Cine-Splash at Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club
Movie buffs should get their rears over to the polo club near Arabian Ranches for a family movie in the pool (call ahead for exact film details). You can also tuck into pasta, pizza and plenty of popcorn. The show starts at 7pm, and entry is Dhs30 per person.
(04 361 8111)
FREE! Snacks at Living Rooms Café
Take the family for a play around Living Rooms – a video gaming café on the Skywalk at Dubai Festival City. You’ll have to pay to play, but soft drinks and popcorn or nachos are laid on for free. Pick up your Festival Dining book from any concierge desk in the mall and check out this and other offers, valid until September.
(04 232 9291; www.livingroomscafe.com)
FREE! Learn to dive at Atlantis
The best way to keep cool this summer is in the water, so it’s a great time to learn to dive. But it can also be expensive, especially if you’re not convinced the kids will take to it. Head to the Atlantis Dive Centre on Fridays 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 gear, to give you a free taster session. If you like it, kids aged eight and above can sign up for the Bubblemaker course (Dhs275), Seal Team session (Dhs1,550 for five sessions) and Discover Scuba courses (Dhs250, or Dhs400 with an ocean dive). Mum and dad can learn too, or can practise their skills in the ocean while the kids get to grips with the basics.
(04 426 3000)
Playnation at Mirdif City Centre
In the spirit of the season, Cités des Enfants, Soccer Circus and Yalla! Bowling are offering buy one, get one free deals on entry tickets throughout Ramadan, while Magic Planet and Aqua Play are giving away an extra Dhs50 in free credits if you buy Dhs50. Older kids may prefer to experience indoor skydiving at iFly, which is offering a free extra flight inside the wind tunnel for all participants. These great-value offers are particularly good if you have a whole brood to entertain across a wide age spectrum.
(800 5347873; www.playnationme.com)
We’ve always been fond of Sharjah Aquarium, where, for a great-value Dhs50 for the whole family, you can submerge yourselves in a colourful underwater world that is home to more than 250 species. Like its big brother at The Dubai Mall, the Sharjah venue also has an impressive walk-through tunnel so visitors can get really close to the action. Adults cost Dhs20 and families are a bargain Dhs50, while under-fives get in free. The aquarium is open 9am to 2pm and 9pm to 11pm during Ramadan.
(06 528 5288; www.sharjahmuseums.ae)
Jebel Ali Church playgroup
This lively and popular playgroup is perfect for active pre-schoolers. Sessions run on Sundays and Tuesdays from 9.30am, and the price – a very reasonable Dhs15 per child – includes a coffee for mums and dads and healthy snacks for little-uns. Run by a conscientious team, kids aged three and under can indulge in plenty of arts, crafts, playing and singing.
(050 550 0462)
FREE! Storytelling sessions at The Old Library
Enjoy a lively tale or two at these popular storytelling sessions, suitable for tots aged six and under. Kicking off at 11am, the stories will keep the kids enthralled for almost an hour; afterwards, you can browse the shelves and choose a few books to take home, provided you’re a member of the library. Pre-registration is essential, so call ahead to book.
(04 341 4777 ext 207; www.theoldlibrary.ae)
Traditional Emirati iftar
The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in Bur Dubai offers traditional Emirati cuisine, a dessert trolley heaving with Arabic sweets – yum! – and is a great chance to introduce kids to UAE culture. It costs Dhs125 for adults and is free for under 12s, but you’ll need to book ahead and pay in advance.
(04 353 6666; www.cultures.ae)
FREE! Workshop at Dubai Festival City
Pop down to Festival City at Iftar, where the open Majlis area will host a children’s workshop, with an assortment of Ramadan art and craft activities for kids of all ages to take part in. Design and paint your own fanoos (lantern), colour your own mosque, or make pop-up Ramadan or Eid cards. The workshops will run until 11pm. Make sure you look out for some large prehistoric beasties running about the mall too (although you probably won’t miss them)!
FREE! Calligraphy exhibition at Ductac
Fancy taking the kids to something cultural? Check out the Kalimat exhibition at Ductac at Mall of the Emirates, open until September 13. In the true tradition of Ramadan, a group of 10 regional artists are displaying their work at The Gallery of Light, showcasing a variety of approaches to the Middle Eastern spirit. Take the kids along to absorb some local culture during the Holy Month. Open from 2pm to 10pm in August, and from 9am to 10pm in September.
(04 341 4777)
Arabian Wildlife Centre
Situated off Al Dhaid Road, the Arabian Wildlife Centre is a fantastic indoor facility in the middle of the animal enclosures. Observation windows mean you’ll see the big cats, oryx, gazelle, ostrich and all sorts of animals that the centre has brought in, all walking inches away from you. They also mean no banging on the glass! Entry is Dhs15 per person, and kids under 12 get in free. The centre is open from Saturday to Thursday 9.30am-12.30pm during Ramadan (closed Tuesdays and Fridays).
(06 531 1999; www.breedingcentresharjah.com)