It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, 06 Dec 2018 11:10:20 +0400Festive music is blasting from speakers across malls, and parents are rushing to grab the best prezzies for little ones. Trees are decorated, lights are hung and we can all look forward to some of the biggest family events of the year – it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the UAE. We’ve wrapped up the city’s biggest parties, markets, tree lightings, festivals and more – because it’s time to celebrate and be merry.

Watch Christmas trees get all lit up

Fairmont The Palm

The annual tree-lighting ceremony features complimentary festive delights and beverages.
Wednesday December 5, 5pm-7pm. Fairmont The Palm lobby (04 457 3457).

Sheraton Mall of the Emirates Hotel
Join Santa for a grand tree lighting complete with homemade treats, spiced beverages and carols.
Dec 6, 7pm. Sheraton Mall of the Emirates Hotel, Al Barsha (04 772 353).

Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay
Head to this tree-lighting ceremony at Swim & Tonic for Christmas carols by the International German School Choir, plus a visit from Santa, festive food and drinks stalls.
Dec 5, 6.30pm-8pm. Al Abraj Street (04 369 0000).

The Irish Village
Kids are more than welcome at this traditional Christmas tree lighting, with two choirs and carols as well as mulled grape and home-baked mince pies.
Dec 3, 7pm-10pm. Next to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Garhoud (04 282 4750).

Towers Rotana Dubai
Visit and get into the festive spirit over some irresistible goodies and Christmas carols, led by the hotel choir, The Aspens and last year’s social media Christmas carol competition winners.
Dec 9, 7pm. Towers Rotana Dubai (04 312 2201).

Abu Dhabi
Emirates Palace

A candlelit Grand Dome, songs, festive spirit and special surprises, you can expect all of this and more at Emirates Palace’s tree lighting, where it will sparkle with thousands of twinkling lights. Don’t leave without  having a chat with Santa Claus and letting him know what’s on your Christmas list.
Dec 9, 7pm. West Corniche Road (02 690 9000).

Park Rotana, Abu Dhabi

The tree lighting ceremony at Park Rotana’s lobby will showcase a stunning tree as the resident choir fills the air with carols. Little ones get treats and a surprise visit from Santa. The hotel’s chefs will also prepare some treats for the occasion.
Dec 11, 5.30-8pm. Eastern Ring Road (02 657 3333).

Sofitel Abu Dhabi
At this tree lighting ceremony, not only will you find delicious treats and sing along to your favourite carols performed by the Heartist’s Choir, but Santa Claus will drop in to surprise the kids, while mum and dad shop the festive goodies available at Le Café’s gingerbread house. 
Dec 9, 6pm. Corniche Road East, Abu Dhabi (02 813 7777).

Turkey takeaways

Al Nafoorah

Go for an Arabic twist this Christmas with a takeaway festive feast from Al Nafoorah. Sides include sautéed vegetables, roast or mashed potatoes and oriental rice with minced lamb and fried nuts.
Dhs650. December. Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road

Perry & Blackwelder’s
For a classic US experience, dig into this takeaway turkey from Perry & Blackwelders. You’ll get a roast turkey – in wither 6kg or 11kg – as well as sides of roast or mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, boiled cabbage, grilled corn and carrots.
Dhs495 (6kg), Dhs650 (6kg with trimmings), Dhs850 (11kg and trimmings). Daily througout December. Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 366 6197).  

Take an Italian twist on your roast turkey with this swanky Madinat eatery. Side options include lemon green beans, brown butter carrots, honey-roasted parsnips, Brussels sprouts, roast and mashed potatoes.
Dhs525 (6kg), Dhs575 (6kg with sides), Dhs845 (9kg with sides). Daily througout December. Souk Madinat Jumeirah (04 432 3232).

The Great British Festive Roast
Created by the team behind The Ivy and Rivington Grill, the ultimate Great British Roast is tailormade for expats craving a traditional British festive roast with all the trimmings. The package features a boneless roast turkey breast and stuffed legs with extras including mince pies, desserts and crackers. Sides include gluten-free cocktail sausages wrapped in veal and non-veal bacon, braised red cabbage and more. For dessert, there’s a traditional Christmas pudding or sticky toffee pudding.
From Dhs399. Throughout December. Collection from the Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road

Abu Dhabi
Emirates Palace

There are many hampers to choose from at Le Café Retail, including a sweet collection priced at Dhs750, so if you have a sweet tooth you know where to go. Then there’s the turkey…
From Dhs850. Dec 9-25. West Corniche Road (02 690 9000).

