Family summers in Dubai

With at least one activity a day for the rest of summer this is Time Out's guide to surviving the Dubai heat with kids

Aquaventure
Aquaventure
Kidzania
Kidzania
The Bucket Boys
The Bucket Boys
Dora The Explorer
Dora The Explorer
Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort
Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort
Fame the Musical
Fame the Musical
Stargate
Stargate
Spongebob
Spongebob
Lovely Lollies
Lovely Lollies
Bacio Gelato
Bacio Gelato
Swim with Dolphins
Swim with Dolphins
learn to Dive
learn to Dive
Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa
Aquaplay
Aquaplay
Ski Dubai
Ski Dubai
Aquarium
Aquarium
Indoor Skydiving
Indoor Skydiving
1/28
Thu July 1

Time Out Top Pick
Cool summer nights at Aquaventure: Kick off the summer in style with a real night carnival atmosphere and lots of splashing fun at Aquaventure. Stilt-walkers, street entertainers, stalls and delectable Latin street food are just some of the extras on offer at these special summer evenings, while great rates apply to the dolphin show and ray-feeding sessions. Of course, the whole family can experience the usual thrills and spills of the waterpark’s slides and attractions, all topped off with laser shows and fireworks. At Dhs200 for adults, Dhs165 for guests less than 1.2 metres, it doesn’t come cheap, but it’s a fab special treat for those hot summer nights. (www.timeouttickets.com; 04 426 2200). Every Thursday until Aug 5.

Free! Kids Wonder Talent Show: Ridiculously bendy kids show off freaky flexi skills at Al Ghurair City and The Dubai Mall.
July 1-4 & 12-14 from 6.30pm.

Fri July 2

Free! The magic of the circus: Workshops at Mercato Mall to teach kids how to clown around (as if they need lessons), juggle, perform magic tricks and more.
July 1-2, 9-10, 15-16, 23-24 & 29-30.

Free! Read-y for fun at Magrudy’s: Fab story-telling, arts and crafts sessions, featuring special appearances by favourite children’s book characters, take place 2pm-4pm every weekend at branches across the UAE. The fun kicks off today at Dubai Festival City and tomorrow at Deira City Centre.
(04 344 4009; www.magrudy.com). Until July 31.

Sat July 3

Time Out Top Pick
Kidzania: This extraordinary mini-town is a special treat, and it ain’t cheap, but we guarantee it will keep them occupied for at least a few hours and probably the entire day. Tots to teens can try out more than 70 different careers, including fire fighter, police officer, pilot, as well as jobs in the beauty, theatrical and media industries. We’re particularly fond of the emergency room where kids get to be doctors, nurses and patients, getting educated in essentials such as safety, risk, rescue and first aid techniques. KidZania has just launched its new TV studio in collaboration with Twofour54 Abu Dhabi, so budding presenters, producers and cameramen can put their talents to the test. Kids under four cost Dhs95, while ages four to teens get in for Dhs125.
(04 448 5222; www.kidzania.ae).

Sun July 4

Free! The Bucket Boys: Noisy nippers will no doubt appreciate this percussion duo who make as much din as possible with buckets, bin lids, pots and pans. Be prepared for a laugh – and a headache. Outside Ikea at Dubai Festival City, daily performances are at 4.30pm and 6.30pm with an extra 8.30pm show on Thursdays and Fridays.
Last day today!

Free! American Independence Day: Celebrate with a sticky afternoon in the kitchen making Uncle Sam cookies decorated with stars and stripes. We recommend cheating with a packet mix then all you need is icing, red and blue food colouring – and a very sweet tooth.

Mon July 5

Free! Tap and Hip Hop Dancers Show: A pretty groovy extravaganza, the Tap and Hip Hop Dancers Show can be seen at Al Ghurair City’s main stage, 6.30pm-9.45pm.
(www.alghuraircity.com). Running July 5-7, 15-17, 19-21.


Tue July 6

Free! Dora The Explorer: The Latina heroine is all ready to set out on another exciting musical adventure with her best friend Boots, a furry and fuzzy monkey. Held at Mirdif City Centre, children can explore the world with Dora and learn to communicate with her friends in both English and Spanish (and monkey, presumably).
Running July 5-21.

Boogie on down: Get jigging at these wiggly, giggly classes for babies and tots. Boogie Babies sessions for toddlers start at 10am and it’s 10.30am for babies. Both classes are on Tuesdays at The Lakes Club, Wednesdays at Arabian Ranches.
Throughout July only.

