Dubai is perfect for a family holiday

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Distinctly Dubai: This stunning city makes for a memorable family holiday

From ski parks to sand dunes, Dubai has something for everyone in the family.

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Prabhu Silvam
Nov 3, 2016

The cityscape of Dubai enthrals with a mesmerizing fluidity—a state that is embedded in perpetual juxtaposition where gleaming skyscrapers stand alongside centuries-old establishments. Past, present and future live in tandem with each other here, co-existing in lyrical harmony as the city weaves together profound traditions and an ambitious futuristic vision into a single motif.

But look beneath the veneer of swanky properties, man-made islands and its reputation as a global economic powerhouse and what you’ll find is an eclectic mix of adventure, history and the arts—perfect if you’re planning a getaway for the family.

From skiing down the snow covered slopes of world’s biggest indoor ski park to rubbing shoulders with the who’s who in the Middle Eastern art world to witnessing the centuries-old sport of camel racing, Dubai is a smorgasbord of family-friendly experiences waiting to be uncovered.

Discover your inner superhero

Let’s face it: keeping the kids entertained on any holiday is no mean feat. A definite hit amongst the kids, the IMG Worlds of Adventure indoor theme park is every child’s dream come true.

Witness your little ones transform into budding superheroes as they hop onto the Marvel superhero themed rollercoaster rides featuring the likes of Spider-Man, Thor, Hawkeye and Captain America. For the avid adventurer, there’s “Lost Valley”—an engaging and interactive play area that will transport the kids and you back into the prehistoric age of dinosaurs allowing you up close and personal encounters with creatures like the Velociraptor and T-Rex.

For something a tad more low-key, head on down to the Cartoon Network themed attractions where you’ll find rides modelled after the characters of popular kids shows like Ben 10, Powerpuff Girls and Adventure Time.

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The world’s largest indoor park also boasts a twelve screen multiplex complete with 3D IMAX technology—perfect for a movie date with your other half as the kids play away. Don’t forget to keep a lookout for the daily live shows and meet-and-greet sessions where your kids will get to interact with their favourite comic book and cartoon characters, so gear up for a photo frenzy.

Top it all off with a delectable meal at any one of the 15 kid-friendly diners available on premise offering contemporary Indian, Arabic and Western cuisines amongst others.

Experience winter in the desert

With sun-kissed desert terrain stretching out as far as the eye can see and summer-loving weather all-year round, the idea of tobogganing down snow covered slopes and having snowball fights can seem rather audacious.

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Discover Ski Dubai makes the impossible come alive with over 3000 square metres of real snow where you’ll get to enjoy Twin Track Bobsled runs, an interactive snow cavern and smooth slopes perfect for tobogganing—all under one roof. With 5 runs varying in difficulty, gradient and height, it doesn’t matter if you’re an amateur skier or professional snowboarder, there’s something for everyone in the family.

A must-see attraction here is the daily “March of The Penguins” show where the resident Gentoo and King penguins strut their stuff for all to see. What’s more, it’s a perfect opportunity for the kids to meet and greet the animals and learn more about these two-winged friends.

Save room for some art

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Edgy, non-conformist and constantly pushing the envelope, Al Quoz has firmly built up its reputation as Dubai’s frontier art enclave.

A confluence of ideas spread across diverse artistic disciplines, Al Quoz is home to a myriad of not-for-profit artist studios, residency programmes, project spaces, concept stores, a blackbox theatre and an independent cinema amongst many other facilities.

Perfect for the art-inclined teenager in your family, galleries here regularly conduct workshops and master classes so be sure to sign yourselves up and create memories of your own.

Plus, if your little one is tagging along, there are kid-friendly galleries like “Jam Jar” where you can paint portraits alongside your kids and not have to worry about making a mess. Galleries and art installations are great places to meet like-minded souls—perfect if you’re single and ready to mingle in Dubai.

Be part of a time-honoured tradition

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Dating as far back as 7th Century CE, camel racing is one of Dubai’s longest lasting traditions that have stood the test of time. Held during the winter season at the famed Al Marmoum Racetrack, camel racing is truly a feast for the senses.

The race sees 60 jockeys racing their camels and speeding their way down the track at blistering speeds of up to 40km/h, vying for the top prize of Dh2million. Be prepared for a day of contagious excitement and heart-pounding exhilaration as your family and you cheer on your favourite jockeys at this highly coveted race and find out why many have labelled it as a “national obsession”.

Move to the beat

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There’s no better way to end the night than to settle down by the Dubai Fountain for a visual spectacle that is sure to please both the young and old.

Tap your feet and sway your hips to the stunning choreography of light and water synced to classical, Arabic and world music with over 6,600 lights, 25 projectors and 22,000 gallons of water—making it the world’s largest dancing fountain. If that hasn’t convinced you yet then this will: the impressive lights display generated by the 6,600 WET superlights is extremely powerful, making the fountain visible from space.

Pilot the world’s largest passenger aircraft

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Located at the foot of the Burj Khalifa and considered the world’s largest shopping mall, Dubai Mall is also home to the Emirates A380 Experience—a one-of-its-kind flight simulator that lets you fly the friendly skies in an Emirates A30 passenger aircraft without you ever having to raise your feet off the ground.

From the cobblestoned streets of Paris to the snaking canals of Amsterdam and the futuristic cityscape of Hong Kong, you’ll get to choose from 12 busy airports from around the world and fly according to your rules by setting your preferred time of day and weather preference. Each simulator session can be shared by up to 4 people, so earn your wings alongside your family and loved ones as you soar over iconic landmarks and well-known cities from across the globe.

Snowboard down sand dunes

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What better way to experience Dubai than to bask in the glory of its most prized asset—its visually stunning sand dunes and cerulean blue skies. Sign the family up for an early morning dune drive with Arabian Adventures for an unparalleled desert experience where you’ll get to immerse yourself in a morning dune drive—a great chance for the family and you to take in the sights and sounds of the desert’s vastness while learning about traditional ways of living and surviving in the desert.

Keep your eyes peeled for rarely seen wildlife like the Arabian leopard and desert fox amongst other fauna. Winter is a great time to head out to the dunes because the cool temperatures mean that you’ll get to snowboard, cycle and even indulge in an outdoorsy picnic in the desert.