4 Nights in Dubai…

Jess McGlynnMay 26, 2016

It’s hard to imagine a place you’ve never been before, hard to picture what your senses will experience when you first step foot out of the aeroplane.  Will there be a wave of heat which hits you as you move from the cool air-conditioned cabin into the daylight?  Will there be unusual scents wafting from the market as you travel the streets heading to your hotel?  Will the colours be brighter?  The noises louder?  The smells stronger?

One thing which never fails to amaze me is how different individual countries can be; there is the obvious such as the culture and the people, the language and the dress but then there are the less obvious things like the sounds and the smells.  When I think of Dubai I think of exotic and vibrant…of the desert and the history…of modern meets old.  I’d love to find out if I’m right!

A few weeks ago I would never have considered Dubai the kind of place I would visit for a family holiday and then one travel related twitter party completed turned that on its head.  Here is a country which offers more than just stunning sandy beaches and glistening clear oceans.  A country which is more than just desert dunes and camel rides.  I could get lost for hours dreaming about the adventures that we could have in Dubai.  

And adventures are what we seek; I know I’ve shared before how different we all are when it comes to holidays and how we try to find a nice balance for each of us.  I am the history-seeker, James the foodie, Meg the adrenaline-junkie and Eli the water baby.  For us a successful family holiday is one where we combine all the individual parts and come up with something which is truly special and unique to us.

I think we could easily find something to please each of us in Dubai so when Tots100 asked for posts sharing our #DXBDreams for the Dubai Dreams blogger challenge I had lots of fun coming up with the answers:-

For the history-lover
I would love to take a trip down to the Creek; to see the ancient side of Dubai and the traditional buildings which still stand there.  We’d forgo the water taxis and travel like a local, catching an Abra boat across the water before experiencing historical Dubai with the Souks, the twisting and turning streets and the architecture.  I’d also include a visit to Al Bastakiya and the Old Fort whilst here which I’ve heard is a wonderful place to pick up arts and crafts (something which would also appeal to Meg); Al Bastakiya is the home of many authentic mud-brick houses and was supposed to be demolished in the 1980s until it was saved and transformed into a place of cultural importance.  One thing we always try to do when we visit a new country or city is to find out what makes that city so special and I think a trip to the old town and the place where it all began would help us to capture the real essence of Dubai.

For the foodie
Of course alongside the history, nothing helps you understand the culture of a place quite like trying the local cuisine and I know Emirati food would be right up James’ street.  For our next adventure we would definitely visit the Spice Souk; as spices feature so much in the flavouring of dishes in Dubai, it would be fascinating to see all the different variants of spices whilst getting to experience an authentic Dubai market to boot.  The Spice Souk has been located in the heart of the old town for more than 50 years so it’s a lovely opportunity to discover some more history of Dubai at the same time.  I imagine for Meg and Eli this will be a wonderful sensory experience from the colours to the scents.  It’s also free to enter which would be great for anyone visiting on a budget.

For the adrenaline-junkie
For Meg, it’s about the thills and although I don’t think I could quite stretch to skydiving in Dubai (which is a possibility if you are brave enough) I think we could manage horse riding in the desert.  I imagine at 7 years old that’s got to be a pretty exciting thing to do, right?!  The joys of being out in the wide expanse of the desert alongside getting to ride a gorgeous Arabian horse…definitely once in a lifetime.  If we could time it so that our visit coincided with a sunset then that would just be even more incredible.  It gives me actual chills just thinking about it and not just because of the stunning photo opportunities!

For the water-baby
Dubai is the place to go if you have a love of waterparks so we would definitely have to factor in a visit if we were lucky enough to get to travel out.  The Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark looks perfect with fast-paced slides, the opportunity to swim with Dolphins, the lazy river for those of us who don’t like anything too quick (that would be me…) and a beach for relaxing after all the fun as well.  This sounds like a full day in itself with the opportunity to soak up some of that glorious year-round sun Dubai is so famous for as well.  As Meg is planning to be a marine biologist when she’s older I know she would also adore the chance to get up close and personal with the dolphins.

So what would be left?  If we’ve discovered the rich heritage, taken in the sights of the Souks, ridden horses in the desert and gone nose to nose with Dolphins at the water park?  I think that in itself sounds like an absolutely amazing holiday and one which we would treasure for many years to come but that just scratches the tip of the (probably melting) iceberg when it comes to things for families to do in Dubai from the marine life to the relaxing beaches, the stunning architecture to the biggest malls in the world…you are spoiled for choice.  Narrowing our list down to just these 4 things was tricky enough!!

And I really can’t think of anything else better than being given the opportunity to experience them as a family, can you?!

