The ultimate family-friendly destination and Globetrotters HQ!
Come and see the beauty and adventures that can be had in our adopted home the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – from the dazzling cities to incredible desert safari’s, amazing architecture and spectacular spreads – most importantly, doing it with kids!
On this page, we guide you through:
UAE Know before you go!
Make this page your first stop if you have never visited the Emirates, or for that matter, the Middle East before. The UAE is a land of extremes, from cosmopolitan cities to rolling desert dunes, conservative but embracing of its Islamic cultural roots. You name it; it can probably be seen or be done in the UAE – if not, they’ll build it, on the grandest scale possible!
This post guides you through important things to know about Islamic and Emirati culture, dealing with heat, safety and caring for infants while showing religious respect and helping you through some of the do’s and don’ts of Ramadan. We also have guides in this section on the religious celebrations of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha.
Navigating your way across the United Arab Emirates
Use this map to skip straight to destinations of interest, or read on below!
Discover the UAE
With our own experience and the help of other parent bloggers in the UAE we have put together THE most detailed guide you will find on the web dedicated to family-friendly attractions across all seven Emirates. Where we have more in-depth reviews, these are detailed below.
In response to much negative publicity the UAE receives for ‘lacking culture’, this guide walks you through what to expect from traditional Bedouin culture, why it might not always be visible to the average tourist – and how you can seek it out!
It’s getting hot, hot, hot in Abu Dhabi! Having experienced 11 summers now in the UAE from newborns to tweens, we’ve put together our guide to favourite places in the capital where you can look to escape the heat with the kids – and keep them physically and mentally challenged too!! For your older kids, check out this guide to Abu Dhabi for tweens & teens (Hosted on Abu Dhabi Travel Planner)
From one day trips around the captial to desert staycations and exploring the Western Region of the Emirate, this is an absolute bumper list of activities sure to fill your winter weekends in the UAE in a family-friendly way. (Hosted on Family Travel in the Middle East)
Although not a huge country, there are plenty of fascinating day trips and weekend escapes to enjoy by road, from journeys into the Hajar Mountains to cultural escapes; we shared our thoughts with the team at Family Road Trip on the best UAE road trips with kids.
Visiting the UAE capital need not cost a fortune. When the weather is cool, there are plenty of outside activities for all the family to enjoy, from bike paths to beaches. This is one of the best listings you’ll find for free (and really cheap) outdoor activities.
Time to get in touch with nature and head to the desert and beach. Includes a preparation guide for dealing with all the sand and our favourite desert camping spots across the country.
With several new theme parks opening in the UAE since 2016, the Globetrotters have been putting each to the test to come up with this bumper guide on what to expect at Legoland Dubai, Motiongate Dubai and IMG Worlds of Adventure.
Unsurprisingly, one of the world’s hottest countries has some of the world’s best water parks. From the mega parks to the community splash areas, we talk you through all the best places to keep your cool in the UAE.
Only got limited time passing through Dubai International Airport? We give you the low down on airport lounges and entertainment, airport hotels, and if you leave the airport, what can you squeeze into a short trip? Includes a guide on how to transfer between Dubai and Abu Dhabi Airports.
Should you stick it out in AUH airport or use even a short layover to get out and explore some of the city’s major sites? We will talk you through all the options and times you should allow for a smooth transit. (Hosted on Family Travel in the Middle East)
Abu Dhabi is not nearly as expensive as you might think to visit. Check out these 40+ ideas from culture to recreation that won’t cost you more than 100AED ($36) for the whole family to enjoy (hosted on Family Travel in The Middle East)
Top reads for UAE visitors in more detail:
Al Ain with Kids
The Oasis City of Al Ain is the second-largest city in Abu Dhabi but often left off tourist agendas. This is a real shame as it really is the cultural hub and historic centre of the UAE.
Between its UNESCO listed Oases, brilliant zoo and plentiful museums, this should be the first stop to learn more about the country. Not all of it will be overly amusing for kids, however, so we give you a detailed rundown of what to expect here.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – with Kids!
Now considered not just one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Middle East, but the world, the stunningly elegant Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a mustn’t-miss attraction for millions of visitors to the UAE every year.
But how appropriate is it for you to visit such an auspicious place with your kids? We give you our hands-on guide on how you can still enjoy this architectural marvel and keep the kids happy.
The ultimate list of places to visit in Dubai
This mega list of 150+ destinations to visit in Dubai was published on our partner publication Dubai Travel Planner.
