We’re back with another edition of our Neighbourhood Guides and this time we’re looking a little closer to home! Our Partnerships Executive Katy shares all about her fave places in the Arabian Ranches and neighbouring Dubai Sports City hoods, from the best family-friendly spot to grab brekkie to where to sort out your tips and toes. Find out more below! Once considered quite a trek from the City, Arabian Ranches and Sports City are now much easier and quicker to reach with the completion of new roads around Umm Suqeim Street. Residents joke that you can get anywhere in Dubai from their gated communities within 20 minutes and Katy pretty much agrees – Mirdif City Centre, Dubai Mall and Mall of The Emirates are about a 20 minute drive as is Kite Beach, Dubai Marina is a quick 15 minute hop and the airport and Dubai Creek are around 30 minutes without traffic.
The Green Community Motor City where I am is not a huge development, it’s peaceful and quite tucked away (most people don’t even know the place exists!) from the hustle and bustle of the city – though actually only 15 minutes away from everything.
It’s very cute, very family oriented and we wont be moving anytime soon! And though I’m actually in Motorcity, I still get to feel a part of other communities like Arabian Ranches and Victory Heights – both on our doorstep.
Is there anything you don’t like about it?
Whilst there is a lot to offer on our doorstep and there are always new things popping up, it does still have some limitations and some things you do have to venture out for – but that’s also quite nice in a way and nothing is too far which doesn’t make it too bad.
Unfortunately, some of the roadside areas that are sandy and so it does seem a little “unfinished and untidy” in places. I’m happy to block this out for all the good things on offer and have been here long enough to know that at some point it will be finished and will look nice!
What would you say are the family friendly places to eat out? Katy says…
We love Maison Mathis in the Arabian Ranches Golf Club. Great open, light and airy feel with a lovely terrace for cooler weather. Great for breakfast, lunch and dinner – especially good as a breakfast treat – fab pastries and pork is on the menu! Maison Mathis often hosts daytime mum events.
Arabian Ranches Polo Club is also a good shout. Whilst the food isn’t 5 star quality, the kids love going to see the horses (or polo ponies really) and there’s lots of safe green grassy areas for them to run around with climbing frames for extra entertainment.
There’s also a Shakespeare & Co in the Arabian Ranches shopping center that’s really family friendly – we love the slightly kitsch decor and their pancakes are YUM!
And Date Night restaurants…
Bab Al Shams is only 20 minutes away and a favourite to venture to, especially if we fancy a curry – the Masala is divine! It’s also equally as good for a daytime poolside or spa retreat; with or without the kids if you get the chance!
800 pizza which is our absolute fave has a branch in Motor City and deliver THE BEST pizzas and fast too. If we fancy a takeaway this tends to be out go to and partnered with a bottle of something in the back garden makes us pretty happy!
Swirl Bar & Lounge at Jumeirah Golf Estates has a really lovely terrace for balmy evenings – it’s pretty relaxed too – if you want something a little more formal, then their Flame Tree Restaurant & Grill is supposed to be good. And if you’re after a good laugh with your other half then Friday Night Live in Sports City is perfect (drinks, comedy acts and a chilled out vibe).
Best places for brekkie, lunch and dinner?
Maison Mathis or Els Golf Club in Victory Heights is great for breakfast, not stuffy and awkward if the kids are playing up. There’s lots of families who go and it’s spacious too. There’s also The Farm at Al Barari (about 10 minutes drive and lovely place) and they’ve got the BEST almond croissants I’ve ever had. The location is beautiful and the café bright and light; it’s popular for weekend breakfast so do book a table!
The Polo Club is great for an afternoon late lunch – it’s cooler and there’s the outdoor area the kids can run around quite safely in. At the same time it’s a treat for them to see the horses/ponies too.
For a quick snack the Black Iris Cafe in Studio City isn’t bad at all (fine for coffee, croissant and a mean grilled halloumi crepe).
Best place for early morning coffee?
