It’s pretty toasty outside and it’s only gonna get hotter mamas! But while summer in Dubai is no walk in the park (literally, the parks and the beaches are pretty much out of bounds in this weather), there’s no need to panic about being housebound for weeks with the kids. We’ve put together a summer survival guide to the region’s best family friendly activities that are perfect for keeping the brood cool and entertained. From aquariums to indoor zoos, this is the only alphabet you’ll need to perfect over the school hols.
A is for Aquarium
Dubai is home to a Guinness World Record breaking aquarium over at The Dubai Mall, which is a great aquatic (and air-conditioned) day out for the whole family. The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo is easily one of the most impressive attractions in the city, the littles will go wild at the sight of the enormous manta rays drifting by. The crocs have also just had a baby which ed Kaya went off to see with her kids. If you just can’t keep your kids out of the water, consider signing them up for the fun Junior Aquarist programmes to see what goes on behind the scenes. The Lost Chambers at The Atlantis Hotel are also magical for children. Visit for the fish feeding every day except Wednesday and Sunday 8.30am and 3.20pm – an absolute must for mini shark enthusiasts! And Sharjah’s Aquarium is home to over 250 species from tiny clown fish to reef sharks and it opens at 8am (except Fridays), making it the perfect excursion for early risers.
B is for Butterfly Garden
We were one of the first on the scene when the Butterfly Garden opened at Dubai Miracle Garden (with kiddos obsessed with bugs, it was kind of a priority). This beautiful indoor enclosure is full of different species as well as gorgeous flowers and foliage to explore with the littles. Temperature controlled domes filled with flora fauna – and butterflies of course -will allow you to experience a little bit of the outdoors without the crazy heat. With a cafe at the exit perfect for grabbing a bit of tasty gelato afterwards, check out Kaya’s review to find out more.
C is for Camp
Always a failsafe for keeping the kiddos entertained over the holidays, Dubai is home to a number of camps for just about everything you can imagine. Whether they’re chasing Gruffalos, travelling the world from the safety of a classroom or splashing about at sports camp, we’ve found all the best summer camps in Dubai.
D is for Dubai Mall
The Dubai Mall’s a great way to spend your day, especially as there’s so much to do both for mama and the littles. From a resident dinosaur skeleton to great restos, play areas to the Dubai Ice Rink, we’ve put together a little guide to this space for the family. (And a little retail therapy never hurt nobody, mamas.)
E is for Entertainer Deals
We’ve cottoned on to The Entertainer, an amazing app which scores you two for one deals on everything from restaurants to the fanciest spas. With over 700 vendors on board and more than AED 165,000 in savings, this summer looks set to be a thriftier one. June also sees the launch of The Entertainer Kids with some amazing offers including some awesome offers – a weeks summer camp, sports sessions, music lessons, cooking lessons, dance classes as well as admission to Yas Waterworld, Ferarri World, Wild Wadi, Magic Planet as well as lots of restaurants. All for the price of AED 225 for the App.
F is for Funky Monkeys
Got a few littles who can’t keep still? Funky Monkeys is running a fantastic summer camp running from 28 June – 27 August, full of fab activities for the kiddos to get stuck into. There’s something for every tot, from ceramics and henna art for your little Picassos, to pizza making and cupcake classes for junior master chefs. Of course there’s also a few big events like a magic show and a princess spa as well as access to Funky Monkeys’ great soft play area for the littles to go wild in.
Funky Monkeys’ summer camp runs from 28 June – 27 August, running from 9:30am – 1:30pm including lunch. The camp is priced at AED 399 per week and AED 120 per day. To book, ring (+971) (0)4 388 4114 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
G is for Gelato Making Classes for Kids
We all scream for ice scream but gelato at Dri Dri is something the kids can get extra specially excited about. At the weekends the outlet at The Beach, JBR offers mega fun children’s gelato workshops where little chefs get to create their own authentic flavours using fresh fruit and all natural ingredients. The staff are engaging, fun and unbelievably patient, taking the kids through each step (from scooping out passion fruit to saying magic words over the ice-cream machine) before rewarding them with a certificate and goodie bag including a tub of the frozen treats they’ve made.
H is for Hotel Pool & Beach Deals
If you’ve been peeking at our Weekender every now and again, you may have noticed a number of awesome hotel pass deals. Whether you’re heading over for a lush family brunch or chilling out by a private pool and beach, you’re going to want to keep an eye out. Check out our guide to some of the best beach clubs for some inspo!
