides for thrill seekers and the Splashers’ Children’s Play Area, which is a haven for little ones with water cannons, slides and climbing frames.

    2 // A once-in-a-lifetime experience at Dolphin Bay. As there’s no age limit, we could enjoy this amazing experience as a family and I can only imagine the joy on the children’s faces when they get up close to these amazing creatures!

    3 // Experience the heady heights of Burj Khalifa. We couldn’t visit Dubai without venturing up the tallest building in the World, and although I’m afraid of heights, I’d still feel compelled to visit the observation deck on the 144th floor. As long as I don’t stand too close to the edge, nor look vertically down, I think I’d actually enjoy it.

    I’m now off to spend the day daydreaming about Dubai and all it has to offer…

    Best of luck with your entry! X

  16. May 27, 2016 / 12:00 am

    My children are still too small to enjoy some of activities on offer (I’d so love a desert safari or camel trek!), but the turtle sanctuary would have my two-year old in awe. It’s an amazingly immersive way to get children to engage with the wonders of nature – and perfect for anyone looking to stretch their budget.
    On the subject of budget stretching, quite a few museums are free or only modestly priced. I could spend way longer in the coin museum than my family would possibly tolerate, but I think I could offset that in the camel museum – everyone loves camels!
    The big blowout for me would be Dolphin Bay/Aquaventure water park. What more is there to say – it’s world-class and wet. I’ll be honest, Poseidon’s Revenge looks a bit much for me, but as I’d be looking after little ones, I’d have an excuse to chicken out, right?!
    Finally – sticking with world-class and wet, the Dubai Fountain is surely an essential part of every visitor’s itinerary? When something that beautiful can be seen for free, it’d be a crime to miss it!

  17. May 27, 2016 / 1:04 am

    You make this sounds like a little bit of heaven. I think I have fallen in love with Dubai from the wonderful way you talk about it. I think you have described the perfect holiday for us, our girls are a similar age to your boys and would love to all of these. x

  18. May 27, 2016 / 2:16 am

    Dubai sounds amazing and is somewhere I’d love to go one day. A great post and good luck with your entry, Laura.

  19. May 27, 2016 / 12:25 pm

    You have made it sound even more incredible than I was imagining. Splashpad sounds perfect for those with children who are a little less confident about being in the water and obviously, you can’t beat a gorgeous sandy beach!

    We’ve never been to Dubai and I am literally amazed at how much there is for families to see and do. I’m so impressed. We’d love to do a lot of the things you’ve mentioned in your post especially a visit to the souks (the writer in me is dying to get in there and absorb the atmosphere and the Instagrammer in me can just imagine the vibrancy of the colours) as well as a visit to the turtle rehabilitation centre for my daughter who wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up. But really, the list could just go on and on couldn’t it? I’m fairly confident that if we were lucky enough to go we’d fall head over heels and probably never want to leave again!

    Good luck with your entry.

  20. May 27, 2016 / 2:25 pm

    Wow! Living in Dubai must be like living in a whole different world. But I bet it was absolutely amazing! My Dubai Dreams are to swim with Dolphins. It has always been something I’ve dreamed of doing since I was very smal and although I have done it once when I was 13 I would love to do it in a more natural setting than a swimming pool. I hear there are some absolutely amazing places to do it in Dubai. It would be the ultimate dream to have my son and partner with me doing it too as they have never done it before. I would also love to go to Atlantis as I am a big kid really and I would spend lots of days on the Beach too. Who needs to spend money when you have beaches like that in Dubai!

  21. May 27, 2016 / 4:10 pm

    Great post Laura, it just reminded me that for all expats in Dubai like us, one day we need to say goodbye to this place which is our home now! Can’t imagine how hard It will be for us…

  22. May 27, 2016 / 5:20 pm

    Wow, it looks seriously amazing – but then I’ve always thought that from reading your blog. Your photographs in particular make me want to go there! Good luck with the competition, what a great way to get back for a visit!

  23. May 27, 2016 / 5:47 pm

    Oh gosh it must be so hard being without your husband but welcome home! I can totally see why you’d like to go back even though you’ve only just left! It is a place that sprinkles magic on you doesn’t it?! It shows just how much Dubai has to offer if you still have things on your bucket list. Good luck with your entry and I hope the 9 weeks fly by. xx

  24. May 28, 2016 / 12:38 am

    Great post Laura. Interesting enough we come from Barcelona and have been in UK now for three years. Just as you we’re learning new things and finding out more and more about British culture. Never thought of Dubai as a holiday destination, actually never thought of Dubai at all, so this post was great to get to know a bit more! Xx

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