A Dubai family vacation, to the city of superlatives – it’s home to many of the ‘world’s biggest’ or ‘world’s best’ destinations of their kind.
Famous (or infamous?) as one of the world’s best shopping destinations for many years, this city-state on the Persian Gulf could now conceivably add another ‘best’ to its growing collection: it’s one of the best holiday destinations for families.
As the most Westernised and liberal-minded of the seven Emirate nations, Dubai has grown from being a sleepy fishing village to a massive, gleaming, modern metropolis – with water parks, playgrounds, beaches, and even a ski resort, despite its desert location.
Be smart about where you stay if you’re a water baby
There are more than 200,000 hotel beds to choose from for a Dubai family vacation, with even more hotels still under construction, spoiling visitors for choice. One of the smartest holiday hacks is to book into hotels that are attached to some of the city’s most exciting water theme parks, as hotel guests enter these for free. These include Atlantis The Palm, with free access to the Aquaventure Waterpark, and the Jumeira Beach Hotel, where guests have complimentary access to the Wild Wadi water park. If you’re looking for Dubai’s newest water adventure arena, head further north to Old Dubai to Laguna Waterpark, which has five waterslides and a wave machine.
Blaze off to the beach
Families looking for the perfect day on the beach are spoiled for choice in Dubai, depending on their idea of perfection! Sunset Beach’s pristine white sands are popular among families and is the city’s only real surfing beach. It’s serviced by washrooms, showers and changing cubicles, and Smart Palms for those that can’t be without their free WiFi.
Kite Beach is popular among kite surfers and is the most popular location for water sports enthusiasts who love wakeboarding, kayaking and stand up paddleboarding. This beach is also fully serviced, with a fleet of food trucks serving a wide range of food too.
La Mer and The Beach JBR both offer a family-friendly combination of beach and restaurants, to keep everyone happy! If you’re looking for something a little quieter, Black Palace Beach is popular among locals and expats. It’s a little more rustic than the others, but it’s quieter too.
Theme parks galore!
There’s so much more than water parks or beaches to keep the family busy with theme parks as diverse as Ski Dubai, a 22,500 square meter indoor ski resort, Motiongate Dubai, the largest Hollywood themed park in the Middle East, and Bollywood Parks, the first theme park dedicated to India’s massive movie business.
However, the highlight for many families would be a visit to LEGOLAND Dubai, which is home to more than 40 interactive rides, shows and attractions, as well as more than 15,000 LEGO structures built from more than 60 million LEGO bricks.
Kids of all ages will also enjoy IMG World of Adventure, which features rides and experiences based on popular Cartoon Network characters.
Dubai International Airport is the hub for Emirates Airlines, and welcomes 3,600 flights from 150 cities in 86 countries each week, making it easy to get there. Emirates continues to win accolades in the airline industry, and its cabin crew are famous for their kindness and thoughtfulness to families.
Before booking a flight, visitors should secure a visa. Visa costs vary according to the length of stay, and at the time of writing vary from ZAR175 for a 48-hour visit to R7410 for a 90-day stay.
While Dubai is the most liberal of the Emirate nations, it is to respect local sensibilities. For example, it’s acceptable to wear a bikini on the beach, but rather cover up when you head back to the hotel for the day.
Top tip for a Dubai family vacation: Emirates customers can unlock the best Dubai has to offer for less this summer with the return of My Emirates Pass – an offer that turns an Emirates boarding pass into an exclusive membership card providing travellers with access to special benefits and discounts of up to 50% off in more than 500 leisure and retail outlet locations across the UAE, until 31 August 2019