Thursday, 7 November 2013

Dubai gets the seal of approval...

My younger daughter has two defining characteristics: she will not walk if she can convince someone to carry her (enter stage left Daddy) and she likes a clean toilet. She REALLY likes a clean toilet. She will not use a loo if the previous occupant has not flushed, if there’s debris on the floor (paper, empty loo rolls), if it is dark, cold or wet, if there is any chance of spiders inhabiting it or it is a compost loo (found that one out while we were ‘wild’ camping).

Princesses don't have to walk when there's a camel around...

As such, you might think that travelling with her would prove difficult. Well not if you happen to be going to spend a week with family in Dubai. Because Dubai has the poshest, most plentiful public WCs I’ve happened across. And I’ve happened across a lot – and can claim to have used what is thought to be the ‘highest toilet in the world’ in Potala, Lhasa (I might add it is three hundred years old!!).

But of course, that’s not a reason in itself to take the kids to Dubai…there’s lots of other ways to entertain them in one of the fastest growing cities on earth.

Let’s go to the mall
The average kid would not opt to spend a holiday shopping – but in Dubai a mall is so much more that a collection of glittering shops (that mummy would dearly loved to have gone in – sob). In fact in Dubai, these impressive air-conditioned feats of architecture don’t just offer an impressive range of shops and eateries, but compete to keep you entertained for the whole day – with everything from huge aquariums, ski slopes, ice rinks, cinemas, theatres and gyms. Dubai Mall is the world’s largest (they are big on world records over there) but each and every one has something to entice you in. The Malls are also a meeting place for the locals – and for the expat community – so offer great people-watching potential too, when your legs (or those smaller ones accompanying you) have tired and you need to take respite in say, Starbucks, Costa, Carluccio’s or Baskin Robbins (yes, every single brand you can think of has a presence in Dubai!).

Candylicious is the one shop the kids were happy to go in...

Water, water everywhere

Hot weather is great and so is sand, but a dessert climate without water is no fun at all, so I can see why everywhere you go in Dubai you happen across impressive fountains and water features (there’s a massive one in the airport for a start). There are also a ton of swimming pools and acres and acres of beautiful beaches with soft white sand and sunsets to die for.

If you want to see the crème de la crème of fountains, head to the Dubai Fountain (watch them here) located in front of the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world obvs), and set on a 30-acre manmade lake. Several times a day (and every 30 minutes in the evening) the illuminated fountains will ‘dance’ to music, shooting water up as high as 500 ft (150 metres). It’s like fireworks without the loud bangs and chance you might need eye surgery.

And if you want to soak up some sun but also like a decent shower afterwards and more privacy than a poorly-placed towel affords head to the Jumeirah Beach Park (part beach, part park), which offers clean toilets (!) and dressing rooms, a swimming pool, volleyball courts, play areas, picnic tables, a barbecue area and food outlets, as well as a jetty area fronting on to the lifeguarded beach (check which days are ladies-only though – unless you are an all-female group of course). And the sea there is warmer than some baths I’ve had…

Playing in the sand at sunset...

Up the Creek

Another great place to spend a day with kids is The Dubai Creek Park. This historic focal point is now a large, open space with plenty of room for children to roam (if it’s not too hot). There are plenty of picnic areas, bikes to rent, a train and a cable car. You can also take a boat ride to see some more authentic sights. Within the park you can also visit the Dolphinarium for regular shows or even to swim with the dolphins, and Children’s City – a hands-on museum come discovery centre where children can investigate and learn about the world in various galleries and a planetarium.

Toilet-humour aside, what would your child’s ideal holiday location be? Disneyland? Somewhere with a beach? Up a mountain? Up in space? And how does that differ from what you would choose? Let me know in the comment box below.


  1. Really refreshing to read a post about Dubai from the children's point of view. Have to say, I do sympathise with your daughter regarding loos. Always nice if they are clean and tidy! Thanks for sharing your photos, too.

    1. I wouldn't mind the toilet OCD so much if she could apply it to other areas of her life - particularly her bedroom!!! Surely she'll grow out of it though - so she can enjoy budget travel and festivals as an unruly young adult? Thanks for commenting.

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