While Dubai is considered somewhat less family-friendly than Abu Dhabi, there are still many things for children and families to do in the emirate.
Dubai is filled to the brim with fun activities for the whole family to enjoy, from huge indoor play areas and water parks to educational centres, museums and an aquarium.
Child-friendly activities in Dubai
One thing is for sure, expats with families will need plenty of sunscreen when taking the kids out in Dubai. With scorching hot temperatures during the summer months, there are plenty of beaches. The Wild Wadi Water Park is another great option, offering a fun way to cool off and have a splashing good time.
The Aquaventure Park is another top waterpark with a few truly epic waterslides, among them the world’s longest, the Aquaconda, and the Leap of Faith, a monstrous nine-storey slide.
Younger kids will enjoy playing in the indoor playgrounds that can be found in just about every mall in this shopping haven. Children’s City is an exciting learning and play centre dedicated to children from toddlers to teens. There are many exhibits and programmes to enjoy, focusing on topics like space exploration, nature and international culture. Alternatively, Al-Nasr Leisureland, with its ice rink, bowling centre and swimming pools, will provide hours of arcade and sporting entertainment for more active kids.
Expat families will also love Dubai’s famous aquarium. Housed on the ground floor of the Dubai Mall, this massive aquarium is home to over 140 species of sea life, best enjoyed from the tunnels in the Underwater Zoo.
For a day of boundless fun, families should head to Dubai Parks and Resorts. This sprawling project boasts a range of world-class theme parks, including Motiongate, which has rides based around Hollywood blockbusters, and Bollywood Parks, which similarly brings Bollywood films to life. The centre is also home to Legoland Dubai and Legoland Waterpark.
During the cooler months, families can pack a picnic and head off to Creekside Park for a day of fresh air where the little ones will have plenty of space to run around, ride their bicycles, or even take in a little miniature golf.
Education for kids in Dubai
As expat children don't usually attend state-run schools in Dubai, there is a wide choice of international schools in the emirate.
Parents will find that securing a spot for their little one in the school of their choice will likely be one of the most difficult tasks as a parent. Dubai's schools are notoriously oversubscribed, and waiting lists are common for the best schools, so parents need to apply as early as possible. School fees can also be exorbitant, so expat parents planning a move to Dubai should seriously consider bringing this to the table when negotiating their relocation package.
Domestic help for expat kids in Dubai
For expat families in Dubai, employing domestic help can significantly ease the challenges of balancing work and family life. Nannies, maids and other domestic workers play a crucial role in providing care and support for children, allowing parents the freedom to manage their professional responsibilities while ensuring their children are well looked after.
Many expat families opt for live-in domestic help, which offers the convenience of having assistance readily available. This arrangement is particularly beneficial for those with young children or busy schedules that require flexible childcare solutions. Domestic helpers can assist with a range of tasks, from daily childcare duties such as feeding, bathing and supervising playtime, to educational support like homework help and school pickups and drop-offs.
In addition to the practical support they provide, domestic helpers often become an integral part of the family, forming close bonds with the children they care for. This relationship can offer children a sense of stability and continuity, especially in an expat setting where families may be far from their home country and extended family.
Read more about the benefits of hiring Domestic Help in Dubai.
What do expats say about family-friendly activities in Dubai?
"Dubai is a family friendly city. There are lots of different activities for the kids. The biggest challenge for my son was language – he had to learn English. But once he had learnt it, he adjusted very well." Read more of Russian expat Sergey's interview.
►See Culture Shock in the UAE for what to prepare for in the emirate
Are you an expat living in Dubai?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Dubai. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global Health Insurance. 20% off premiums booked before 31st March
Medical insurance specifically designed for expats. With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider.
International Movers. Get Quotes. Compare Prices.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.