Baby on board
Here I am, having a baby again, taking advantage of my maternity time and deciding to see one of the most talked about places, Dubai. Is it that spectacular or is it just a myth? You must have made your idea about me by now and I am not normally impressed by novelty man made things but always on a hunt after the past and its traces. Let’s see how it went, what’s the reality of it.
All been said, consider winter months when booking. Best time is between late October and the beginning of April. We went in the middle of April and I know what they mean now.
Especially, if you’re coming from a place like England where at 19°C it’s officially a heatwave and everyone takes their flip flops and bathing suits, then Dubai’s weather can be too much.
We got a pretty good deal on Emirates for the tickets, always search the web. You never know when something affordable comes your way. Obviously, set yourself a budget and stick to it. If it sounds good for you, then go for it. Having a 4 months old baby, I only accepted direct flights but if you’re not in a hurry or restricted by other means, there were amazing deals involving stops, which at the end of the day is part of the adventure.
The Emirates experience was awesome, even if it was economic class, I felt royal. Really looked after, offered a massive space even if I only paid for a normal seat. But because they had availability, I was allowed to enjoy it. I loved the baby cot or bassinet, so relaxing for parents, otherwise I would’ve had to hold the baby for the whole long flight.
As soon as we landed, a strange, unpleasant smell in the atmosphere surrounded us. I’ll try to describe it the way I felt. Suffocating with hints of oil, hot tyres and dust. Oh boy, how I did not like it. Later on, I find out that it stays with you and it’s everywhere. The rhythm of building things there it’s unbelievable. Not even Google map itself can cope with it. Literally, projects are done overnight, therefore it shouldn’t be surprising that their air is so polluted.
First time in Dubai
If you’re like me, never been before, please don’t consider staying in the city centre, like I did, lol. Leave this area for business and working people. You are coming on holiday, to rest, to enjoy views and to wake up on a Holiday destination. Exactly, what you don’t find in the city centre. It’s noisy, crowded, fast moving, and alive early in the morning. Alright, before you judge me, the idea behind was to visit as much as I could, to be well connected to the subway, which is the public transport (good transport network coverage but time limited) and in the middle of the radius area I wanted to go. Again, not a good choice. Look into staying on any of the branches of the Palm Island, Dubai marina area or Dubai Creek area.
“To rent or not to rent”
Plus, consider taxis as a way of moving around or rent a car, we filled up a tank of an SUV with only £ 20, crazy, ha? and so unfair. The actual cost of renting the car was £180 for a week, we didn’t choose the cheapest one, so lots of opportunities in this field and it’s totally worth it. Roads are a pleasure to drive, there are quite a few with tolls but don’t worry about it, everything will be retained after you give the car back, we made a calculation that every time you would pass on one of these roads it will cost you £1.
Having a baby with us has led to a lot of questions when packing, don’t worry at all. You find most of the brands there of baby food and accessories. They got M&S and Waitrose, if you prefer more British brands. But also have a look at this website, https://www.hire4baby.co/ they are renting almost anything for your baby, for reasonable prices. Just let them know what you need, the hotel you stay and time-frame and you’ll find them ready for you at the accommodation.
Where to first?
Dubai is abundant in things to do, many family activities, and nice beaches. Talking about public beaches, I’ve noticed it’s way better if you choose a private beach club, where you pay a fee and have access to both their pool sun lounges and the ones on the beach. I’ll quickly explain why. The price for a sun bed and umbrella on a public beach is around 200 AED whereas the entrance at one of this clubs can be less than 100 AED and you get access to toilets, showers with all the toiletries included, free parking, sometimes they give incentives like free drinks or starters and it’s way more peaceful. The only thing to bear in mind is that many of these are adults only, you’ll have to check prior. Though I must admit, we found a beautiful secluded, wild beach (no facilities) that we enjoy a lot. You’ll find it known as the Secret beach, it’s situated between the Palm and Burj Al Arab and it actually has a name, Al Sufouh Beach.
