Mission: Dubai

stuff to do with kids in dubai

So, I know three things about Dubai.

First, it’s where people who appear on TOWIE go on holiday. I’ve never watched TOWIE, and I’ve never been to Dubai (unless you count the airport).

Second, it has a big, fancy hotel that looks like a sail. I saw a documentary about it once; you can buy a gold-plated iPad in the gift shop.

Third, it turns out actually I only know two things about Dubai.


This Easter, Flea and I will be travelling to Dubai, as guests of Dubai Tourism.

Our mission (and we’ve already accepted it) is to discover what families can do in Dubai, and what the city is really like beyond the TOWIE stereotypes and flashy hotels.

Before we leave, we need to organise our itinerary – and that’s where you guys come in. I’d like to ask you to help us decide on what on some of our Dubai holiday activities.

Tell us in the comments what you’d like to know more about in Dubai (or see us doing), we’ll go and check places out, and report back!

To kick us off, here are 10 things (oh alright, 11) to do with kids in Dubai:

1. Ski Dubai

Dubai is in the desert, so it only makes sense that there’s an indoor skiing dome where you can do all manner of winter sports – Ski Dubai is in the Mall of the Emirates, and offers snow activities for the whole family. I suspect this is the kind of thing that comes as a HUGE relief after a few days of desert heat. It’s the biggest of its kind in the world.

ski dubai

2. SEGA Republic

SEGA Republic is an indoor theme park, complete with the world’s largest indoor slide, theme park rides and video games. Looks like a must for video game fans.

sega republic

3. Emirates A380 Experience

Ever wanted to be a pilot? The Emirates A380 Experience, at the Dubai Mall, gives you the chance to take flight as the captain of an Emirates A380 and experience what it’s like to fly the world’s largest aircraft. Flea sat in the cockpit of one of these when we visited Heathrow a few years back, and they’re mahoosive.

emirates experience

4. The Burj Khalifa

Visiting Dubai gives you the chance to stand on the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. From 550m in the air, you can get views of the city and surrounding desert.

Having visited the Sky Deck in Chicago just before Christmas, I love this kind of attraction – you get such an awesome overview of a location.

Image: Flickr

5. Hot Air Balloon Ride

Just outside the city of Dubai, you can take a balloon ride over an endless ocean of sand dunes, and spot a glimpse of wandering camels, gazelles and oryx. There’s even the chance to witness the sunrise over the sand – how cool?

I’ve never been in a hot air balloon and it’s TOTALLY on my bucket list.

ballooning dubai

6. Donut Ride

Like most 10-year-olds, Flea is a fan of things that go fast, and anything that’s water-based. The highlight of our trip to Jamaica was when Flea learned to scuba dive, while in Mauritius we loved paragliding.

In Dubai, you can ride a ‘donut’ – an inflatable loop that gets dragged behind a speedboat. Fast. Apparently it’s a great way to get views of the Dubai beach skyline, if you can keep your eyes open, I guess!

donut ride dubai

7. Heritage Walking Tour

This walking tour is a chance to explore the Al Bastakiya neighbourhood of the Al Fahidi Historic District, with a great chance to learn more about Arabic culture and history. The tour includes a Q&A session, and finishes off with Arabic coffee, tea and dates.

al bastakiya
Image: Wikipedia Commons

8. Camel Trek in the Desert

Dubai offers families the chance to get a close-up view of the desert by trekking across the sand on a camel, before tasting an Arabic buffet dinner, and an evening of entertainment at a traditional Bedouin desert camp.

Last time we camped in a Bedouin Camp (in Jordan) I was the sickest I have ever been in my life, and I almost married a man on the strength of a lukewarm can of 7Up. Flea left me in my sick bed and went dune bashing without me.