Wed July 7

Free!: Stick your nose in the air and sniff that scrummy cinnamon as you bake your own Cinnabon down at Mercato. Open to kids of all ages, 5pm-9pm.
Last day today!

Free!: As World Cup excitement reaches fever pitch, keep little footie fanatics (ages three and above) occupied at the indoor beach soccer pitch and loads of other footie shenanigans going on at Dubai Festival City. Budding Beckhams can try their hands at all sorts of activities in a special soccer tent, with games, arts and crafts also laid on for free.
(www.dubaifestivalcentre.com). Until July 11.

Thu July 8

Free! Circusfera Show: See jugglers, acrobats and other colourful characters in this roaming circus at Al Ghurair City and The Dubai Mall.
July 8-11, 15-16 from 6.30pm.

Enjoy some movie magic at the pool this summer at Cine Splash, Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club including popcorn, pastas, pizzas (that the kids can make themselves) followed by a family movie at 7pm. Dhs30 per person, free for members.
Call (04 361 8111) for forthcoming titles. Every Thursday throughout the summer.

Fri July 9

Time Out Top Pick
Go wild at night and take a trip to Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort. Even though it’s hot, the zoo is geared up to the seasons, and opens from 4pm to midnight between May and September, so there’s no excuse for not checking out its extensive animal collection including giraffes, a gorilla, white lions, crocs, snakes, ostriches and more monkeys and primates than you can shake a banana at, as well as the brilliant dinosaur trail, all for a bargainous Dhs15 (Dhs5 for kids aged three to 12 years).
(www.awpr.ae).

Check out the giant charity cake sale (we believe it’s the sale that’s giant, not the cake) at Mercato Mall and treat yourself safe in the knowledge that all proceeds go to the Dubai Autism Centre.
Today only!

Sat July 10

Time Out Top Pick
Modhesh World: The biggest indoor play area in Dubai, Modhesh World is, quite simply, stupendous. Not only can the little monkeys run off steam in the massive jungle gym and soft play area, but they can also burn rubber on the scooter race track, watch a movie at the 4D cinema, take part in all sorts of arts and craft activities, and even ride a pony or a camel and pet little furry critters at the indoor zoo. Make a day of it as there’s a sanity-saving coffee shop there for mum and dad too. The venue is open from 10am-10pm Saturday to Wednesday, 10am to midnight on Thursdays, and from 3pm to midnight on Fridays. At pocket-money prices (just Dhs10 for adults and Dhs15 for kids) it’s a no-brainer.
Daily until Aug 7.


Sun July 11

Make footie cupcakes: The end of the World Cup is definitely something to celebrate, for one reason or another. Make your cupcakes, and decorate them in a soccer ball theme by covering the tops with white buttercream icing. Then, using a small amount of coloured icing, draw a pentagon shape in the middle and fill in. From each point of the pentagon, draw a line to the edge of the cupcake and finish each line off with a triangle.

Free! Go wacky at Wafi: You’ll find giant butterflies, gold people mimicking your every move, a clown balloon-maker, a roller-skating blur of yellow, wacky paparazzi transported from the 1980s and an inflatable parade throughout DSS. Sounds, well… really annoying if we’re honest, but the kids might appreciate it.
Daily from June to Aug 7.

Mon July 12

Free! Musician show: A gang of mini-maestros entertain crowds with ‘electrical classical’ music at Al Ghurair City. The mind boggles.
July 12-14 & 22-25, from 6.30pm.

Free!: Blow away the cobwebs with an evening of roller-skating and cycling at Jumeirah Open Beach. Enjoy the sunset and the off-sea breeze as you and the kids practise your turns. The central pier also provides the perfect skate zone, with a slight slope so little whizzers can get up some speed. A couple of turns on the long beach track and you’ll all be exhausted – hooray!

Tue July 13

Time Out Top Pick
Catch a show!: Wow, you’ll be spoilt for choice this week with not one but two fabbie shows coming to Dubai’s stages. Dust off your leg warmers and those seriously ’80s dance moves because Fame is rocking the aisles at the Madinat Theatre. ‘I wanna live forever!’ (www.fameonstage.com/www.madinattheatre.com). Go a bit further back in time to bobby socks, backcombing and beehives and shoop shoop your way down to Ductac, Mall of the Emirates where the musical Hairspray will be setting the stage alight.
(www.hairspraydubai.com). Both shows run July 13-17.