Four Seasons Abu Dhabi
There are many festive goodies to buy from the Four Seasons, but they also cook up a mean turkey – and it’s quite affordable.
From Dhs250. Al Maryah Island (02 333 2222). 

Sofitel Abu Dhabi
Now you’ll have more time to spend with friends and family. Your turkey takeaway will come ready to be served with all the sides and trimmings.
Dhs495. Corniche Road East (02 813 7777).

The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal
The Ritz’s Giornotte restaurant chefs will take the hassle out of turkey time, preparing a festive dinner for you with just a 24-hour notice that includes the stuffing, giblet gravy and root veggies.
Dhs650. Dec 21-Jan 2. Al Maqta (02 818 8282).

Parties, markets and activities

Amwaj Rotana

If a festive goodies atrium sounds like your kind of celebration, you’ll find treats for takeaway such as yule logs, mince pies, Christmas pudding, stollen, homemade gingerbread houses and other confectionery at this one.
Prices vary. Dec 5-Jan 6. The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 428 2000).

Habtoor Palace

This enchanting winter wonderland will be brimming with dazzling decorations and holiday carols in the beautiful Versailles gardens. Activities include everything from fun rides for little ones to delicious Yuletide delights. You’ll find daily entertainment and a Santa arrival, too. Yep, Santa’s always on the list.
Free. Open daily 3pm-midnight. Dec 4-21. Habtoor Palace, LXR Hotels & Resorts, Al Habtoor City (04 275 1542).

JW Marriott Marquis
A life-size gingerbread house at La Farine Café & Bakery and the sweet and spicy aromas of the festive market – this is all just to set the scene for what you can expect at JW Marriott Marquis’ celebration. You’ll get to try delicious seasonal cakes, hot chocolate, strawberry fondue and homemade waffles.
Free. Dec 4-26, 10am-10pm. Business Bay, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 414 0000).

Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre
Younglings get to build and decorate gingerbread houses with the help of some friendly elves. They will also take part in exciting activities, munch on yummy treats and celebrate with entertainment and a daily visit from Santa himself.
Dhs25 (kids aged 12 and under). Dec 12-24, 4pm-8pm. Airport Road, Garhoud (04 702 2455).

The Italian restaurant is known for its extra family-friendly vibes, and it’s launching special set menus for the season that include dishes made for sharing such as pizza petals, fried sardines and more. Luigia will also host kids’ movie nights at its in-house cinema. How cute is that?
From Dhs200. Throughout December. Rixos Premium JBR, The Walk (04 349 6950).

Media One Hotel
At the hotel’s festive market, you’ll find everything from gingerbread goodies, to Christmas gifts for your loved ones at the M12Go counter.
Prices vary. Dec 2-31, 9am-5pm. Media City (04 427 1000).

Raffles Dubai

Cooking classes take on a new format at Raffles Dubai, which will be hosting gingerbread house workshops at Raffles Salon, the festive heart of the hotel. There will also be a live pianist and a hand-painted, wall-sized advent calendar counting down to Christmas.
Free. Thu and Sat, throughout December. Wafi City, Oud Metha (04 324 8888).

Reform Social & Grill
Be quick to visit this one, it’s on until Saturday, December 1 and it’s as family-friendly as ever. Shop for gifts, watch tricks by a magician and get the kids to write letters to Santa before meeting the man himself – if you haven’t already...
Free. Dec 1, noon-6pm. The Lakes Club, Emirates Hills (04 454 2638).