I is for Indoor Camping
So camping outdoors in this heat is something of a death sentence at the moment, but why not switch things up with a good old blanket fort? The kiddos will have a blast getting involved setting it all up and you can make it even more enchanting with some fairy lights (tip: they sell cheap battery powered ones in Ikea). Set them up with a movie and popcorn and allow a slightly later bedtime – they’ll sleep like angels (we hope!).
J is for jamjar
Get back in touch with your creative side mamas. thejamjar do a number of amazing painting workshops for both adults and kiddos – plus, if your little has a birthday in the summer, you can book out the whole space for a painting party. Painting not your style? Check out our list of hobbies in Dubai to see if there’s something more your speed.
K is for Kiss a Dolphin
Now here’s an experience that the tots won’t forget. We’ve got a few spaces where you’ll be able to meet dolphins in Dubai including Atlantis The Palm and the Dubai Dolphinarium. Better get those swimsuits on and the cameras out mama, you won’t want to miss a minute of this.
L is for Little Explorers
A fab mix of education and entertainment for children aged 2-7 years old in the form of a beautifully designed space that’s been divided up into five zones; Discover Myself, Locate Myself, I Can Do, All Together and I Experiment. From water play to build your own, our curious little people can discover, explore and work together with their petit peers. Want to know more? Read our full review of Little Explorers and of their sibling venue Little Explorers Junior for the low down. 60-minute workshops with hands-on activities and supervised exploration of the five Zones are also available every day on the hour.
M is for Movies
Over the summer the usual tv/movie rules don’t apply (you know, watch too much and you’ll get square eyes). If you’re looking to cool off over the summer then a movie is always a safe bet with the tots and luckily there are a few family blockbusters coming our way. Minions is out on the 16th of June so you’ll be able to find out just what those yellow chaps have been doing, whereas Inside Out, Pixar’s latest offering about a team of emotions and a little girl, comes out on August 6. Older kiddos will love Jurassic World and Ant-Man (opening on 7 June and 30 July respectively). Not up for the cinema? Check out the Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club’s Cine Splash nights, where you’ll be able to chill out at their outdoor pool cinema with the kiddos. (Keep an eye on our Weekenders for what’s showing each week.) Or just download something and create a movie experience at home – complete with the aforementioned indoor camp – too easy.
N is for Nail Art
Got daughters? Treat them to a mama/daughter pampering session at one of the city’s nail salons. The Hello Kitty Spa at Dubai Mall or Town Centre Jumeirah is particularly kiddo friendly (with great mama services too) and there’s a heap of cute kitty nail art to choose from but nearly all of Dubai’s nail bars offer mini mani-pedis for little fingers and toes.
O is for Outings to Adventure HQ
Climbing the walls at home? Head to Adventure HQ at Galleria Mall where kiddos as young as 3 can navigate their way around a low ropes course or scale themed walls all under the supervision of mega friendly staff (read Sofia’s review for a taster). This 2 storey playground has everything for the teenies to the tweenies (and mama has been known to have a go too). We’re talking a hanging swing-bridge, mini cable slider and the classic- but seriously challenging-climbing frame made out of ropes. The space is colourful, fun and the perfect place to expel some energy – and there’s a cafe on site too.
Sassy Mama Tip…Get there for when doors open and you’ll beat the crowds.
P is for Penguin Encounters at Ski Dubai
The snowy slopes of Emirates Mall are home to a little colony of King and Gentoo Penguins who – in typical Dubai style – have a VIP enclosure complete with private pool, top deck area and a private section (yes even these pampered penguins need a little privacy sometimes). Treat the fam to a Penguin Encounter and the amazing opportunity to get up close and personal with one of these beautiful birds. There are 3 penguin experiences available depending on how many of them you’d like to meet and if you want access to the snow park included (a definite yes when escaping the heat!).
Psst…Kiddies must be over the age of 3 and accompanied by an adult.
Q is for Quenching your thirst at Zaroob
One of our fave spots to grab a bite in Dubai, Zaroob also has the most insane menu of fresh juices. Just choose your fruit and let them do the rest – from avocado to pomegranate and everything in between or just a big juicy mix of them all. If you haven’t been to this 24 hour eatery (yes, you did read that right) just off the SZR then check it out – the kids love the eclectic interior and buzzing atmosphere plus the Arabic street food inspired menu is a big hit with littles who like eating with fingers.