It’d be nice to give it another go.

camel trek dubai

9. Abra Trip across the Creek

The Creek (Al Khor) is a saltwater divide at the heart of Dubai, which can be crossed by a wooden abra, or water taxi. It gives tourists the chance to see up-close the old and new parts of the city, with wind towers and gypsum houses alongside shiny high rise offices.

abra dubai

10. Kite Beach

If you’re heading to Dubai, then the main event has to be the beach. Kite Beach is one of the best for watersports, and offers great activities for kids, and views of the Burj Al Arab.

kite beach dubai

11. Wild Wadi

The UAE is well known for water parks, and Dubai has some of the best known – from the Atlantis Palm, the largest water park in the region, to Wild Wadi, an outdoor water park owned by the Jumeirah hotel group, with more than 30 different rides and attractions.

We are big fans of water parks – a highlight of Flea’s summer last year was taking me on a series of terrifying torture devices disguised as rides at Siam Park in Tenerife.

wild wadi dubai



We’d love to hear your recommendations if you’ve been to Dubai, or perhaps you live there! Alternatively, if you’re new to Dubai like us, let me know what sort of things you’d like us to check out on our Mission:Dubai

*plays Mission Impossible theme*





40 thoughts on “Mission: Dubai”

  1. You have the greatest trips. Hot air balloon ride is on my bucket list too – I’d give that a go for sure. I would also want to know what the shopping is really like! Can you get bargain or is it all high end. The teen wants to go you see!

  2. There was so much to do, I went without my kids but can’t wait to return with them.
    The Dubai Museum was very interesting plus the souks. The river cruise was a highlight too.
    People have also recommended Children’s City too.
    I hope you have an amazing time and find some hidden gems.

  3. Most definitely 4, 5, 8, 9, 10 and 11. Having done a camel trek in Egypt, I can highly recommend it – despite the fact that it is VERY bumpy! I look forward to seeing your adventures – we would love to get to Dubai one day 🙂

  4. We live here though my boys are a little younger at 3 and 1 – as we are leaving soon I’m also busy doing my bucket list (sob) and I also have in my list:

    1. Trip to Abu Dhabi to see the Grand Mosque. If you’re staying in Dubai you can head and see the Jumeriah Mosque
    2. The aquariums *again* Dubai Mall boasts an impressive aquarium complete with underwater tunnel. Similarly lost chambers at Atlantis is good and you can get deals where you pay for both the water park (Aquaventure) and aquarium
    3. Visiting the gold and spice so UK
    4. Brunch. Bubbalicious at the Westin is wonderful and fantastic for kids. The butter chicken is amazing!
    5. Desert safari, dune bashing and a Bedouin barbecue
    6. If you head further afield Al Ain zoo is lovely (and we fed giraffes)
    7. The Farm at Al Barari is meant to be lovely for breakfast
    8. Picnic lunches (again at the Westin)
    9. The Journey outdoor play area at Kit Beach
    10. JBR – amazingly equipped beach and loads to do
    11. Ripe market down at Zabeel Park on a Friday morning

    1. Oh my gosh, those sound amazing – I’m definitely down with seeing some markets and trying some street food! That was a real highlight of our visit to Thailand

  5. Hello! I live in Dubai and have an seven year old son. Never been to SEGA world, visited the Emirates A380 or tried the donut ride – but maybes for Easter break! Other suggestions would be Kidzania and the Aquarium at Dubai Mall; Aqua Venture (water park) and the Lost chambers (aquarium) at the Atlantis on The Palm. Tips: Pre-book the Burj Khalifa visit on line – times are allocated and get booked up quickly especially during peak season – it will also save you a fortune! Can also see the Dubai Fountains whilst at Dubai mall – start early evening and TGI Fridays has a good view from the balcony if you want to eat whilst watching. Take the abra to the spice souk/ gold souk stop for a little taster of old Dubai.
    That’s all I can think of for now! X

    1. Yes, me too – I think as a non-drinker, it’s a little easier but you need to be very aware, and I’m interested to see how it will be as a lone female traveller.