Downloading this is an absolute MUST if Dubai is on your UAE agenda for an incredible round-up of Dubai attractions, events and favourites from the beaches to the city and beyond to the desert.
Looking to travel from within the UAE with your kids? In a country abound with tourism and natural wonders, it’s no surprise many UAE residents love to stay put for their holidays.
In this detailed UAE staycation guide, we have investigated things to do for families across all 7 Emirates of the UAE, from how to get there to the best resorts and a fabulous selection of family-friendly things to do in all seasons.
Dubai Miracle Garden
Where else would you expect to find the world’s biggest flower garden than right in the heart of Dubai? An amazingly colourful and seriously eclectic mix of over 45 million blooms makes up this new addition to the “must-do” list for visitors to Dubai.
Get in early in the day to beat the crowds, the heat and the shutterbugs to admire this floral marvel. Tucked away in the outer suburb Dubailand it’s hard to believe what lies ahead inside, but kids and grown-ups alike will enjoy this new attraction.
Arabian Nights Village – A family-friendly desert experience
You haven’t truly experienced the UAE until you get out of the big cities and experience the best the desert has to offer. Arabian Nights Village sits about 1.5 hours away from Abu Dhabi, deep in the sand dunes.
There are evening and overnight tour options all perfectly suited to family groups that include modern desert activities like dune bashing and sandboarding as well as touches of traditional Bedouin culture. Enjoy sunset camel rides, traditional henna, music and meals, or relax around the village and enjoy the oasis pool.
Dubai Garden Glow and Dinosaur Park
Not just one adventure park but two! A seasonal event occuring over the cooler winter months in Zabeel Park, Dubai. The Globetrotters take you on a tour of one of the latest and greatest attractions. Animatronics and a lot of neon, but still a magical evening experience for young kids.
Al Dhafra Festival – 10 tips for taking kids
Looking to discover more of the traditional Bedouin culture of the UAE? Look no further than the Al Dhafra Festival. Held annually in December, the Western Region of Abu Dhabi comes alive with visitors from all over the GCC participating in a range of events from Saluki racing to date packing.
The flagship event though is the Camel Mazayna – a beauty contest for camels. A little off the beaten track, a little hard to find and understand for tourists as there’s limited information in English but an incredibly rewarding experience.
Here we give you our top 10 tips on attending this event with kids to get you prepared for a unique and memorable trip to the desert.
Yas – Your Next Island Destination?
Finally, we have a complete go-to destination for family adventure and activity – and my luck it’s right here on our doorstep in Abu Dhabi – in fact, it’s only 10 minutes from the airport and just over an hour from Dubai International.
From theme parks to shopping, relaxing at the beach or watching the action of the annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix there’s something for all the family to enjoy here.
You may also like our attraction guides to:
- Ferrari World Family Zone
- CLYMB Abu Dhabi – indoor rock climbing & skydiving
- Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi
A world to discover at Dubai Global Village
For a couple of years now, we have driven past what we thought was an abandoned fairground on the dusty windswept Emirates Road in outer Dubai. After a little research I discovered that after dark in the winter, this monstrosity actually comes to life to bring you a “seasonal cultural extravaganza” and “an amazing array of festivals, shopping and entertainment”, as Global Village – what more could you want!
An Aqua Park, Cheap Booze and random camels
The UAE has an international reputation for flashy architecture, amazing tourist attractions and glitzy hotels within the boundaries of its traditional Islamic roots. Then there’s Umm Al Quwain (UAQ).
It’s fair to say it sits in a league of its own compared with the other Emirates, particularly the very modern and diverse cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
If the random camels don’t come as a bit of a surprise, the feeling like you have entered a time warp into another realm will probably hit you. Find out how the Globetrotters found themselves in this corner of the world, and why despite staying in possibly the scrubbiest-looking hotel we’ve ever seen, we’ll be back to UAQ!
Legoland Dubai – Dubai Parks & Resorts
The much-awaited Legoland Dubai theme park is now open. Was it worth the wait? Who would it be best suited to? Come and see our review.
UPDATED: We now also have coverage on the Legoland Dubai Water Park, come take a look at what to expect cooling off at Dubai Parks & Resorts. We also have coverage on what to expect on a Daycation at Lapita Resort, and a review of staying at Rove at the Park Park value accommodation option at Dubai Parks and Resorts.