Wed July 14

World Cup withdrawal symptoms? Soccer Circus at Mirdif City Centre is perfect for footie-mad kids aged seven and up. Use state-of-the-art technology to improve your ball skills, practise dribbling over the lights – more difficult than it sounds – or vent your frustration as you try to knock down defenders with a game of Power Play. (800 LEISURE, www.playnationme.com). Or why not rent a pitch and stage your own competition?
Soccer Circus has three indoor pitches, or head down to Ahdaaf Sports Club in Al Quoz (04 347 7666; www.ahdaaf.ae) Prices start from Dhs350 per hour.

Thu July 15

Swing it! Squeeze in some late night golf before the mercury goes through the roof. Both Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club and Emirates Golf Club have floodlit facilities so you can beat the heat and tee off in the evenings instead. It’s not that expensive either, so you can easily make it a family affair.
(04 295 6000; www.dubaigolf.com).

Make funky picture frames: Pop to Ikea, stock up on those dirt-cheap wooden picture frames then gather together some paints, old buttons, odds and ends, lentils, sequins, beads, pasta shapes etc, and get creative. Once the masterpieces are complete, slather them in PVA glue for a shiny finish that also ensures all the bits stay stuck where they should be.


Fri July 16

Book a lesson with an instructor who can put Marty McFly Junior through his paces at the air-conditioned Rage Skate Bowl in Dubai Mall for just Dhs50 per hour.
(04 336 9007; www.rage-shop.com).

Sat July 17

Free! Get cultural: Head down to Dubai Mall for the Min Bladi Al Emarat for a fascinating insight into Middle Eastern traditions. Check out the unique Emirati culture and handicrafts on display and get stuck into the various activity corners.
Running July 17-26.

Stargate in Za’abeel Park is home to the world’s largest soft play area, a 3D cinema, ice rink, go-kart track and massive arcade. With something for kids of all ages, it won’t break the bank provided you keep away from the beepy games machines. The food court offers several healthy eating options as well as a Starbucks for flagging parents.
(800 9977, www.stargatedubai.com).

Sun July 18

Hilton Junior Academy: If your kids have always been fascinated by hotels and their inner workings, then this one-day, learning workshop that lets them be young hoteliers is right up their street. They get to welcome guests at check-in, cook up a cupcake storm in the little chefs’ kitchen, and learn some valuable tidying techniques with the housekeeping team (which they will hopefully continue at home). It costs Dhs175 per child, with half the proceeds going to the Hilton’s charity foundation. For Dhs250, mum and dad can stay too and enjoy beach and pool access and lunch at the Oceana restaurant. Perfect.
(04 318 2230). July 18 and 19 only.

Head down to Carluccio’s in Mirdif City Centre for ‘Il Piccolo Cuoco’ (that’s ‘little cook’ in Italian by the way) where Chef Giulio is bravely opening up his kitchen and teaching kids how to make their own pizza dough then add delicious toppings. Costing Dhs70, the kids also get to use and take home a Carluccio’s apron and, of course, they can sample their own creations, while parents can sit back and enjoy a fine Italian coffee. Places are limited.
(04 284 3728). Also on Aug 1.

Mon July 19

Free! Hip Hop Break-Dancing Kids: Yes, that’s its official name – and it says it all really. We’ll be heading to Al Ghurair City to check them out, fo sho.
July 19-21, from 6.30pm.

Free! Have a weird science lesson: Surf the web for some funky experiments (we like www.fatlion.com/science) and get stuck into making your own slime, a paper plane that really flies or a balloon rocket. Perfect for little science geeks.

Tue July 20

Free! Spur-ger heaven: Kids eat free at Spur Steak Ranch every Tuesday until Aug 31. A great family dining spot with its own in-house kiddie entertainment, we’re big fans of the Spur burger and warm waffles.
(04 232 8866).

Free! Make a costume
This will require a bit of effort from you, but it’s also a good way to clear old junk out of the wardrobe too. Pirate costumes are super easy. All that’s needed is an old waistcoat and white shirt of Dad’s, a cardboard eye patch and cutlass, and a drawn-on beard. Argh me hearties!
(www.homemadecostumes.org).


Wed July 21

DIY dinners: You slave away in the kitchen all year for them, so why not get the little munchkins to make your tea for a change? Age depending, it can be anything from a basic sandwich, all the way up to a proper two or three-courser cooked by older kids. Prolong the activity by getting them to make their own lists and do the shopping, and make an occasion of their efforts – even if it’s congealed mush on the plate – by setting the table properly.

