Preparing to spend Christmas in Dubai and in need of a few extra ideas? Aside from the fact you’ll get to wake up on December 25 to find the sun streaming through your window (a novelty for some) and the weather ripe for a stroll on the beach (oh, the joys of predictable Middle Eastern weather), there are plenty more ‘Christmassy’ activities that are free or reasonably priced. Haven’t decided where to have lunch?
Panic no more: there are still places you can book now or just turn up to for a feast on Sunday, and we’ve unearthed 10 of the best.
Get into the spirit!
Attend a Church Service
From 5.30pm on Christmas Eve, St Francis of Assisi Church in Jebel Ali will be holding traditional services including carol singing, family mass, mass in English, Christmas high mass at 11pm, and Malayalam mass at 1am. On Christmas Day, the first English mass will take place at 6.15am, from which point there will be services every hour and a half, held in 10 languages. Everyone is welcome.
Free. St Francis of Assisi Church, Jebel Ali (04 884 5251).
Go Ice Skating
Wish you could be skating around the famous Rockefeller Center rink in New York? A sweep around The Dubai Mall’s ice rink is the next best thing. Round up the troops, and make sure you’re wearing at least one festive piece of clothing – might we suggest that knitted snowflake jumper your nan sent?
Dhs50 per person. 10am-noon, 12.15pm-2.15pm, 2.30pm-4.30pm, 5.45pm-7.45pm, 8pm-10pm. The Dubai Mall (04 448 5111).
See a Christmas Film
It’s not Christmas unless you’ve watch at least one Christmas-themed animation. Instead of (or as well as) The Snowman this year, head to the cinema for a modern family flick in the form of Arthur Christmas, in which Santa’s son Arthur uses his father’s high-tech system for an urgent mission. For something a little more grown-up, check out New Year’s Eve, which stars Ashton Kutcher, Robert De Niro and Halle Berry as part of an ensemble cast whose lives intertwine much like in 2010’s Valentine’s Day.
In cinemas across Dubai from December 22.
Celebrate on the Slopes
Can’t afford a skiing holiday this Christmas? It’s a good thing Dubai has its own slope. Strap on those skis for some Christmas exercise, or head to the snow park to throw a few snowballs, then treat yourself to a hot chocolate at Avalanche Café. Kids can even write a letter to Santa and win the chance to have dinner with him on Christmas Eve. Go to www.facebook.com/skidxb to enter.
Dhs180 for two-hour slope pass, Dhs120 for snow park access. Open 10am-11pm. Mall of the Emirates (800 534 7873).
Ogle a Huge Christmas Tree
It seems everywhere is competing for the biggest and most impressive tree this year. We like Oasis Centre’s home-style tree, complete with fake snow and snowball baubles, or Wafi with its 12m tree. Madinat Jumeirah has 211 trees (and 439 garlands), while Jumeirah Emirates Towers has three 6m-tall trees: each took more than six hours to decorate and holds 1,500 decorations.
Oasis Centre (04 515 4000), Wafi (04 324 4555), Emirates Towers (04 330 0000).
Run to the Supermarket for Something You’ve Forgotten
You couldn’t just pop to the shops if you were living almost anywhere in Europe, where everything is closed on Christmas Day. However, living in Dubai means you’ve absolutely no need to panic – most places are open on December 25. Christmas crisis averted!