  6. Oh goodness what a wonderful opportunity! We didn’t spend long enough in Dubai but we did manage to get out into the desert to drive through the dunes and eat local food one evening. So I’d say anything in the desert, and yes to the camels. I believe you can ‘snowboard’ on the dunes too – I bet Flea would love that!

  7. I would definitely want to know about all the things that are NOT the shopping/glitzy/aimed-at-tourists stuff that immediately springs to mind. I’d want to see the cultural heritage and amazing experiences on offer – whenever I’ve looked at Dubai there seems to be a lot to offer other than the bright-lights-big-and-shiny stuff.
    How about the Hatta Heritage Village & the Rock Pools? The Camel Souk? Driving up to the top of Jebel Hafeet?
    I’d love to visit the Empty Quarter – combine it with hot air ballooning and dune bashing and that’d be incredible.
    And if you get a good guide, then a walking tour is an amazing way to learn so much about a city.

  8. Not been, but I have done a hot air balloon ride over Newbury (yes, Newbury) and was amazed by the number of swimming pools in the Berkshire area! Great experience – just remember what goes up comes down and not always in the most elegant of fashions.

    Re donut rides – I have done this before and it was an absolute scream – but take the middle position as they normally take three people and the ones on either side result in you coming off- a lot and rather painfully. Sounds silly, but don’t hold on too tight as you get rope burn when you’re thrown off.

    Love the more cultural activities and desert activities listed. Exploring is my favourite things to do. After all, you can go skiing and play video games anywhere. Make the most of it!

  9. Cherished By Me

    I always think if you’re going somewhere hot you should make the most of the sun and being outdoors, so don’t forget the beach too for a bit of relaxation!

    How amazing would the hot air balloon trip be though. The Abra trip would be on my list as well.

    Have fun

  10. I’ve heard that wadi-bashing is the thing to do – you go out into the desert in jeeps and look at the sunset and search for oases … very Lawrence of Arabia (without the fighting). Definitely avoid the malls as how exciting is a large branch of Marks and Spencer? Have fun

  11. You’ll love the souks, and the boat across to them. That’s a must. Also The Beach outdoor mall is ace for kids. There’s an open air cinema and amazing sandcastles. My kids loved the build your own burger restaurant. The Miracle Garden is a highlight- go at sunset.

  12. I am absolutely no help whatsoever as I’ve never been. But my brother moved to nearby Abu Dhabi recently, and we’re hoping we can save our pennies to get over to Dubai and Abu Dhabi for the Easter holidays next year, so I’ll definitely be following your mission with interest and hopefully can pick up some ideas for our trip. I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic time if you do any and all of those activities! x

  13. I always thought Dubai was for people who had too much money to spend and we’re bored of holidaying in ‘normal’ places like Spain or France. I’m really surprised about the anoint of stuff to do there (thought it was just shops and swimming pools). I’d definitely go on the heritage walking tour and desert trek! Can’t wait to read more about it.

  14. Oh how absolutely fabtastic it all looks. i would miss the v tall building eek! and and totally fo to the kidte beach and heritage walk and the water park and etc. ait all looks fabulous. Pick me up a gold ipad whilst youa re there !

  15. Ooh these activities sound amazing! I have done a few of them although not in Dubai. Hot air ballooning is just amazing, just an incredible experience. Have a fantastic holiday.

  16. Oh you are very welcome…I live in Dubai and I have two kids 8 years and 5 years….I highly recommend you experience some new things for kids which are recently launched at the beach hotels and resorts of Jumeirah Group (I work for them) as they are known for their kids friendly facilities and offerings….I highly recommend for you and Flea to try the KID’S AFTERNOON TEA at Madinat Jumeirah and the BORN TO MOVE CHILDREN’S FITNESS CLASSES at TALISE FITNESS also in Madinat Jumeirah…I am sure Flea would love them

  17. Great list Sally, very well written, I am Planning for Dubai trip with my wife and kid, will definitely try some of these, especially Donut ride and Camel Trek

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