Thu July 22

Free! Stories of SpongeBob: Catch SpongeBob, his rigidly shaped pants and friends as they re-enact favourite stories from the TV series. Shows start at 4.30pm and 6.30pm Sat-Wed (no show Mon) with an extra 8.30pm performance on Thu-Fri.
Dubai Festival City. July 22-Aug 7.

Lovely lollies: Fill ice lolly moulds with diluted cordial or juice, adding a few chunks of fruit if you have them to hand. Can’t find lolly moulds? Then make flavoured ice cubes instead. Perfect for popping in their mouths to cool them down (and shut them up).

Fri July 23

Big Apple Circus: Roll up! Roll up! New York’s Big Apple Circus is making its way to Abu Dhabi. We’re particularly excited because Bello the Daredevil Clown – named ‘America’s Best Clown’ by Time Magazine – will be there. Definitely worth the trek to the capital.
(www.adnec.ae). Jul 22-Aug 3.

Free!: Treat yourselves to lunch or dinner out at Toscana, the Italian restaurant at Souk Madinat Jumeirah, and kids eat for free.
(04 366 6730). Until the end of Ramadan.

Sat July 24

Good enough to paint Shelves piled high with crockery and kids armed with paintbrushes may look like an accident waiting to happen but Café Ceramique has got its painting sessions down to a, well, fine art. With an enormous range of paintable crockery including cookie jars and all sorts of plates, cups and mugs, just order your food, sit back, and let the kids get creative.
Jumeirah Town Centre (04 344 7331); Dubai Festival City (04 232 8616); Mall of the Emirates (04 341 0144).

Sun July 25

Free! Kids Olympic Games: With a crawling race and three-legged runs, it’s not your traditional Olympics, but with energy to burn and prizes to win, we give it a gold medal. For kids aged nine months to 10 years (and parents too, of course), at Mirdif City Centre.
July 25-31.

Certainly one of our Favourite Things, this Marina Mall life-saver is perfect for an activity-packed afternoon. With painting, sand play, a mini-race track, soft area for babies and a bigger one for toddlers, as well as plenty of books, games and dress-up costumes, the nippers can’t fail to be amused – and there’s a café too. Check the website for membership details, packages and summer camp information.
(04 434 1984; www.favouritethings.com).


Mon July 26

Free! Majorettes Kids Show: Bit of a blast from the past at Al Ghurair, little ones impress with their dance moves and routines as coordinated as their uniforms.
July 26-28, Aug 5-7, from 6.30pm.

Free! Make potato stamps: Another golden oldie: get a potato, slice it in half, dip it in paint and use it as a stamp. Carve a few shapes if you’re feeling dexterous.

Tue July 27

Free!: Modhesh is set to roll up to Wafi in his new wheels at 6pm and 8pm, bringing with him a bunch of performers and acrobats. Even if you can’t stand him, say hello, as you could get a free gift. Funnily enough, he’s due at The Dubai Mall at the same time. (He’s Modhesh, he can do these things).

Free!: Take advantage of this month’s Time Out Kids freebie and slurp off to Bacio Gelato for your free scoop of home-made deliciousness.
(04 323 2949).

Wed July 28

Free!: Meet Modhesh – again. This time Mercato and The Dubai Mall play host to the mighty yellow one.

Free! Wet and wild: No, we’re not talking flashing the cash at one of the waterparks. Invent your own makeshift version (best in the late afternoon) with a paddling pool or a sheet of tarpaulin, a hose and a squirt of washing up liquid for endless slippery fun.

Thu July 29

Free! Clown balloon-maker: That pesky clown is roaming around Al Ghurair City mall with his box of balloons and tricks. Some will love him, others will run a mile.
July 29-Aug 1 from 6pm.

Free!: Watch Dubai’s artists create street art on the pavements of Mercato.
July 29-31.

Fri July 30

Time Out Top Pick
Have a capital day out! Summer in Abu Dhabi at Adnec is packed with fun stuff for every age, from futuristic laser shoot-’em-ups to musical and comedy performances. Dump the kids in the maze at the ‘Bee Amazed’ zone (and hope they’re not too quick at finding their way out) or step into the magical world of Play Motion – a playground of games and art using the latest sensor entertainment technology.
Definitely worth making a weekend of it (www.summerinabudhabi.com).


