Dubai has a reputation for being a destination for the rich and famous, but as Becky discovered, there’s plenty of family fun to be had too!
1. The Wild Wadi waterpark is jam packed full of flumes, lazy river rides and ridiculous fun on inflatables. There’s a wave pool, plus a lovely lagoon for the little ones, restaurants and even shops. If you stay at any of the Jumeirah resorts, you get unlimited free access too. My top tip: splash out on a cabana – not only will you have a central point to meet up (and a nice place for Mum to have a lie down when it all gets too much), but a ‘secret’ alleyway gives you VIP access to one of the best inflatable rides. Prices: £34 adult, £27.50 child, free to Jumeirah guests.
2. Check in to Kidzania, an entire city just for kids, and your children can immerse themselves in an adult world for the day while you amble around the incredible Dubai Mal pressing your nose against the window of Louis Vuitton and Prada. Kids can earn ‘wages’ doing real jobs (roles include dentist, pilot, fireman and computer programmer – all with adult supervision), then ‘spend’ their hard earned cash in miniature Waitrose or racing cars around a miniature track. The kid fashion models put on a fashion show, which is filmed by the kid TV company and reported upon by the kid journalists. An amazing ‘edutainment’ experience. Prices: £15 adult, £21 child (4-16 years).
3. Older visitors might prefer SEGA Republic, an awesome upgrade on your usual video games arcade. They can throw themselves around on a full-size rollercoaster, a half-pipe where you ride your own snowboard and driving games with real cars. They’ll want to stay all day. I lasted about an hour without actually hurling. Prices: pay per ride or 1 day Powerpass £23.
4. Also at the Dubai Mall is the spectacular Dubai Aquarium and underwater zoo - walk through a tunnel as sharks glide lazily overhead, gaze goggle-eyed at a school of Piranha, watch feeding time at the Penguin enclosure and, of course, find Nemo! Prices: £8.50.
5. If outdoor adventure is more your thing, book a place on the jeep safari, deep in the desert. The drivers are fabulous fun and really rocket the jeeps across the dunes, stopping as antelope and gazelle wander past. Finish your safari by watching the sunset, then indulging in a barbecue under the stars with free beer and wine for Mum and Dad (yes, the food was delicious and yes I tried everything – just to be sure). Sundowner Dune Dinner Safari from £50 per adult / £45 per child. For bookings with Arabian Adventures email: email@example.com or visit www.arabian-adventures.com
6. Take a day trip to Atlantis. Yes, really. If you’re not lucky enough to be staying at the incredible Atlantis Resort on The Palm, you can visit the marine and water park as a day visitor. As well as Aquaventure, the quite mind-boggling 42 acre sprawl features water rides, flumes and rivers, plus tropical gardens and private beach. You can also dive, swim with dolphins and even discover the incredible Lost Chambers, a veritable maze of underwater tunnels and alleyways.
7. Take a trip to ‘At The Top’, the observation deck on the 124th floor of the world’s tallest building, theBurj Khalifa. Travel up in the lifts at over 10m per second (you don’t even feel like you’re moving) and step out to the most incredible view of Dubai. You can see past the skyscrapers to the desert beyond, and get a great view of The World, the man-made cluster of islands off the Dubai coast. Prices: from £17 adult, £12.50 child when booked in advance.
8. Get in touch with the culture by visiting the Jumeirah Mosque. The lovely staff there will tell you all about Islam, explain everything about the local Emirati dress and encourage you to ask absolutely anything you want to. It’s all about ‘open doors, open minds’. A fascinating experience. Tours are every Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Arrive by 9.45am. Price: £1.60.
9. Hop on a camel for a ride that will take you into the desert where you can have a go at sandboarding (kind of like snowboarding, but drier and warmer!). An incredible adventure, but not for the faint hearted, it’s hot, hot, hot! Again, contact Arabian Adventures by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.arabian-adventures.com. Prices vary depending on adventure.
10. Last but by no means least, visit Ski Dubai and have a whizz down the (real snow) slopes. You can have a ski or snowboarding lesson, try your hand at tobogganing or just build a snowman. It’s a surreal experience stepping out into the 40 degree heat afterwards! Prices: £30 adult, £25 child for 2 hours’ skiing.
Have a lovely time was a guest of Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing. For more information about Dubai visit www.definitelydubai.com or call 020 7321 6110.
Three nights B&B at Mina A’Salam including economy flights with Virgin Atlantic from £835 per person. Valid for departures 5 – 26 September 2011. Call 0844 557 3859 or visit www.virginholidays.co.uk