The Secret Beach
Dubai Fountain and Burj Kalifa
Loved the Dubai Fountain Show, I think we went every night of our stay to watch it, it’s free of charge, you’ll find it at The Dubai Mall. You’ll have to pay if you want a trip on the boats during the show or if you want to sit on the raft bridge, basically on the water where the show is happening. Bear in mind that if you’re staying here it’s very likely to get soaking wet but being so hot, you are probably looking forward to it. Coming all the way here, you’ll tick two boxes. The tallest building, the Burj Kalifa arises right here.
A child’s dream, a park, a water park.
Our son was pretty impressed with Atlantis Water park, well trained staff, kind and helpful, amazing rides, good food and very clean facilities. His favourite was The leap of faith, basically it’s a slide going through a tank with sharks, yeah…not for me, right? Besides, prices are a bit spicy, you gotta save for a while if you have more children.
What is food like?
Food wise, there’s a huge variety of cuisines, from Arabic, Lebanese, Mediterranean to more western flavours and big fast food chains. No doubt you’ll find something for your taste or your family’s. While there, please try these delicious Emirate donuts balls, covered in syrup called luqaimat. They are sooo delicious! Not counting all the street food you can find pretty much everywhere. Things like rolled Thai ice cream, Uncle Fluffy cheesecake, filled dates covered in chocolate, Dubai has it all. One thing to look after is that in some, quite a few if not most of Dubai’s restaurants smoking is allowed indoors. I certainly wasn’t pleased having the baby with us and my other child. I believe the only smoking prohibitions are in malls and Metro stations.
Sort of food you find in Dubai
Good to know
Something to bear in mind when visiting Dubai is that they have a late night culture. What I mean is that because it is so hot throughout the day, most of the activities and strolls happen at night time. And when i mean night time, you’ll find that the Malls are open till 1 a.m. And families with children are still walking on the Marina at 2 a.m. We are used to this, it’s the same in Romania on the hot summer days. But you might need to adapt your routine while there. The downside is that your last ride on public transport might be somewhere before 11. Hence I said renting a car is much better.
All this talk about babies and maternity has reminded me that motherhood is very welcomed in Dubai. It is abundant in places where you can change your baby, breastfeeding rooms that are very clean and well equipped. In some of these places, I even found little bags with nappies and other free goodies for babies.
Something so special.
When all Dubai’s glitz and glamour tends to be overwhelming, consider going out of the city. Jebel Hafeet Mountain remains one of my top attractions. Situated on the outskirts of Al Ain (Abu Dhabi) and at the border with Oman, offers breathtaking views of the Al Ain itself and of the sand dessert Rub ‘al-Khali. The whole experience is wonderful, like you get to teleport yourself in the ancient days. There’s a lot of history, the road goes through dessert where Bedouins use to camp and rest their camels.
On your way to the Mountain, please stop to the Al Ain Oasis, a UNesco heritage. You’ll get to see the traditional falaj, an ancient irrigation system that today nourishes local grasslands and over 147,000 date palms and fruit trees. And the good news, both attractions are free. Therefore it’s a win win situation.
There’s always next time
Have been asked if I would go again and if I liked Dubai. Yes, probably I would and I did like it. Just wish I would have done my homework better. Also, don’t treat Dubai as a Beach holiday as it’s not. There are far better places for laying on the beach and less polluted. Dubai it is plus or less a Metropolis, where you got the benefit of swimming in the sea. It is rich in Arabic culture but it gives me the impression this will get diluted over the next years to come. You have to “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar”. It is fascinating what Dubai’s sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum have realised in the last 20, 30 years. If you want to have a better contrast and to actually see where it started from, visit the old Dubai. It is also worth it as you get huge bargains for perfumes, gold, spices and textiles due to the souks (bazaar or market). Don’t recommend coming here with a baby or toddler, extremely crowded and tight spaces.
All been said, I encourage you to go, have your own experience. Make a list from home with places you’d like to visit and probably make an itinerary. It will give you more control and help you make the most of it.
Al Ain handmade craft