Sat July 31

Check out Dubai’s latest play centre on the Palm Jumeirah. Open seven days a week, Children’s Oasis Play Centre will keep your tot amused with bucketloads of art and crafts, singing, cooking and messy play. With different activities for various age groups and flexible timings, parents can choose how long to leave their kids while taking a well-earned break from entertainment duties.
(04 390 5100).

Sun Aug 1

Free! Kids’ Fashion Week: As glitzy and glam as the grown-up versions, this mini-fashion week at Deira City Centre features shows, the local catwalk stars of tomorrow and global brands such as Benetton, Diesel, Moschino, Pumpkin Patch, Kenzo and more.
Aug 1-7.

Free! Craft workshops at Mercato: Running daily (on weekdays) from noon until 8pm, little artists can join artistic workshops that will have painting, T-shirt decorating sessions (extra Dhs15 cost) and lots more.
Running weekdays July 1-Aug 5.

Mon Aug 2

Free! Rola Bola Danny Show: Watch Danny do acrobatic tricks while balancing on precarious objects at Al Ghurair City. Impressive stuff.
Aug 2-4 from 7pm.

Children’s City: It’s a little dated compared to the swanky new museums in town, but this Creek Park educational centre for kids aged three to 15 is well worth a visit. Divided into nature, discovery, space, computers and communication, the way we live, culture and the human body, there’s ample opportunity for fun learning with plenty of hands-on activities and a play area for tots too.
Open daily, but check timings and special kids’ events from July 11-Aug 6.

Tue Aug 3

Time Out Top Pick
Ice-skating: Doing anything ice-related in the middle of Dubai’s heatwave is quite an experience, so take your pick from the Hyatt Galleria (04 209 6000), where weekday public sessions cost Dhs30, a 45-minute frolic on Stargate’s kidney-shaped rink (800 9977) for Dhs25, or a two-hour session at The Dubai Mall’s (04 437 3111) Olympic-sized rink for Dhs50. All prices include skate hire. Check out lessons, camps and special disco events.

Wed Aug 4

Swim with dolphins You can do this indoors at Dubai Dolphinarium, where groups of up to six people can enjoy a 20-minute session for Dhs400 per person, while a private session of no more than three people can be booked for Dhs1,600. (04 336 9773; www.dubaidolphinarium.com). Or meet Flipper and friends outdoors at Dolphin Bay, Atlantis, where a 90-minute session with 30 minutes of dolphin interaction costs Dh595 per person in a group of up to 10 people and includes entry to Aquaventure waterpark (04 426 1030; www.atlantisthepalm.com). A top treat and a truly unforgettable experience!


Thu Aug 5

Junior Gyms: Getting rid of all that energy is not as easy as it sounds in the heat of the summer, but thankfully there are a number of indoor gyms for kids offering classes and camps so your little one doesn’t turn into a sticky blob. My Gym has a summer camp in the mornings (sign up for single days or full weeks) and a packed programme of age-appropriate afternoon fitness classes for kids ages seven months to 13 years. (04 394 3962; www.mygymuae.com). Down at GymJuniorz, instructor Becky and colleagues will be putting kids through their paces this summer with hula hoops, ribbons, beanbags and a range of super-duper high-tech kiddie gym equipment.
Check out the summer schedule on www.britishorchardnursery.com/gym-juniors or call (04 358 0538).

Fri Aug 6

Free!: According to the saying, surfing is like the mafia. Once you’re in, you’re in, which is why those dudes at surfschooluae.com are offering free surfing and paddleboarding lessons down at Sunset Beach. Kids’ sessions run from 7.45am, but email ahead (info@surfschooluae.com) to check timings and availability.
Free sessions every Friday!

Burn off some frustration with a race around the track at Dubai Kartdrome. Great for kids aged seven and above, little speed demons can reach 40kmph.
(04 367 8744; www.dubaiautodrome.com).

Sat Aug 7

The Water Magic Show at Dubai Dolphinarium sees dolphins and seals showing off their acrobatic and comedic skills, with professional acrobats, pyrotechnics and more. Shows run every day (except Sunday) at 6pm, with an extra 3pm showing on Fridays. VIP tickets cost Dhs140 for adults and Dhs120 for kids, regular tickets are Dhs100 for adults and Dhs70 for kids.
(04 336 9773; www.dubaidolphinarium.ae). Last day today!

