| Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Qasba the friendly host

Sharjah's Al Qasba complex offers family entertainment and games this summer: welcome to the house of fun

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Looking for a change of scene? Head to Al Qasba, a sprawling waterside complex located near the Dubai-Sharjah highway, which comes to life particularly at night. Offering a packed calendar of events aimed at kids throughout the year, this summer, Al Qasba plays host to the House of Fun show.

Held in air-conditioned tents, a stage will play host to performances including one from those nutty professors from Mad Science, a Ronald McDonald show and a special week-long performance of Aladdin. There will be lots of opportunities to bounce off all that pent-up energy in the inflatable area or get constructive with giant Lego bricks. With workshops on science and green issues (including how to conserve energy in the home and practical tips on saving the planet), loads of arts and crafts, face painting and more, there’s certainly something for everyone. If you tire of being entertained, have a mooch around the outlet stalls selling goods including kid-friendly toys and – if the nippers don’t run a mile – back to school supplies.

Away from the House of Fun, you’ll find cafés, restaurants with cuisines from Thailand, India, Lebanon, Italy and more, shops, a theatre, an art gallery and yet more kiddie edutainment options in the Kids Zone.

To really soak up the atmosphere, be sure to take a scenic abra ride through the one-kilometre-long canal, the lagoons and along the Sharjah coastline. The relaxing ride offers panoramic views of walkways, bridges and some of the cultural attractions and modern skyscrapers of the emirate of Sharjah, transporting you into the past and instantly taking you to the future at the same time.

Back on dry-ish land, head to the Al Qasba Musical Fountain and watch the water ‘dancing’ in time with the music. Simply enthralling for all age groups, there are shows both throughout the day and into the evening and no two performances are the same. The kids will love watching the water ebb and flow in time to the music, but remember to take a towel and some dry clothes – the little tykes we know wouldn’t be able to resist getting involved and having a splashing time themselves.

No trip here would be complete without a ride on the Eye of the Emirates – a landmark 60m-high Ferris wheel with views stretching far into the distance. The Eye has 42 cabins, and can carry 336 passengers at one time, offering a view of the Emirate’s corniche, lagoons and landscape and, on a clear day, a view back across to Dubai.

Al Qasba is part of Sharjah Summer Promotions 2009 which also includes kids’ shows and cultural exhibitions at the Sharjah Natural History Museum and Sharjah Heritage Museum. Sharjah’s eastern region will also host recreational activities and sea tours in Dibba, Khor Fakkan and Kalba as well as a children’s theatre.
Entry to Al Qasba House of Fun costs Dhs15 for adults, Dhs20 for children under 15 years and is free for under-threes, or buy a family ticket (two adults and two children) for Dhs60. Open daily until July 25 from 5pm-11pm. Abra rides cost Dhs10 for adults, Dhs5 for children. A spin on the Eye of the Emirates is Dhs20 for adults and Dhs10 for kids. See www.alqasba.ae for more information

By Ele Cooper
Time Out Dubai,

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