When I’m not hanging out in my own back garden, we head out to Dubai Marina, which is just 10 minutes away. You can sit beachside and watch the world go by. Otherwise there are branches of Costa Coffee, Cafe Nero and Starbucks at Arabian Ranches and Motor City. Or if you prefer a more boutique version then the Cycle Bistro in Motor City is fab (mega healthy menu) and serves RAW coffee.
Best place to go for sweet treats?
My daughter and I have been known to jump into the car late in the afternoon to go and see the butterflies at Miracle Gardens, where you can finish up with a nice gelato! I expect now that it’s getting warmer, this will also become a more regular visit for us. It’s a nice break from being in indoor softplays the whole time, she absolutely loves it and the gelato isn’t all bad either! (We adore the Butterfly Garden too, check out our full review mamas!)
Otherwise MBCo in Arabian Ranches do lovely pastries and little cakes and is a cute area with white marble table tops and crystal chandeliers (very pretty!) and a good outside space for when the weather is cooler.
oooh and The Bake Shop in Motor City is a fab place for desserts and for ordering birthday cakes from.
Are there any cute local boutiques we should know about?
I keep a close eye on the Arabian Ranches Souq or the Victory Heights Facebook pages, just in case there are any bargains up for grabs. Aside from that, it’s the usual Mall of the Emirates for clothes or Mirdif City Centre, which I prefer for a quick trip as it’s less crowded and makes for a far easier shopping trip!
When it comes to home accessories and furniture, you can’t beat Al Quoz – there’s some real gems hidden in there, its just a pain to find them. I always try to have good look on my travels through there – I always spot a new place I haven’t seen before! Local clothing brand Judith Hobby Clothing has just opened a bright and airy space in Studio City- she does great mix and match pieces (maxi skirts, tank tops etc) in lovely soft jersey fabrics.
What grocery stores do you have nearby?
Theres an organic/supplement store hidden away in the Motorcity Parade. There’s also a big Spinneys and a little one right next to the Green Community too. There’s also a mini Carrefour which is pretty well stocked in Sports City. Arabian Ranches has a little GEANT for your everyday essentials. And we LOVE the Greenheart Organic Store just near Dubai Miracle Gardens – a hidden gem with the best local produce.
What good shopping areas are in close proximity?
MOE, Mirdif and the Marina Walk is pretty easy to get to if you’re able to avoid the Marina rush hour traffic! Also, very exciting, Arabian Ranches now has its very own little shopping village called The Avenue with 30 retail outlets including MAC Cosmetics, Virgin Megastore, Early Learning Centre and more! The Entrance is just opposite the polo club.
Do you have any parks/outdoor playgrounds in your hood and can you tell us about them?
Al Barsha Pond Park is nearby and the kids love it – ducks for them to see too! I’ve not yet been, but apparently near the Al Qudra cycle track there’s a lovely walking area great for dog walking and kids who want to run/ride free!
I live in the Green Community Motor City and there are quite a few parks and lots of lovely lush green areas for the kids to run around in away from the roads too. We have friends who live in Arabian Ranches and Victory Heights too that we occasionally visit. They also have lovely sectioned off park areas perfectly safe for the kids. It’s a great way to meet lots of other local mums with kids the same age!
Are there any soft play areas or kids clubs/classes you can recommend or that you know of?
Motor City has the Extreme soft play centre, which is great for slightly smaller ones and the bigger ones. You can grab lunch there and Mums can grab coffee – there’s wi-fi too. I often see mums working away in there whilst their kids play. Win, win!
The Step Up Academy in Motor City offers everything from mini ballet to mummy and me classes, street jazz to cheerleading – there’s literally something on offer for all ages while FitRepublik has a whole heap of awesome kids classes from gymnastics to swimming to martial arts and Optimal Fitness in Studio City offers dance and hip hop classes for littles too.
What do the kids in your neighborhood love to do during free time – is there a good kiddie community?