R is for Roaming the Souk Madinat Jumeirah In Search Of Treasure
There be treasure in the souk – and if you’re a kid then it’s your job to find it! Take the littles to Camel-O-Shy (just near Costa Coffee) to pick up a treasure map – then wander through the magical alleys looking for the hidden codes. Once you’ve worked out the secret message you’ll need to find your way back to the shop to collect the prize. Sounds fun right? And the best part – each clue comes with info about how to cut back on littering and keep camels safe from guzzling plastic.
S is for Sharjah Discovery Centre
A must with little ones, the Sharjah Discovery Centre is great for children of all ages – allowing them to discover and learn about science and technology (from marine life to construction, the human body to sports) driving, construction, the human body through play. The centre is divided into seven awesome and colourful themed areas including water, the five senses, travel, and mechanisms of building. Budding actors can star on TV whilst mini mamas can pretend-shop in the children’s supermarket.
Psst… can get very busy at weekends so go early!
One of our favourite indoor excursions when the kids need exercising (mamas of boys, you know what we mean) and we’d rather they bounce off the walls instead of climbing them at home. Bounce in Al Quoz or Jump Boxx in Mirdiff are huge indoor trampoline parks that are as much fun for the mamas and papas as they are for the kiddos. With oodles of springy space and different jump zones to leap in, Bounce also has a cafe selling really good coffee and Limetree Cafe treats.
U is for Urban Energy Fitness
Just because it’s blazing outside, that doesn’t mean it should put a damper on your workout regimen! Urban Energy Fitness is going to be offering fantastic mama and bub friendly classes at their indoor spaces, which is a great way to get fit while meeting other like-minded ladies. There’s something for every mama, whether you’re pre or postnatal or have a young tot, with Pre/Postnatal and Fit Mums programmes. Pre/Postnatal Fitness focuses on helping you get into shape with a bit of light circuit training, which is all adjusted to your abilities and where you’re at pregnancy-wise. Those of you with littles aged 4 months and up should take a little look at their Fit Mums boxing and circuit classes, designed for busy mamas who want to squeeze a great workout into their busy schedules. Did we mention that you can bring your babies along as well? (Score.)
Pre/Postnatal Fitness classes are priced at AED85 for a single class (pay as you go) and AED 750 for a 10 class package. Fit Mums classes are priced at AED 60 for a single class (pay as you go) and AED 500 for unlimited access valid one month.
V is for Views
It doesn’t hurt to be a tourist every now and again, mama. Go off and explore our city from the highest heights – the Burj Khalifa (i.e. the tallest building in the world) will give you stunning panoramic views that you’ll never forget. Kiddos under 4 years old get to go free to their observation deck while mamas and papas will have to shell out AED 120+. If you’re not fan of heights then just don’t look down!
W is for Waterparks
With Wild Wadi and Aquaventure right here on our doorstep, plus the Splash Pad at JBR The Beach plus loads more waterparks and water play options across the Emirates, prepare to slide, splash and float your way through the summer heat. Check out our full guide for watery fun and the directory pages on the site for a few ideas mamas – then pack your cossies, slap on the sunscreen and round up the whole fam.
X is for the XVA Gallery, Hotel & Cafe
A boat ride across the creek followed by a mini wander through the city’s historic Al Fahidi District in the summer will earn you and the kids a mint lemonade and scrummy snack from a simple but really good menu at the cute XVA cafe (and if your children are old enough to appreciate art or at least give you time to browse, there are frequent exhibitions to enjoy). A lovely way to spend some cool cultured time in ‘old Dubai’.
Y is for Yas Island
This summer Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island has everything from family friendly shows (Sesame Street Live) to the incredible Yas Waterworld, easily the most toddler friendly waterpark in the UAE with slides, squirters, sprayers, dumping buckets and even swings for non-walkers who want in on the action – and Ferrari World complete with high adrenalin rides, a 4-D fantasy simulation experience, huge collection of Ferraris and even a Ferrari Driving School where little ones can learn basic road safety before moving on to a race track at Junior Grand Prix. Why not book a staycation and make a weekend of it mamas?
Z is for the indoor Zoo at Arabia’s Wildlife Centre
Don’t expect lions and elephants – this ‘zoo’ exhibits all of the animals naturally occurring in the Arabian Peninsula. It’s also the only zoological park in the Middle East to be completely indoors, making it perfect for a day out when temperatures soar. A walk-through aviary allows visitors to get close to birds while ‘the cage’ area offers a view of larger mamals roaming freely in an open environment. Mini nature lovers will love viewing the venomous vipers, spotting the endangered Arabian leopards and discovering life after dark in the nocturnal house. The zoo is part of the Sharjah Desert Centre which includes a natural history museum with fossils and dinosaurs for your little paleontologists.