Souk Madinat
Looking for a massive market to satisfy your festive shopping appetite? Head to Souk Madinat Jumeirah for a traditional German market including food stalls as well as abras through the Madinat waterways steered by Santa and his elves. There is also a snow zone for children, a gingerbread house making station and a play area. That’s not to mention the huge Christmas tree, which will be decorated and lit up bringing a festive feel to the whole of Madinat Jumeirah.
Free. Thu Dec 20-Fri Dec 28, noon-late. Sun 23 and Wed 26, 3pm-late. Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim,

Abu Dhabi
Cascade Dining

Hala Bil Winter translates into “welcome winter” in Arabic, and the capital’s Cascade Dining will be welcoming the cooler weather with open arms with weekend events featuring Christmas-themed roaming characters, lively games, contests, challenges and quizzes, plus face painting, parades and workshops for kids. The event is free if you spend Dhs20 at any of the dining outlets too.
Dhs20 (per child). Dec 7-29, Fridays and Saturdays 2pm-8pm. Yas Mall,

Park Rotana, Abu Dhabi
You’ll get to re-live your memories from the festive season and the kids will make theirs at ParKafe, where you’ll find everything from the traditional roasted turkey with all the trimmings and gingerbread houses, to Yule log, Christmas pudding, chocolates and more.
Prices vary. Eastern Ring Road, (02 657 3333).

The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal

The Yule Log Market at The Ritz’s Dolce Café will be filled with festively-adorned mini yule logs in traditional flavours which you can have on the spot or take home.
Prices vary. Dec 3-Jan 3, 2pm-7pm. Al Maqta Street (02 818 8282).

The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa

This festive market is quite a special one as kids get to chase Santa instead of mum, and we like the sound of that. The Westin events lawn will turn into a Winter Wonderland packed with vendors and activities for the whole family, including entertainment by local dance schools, a petting zoo, cookie decoration and more. There’s also a wish tree where little ones can buy you a surprise gift for Dhs100. 
Free entry. Dec 8 noon-7pm. Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Sas Al Nakhl (02 616 9999).

Yas Marina
Candy stores are always tons of fun, but a festive candy haven sounds even better. Yas Marina’s Festive Candy Land will be a magical event filled with treats and mesmerising decorations, where families can celebrate and choose from nine restaurants which will be serving up their best dishes for this very special season.
Free. Dec 21-22, 1pm-7pm. Yas Marina,

For the kids

Christmas fun at Accents Restaurant

Treat your kids to an afternoon full of sweet treats and delights where they’ll learn how to make gingerbread houses. Try to resist the takeaway cakes, minced pies, pudding and cookies. Must not give in.
Dhs99. Saturday December 8 and 15, 12pm to 2pm. Lobby Level; InterContinental Dubai Marina (04 446 6654).

Family Christmas fair at Fairmont Falcons Kids’ Club
Head to this family-friendly Christmas fair where kids can meet Santa, decorate gingerbread houses and have fun creating special moments.
Dhs280 (kids aged three-15). Sat Dec 22, 2pm-4pm. Fairmont The Palm (04 457 3331).

Gingerbread house-making at Nosh

Kids will get their very own custom aprons and make some of the prettiest houses in town. We can’t wait.
Dhs99. Saturday December 8, 3pm to 6pm. Mövenpick Hotel Jumeriah Lakes Towers (04 380 0000).

Kids’ gingerbread-decorating class at Al Habtoor
Want to be able to sit back and relax while someone else makes the Christmas bakes? Well, take your kids to a gingerbread-decorating class and you could do just that. They’ll be taught how to perfect the presentation of a gingerbread house, ready to be brought home and devoured. Booking is required.
Dhs165. Dec 15 & 22 2pm-5pm. Habtoor Palace, LXR Hotels & Resorts, Al Habtoor City (04 275 1542).

Santa’s workshops at Fairmont Falcons Kids’ Club

You’ll find festive fun by the stocking-load for the little ones here comprising of craft sessions, entertainment and much more.
Dhs140 (kids aged three-15). Sun Dec 23-Mon 24, 2pm-4pm. Fairmont The Palm (04 457 3331).

Abu Dhabi
Build-your-own gingerbread at The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal

Kids aged four to 12 can visit Dolce Café and create magical gingerbread houses out of treats such as marshmallows, candy sticks, candy floss and more.
Dhs175 (per gingerbread house). Dec 9-30, daily 4pm-5pm, 6pm-7pm (except Fridays). Al Maqta Street (02 818 8282). 