In my particular community it’s great – the helpers, kids and those with dogs all head out at about 4:30 in the evening, meet at a central spot and head to one of the lovely park/play areas together. Everyone seems to know everyone and if my daughter hasn’t been for a couple of days, the kids bring their nannies knocking to see why she’s not been and if she’s ok. Too cute! Oh, and not to mention the kids who like to pop over every now and again to make a fuss of our puppy too.
Unfortunately I don’t get to see or socialise with many parents, but the kids and nannies seem to have it down to a T!
This adorable early learning centre is located in Al Barsha South, where they’re all about kindling your little sparks! Their approach to learning is an expansion on the EYFS curriculum and the child-led Montessori programme, with small classes so your tots get valuable one-on-one time with their tutors.They’re all about intervening early to stimulate your child’s learning development, all under the guidance of their experienced in-house Occupational and Speech and Language Therapists. As a brand new facility for littles, all the facilities are top notch as well which is always a plus in our books! (Find out more here!)
What schools and nursery schools do you have in your area/neighborhood?
We have several very nearby and I’m lucky enough to be a way of having to chose but within immediate easy reach we have – Victory Heights, Nord Anglia, Kings Al Barsha, Foremarke, Safa Community School, GEM’s metropole. (Read our reviews of Kings Al Barsha and Safa Community School!)
My daughter goes to Wonder Years Nursery, which is linked to Victory Heights Primary School. There’s also Emirates British Nursery in Barsha and I have seen signs for a Building Blocks Nursery too, though know nothing about it.
The Nail Spa at Arabian Ranches Golf Club
Getting your nails done is meant to be an absolute treat, so why not head over to The Nail Spa at Arabian Ranches Golf Club for mama’s day out? With a beautiful space full of light, a kind and experienced team and a crazy range of polishes, your nailfies will be absolutely on point. They’re not just about buffing and polishing though, they also offer luxurious massages and facials in their treatment rooms.
This sleek hair salon is one that’s been turning heads all over the desert city for their ability to transform your tresses into luscious locks. Inspired by the va-va-voom of 50s Hollywood glamour, they’re all about making you feel fabulous. They’re not only extremely professional and experienced, but they’re also up to date on all the newest trends shaking up the industry to help you get the best out of your mane. (Tip: check out their promotions for some budget-saving deals!)
Is there anywhere for mama to get pampered?
In short – LOADS OF PLACES! I use a lady called Sophie in Arabian Ranches for HD brows (she does them from home and I LOVE them!).
Theres Mad Lilies at the Fitness First Building in Motor City, which I’ve used a couple of times for a last minute mani, pedi and blow-dry which were all pretty good. (I haven’t used them for cut and colour, and probably wouldn’t – but for everything else they’re great.) They also have a male grooming salon as well which I know my hubby goes to for a bead trim and haircut.
Otherwise, you cant beat my trusted all time fave – Tips and Toes! They have a branch in the retail area of Arabian ranches and a new huge spa on Umm Suqeim road, which is great for the usuals plus a massage and pamper afternoon.
Cocoon Nail Spa at Motor City has a good following too and does everything from spray tans to nails and pampering treatments. Their Gelish is pretty darn awesome!
Where can you get fit?
FitRepublik is Dubai’s biggest fitness centre with a whopping 350 classes every week and Olympic facilities – it’s amazing, check out our review! – if you’re looking for a good personal trainer then go here (and their kids classes are awesome).
Optimal Fitness in Studio City is fab for monthly gym memberships and some pretty cool classes too (aerial fitness, pole-fit etc) in a really friendly environment. And if you want a seriously body changing workout then try Reformer Pilates at Naya Pilates in Motor City. A-MA-ZING!
Featured image sourced via Dubai Miracle Garden, images #1 and #2 sourced via Maison Mathis, image #3 sourced via The Farm, image #4 sourced via Dubai Miracle Garden, image #5 sourced via Pinterest, image #6 sourced via Pinterest, image #7 sourced via Extreme FUN, image #8 sourced via Bright Sparks ELC, image #9 sourced via The Wonder Years Nursery, image #10 sourced via The Nail Spa, image #12 sourced via Tips and Toes