Dubai is considered less family-friendly than Abu Dhabi, but this does not mean that there are fewer things for children and families to do in the emirate.
The city is filled 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 and Wild Wadi Water Park or Wonderland, a Caribbean-themed water park, which offer a great way to cool off and have a splashing good time.
Younger kids will be content with 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, such as the Earth Science Gallery, a nature centre, space exploration centre, and computer and communication workshops. 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, Bollywood Parks, which similarly brings Bollywood films to life, Legoland Dubai, and Legoland Waterpark, a huge hit with the kids.
Another popular way to stave off the searing desert heat is a visit Aquaventure Park, which is home to a few truly epic waterslides, among them the world’s longest, the Aquaconda, and the Leap of Faith, a monstrous nine-storey slide. Visitors can also enjoy underwater safaris using Sea TREK helmets, or kick back on the pristine stretch of beach, while the kids frolic in the dedicated water play area.
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 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 this when negotiating their relocation package.
►See Culture Shock in the UAE for what to prepare for in the emirate
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