From Ferrari World to Yas Waterworld, there are plenty of things to do in Dubai with kids. But we wanted to pick out a few attractions that maybe are just that little bit different. After all, you can’t spend all your time on rollercoasters while you’re here. Can you?
1) Go skiing
Yes, you read that right. Ski Dubai is the first indoor snow and ski resort in the Middle East. This really is the best (and only) skiing, tobogganing and skateboarding in town. If your little ones are aged 2 or over, they can hit the slopes. You’ll even find penguins waddling around here too. You don’t have to be mega-active to enjoy Ski Dubai – if you’d prefer to take things easy, just do some sightseeing from the chairlift. Or enjoy a hot chocolate to warm up – the temperature here is minus 4 degrees centigrade! You’ll find Ski Dubai in the Mall of the Emirates.
2) Have a picnic in the desert
Sign up to one of the 4x4 desert safaris to see the vast landscape and the ancient Bedouin culture. Many tours offer additional extras such as camel rides and sand skiing. With desert safaris, barbecues and picnics often come included in the price. Or if you’d prefer to do things your way, why not just hire a 4x4 vehicle and simply venture out into the sands under your own steam. Drive towards Hatta and then pull off the road somewhere to lay out the picnic and relax.
3) See the dinosaur
Dubai doesn’t do things by halves, and the Dubai Mall makes a grand statement by having a full size diplodocus skeleton in its main atrium. Nicknamed DubaiDino, it’s worth coming along early to see the skeleton without the crowds – the mall opens at 8am and the shops don’t open until 10am. The skeleton is more than 155 million years old, and is 24 metres (78 feet) long. About 90% of the fossil’s bones are original, which makes it quite special – the last similar skeleton discovered had only 30% of the original bones.
4) Make them a home from home
Drive out to Mushrif Park, the largest park in Dubai, and take the kids to the International Village. There are 13 child-sized houses from around the globe, all just waiting to be explored. Each one contains traditional elements from the country it represents. While they play houses, you can relax under the trees. The park also has play areas, BBQ facilities and bicycle tracks. While you’re here, you can show the little ones the traditional Bedouin lifestyle at the horse and camel riding areas.
5) Feed the turtles
Every year Hawksbill and Green Turtles come to certain beaches in Dubai to lay their eggs. It is strictly against the law to interfere with the turtles in the wild, but you may be able to show the kids some turtles by visiting the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project. The Project cares for sick and injured turtles found in the region, and so far has released over 550 sea turtles back into the ocean. You’ll find a holding pen next to the Wharf Restaurant, at the Mina A’Salam pool, and keepers come down to the pen every day. There are also scheduled sessions when members of the public can feed the turtles too, at 11am every Wednesday and 1pm on Fridays.
6) Listen to a story
The Old Library isn’t just a place to come and borrow books, there’s also a story telling session here every week for the little ones. Come on over on Sunday mornings between 10.30am and 11.15am, or 11am to 11.45am in July and August. You’ll find a group of toddlers in rapt attention as the resident storyteller holds them spellbound. It’s a good idea to book your place though as this one’s becoming very popular with the locals and tourists alike. You’ll find the library inside the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre complex, on the roof of the Second Level of the Mall of the Emirates.
7) Learn to fly
iFLY Dubai may be a little on the pricey side, but if you’re looking for a special treat with a difference, this one’s unique. Anyone from 3 years old and up can have a go. All you need to do is don the skydiving equipment, then step into the wind tunnel. You’ll be whisked up to around three metres in the air, and an instructor will be on hand at all times if you need anything. Apparently the experience is very similar to skydiving. We couldn’t say, but one thing we are sure of is you’ll have a great time. You’ll find iFLY Dubai at the City Centre Mirdif.