Surprise-filled gingerbread house at Sofitel Abu Dhabi
Festive magic and treats await at this gingerbread house. Oh I really, really want to build a gingerbread house, it could be a lovely home for a little mouse.
Free. Dec 9-Jan 3. Corniche Road East, Abu Dhabi (02 813 7777).

Snowman building at The Lobby Lounge
Do you want to build a snowman? Well, the kids can at The Lobby Lounge, they can even make a gingerbread house. Book an afternoon tea and they get the class for free too.
Dhs65 (per child). Dec 24. Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, West Corniche (02 811 5555).

Take-home gingerbread house at Emirates Palace

Little ones will get to make their own gingerbread houses to take home at the palace, all with the big chefs’ help of course.
Dhs245. Dec 15. West Corniche Road (02 690 9000).

Just enjoy the show

Jingle Bell Favourites

Kick-off the Christmas countdown with this family concert of carols and much-loved classics performed by The London Concert Orchestra Show Band and Capital Voices Choir. Hits include Jingle Bell Rock, Frosty the Snowman, Baby It’s Cold Outside, Silent Night, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Winter Wonderland, Let It Snow and many more.
From Dhs175. Times vary. Dec 13-15. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai,

The Nutcracker and I
For one night only, one of the most enchanting Christmas scores ever comes to Dubai on Wednesday, December 12. Tchaikovsky’s beloved tale is brought to life with hand-drawn digital animations projected onto a gauze that dance across the screen alongside a real-life ballerina. The incredible fusion of reality and technology will be elevated with a live pianist playing Sugar Plum Fairy, of course.
From Dhs125 (adults), Dhs62.50 (kids under 12). Two shows 6pm & 8pm. Dec 12. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai,

Abu Dhabi
Ferrari World Winterfest

Wondering how the cool kids will be celebrating? The theme park is gearing up for the festive season and there’s loads in store in store for you and the kiddies to check out. Bjorn the animatronic polar bear will be there to greet you with some of his “moves”, and you can expect tons of magic-filled shows featuring fairytale characters going ice skating and more.
Free. Dec 14-Jan 5, 4pm-10pm. Yas Island,

Winter Wonderland

There’s so much in store at Al Maryah Island’s Winter Wonderland, but we can’t wait for the live stage shows featuring some of the season’s most festive characters, and followed by meet and greets with six princesses from popular children’s fairy tales including Snow White and Rapunzel. Finally we’ll get to meet them... There will also be roaming performances featuring everything from winter ballet to a special appearance from Santa and his elves.
Free. Starting Dec 13, 4pm-10pm. Al Maryah Island,

Boxing Day 

Al Bayt

There’s nothing quite like an afternoon tea on Boxing Day to let the festivities sink in. Head to this palatial spread and nibble on finger sarnies and cakes to round off your Christmas celebrations.
Dhs190 (adults), Dhs90 (kids aged six-11), free (kids five and under). Dec 24-Dec 26, 2pm-6pm. Palace Downtown Dubai, Downtown Dubai (04 888 3444).

If you wake up fresh and early on Boxing Day, it’s time to crack on with the festivities with a special brekkie. Set in the panoramic landscape at the Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club, it’s a family breakfast the kids will love, and they’ll even get free pony rides.
Dhs120 (adults), Dhs60 (kids aged six-11), free (kids five and under). Wed Dec 26, 8am-11.30am. Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, Arabian Ranches (04 361 8111).

Maison Mathis
If you’re all Christmas-ed out and just want to settle down a bit, it’s time to head to this Arabian Ranches spot.
Dhs163 (food only). Sunday December 26, 7am-2am. Arabian Ranches, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road (04 450 1313).

Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi Golf Club

A traditional Boxing Day meal, this feast will feature roast meats, including chicken, beef and lamb, plus all the trimmings. Available for both lunch and dinner.
Dhs130 (non-members), Dhs110 (members). Wednesday December 26, 11.30am-3pm; 7pm-10pm. Sas Al Nakhl, Khalifa City A (056 536 2230).