Sun Aug 8

Do a Deira craft run: Head down to Deira Souk (just beyond the Shindagha tunnel) and stock up on some unusual crafty supplies including dress fabrics, beads, feathers, silk flowers and all sorts of buttons – perfect for inspiring a raft of craft ideas for the rest of the summer. Stores open at 8am, so get there before it gets too hot to shop.

Free! Clothes horse: Get your kids to lie down on a huge piece of paper and draw around them. Cut out the bodies, then spend a merry hour adding crayon ‘make-up’, making new clothes, adding wool for hair etc. The cut-outs are also great for ‘crime-scene’ games too.

Mon Aug 9

TheJamJar: Let little masters (not monsters, note) loose on canvas for a quiet, yet creative, afternoon. Ideal for arty youngsters aged six and over, mums and dads can indulge in a coffee and a paperback while Picasso Junior practises his brush strokes. Dhs95 sets them up with a canvas and paints while you chuck back a latte.
Open daily 10am-8pm, Fri 2pm-8pm (04 334 8706; www.thejamjar.com).


Tue Aug 10

The Metro: Turn a routine trip into an adventure all of its own. Splash out on gold class tickets – you get to look out of the front and pretend you’re a driver, or take a ride up the Palm Monorail to Atlantis and treat yourself to an ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery.
(www.rta.com).

Wed Aug 11

Ramadan: The Holy Month starts today. Get into the spirit of the season by having a clear out – kids’ stuff too – and donating your clothes and toys to a good cause. Look out for striped tents around town where you can leave your unwanted items.

Start a big craft project: It could be anything – although we like the idea of building the Burj out of cardboard tubes and foil – you could make a mega rocket ship, build the Taj Mahal out of matchsticks, make the Emirates Palace out of shoe boxes and papier-mâché globes (made from balloons) or get a really complicated Airfix model kit which takes eyesight sharper than a Borrower’s to build. Whatever the challenge, you have to vow to complete the project before it’s time to go back to school.

Thu Aug 12

Arts and crafts at Bead Palace: One of the things we love about Bead Palace is that it doesn’t matter if you want to pop in for one session or sign up for 20, there’ll be something interesting to do. The itinerary includes jewellery making, T-shirt printing, cooking classes, pottery, paper crafts, card making and lots of other fun and creative activities – even chess and yoga. Suitable for kids aged three to 14 years, sessions cost Dhs140, include ‘happy treats’ and take place in Jumeirah, Mall of the Emirates (Sezzam), and Borders at Mirdif City Centre.
(04 395 2771 / 04 349 7858).

Fri Aug 13

Time Out Top Pick
Free! Learn to dive: Any outdoor sport at this time of year has got to involve the wet stuff and summer is a great time to learn to dive. But it’s expensive, especially if you’re not convinced junior will take to it. Head along to the Atlantis Dive Centre on Friday’s between 3pm and 5pm (it’s near the car park, behind the bus station) where a qualified PADI instructor will be on hand, complete with all the equipment to give you a free taster session. If you like it, kids aged eight and above can sign up to the Bubblemaker course (Dhs275) or Seal Team session (Dhs1,550 for five sessions) and even Discover Scuba courses (Dhs250 or Dhs400 with an ocean dive). Mum and dad can learn too, or go off on their own dive while the kids get to grips with the basics.
(04 426 3000). Lessons are also available at Al Boom Diving (04 342 2993). Free sessions at atlantis every Friday!

Sat Aug 14

Ten pin bowling: Lane hire includes shoes and an endless supply of bowling balls. We recommend Yalla! Bowling at Playnation in Mirdif City Centre, and Bowling City at Dubai Festival City because they offer other entertainment too. Why not get a few family teams together and make a real outing of it? Games cost from Dhs10 per player although prices vary.


Sun Aug 15

Free! Arrange a coffee morning playdate: You’re not the only mum in town pulling her hair out as the kids go crazy indoors. Believe us, there are thousands of mums just like you, going loopy all over Dubai. Arrange a coffee morning – invite over friends with kids of a similar age to your own – and get them to bring a friend too. It’s a great way to share the load and be sociable, plus, once you’ve done your duty, someone else will offer to host something similar the following week. Summer sorted!

Mon Aug 16

Time Out Top Pick
Cité des Enfants: Edutainment in the truest sense of the word, this five-zoned, fun-filled centre gets little ones aged two to seven thinking for themselves and learning without even realising. And it’s relaxing for mum and dad too because trained staff are more than happy to supervise and explain those tricky scientific principles that might evade and embarrass us parents. Don construction gear and build a house of foam bricks, discover the movements of joints in your skeleton, encounter the elements of water, air and light in the experiment zone or take part in organised cognitive workshop activities. Prices range from Dhs130 to Dhs245, depending on the size of your brood. Workshops cost Dhs75 per child and last 90 minutes, including 45 minutes in the exhibition centre with a supervised animator, and they have summer camps too.
(800 LEISURE; www.playnationme.com).

