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Dubai: The Sassy Mama City Guide

TravelPost Category - TravelTravel - Post Category - By CountryBy Country

 

Describe Dubai in 3 words.
Vibrant, Multicultural and Safe.

Best hotel in Dubai when travelling with kids?
Atlantis The Palm Hotel & Resort, which is located at the end of Palm Island. It’s central and has a fabulous water park, Aquaventure. There are great kids play zones and an amazing Aquarium called The Lost Chambers. Kids will love the covered slide through a shark tank and being able to swim with the dolphins. If that’s not enough, there is also an Al Boom Dive Centre where you can do all the theory before you arrive, so you can spend your holiday enjoying the actual diving.

Your favourite place to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner? Why?
For breakfast or a morning coffee with the ladies, I like The Lime Tree Café located in Jumeirah 1 on Beach Road or Ibn Battuta Mall China Court. Lime Tree serves the most fabulous cakes in a relaxed rustic environment.

For lunch, the Dubai brunches are famous and are superb fun with free flow bubbly for 4-5 hours! The food at the Al Qasr Hotel is exquisite, where you can choose healthy options like sushi and fresh seafood while the children get their own entertainment and mini buffet.

For dinner, I like to be beside the seaside, so I would recommend the Jetty Lounge at The One and Only Royal Mirage. It is the best place to pick up tapas style food both Middle Eastern and Asian, best washed down with a cool cocktail. Get there for sunset to enjoy the stunning view of the water, white sand beneath your feet at a trendy but not packed bar. Fun fact: if you are staying in the hotel you can book a restaurant at The Royal Mirage on Palm Island, and take a boat accross the sea to dinner!

What is your favourite thing to do with your kids in Dubai?
Dubai has it all, from indoor skiing, water parks and swimming pools to parks, golf and play areas where parents can get free WiFi  whilst having coffee. The Dubai Mall is situated at the base of the tallest building in the world Burj Khalifa, and houses a professional ice rink and the kids theme park Kidzania. Kids love this indoor park as it’s where children get to practice at being adults – they learn to work as pop stars, firemen, hair stylists, dentists, race car drivers – there are over 80 different roles to choose from. They earn money called Kidsos which they love to collect and funnily enough are reluctant to spend

Kid friendly museum?
Dubai Museum opened in 1971 and is popular with tourists and for school trips. The children enjoy going underground and learning about traditional life in the Emirates, especially Dubai. They get to see antiques that date back to 3000 BC from the region and a beautiful full size Dhow boat which are still used to move products and spices from India through to Africa at the entrance. This museum is a must for anyone who wants to see what Dubai was like before  the discovery of oil. If your children like animals, then Sharjah Animal Park has amazing animals, a massive room full of local birds and a petting zoo. Sharjah is next to Dubai but it is a conservative Emirate, so do cover up if you visit. It’s about 30-40 minutes from the center of Dubai.

Best places to eat with kids?
My kids love The Rainforest Café located behind the Aquarium in The Dubai Mall. It has a view of all the fish, which kids love! Inside the café, there are waterfalls and animals that move! The service is great and kids love the food too. Mamas take note, I recommend the Mosquito Mojito, a delicious mint lemon and soda water drink… perfect after walking around the huge mall!

Best outdoor activity?
I love taking my kids to the beach to swim. We collect shells and often go out on the water in a boat and search for turtles, which you can do one hour down the coast in the Emirate of Ras al Khaimah.

Favourite spa?
Talise Spa is situated in the Madinat Jumeirah. The Al Qasr Hotel is also excellent and very tranquil – I took yoga classes here under the moon next to the beach – but there are fabulous selections of luxurious treatments to have there too. The staff are friendly and the Spa itself is spacious with relaxation rooms inside and outdoors.

I get my hair done at…
I have two hair salons, one next to school and one near home, it costs AED100 (USD27 or GBP 15) for a blow dry but the hotel prices will be much higher. Hair, beauty and nail salons are everywhere in Dubai. Wherever you stay there should be a salon within walking distance.

The three shops I can’t live without are…
The supermarket, annoyingly I am there everyday, if not a few times everyday! Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids. While for fashion, I like French designer Gerard Darel – classic yet fashionable and forgiving to a mothers hips.

Best place for burgers and ice cream?
Johnny Rockets serves the best burgers in Dubai. For ice cream, we love the Marble Slab Creamery, which allows each customer to individually select the toppings they wish to be crushed inside the ice cream. Just delicious.

Your favourite souvenirs?
You can buy cool camel art by artists Peas in a Pod while camel mugs and pencils are available in the hotel shops and malls. But of course I love my own range of I love Dubai greeting cards or my camel sarongs!

An unforgettable moment?
Being a nature lover, the day we went out to sea and found a turtle feeding area was pretty special. We must have spotted over 30 massive turtles that day and what was so special was how curious they were of us as well. I also loved the moment two stingrays swam alongside me as I walked along the beach, we had a little stare off and they did this beautiful show off flutter, then swam away. Just stunning.

Can’t live without…
Air conditioning, it gets really really hot in the summer!

Don’t miss…
A secret place I tell all my friends to go is The Antique Museum. It’s not an actual museum but 6 warehouses in Al Quoz filled with gift ideas from all around the world. They have over 600 colours of pashminas to start! Great frames, camel objects, silver, furniture, shisha- just everything you can think of and best of all you don’t pay the hotel premium.

Favourite time of year in Dubai, why and what do you love to do?
I love November as the weather is perfect, it’s my birthday and I get to eat outside every night.

What advice would you give families visiting Dubai?
Dubai is great for prams and wheelchairs, as most of the grounds are made with lots of marble, so it’s easy to get around. Do things early because shops and activities start at 10am, and everything is very quiet at this time.

Of all the tourist spots Dubai has on offer which would you try not to miss?
When travelling with kids, it’s important to go to the right places ,so my top three indoor malls would be: The Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates and The Souk Madinat. For outside fun, don’t miss the beach, any of the local parks and Aquaventure.

Tell us one thing about Dubai we don’t know…
Dubai holds the richest horse race in the world every year. The total prize money was amounted to $27.25 million from the 17th Dubai World Cup.

 

Belinda Freeman started her career as a student at Vivienne Westwood where she worked on couture hand sewing and cutting out garments for the catwalk shows. After finishing her degree in Fashion Design with Business and Technology she worked as a Junior Designer for a London based family run manufacturer with  clients that included H&M, River Island and Primark. A move to Dubai saw her brand manage a new surf brand for a chain of beach shops selling the biggest surf brands in the world. After her daughter was born she joined the largest lingerie brand in the Middle East as senior designer juggling work and motherhood with the support of her wonderful husband and lovely nanny. The arrival of her son inspired her to work on her hobby of making gifts & greeting cards whilst the children were in nursery and school. The last five years has seen her grow her gift and greeting card business Queen B with retailers such as WH Smith and Virgin Megastore stocking her designs. Belinda lives in Dubai with her two children and husband.

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