The Patio
An outdoor family Boxing Day celebration, The Patio will bring out picnic baskets filled with festive treats. All packages are for two adults and two children and include beach access.
Dhs350 (soft drinks), Dhs400 (house beverages), Dhs550 (bubbly). Wednesday December 26, noon-11pm. The Westin Abu Dhabi Resort & Spa, Khalifa City (02 616 9999).

What's going on in December, 06 Dec 2018 04:20:52 +0400New culinary school at KidZania
we love cooking. No, seriously, we do. If your kids are anything like us, you’ll want to take them to KidZania Dubai’s newest addition, the culinary school in partnership with meal service provider Mum Mum.

So what will they be doing there? KidZania Culinary School is the real deal. Little ones get proper instruction in the art and science of food preparation, including the mastery and appreciation of culinary arts and techniques. It’s all covered.

Mini chefs at the school work as a team, developing their reading comprehension, math skills, hand-eye coordination and ability to follow directions while creating food masterpieces that they can take home and share with friends and family.

If you’re looking for a long-term approach to the educational process, lessons on nutrition and good hygiene are woven into each activity.  So, not only is it about choosing the right foods, the school also helps kids make well-informed lifestyle choices.

Supplying fresh meals that are neither fried nor frozen daily to schools, Mum Mum know how to strike a balance between food groups, ensuring that they’re proportionately balanced, and that the right amounts of salt and sugar are used.

The service was launched to show schools and parents that it is indeed possible to offer healthy food options for the same price as unhealthy ones, challenging the ever-popular myth that healthy eating is expensive.

Finding the right way to feed our kids without compromising on quality or portions, Mum Mum follow the same concept when teaching kids at KidZania Culinary School’s sessions for some food edutainment.
Free (kids under two), Dhs75 (adults), from Dhs105 (kids aged two onwards). Sun-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu-Sat 10am-11pm. KidZania, The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, (800 38224 6255).

No to bullying

Instagram has launched new anti-bullying tools, including technology that detects harmful comments and filters them for removal – even for Live – a kindness camera effect and more. This change will help the platform identify and significantly remove unwanted content — a crucial next step for those who experience or witness bullying and don’t report it. We support fighting negativity on social media, especially when it targets kids.

Rescue a pup with Pip
Want to help save a cute pup? Premier Inn Hotels have launched a new initiative to support the welfare of the abandoned dog population in the UAE, and we’re pretty sure the kids will love it.

Guests visiting or staying at any Premier Inn hotel in Abu Dhabi or Dubai can purchase Pip, a plush puppy toy. Every purchase will support the work of K9 Friends, a rescue and rehoming shelter based in Dubai. 

The hotel will run an online competition for everyone to submit their photos with Pip on their travels in and around the UAE, or further afield. Follow them for a chance to win a family staycation in Dubai or the capital.

Get your plush and save some cuties.
Dhs50. Premier Inn Hotels.

Healthy lunchboxes
finally, school lunches sorted. Meal plan service iheartfoodae is making lunchbox preparation easier for mums (phew), with a new range of ready-made dishes for kids.

Taking a load off mom and dad’s shoulders, littlehearts was launched to combat unhealthy school lunches. Forget buttery croissants and cheese-filled manakeesh, these combos will provide kids with all the nutritents they need, teaching them to eat healthy along the way.

Some of the kids’ dishes include baked tuna, roast chicken  and beef or chicken meatballs. You can also customise littlehearts for vegan and vegetarian little ones and they get to have meals such as lentil patties, sweet potato brownies and more.
From Dhs35 (per day, five meals).

Win a year of free ice cream worth Dhs500, 05 Dec 2018 08:23:35 +0400Who doesn’t love ice cream? Dubai’s sunny winter calls for the sweetest scoops all year long – and you could win just that.

One lucky winner will be having as many ice creams as they like for a full twelve months courtesy of Jelly Belly Ice Cream at any of its three fun-filled parlours across Dubai.

All you’ve got to do to enter is sign up for our newsletter below, and we’ll pick a winner at random on Tuesday December 18.

Inspired by the world-famous Jelly Belly beans, the parlours serve around 50 flavours, made using natural ingredients.

Think hazelnuts from Italy, coffee from Columbia, bananas from the Philippines and Pecans from the United States, all mixed into colourful ice creams and sorbets.