Tue Aug 17

We love taking a stroll through the Underwater Zoo and Aquarium. Kids will be wowed by the gentle giant groupers, huge stingrays and toothy sharks in the walk-through glass tunnel, while penguins (who love to perform for visitors) sea otters, crocodiles, jelly fish and giant crabs await you in the discovery centre. If they’re feeling hot (and brave) let them go for a 30-minute cage snorkel where they’ll see lots of smaller fish as they swim in and out. Don’t worry, the bigger fish – the stingrays, the groupers and yes, the sharks – can only be spotted through the bottom screen. Underwater Zoo and Aquarium Dhs50 per person, under-ones go free; cage snorkel Dhs225 for 30 minutes, ages five and above.
(04 448 5200; www.thedubaiaquarium.com).

Wed Aug 18

Time Out Top Pick
Burj Khalifa: You know you’ve gotta do it – and what better time than when Dubai is bereft of tourists? At 126 storeys high – and with plenty of telescopes available – see if you can spot your villa. Book in advance when kids under three go free, children under 12 cost Dhs75 and over 12s Dhs100.
(800 28 843 867; www.atthetop.ae).

Thu Aug 19

Aquaplay: Have a splashing time with loads of fun water rides including bumper boats (instead of cars), a mini log flume ride and a stand-and-play area wet area called Murial’s Aquatraptions. Perfect for little ones who love the wet stuff, you can book them into the fishing village-themed jungle gym, or they can try their hands at the various arcade-style water games and rides. At between Dhs5-30 per activity, it won’t break the bank either.
(800 LEISURE; www.playnationme.com).

Toilet roll crafts: Don’t overlook the humble cardboard tube. It is a major component of many enjoyable craft activities. For example, fill them with rice and seal the ends and you have some groovy shakers, or tape two together for a neat pair of play binoculars, or, use them to make the turrets of a fairytale cardboard castle. One roll cut into three rings, painted and varnished with PVA glue, also makes a mean napkin ring set. So, get wiping and collecting.


Fri Aug 20

Head to a waterpark: Yes, we know it’s hot, but there are few better ways to cool off than by frolicking about at a waterpark where the slides and fountains are refreshingly chilled. As long as you keep the sun block well topped up, it’s definitely do-able. There are loads of options ranging from Dreamland Aquapark in Umm al Quwain (06 768 1888; www.dreamlanduae.com), Aquaventure at Atlantis (04 426 1000; www.atlantisthepalm.com) and Wild Wadi in Jumeirah (04 348 4444; www.wildwadi.com). Iceland in RAK has been delayed, but we’ll keep you posted.

Sat Aug 21

Arabian Wildlife Centre: Situated just off Al Dhaid Road, the Arabian Wildlife Centre is a fabbie indoor facility bang in the middle of the animal enclosures. Observation windows mean the big cats, oryx, gazelle, ostrich and more can literally be just inches away from you, seemingly oblivious to your presence. It costs Dhs15 per person, and kids under 12 get in free. Open Sun-Thu 9am-5.30pm (closed Tue), Fri 2pm-5.30pm, Sat 11am-5.30pm. Ramadan hours: Sat-Thu 9.30am-12.30pm (closed Tue and Fri).
(06 531 1999; www.breedingcentresharjah.com).

Sun Aug 22

Free! Storytelling sessions at The Old Library, Ductac: Enjoy a lively tale or two in these popular story-telling sessions suitable for tots to five and six-year-olds. Kicking off at 11am, they’ll keep the kids enthralled for almost an hour – then you can browse and choose a few books to take home. Pre-registration is essential, so call beforehand.
(04 341 4777 ext 207; www.theoldlibrary.ae). Every Sunday All Summer!

Mon Aug 23

Time Out Top Pick
Chill out at Ski Dubai What’s not to love about the world’s biggest indoor ski slope in the middle of a Dubai summer? Kids as young as three can sign up to ski lessons or ski camp. If that sounds like too much hard work, then don your snow suit and go for a roll around in the white stuff at the Ski Dubai Snow Park. Cool heaven!
(04 409 4000; www.skidxb.com).

