Before my sister moved to Dubai over five years ago, it was never somewhere that I intended to visit. I suppose I had false impressions about it being too ‘man-made’ and ‘new’. As a family we tend to like adventurous holidays with a lot of culture, and I wasn’t sure this was something on offer from Dubai.
You’d also be forgiven for having preconceptions about winding up in jail for public displays of affection, for not dressing the right way or for drinking alcohol. However, Dubai really is a pretty liberal place and nobody bats an eyelid at bikinis on the beach or the odd peck in public…
Sex in taxis is of course quite different and if you’re planning on visiting a mosque or the malls, then yes, you will be expected to cover up. It’s true that alcohol is only available in hotels, but most tourist restaurants and bars are attached to hotels so if you like the odd tipple (as most of us do on holiday) then you definitely won’t struggle to find one.
A visit to Dubai will soon smash all of your false assumptions and from the minute you step off the plane you’ll be constantly impressed by just how much this destination has to offer.
We first visited before having Taylor and had a fantastic time as a couple – luxury is certainly something the Emirates do well and you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to high-end hotels, white-washed beaches, exquisite cocktails and food that’s second to none.
But my favourite thing about Dubai is just how great it is for families. Here’s 8 reasons why you should definitely visit Dubai with kids.
1. Amazing attractions
If your dream holiday is a trip to Disney World, then perhaps Dubai should also be on your radar. There are seriously so many fantastic family attractions and they are developing and building new ones with every season. This year we visited Legoland Dubai, which was such a great day out. The water parks including Atlantis and Wild Wadi are a kid’s dream and they have also just opened Motiongate – a Hollywood inspired theme park with Dreamworks, Columbia Pictures, Smurfs and Lionsgate, which we also got to visit. Aside from the resorts, there are no end of kids’ play areas, parks and splash pads throughout Dubai – they will never have a dull moment.
2. It’s probaby the safest place you’ll ever go
In 2016 the UAE was ranked the third safest country in the world (behind Qatar and Finland). ‘Nuff said.
3. They love kids
One thing I noticed quite quickly is everywhere you go in Dubai, the staff (from hotel porters to waiters and shop assistants) will love your kids. In fact they will get far more attention than you will and you may even lose your kid at some point whilst the waitress is giving them a tour of the restaurant or just having a cuddle! A kid-free five minutes is always fine by me! In restaurants too you will find that they usually have crayons and activity books for the kids and they always try to accommodate them – always a winner.
4. It’s spotless
Here’s one place you won’t really need your antibac gel to hand – the level of cleanliness is second to none and you’ll struggle to find a public place that isn’t kept completely spotless.
5. Beautiful beaches
From chilled out hideaways to urban backdrops and buzzing promenades, there’s no shortage of beautiful beaches to choose from in Dubai. If it’s building sandcastles and splashing in the sea that your kids love, they will not be disappointed. The busier beaches, such as the JBR, also have great changing facilities, multiple al fresco dining options, and seasonal water based activities perfect for kids.
6. Fantastic hotels
From the tallest building in the world, to the world’s to the fastest roller coaster, nothing in the UAE is done by halves. And the hotels are no different with impressive atriums, luxury rooms, outstanding food and attentive staff. Not only are they the perfect place for parents to relax, but kids will be in their element in the pools and splash pads. All of the major hotels also offer brunch on Fridays which is a must for the gastronomy lovers. They usually run from 12pm – 4pm and you pay a set fee for all of your food and drink. From fresh seafood and sushi to roast beef and far too many deserts, they are worth every penny. Kid-friendly ones also have a fantastic selection of kids food, as well as entertainment and dedicated play areas to keep them entertained throughout.
7. Great kids menus
Most of the places you go in Dubai as a tourist will have western food menus. At the attractions and within the hotels there’s a big American influence and you’ll be familiar with a lot of restaurant brands. This is great for picky kids who aren’t adventurous foodies and at least you can also be sure that you won’t be needing that Imodium!
8. It’s close to Abu Dhabi
One downside about Dubai is that it’s expensive. Especially at the moment since the exchange rate for the pound is so low. However, it’s an hour’s drive to Abu Dhabi – somewhere else that is well worth staying at for at least a few nights. From Yas Island with the F1 track, Ferarri World and Yas Waterworld, there’s a lot to do here and the hotels (though just as luxurious) are less expensive than those in Dubai. Staying here for some of your holiday can help to reduce the cost of your overall trip, whilst also providing another great place to explore. A taxi from Dubai will cost you about £80.
Have you ever visited Dubai with kids? What’s your favourite family holiday destination?