The winner will get two scoops of ice cream with two toppings in a freshly-baked cone every month all the way until December 2019.

Good luck!

Play at KidZania The Dubai Mall's snow wonderlandDina Maaty, 05 Dec 2018 04:18:51 +0400If you’re looking to get into full-on Christmas mode with the kids and can’t find the weather to do it, KidZania Dubai’s got the solution for you.

The edutainment centre is turning into a wonderland, complete with snow and winter games for those who need something ‘cooler’ to do during the break.

Until Saturday January 5, families can head to KidZania’s heritage village for pin the snowman, snow hunts, a reindeer toss and more.

Kids can join the fashion and radio shows which will cover trends and traditions from around the globe.

It’s only Dhs35 extra to join the games, so you can also check out KidZania’s kiddie job stations which include a newspaper, hotel, restaurant, salon and more before the snowy fun.

There will also be a mega snowball fight at the main plaza.

You can go for a Dhs250 premium ticket which includes the winter games and snow field. Watch out because we’re packing our winter gear and coming through.

Snow? In Dubai? We don’t think we can ask that question anymore.
Dhs180 (standard ticket). Until Jan 5 Sun-Sat 10am-midnight. The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, (04 448 5222).

Ralph Breaks the Internet review, 04 Dec 2018 10:31:35 +0400The story sends arcade-villain-turned-good guy Ralph (voiced by John C Reilly) and his new BFF, arcade racer Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), into the internet to find a new part for her broken arcade game. Their arcade’s newly installed “wiffy”, as the endearingly slow-on-the-uptake Ralph calls it, is a portal to a host of opportunities for witty visual representations of cyberspace.

If it’s sometimes a touch literal – the internet is a sci-fi city filled with buildings marked “Amazon” and “IMDb” and (presumably for legal reasons) “Buzzfood” – the finer world-building is sharp. Every facet of cyberspace has a walking, talking avatar, including a search engine that notes its “autofill is a touch aggressive today”, and weaselly clickbait pop-ups that are shunted aside by ad-blockers clad like security men.

Refreshingly, the screenplay, co-written by  Pamela Ribon, pulls focus from Ralph and onto Vanellope as she falls under the spell of a badass female character in a Grand Theft Auto-like game (Gal Gadot). It’s a journey of youthful empowerment and Silverman, who must have put her vocal chords on ice when she finished voicing the squeaky heroine, gives her heart and smarts. It doesn’t even need the hilarious scene with a group of earnest Disney princesses to see how she might even qualify for that pantheon.

Yes, that hoary quest for self-realisation runs through so many animations that it should feel tired. But somehow Disney keeps finding ways to keep it vital. Here, it’s via a smart riff on the highs and lows of social media that will surely resonate with kids and parents alike, as Ralph and Vanellope tumble into the angsty world of wannabe YouTube stars.

It’s much more complicated than the original movie – a straightforward origin story – and the plot starts to feel convoluted at times. But Ralph Breaks the Internet deserves kudos for dipping satirically into viral videos and fanboy culture. Next up? Ralph Tackles the Trolls. Phil De Semlyen

Keep the kids fit at... Kintsugi Yoga Studio, 04 Dec 2018 09:28:12 +0400This new Dubai yoga centre has caught our attention. First, because it’s the only one in the city with a salt room, but most importantly because of the kids’ classes on offer.

Yoga for little ones can help them focus and centre themselves with a variety of breathing, meditation and yogic practices.They learn how to deal with the emotions they’re feeling, and become fitter, stronger and more confident.

There’s a four-week, eight-day package for kids which includes different classes such as swing and ashtanga yoga, hula hoop and more this month, and regular yoga classes starting soon.

“Youngsters will learn in every class, through a variety of practices. Classes are fun and educational at the same time, and will help them get better grades and build character,”says Anjaan, general manager at Kintsugi.
Dhs399 (eight classes), Dhs89 (single class). Aspect Tower, Business Bay, Dubai (058 911 0002).

Staycation: Rixos The Palm Dubai, 04 Dec 2018 10:23:01 +0400Sun, sand and discounts – three top traits that make for the perfect staycation, and that’s exactly what you’ll get at Rixos The Palm Dubai.