Oh Wait…

How about the opportunity to win your own #DXBDreams adventure?  If I win then the best comment on this blog post will also win a family holiday to Dubai.  So get dreaming, and commenting!

This is my entry to the Tots100/Dubai Dreams blogger challenge


  • Francesca Gott

    May 31, 2016 at 12:32

    I totally know what you mean when you say you didn't think of Dubai as somewhere to go with the family. I was the same until I did a bit more research and now it is somewhere I spire to take my little family (on my bucket list). We stick to what we know when booking holidays and don't tend to look elsewhere but it's amazing what you are missing by sticking to what you are used to. I would love to swim with Dolphins in Dubai, that is my ultimate dream! I would also love to visit Atlantis and go crazy at the water park. For a more chilled out day a trip to one of their gorgeous Beaches would be perfect! Sandcastles, clear blue water and cocktails!

  • Capture by Lucy

    May 31, 2016 at 12:32

    See this is what I love about blogging that one Twitter chat can lead to a whole host of ideas and inspiration for your next family adventure. It's a place my boys really have no idea exists and they just wouldn't believe there is a city in the world that has snow, sun, water parks, helicopters, hot air balloons and a stunning Creek. It needs to be seen to be believed. Loved reading this post. Good luck xx

  • Stephanie Oakes

    May 31, 2016 at 12:32

    Dubai has been at the top of my bucket list for many years now and reading you post has made me want to visit so much more! I too could get lost for hours dreaming about the adventures we could have in Dubai.

    Souks, skyscrapers, sand and sea, Dubai really has something for all the family and the possibility of visiting this incredible city is making me super excited.

    I’d love the opportunity to win our perfect family holiday in Dubai; a holiday for the four of us, that combines unlimited opportunities for fun and adventure. We’d be able to

    escape the ‘day to day’, making memories and recharging our batteries. And it would give us the chance to simply spend our days together as a family, enjoying each other’s company before Jack starts school in September.

    There are so many amazing adventures we’d like to experience, but our top 3 would have to be:

    1// A day of aquatic fun at Atlantis’ Aquaventure Waterpark to cool off in the Dubai heat. Aquaventure caters for all the family with its record-breaking rides and slides for thrill seekers and the Splashers’ Children’s Play Area, which is a haven for little ones with water cannons, slides and climbing frames.

    2 // A once-in-a-lifetime experience at Dolphin Bay. As there’s no age limit, we could enjoy this amazing experience as a family and I can only imagine the joy on the children’s faces when they get up close to these amazing creatures!

    3 // Experience the heady heights of Burj Khalifa. We couldn’t visit Dubai without venturing up the tallest building in the World, and although I’m afraid of heights, I’d still feel compelled to visit the observation deck on the 144th floor. As long as I don’t stand too close to the edge, nor look vertically down, I think I’d actually enjoy it.

    I’m now off to spend the day daydreaming about Dubai and all it has to offer…

    Best of luck with your entry! X

  • Neill Johnstone

    May 31, 2016 at 12:32

    The souks would be a great way to explore the senses wouldn’t they?! The gold souk looks amazing, but I think my favourite would be the spice souk – the colours and smells would blow me away!

    I’d love a desert safari or a camel ride, but my youngest is still too wee, so I’d probably check out the turtle sanctuary – I think he’d be slack-jawed with awe. Amazingly, the sanctuary is free, just like the Dubai fountain – that’s one water show I could never miss!

    The big blowout for me would be the Dolphin Bay/Aquaventure trip you recommend. What more is there to say – it’s world-class and wet. I’ll be honest, Poseidon’s Revenge looks a bit much for me, but as I’d be looking after little ones, I’d have an excuse to chicken out, right?!

  • rebecca beesley

    May 31, 2016 at 12:32

    The foodie side of things would really appeal to us in Dubai…Al Mahara restaurant would be a must for us as a foodie family who has had so many foodie adventures including Noma and meeting Mary Berry, this would be the ultimate icing on the cake. Dubai seems to have the perfect recipe for a family holiday…A good spoonful of food, culture and history, a big scoop of fun, family and adventure, a drizzle of adrenalin, a large cup of architecture and a sprinkling of magic to make the perfect family holiday!

  • Little Lilypad Co

    May 31, 2016 at 12:32

    Dubai is on my 40 things before I am 40 list ….. I am just running out of time!

  • Bernadette Cooke

    May 31, 2016 at 12:32

    I would love to take my grandsons on a Dream Trip to Dubai – a clean, safe,
    family-friendly holiday destination, with plenty of activities to choose from
    for any age range. As well as relaxing on the beautiful golden sand of JBR Beach
    with its warm, calm and shallow waters we would all enjoy a dune-bashing safari
    followed by a camel ride and BBQ dinner in a Bedouin desert camp.