Tue Aug 24

Head to Chill: Out where ice is the theme. A silly-but-fun venue, tables, chairs and even glasses all come sculpted in ice, and they give you a ski costume before entering. The temperature is set sub zero and while food is hardly the point of this venture, you can tuck into a kebab or some warming lentil soup. Open in the evenings during Ramadan, entry costs Dhs60 for adults, Dhs30 for kids, and includes a tea or a hot chocolate. Times Square Centre.
(800 244 55688).


Wed Aug 25

Movies and munchies: at Desert Palm. Catch a flick from the cool of the pool and indulge in popcorn or a few burgers. Movies start from 7pm onwards. Dhs30 per person. What could be more relaxing? Call for movie schedule.
(04 323 8888). Every Wednesday all summer!

Thu Aug 26

Be cultural: Head north to Sharjah and check out the range of fantastic museums. We’re particularly fond of Sharjah Aquarium where, for a great-value Dhs50 for the whole family, you can submerge yourselves in a colourful, undersea world that is home to more than 250 species. Like Dubai Mall’s big brother, the Sharjah Aquarium also has an impressive walk-through tunnel so visitors can get really close to the action. Take a journey underwater and discover everything from the larger ocean creatures to the smaller marine life to be found in the rock pools, coral reefs, lagoons and mangroves. Adults cost Dhs20 and families, a bargain Dhs50. Under-fives get in free.
(06 528 5288; www.sharjahmuseums.ae). Call in advance for Ramadan timings.

Fri Aug 27

Planet Hollywood: If the thought of another fractious food fight is enough to make you pummel the toerags with their pasta shapes, then head to Planet Hollywood at Wafi. Open from noon to midnight daily, including during Ramadan, the usual kid-friendly suspects – pizzas, burgers, potato skins and grilled meat and fish – are present and correct and, along with crayons and plenty of paraphernalia on the walls, should ensure a relatively peaceful lunchtime.
(04 324 4777).

Sat Aug 28

Make pom-pom pets: You remember how to make these – surely? Okay, we’ll remind you. Make two cardboard doughnuts (rings) the same size, put them together and wind lots of wool all over them until the whole in the middle is very small. You can use different colours to make your pom pom more interesting. Then, with a sharp pair of scissors, cut through the wool right on the edge of the rings, and tie a piece of wool around the middle between the cardboard doughnuts, making sure it’s nice and tight. Then, remove the rings, fluff a bit, trim up and… tadah! Crafty types can make several of varying sizes and colours, stick them together and add googly eyes for a pommy pet, while sportsters can invent a whole host of new indoor ball games. You may want to hide the crystal...

Sun Aug 29

Time Out Top Pick
This indoor skydiving centre is a must for little high-flyers. Until the kids go back to school, they can fling themselves into the air tunnel three times for the price of two. There are trained instructors to keep them in the air, while photos and a DVD also mark the occasion.
(800 LEISURE; www.playnationme.com).

Mon Aug 30

Host your own cooking party: Ramadan makes it tricky to venture out for a snack or a treat, so why not invite your kids’ pals around for a tea party? Do it yourself or be lazy and enlist the help of the ladies from 3flowersinabucket.com who will come to your house and host a fun cooking lesson, where kids learn all about healthy eating and knock up a savoury and sweet dish, from Dhs700 for up to 15 kids.
(www.3flowersinabucket.com).

Form a band: This is much easier than it sounds (geddit?). An old shoebox and a few rubber bands makes a toy guitar, small plastic bottles filled with rice and shells are great shakers, saucepan lids and upturned pans can be a makeshift drum kit, while bottles of water filled to different levels make pan pipes. And you can even make a kazoo from wax paper and cardboard. Experiment with noise and cut loose for the afternoon. However, if you have a delicate disposition, don a pair of ear plugs too.

Tue Aug 31

Free! Have a marbles tournament: Old fashioned, but highly addictive, relive your youth with a game of marbles. Just remember, marbles in mouths are a very bad idea. (www.landofmarbles.com/marbles-play)
Iftar feast Head to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding for traditional Emirati cuisine, a dessert trolley heaving with Arabic sweets and authentic Bedouin delights – yum! – and a great chance to expose kids to UAE culture at its best. Dhs125 for adults, free for kids under 12. This is a popular venue, so book ahead and pay in advance.
(04 353 6666; www.cultures.ae). Aug 14-Sep 6, except Fri and Tue.

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