And for three-night stays (or more) until May 2019, holidaymakers will be treated to 20 percent off their booking.

This is an all-inclusive offer, too, so expect free access to non-motorised sports including wake boarding and banana boat riding during your stay, while the kids are entertained by the Roxy Kids’ Club. Or just chill out and lounge around at the private beach.

You’ll even get complimentary mini bar drinks that are refilled daily to keep you refreshed throughout your stay. Now it’s winter it’s the perfect time to make the most of lazing on the beach. You might as well get 20 percent off while doing it...
Prices vary. Until May 2019. Palm Jumeirah, (04 457 5555).

Is yoga good for your kids?, 04 Dec 2018 10:21:50 +0400Have you ever heard anyone say “namaste” to a group of children? For those of you who think it would be impossible to get them to sit still for five minutes straight, think again.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended yoga as a safe and potentially effective therapy for young ones who are coping with emotional, mental, physical or behavioural health conditions, and there’s a good reason for that.

“Stretching the body can relieve tense or rigid muscles. Certain movements can even ease constipation. Also, holding yoga poses increases strength and stamina when practiced regularly,” says Dr Maurice El Khoury, specialist paediatrician at Healthpoint.

Experts say that, because yoga involves a combination of postures, hand poses, meditation and regulated breathing techniques, its benefits may often exceed those of certain types of sports.

“Most importantly, the well-being aspect of yoga can help youngsters disconnect from technology and go on a mini ‘digital detox’, encouraging them to focus on the here and now. They gain awareness of how their bodies function and manage their emotions much more effectively,” he adds.

Numerous studies have shown that yoga improves mood, self-confidence and concentration, while reducing anxiety and hyperactivity -- all of which applies to kids as well.

“Research published in The American Journal of Occupational Therapy has found that daily yoga helps children with autism spectrum disorder, lowering their levels of social withdrawal,” El Khoury explains.

A separate study in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Paediatrics revealed that introducing yoga to high school physical education classes lifted teenagers’ mood, alleviating anxiety and leading to higher test scores. Yoga for better grades? That sounds like a dream come true.

So how can you encourage your kids to do yoga, and more movement-filled activities in general?

“Some people have misconceptions about yoga, thinking that it’s not real exercise. To the contrary, children of all ages, backgrounds and fitness levels can benefit from it, with many top athletes using it as a form of cross training,” he says.

If your little ones find yoga difficult at first, explain to them that, the more they practise, the more naturally the poses will come to them, and try joining them for a session.

New platform offers unique classes for kids, 04 Dec 2018 10:08:42 +0400Sure, learning how to compose complex Excel formulas may come in handy at school, but have you ever thought of putting the kids’ name down for something a little bit more, well, creative (we’re putting it nicely here)?

“Besides the usual suspects for this season such as kite-surfing, sailing, horse riding and golf, we have some super-cool courses in the pipeline. For instance, dog training, soap-making, cheese-tasting, healthy grocery shopping, porcelain painting and thumbnail headshot sketching,” says Philip Tachas, co-founder and CEO of Skilldeer, a new platform for booking courses and workshops.

The customised e-commerce platform hand-picks and curates professional course providers in each category through a screening process, providing parents with access to a wide selection of educational opportunities for kids, and some they can sign up for themselves as well.

The website is divided into sections showcasing areas which may be of interest to kids and adults of different age groups, and there are learning opportunities for anyone and everyone. Mums, it’s not too late to learn how to mix henna, bake homemade bread or even create Japanese flower arrangements.

You can use filters to narrow down your search a bit, whether it’s by keyword, timings, dates, age or type. The website also features private classes, so no driving around in traffic is required.

“Our most popular courses and learning activities include art, cooking and watersports, plus crafting and DIY workshops as well as fashion, beauty and languages,” says Orkun Gedik, co-founder and COO of Skilldeer.

“We want to change the way people across the region spend their free time in a day and age where a lot of it is spent on frivolous social media browsing,” he adds.

Now that Christmas is almost here, you can even gift friends, family and the kids on the website – and you have more than 1000 lessons to choose from. You can also ask them to book you in.

“Some time ago, we were contacted by an elderly woman who had always dreamt of learning how to swim, but never signed up for lessons due to her fear of water,” says Tachas.