Aqua Fun at A’l Bahar on the Abu Dhabi Corniche
The latest water sensation to hit Abu Dhabi that will please residents and visitors alike! Aquafun is a giant inflatable water park based just off the shore of the famous Corniche beach where kids and grown-ups can tackle over 80 different obstacles – all while trying to maintain their balance (though falling in the water when you’re at a desert beach ain’t half bad!).
Come and see what we thought and everything you need to prepare yourself for a trip to A’l Bahar, Abu Dhabi’s latest sports and entertainment hub.
The Wonder Maze
A new addition to Umm al Emarat Park in the heart of Abu Dhabi, The Wonder Maze is a seasonal instalment that sees kids faced with five paths – but only one leads to the central tower!
There are word clues they can solve along the way, and plenty of fun to be had. The best feature is that the maze walls are moveable, so think you’ve conquered it one week but come back the next, and you will have to find a new way to the end!
Qasr al Watan
The new Presidential Palace of the UAE is the city’s grandest and most opulent building. Where the Federal Supreme Council meet and welcomes diplomatic guests, the Palace is now open for the public to view.
Take a guided tour or self-guide yourself around this stunning complex to marvel at its architecture and absorb the country’s history and governing traditions.
Still want more on the UAE?! We have written guest contributions for:
- Toddlers on Tour in Australia providing some great family-friendly UAE itinerary suggestions
- The best things to do in Dubai with Kids – for Dubai Travel Planner
- Our Top 5 for kids in Abu Dhabi for Learning Escapes
- Abu Dhabi with Boys for Travel with Boys
- What to do with 48 hours in Dubai for Mum on the Move
- Top 10 Things to do in Dubai with Kids for Where’s Sharon?
- We also recommend 10 Things to do with Kids in Dubai from our friends over at Globetotting: The Best in Adventurous Family Travel and this 3 Day itinerary for Abu Dhabi by Trippy Passports
Where to Eat in the UAE with Kids
Brunching in Abu Dhabi
I always understood brunch to be a meal somewhere between breakfast and lunch; not in Abu Dhabi. You see, not only is Friday our weekend, brunch is really a fancy way of saying gastronomically amazing 4-hour lunch – at some of the most prestige hotels in the world. (NB, the UAE weekend is now Friday afternoon to Sunday!)
Sounds posh and exciting, right? It certainly is, but can you bring the kids? Yes!! Not only can you bring them, but the best brunches will also specially cater for them; here are five of the best Friday brunches we’ve found so far for kids’ entertainment – plus our favourite all-rounders for cuisine service and atmosphere.
For a little taste of luxury that the whole family can enjoy, check out Brilliant Brunch at Safina and why the Saadiyat Beach Club makes the perfect setting that all the family can enjoy.
For one of the best brunches for food selection, don’t miss The Terrace on the Corniche at St Regis Abu Dhabi.
And for one of the most family-friendly options with a fabulous kids room, entertainment and amazing city views, you can’t beat Crust at the Four Seasons.
Over on our Abu Dhabi Travel Planner website, we share a round-up of our favourite family-friendly restaurants in Abu Dhabi, expanding beyond hotel buffets and brunches to cool and unique cafes and kid-welcoming venues across the capital.
Dining with Kids in Dubai
For those visiting Dubai, we suggest you pop over to our newer site Dubai Travel Planner, where we share everything from our favourite weekend brunches for families to the best places to dine while watching the Dubai Fountain show.
Where should families stay in the UAE?
- Check out this ultimate UAE Staycation guide on Family Travel Middle East – covers family adventures, things to do and best resorts across all the Emirates.
- Staying in the capital? You need our Ultimate Guide on where to stay in Abu Dhabi
- Heading to the UAE for a beach escape? Then you won’t want to miss our 10 Best Beach Resorts in the UAE
- Or, for something really unique to the Middle East, check our listing of the top UAE luxury desert resorts – for with and without the kids!
- For a true desert experience, try our Ultimate Guide to Desert & Beach Camping in the UAE & northern Oman
- Need to stay a little longer in Abu Dhabi or prefer something a little larger for families? Check out our hotel apartments guide
- Navigate your way across Dubai with this complete guide to the best places to stay in Dubai
- For best family hotels in Dubai, pop over to our favourite city planning website Little City Trips for top Dubai hotels to suit every budget.
- Seeking a stay in Al Ain? We have you covered with our top Al Ain hotel recommendations
- Staycation ideas that still work in the summer? We pick out our 5 favourite resorts around the UAE that are still good fun even in the peak heat
© Our Globetrotters