The ultimate family-friendly destination and home of the Globetrotters!
Come and see the beauty and adventures that can be had in our adopted home the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – from the dazzling cities to the dusty deserts, amazing architecture and spectacular spreads – most importantly doing it with kids!
On this page we will guide you through Things to Do, Where to Eat and Where to Stay
Know before you go!!!
Make this page your first stop if you have never visited the Emirates, or for that matter the Middle East before. The UAE is a land of extremes; from cosmopolitan cities to rolling desert dunes; conservative but embracing of its Islamic cultural roots. You name it, it can probably be seen or be done in the UAE – if not they’ll build it, on the grandest scale possible!
This post guides you through important things to know about Islamic and Emirati culture, dealing with heat, safety and caring for infants while showing religious respect, and helping you through some of the do’s and don’ts of Ramadan. We also have guides in this section on the religious celebrations of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha.
Use this map to skip straight to destinations of interest, or read on below!
Discover the UAE
With our own experience and the help of other parent bloggers in the UAE we have put together THE most detailed guide you will find on the web dedicated to family-friendly attractions across all seven Emirates. Where we have more in-depth reviews, these are detailed below.
In response to much negative publicity the UAE receives for ‘lacking culture’, this guide talks you through what to expect from traditional Bedouin culture, why it might not always be visible to the average tourist – and how you can seek it out!
It’s getting hot, hot, hot in Abu Dhabi! Now approaching our 6th summer here, we’ve put together our guide to favourite places in the capital where you can look to escape the heat with the kids – and keep them physically and mentally challenged too!!
Our top picks for UAE visitors in more detail:
Now considered not just one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Middle East, but the world, the stunningly elegant Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a mustn’t miss attraction for millions of visitors to the UAE every year. But how appropriate is it for you to visit such an auspicious place with your kids? We give you our hands-on guide how you can still enjoy this architectural marvel and keep the kids happy.
Where else would you expect to find the world’s biggest flower garden than right in the heart of Dubai? An amazing colourful and seriously eclectic mix of over 45 million blooms make up this new addition to the “must-do” list for visitors to Dubai. Get in early in the day to beat the crowds, the heat and the shutterbugs to admire this floral marvel. Tucked away in the outer suburb Dubailand it’s hard to believe what lies ahead inside but kids and grown-ups alike will enjoy this new attraction.
You haven’t truly experienced the UAE until you get out of the big cities and experience the best the desert has to offer. Arabian Nights Village sits about 1.5 hours way from Abu Dhabi, deep in the sand dunes. There are evening and overnight tour options all perfectly suited to family groups that include modern desert activities like dune bashing and sand boarding as well as touches of traditional Bedouin culture. Enjoy sunset camel rides, traditional henna, music and meals, or simply relax around the village and enjoy the oasis pool.
Not just one adventure park but two! A seasonal event that occurs over the cooler winter months in Zabeel Park, Dubai. The Globetrotters take you on a tour of one of the latest and greatest attractions. Animatronics and a lot of neon, but still a magical evening experience for young kids.
Looking to discover more of the traditional Bedouin culture of the UAE? Look no further than the Al Dhafra Festival. Held annually in December, the Western Region of Abu Dhabi comes alive with visitors from all over the GCC participating in a range of events from saluki racing to date packing. The flagship event though is the camel mazayna – a beauty contest for camels. A little off the beaten track, a little hard to find and understand for tourists as there’s limited information in English but an incredibly rewarding experience. Here we give you our top 10 tips on attending this event with kids to get you prepared for a unique and memorable trip to the desert.
Finally, we have a complete go-to destination for family adventure and activity – and my luck its right here on our door step in Abu Dhabi – in fact it’s only 15 minutes from the airport and just over an hour from Dubai International. From theme parks to shopping, relaxing at the beach or watching the action of the annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix there’s something for all the family to enjoy here.