“We’ve helped her find a suitable swim instructor with whom she felt comfortable enough to start. After a couple of sessions, we received feedback that, not only had she learned how to swim, she was now comfortable doing so in the sea too.”

Looks like we’ll be logging on to find some sewing workshops for grandma. 

“Thanks to its great weather, fabulous infrastructure and the ability to attract talent from all over the world, Dubai is rich in many hidden gems, though these aren’t always easy to find,” adds Tachas.

Interested in signing the kids up for painting-while-eating-burgers classes and can’t seem to find them? You can also tell the folks at Skilldeer and they’ll do their best to locate instructors who can teach whatever it is that you may be seeking.

Alternatively, if you know how to do something fabulous and would like to impart your wisdom upon future generations, you can get in touch with the platform and offer to give courses in that domain.

So there it is, Skilldeer partners with educational providers and instructors, digitises their schedules and lists their classes with a price advantage on the website. This makes it easier for you to search, find and enrol in suitable classes or activities based on their price, time, location or age requirements.

From magic classes by an illusionist to perfume-making sessions, the best way to describe Skilldeer would be that it’s the educational version of Airbnb – and doesn’t that sound like so much fun?
Prices vary. For more information, visit

Cartoon Brunch at Mövenpick Hotel reviewövenpick-hotelTue, 04 Dec 2018 09:56:12 +0400The joy of cartoons usually comes alive at the movies, or even theme parks, but Dubai’s only brunch to be themed in its entirety around the world of animation takes place at Jumeirah Lakes Towers’ Mövenpick Hotel.

We’ve visited the Cartoon Brunch before, and decided to come back for its new edition for some selfies with Thor and the sheer pleasure of picking out cheese while a Moana cardboard cutout smiles at us from a distance. Much to our dismay, that isn’t what we find this time.

Initially, as we walk past the dessert station by the door, we’re thankful that the setup doesn’t seem to have changed much. The Minion cake still makes an appearance and everything from mango pudding to crème brûlée brownies are showcased amid LEGO bricks and huge cuddly toys.
Peter Pan is standing by the counter, and seats us by the window.

The brunch is quite full, with plenty of kids running around, and the atmosphere is lively and relaxed.

We start off with bread and cheese, both lacking flavour and freshness, and we manage to get our soft drinks around 35 minutes in, which is quite late for any brunch.

The hosts seem disinterested and not in the least bit cheerful or responsive, and they make rounds in a fairly disinterested manner – not what you’d expect on what’s supposed to be a happy Friday afternoon event.

Unimpressed parents barely scan the food stations and head back to their tables almost empty-handed.

We make our way to the extensive seafood and sushi station. While the maki rolls could have done with more variety, the sashimi is fresh, and so are the tasty raw calamari, oysters and shrimps that are piled up.

Next up are salads and mains. The latter don’t look that appealing, so we end up with a spoonful of lasagna, which is stodgy and unappetising. Surprisingly, the ready-made seafood starter cups are the only memorable part of that section.

The vine leaves look wilted and the salad bar needs more options to spice things up, to cater for vegetarians and healthy eaters. The shawarma station seems to be making fresh sandwiches, but they taste like they have simply been reheated, although the fun addition of a clothline clip to hold the edges of the thick pita together is a novel touch.

The pizza is mediocre at best, so we decide to head for the kids’ section and get some fried chicken and hot dogs, which, lucky kids, are the highlight of the meal. However, if you can’t manage to get these right, then there’s a bigger problem.

Most little ones keep busy running around, getting balloons and ice cream, and being the easily-impressed munchkins that they are, it’s just the parents that are left disappointed.

Nosh’s Cartoon Brunch is not bad value, especially as it’s free for kids under six, but there are better brunches for families out there, both for food and entertainment.

We leave in hopes of coming back one day and enjoying the Cartoon Brunch we once knew, but it needs to up its game first.
Dhs179 (soft drinks), Dhs289 (house beverages), half price (kids aged six to 12), free (kids under six). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Cluster A (04 438 0000).

A cartoon-themed brunch, without many cartoons

The kids will stay entertained and keep busy