    We would visit the Dubai Museum in the Al Fahidi Fort to
    learn about life from a bygone era as a contrast to the amazing architecture of
    the modern city which we could view from the front or rear carriages of the driverless
    Dubai Metro system and then take it all in from the At The Top observation deck
    of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

    The free and impressive Dubai Fountain water, light and
    music show can be watched from one of many waterfront cafes just outside the
    Dubai Mall. The malls in Dubai
    have many family attractions to choose from. The boys could try ice-skating,
    helped by the ‘penguin pals’, visit the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo and
    also see the giant 155 million year old dinosaur skeleton (DubaiDino), all in
    the Dubai Mall.

    The boys love theme parks and this summer Dubai
    will open the world’s largest indoor theme park – IMG Worlds of Adventure with
    four themed zones inside including Marvel, Cartoon Network, Lost Valley
    – Dinosaur Adventure and IMG
    Boulevard. This will be completely enclosed and
    temperature-controlled with 1.5 million square feet of entertainment space!

    Our only problem will be going home with so much more
    left for us to see and do in beautiful Dubai

  • Louise Fairweather

    May 31, 2016 at 12:32

    Oh Jess, you would love all love it – there is something for everyone. I could see your next book being set in the souks! I would love to go into the dessert – I quite fancy dune bashing and sandboarding. I would definitely make sure I visited the souks if I went back. It is a foodies paradise – so many amazing places to eat. It was so nice that the kids didn't live off chicken nuggets and chips. They were more than happy to eat proper food all the time. Big man's eyes lit up at the chocolate fondue we had. Not sure whether it is that or aquaadventure he liked best! Taking the children swimming with dolphins would be such an amazing opportunity! The only problem with Dubai is deciding which things you are going to do!

  • my days ni

    May 31, 2016 at 12:32

    I have spent hours dreaming about a magical adventure, ever since joining in the #DBXDreams twitter party. I've spent hours on the Visit Dubai website, and hours reading everyone's blog post. And the only problem I can predict with a visit to Dubai is that there wouldn't be enough hours when I got there, to do all the things I wanted to do!
    I would want my whole family to experience Dolphin Bay, and then head of into the desert for a BBQ in a traditional Bedouin camp, and watch belly dancers entertain us under the starlight sky.
    I would love to let my kids explore Mattel Play Town with some of their favourite characters, like Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine, and then watch one of the majestic water displays at Dubai Fountains.
    And the food… so many options! Friday brunch, Lobster BBQ's where you can have your kids entertained, giving me some quality time alone with my husband… so many options, how would I choose.
    But if I ever get there, I will choose. I will choose to cherish every moment with my family in a destination so vibrant and diverse that the memories we make will never be forgotten.
    Good luck with your entry, for this trip of a lifetime!

  • Sarah Christie

    May 31, 2016 at 12:32

    Ooh the spice souk with all the colours must be amazing, I think I would have to go alone with my camera and the Dolphins looks incredible we would so love this as a family, but I honestly cant think of one thing in Dubai that I dont want to do x

  • Emma Amoscato

    May 31, 2016 at 12:32

    The smells of the spices and the cries of the stall holders in the souks send your senses into overlaod. The colours and vibrancy of local markets always bring a place to life for me. It's a little snapshot into their everyday lifes and I love sampling the food and taking home some delicacies to cook with in my own kitchen. It helps to make the holiday last longer and evoke the memories through taste and touch.

  • Victoria Welton

    May 31, 2016 at 12:32

    I know exactly what you mean about visiting different countries – it is such a great feeling. I would definitely love to visit the historical part for the culture and photo opportunities as well as the food – although I think the other two members of my family would be happy in the waterparks! Good luck 🙂 x

  • Sharon Parry

    May 31, 2016 at 12:32

    So…whatever you love, you'll love Dubai! It's the dream holiday for families that can become a realty. It's easy to get to, safe and you can easily cool down in chilled pools and loads of indoor attractions with excellent air con! What is there not to love. Good luck 🙂

  • Charlotte Pearson

    May 31, 2016 at 12:32

    I have been but it was before the children it's one place I did think I could live for a while and I have to say my first impressions were how safe I felt and what an amazing place it would be to have children. Families were so visible and all out together late at night.

    It left a huge impression on me and I would love to take the children. We'd have to do a waterpark, go skiing, go to the beach and ride a camel but I'd be most excited to take them to see the fountains. We have a canvas of the fountains on our bedroom wall, made from a photograph I took. I tell the children you can see them from space but they don't believe me!

    My eldest did a dolphin experience in Florida a couple of years ago but the other children missed out so I'd love to do that as a family as well.

    Good luck with your entry x

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