| Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Festival City life for kids

Clare Lawrence lives with her husband Gary, and her five-year-old son Gregory, at Al Badia Hillside Village, Festival City

© ITP Images

How long have you lived in Al Badia?
We moved in at the end of October, so we’ve been here around 10 months now. Before that we were in the UK, so this is the first place we’ve lived in Dubai. We still feel like we’re pretty new here!

What made you choose the neighbourhood?
My husband Gary works in Sharjah, and he chose our home while Gregory and I were still in the UK. He needed to find somewhere that was easy for his daily commute, but would also take into account the fact that I don’t drive, so facilities needed to be close at hand. He had to make a quick decision, and when he found this place he literally signed up for it straight away, so it’s worked out pretty well, it’s turned out to be a great place for families.

What’s so great about it?
The area’s lovely – there’s a golf course right at the back of our house and the roads are pretty quiet too, so it’s easy to take Gregory out on his bike or scooter when the weather’s cooler. It feels like a proper neighbourhood round here, and there’s lots of facilities nearby at a central leisure complex called Al Areesh, where there’s a lovely swimming pool and kids’ pool, plus a little play area with slides and swings. They hold afterschool activities there too, such as swimming lessons, karate classes and Boogie Babies, so there’s lot for people to do.

Has it been easy to meet other mums since you’ve moved to the area?
Families seem to congregate at Al Areesh – you see the same people there all the time and you get to know the other children and their parents after a while. There’s lots of social activities for mums and dads (when we can get a rare evening out!). They have a bar with live music, quiz nights and football, so it’s a very sociable kind of place.

What does Gregory like best about your neighbourhood?
He loves being able to ride his bike around the back of the golf course, where he can see fish in the lake and feed the ducks. Sometimes, the sprinklers leave huge puddles to splash around in with his bike, which is always fun! He’s a big fan of the swimming pool and meeting up with the other kids there after school, too.

Is Gregory at school yet?
Yes, he goes to Star International in Mirdif. There’s some really popular schools around Al Badia too, but there’s a massive waiting list. But Mirdif is only a 10-minute drive away, we’re going against the traffic, and there’s a great choice of curriculums and different kinds of nurseries there too. It feels like Mirdif is an extension of this neighbourhood really, as a lot of people here send their kids to school there, and people from Mirdif come to use our facilities.

What about shopping? Where’s convenient in Al Badia?
We’re pretty sorted for shops. There’s a little Spinneys in Al Areesh, which is small but very handy. In cooler weather I can walk to the Festival Centre in around 10 minutes, which has absolutely everything we could ever need, from shops to great restaurants. Over summer, there was a free shuttle taxi from Al Areesh to the Hyper Panda supermarket there. It ran every half hour, which was so handy as I could wait in the air conditioned lobby without venturing into the baking heat!

By Time Out Dubai Kids staff
Time Out Dubai,

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