For a couple of years now we have driven past what we thought was an abandoned fairground on the dusty windswept Emirates Road in outer Dubai. After a little research I discovered that after dark in the winter this monstrosity actually comes to life to bring you a “seasonal cultural extravaganza” and “an amazing array of festivals, shopping and entertainment”, as Global Village – what more could you want!
The UAE has an international reputation for flashy architecture, amazing tourist attractions and glitzy hotels within the boundaries of its traditional Islamic roots. Then there’s Umm Al Quwain (UAQ). Fair to say it sits in a league of its own when compared with the other Emirates, particularly the very modern and diverse cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. If the random camels don’t come as a bit of a surprise, the feeling like you have entered a time warp into another realm will probably hit you. Find out why the Globetrotters found themselves in this corner of the world, and why despite staying in possibly the scrubbiest looking hotel we’ve ever seen, we’ll be back.
UPDATED: We now also have coverage on the newly opened Legoland Dubai Water Park, come take a look at what to expect cooling off at Dubai Parks & Resorts. We also have coverage on what to expect on a Daycation at Lapita Resort – the only resort currently on site at Dubai Parks and Resorts.
Still want more?! We have written guest contributions for:
Traveling Mom in the US and Toddlers on Tour in Australia providing some great family-friendly UAE itinerary suggestions
Our Top 5 for kids in Abu Dhabi for Learning Escapes
Abu Dhabi with Boys for Travel with Boys
What to do with 48 hours in Dubai for Mum on the Move
We also recommend 10 Things to do with Kids in Dubai from our friends over at Globetotting: The Best in Adventurous Family Travel
I always understood brunch to be a meal somewhere between breakfast and lunch; not in Abu Dhabi. You see not only is Friday our weekend, brunch is really a fancy way of saying gastronomically amazing 4-hour lunch – at some of the most prestige hotels in the world. Sounds posh and exciting, right? It certainly is, but can you bring the kids? Yes!! Not only can you bring them, the best brunches will specially cater for them, here are five of the best we’ve found so far for kids entertainment – plus our favourite all-rounders for cuisine service and atmosphere.
For a little taste of luxury that the whole family can enjoy, check out Brilliant Brunch at Safina and why the Saadiyat Beach Club makes the perfect setting that all the family can enjoy.
For one of the best brunches for food selection, don’t miss The Terrace on the Corniche at St Regis Abu Dhabi.
One of the things the UAE prides itself on is luxury resorts – and frankly, not many countries do it better! Here’s a selection of our favourites across the Emirates that are suitable for families.
A personal favourite for us in the Northern Emirates has been the Doubletree Marjan Island. Taking prime position on one of the newest developments in the UAE, Marjan Island can be found in the Northern Emirate of Ras al Khaimah. A lot of thought has gone into catering for the family market – with everything from larger sized rooms to the brand new and expansive children’s play ground and pirate ship aqua zone. With loads of activities both around the resort, Ras Al Khaimah and the wider Emirates its easy to see why this is a popular choice with residents and visitors alike (and as a bonus they can continue to serve food and drinks during Ramadan).
One of the significant perks of living in the UAE are the opportunities we get every now and then to do something truly extraordinary. Thanks to a generous client of my husband’s work, we were treated to two nights at the amazing Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort in the Liwa Desert, about 2 hours from Abu Dhabi city, 3 hours from Dubai and not far from the Saudi border – basically the middle of nowhere! From relaxing by the pool to desert safari’s and quad biking they have recreation and relaxation pretty much covered in a majestic looking desert oasis. Sounds romantic right? Well apart from being pregnant and bringing two kids with us, sure, you could call it that!
At the luxury end of the scale, why not check out St Regis Abu Dhabi. With its numerous restaurants, beach club, kids club and spectacular views, this can be a truly special hotel for all the family.
But if it’s a kid-free break you’re after – check out our adults only review of the Presidential Suite at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Abu Dhabi. Thanks to working a few travel perks Mr Globetrotter proves luxury staycations in Abu Dhabi CAN be far more affordable and attainable than you think.
More great UAE ideas on Pinterest
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