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If there’s a city that has mastered “wow” moments, it’s Dubai.
In this desert metropolis, windswept sand dunes meet a bright-blue coastline, with a host of gleaming skyscrapers and state-of-the-art infrastructure in between. This fascinating, modern wonderland is a delight for kids of all ages.
Madinat Jumeirah resort makes an excellent base for families visiting Dubai. Situated on the beach, its prime location and extensive amenities give families a broad selection of things to do. There are four hotel areas within the upscale complex: Jumeirah Al Qasr, Jumeirah Dar al Masyaf, Jumeirah Mina a’Salam and Jumeirah Malakiya Villas. Each gives families access to a family lounge and kids’ club.
The resort feels like an oasis from the desert heat. In the lobby, dark woods carved in geometric patterns lend local flair, and an octagonal fountain is filled to the brim with floating flower petals. On the other side of the lobby lies a 1-mile-long private beach with a view of the iconic Burj al Arab, as well as a sea turtle rehabilitation area and a network of canals, where traditional boats transport guests to the farthest reaches of the sprawling resort. Restaurants, tennis courts and an entertainment theater are among the many other offerings available.
Madinat Jumeirah is also home to one of the city’s best souks (markets). Designed in a traditional style with modern amenities, it’s full of local and international vendors selling finely crafted textiles, jewelry, art and lanterns in every color of the rainbow. This is an excellent place for souvenir shopping or spending a laid-back (and air-conditioned) afternoon.
Just outside the resort, right in front of the Burj al Arab, is Wild Wadi Waterpark, which has a variety of rides, slides and water guns as well as a wave pool and Wipeout and Riptide Flowriders. When the kids are spent from all the action, the peace and quiet of your hotel room is only a short walk away.
A stop at the world’s tallest building is also a must. Get up early one morning to visit the Burj Khalifa when it opens, and take the swift elevator up to the 124th-floor observation deck. The expansive glass-walled observatory is a great space for kids: no vertigo-inducing platforms or cramped overhangs, just exceptional views that dwarf every other building on Dubai’s ever-expanding skyline. High-tech telescopes allow you to see both modern Dubai and the original desert landscape that the city was built upon. It’s an impressive reminder of this city’s extraordinary evolution and is sure to evoke wonder in kids and parents alike.
Because Dubai is a city of superlatives, it’s not surprising that the world’s tallest building is joined by the world’s largest mall, The Dubai Mall. Families can easily spend hours exploring the seemingly never-ending selection of shops and eateries. Don’t miss the enormous Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo inside the mall, which kids will adore. For an immersive experience, kids ages 5 to 7 years old can sign up for the Junior Aquarist program, where they can assist in feeding marine animals. Kids who are 8 and older can join the Senior Aquarist program, which includes a cage-snorkeling experience.
Dubai offers plenty of fun in the sun, as well as a world-class selection of indoor attractions that serve as a refreshing respite from the heat. A modern desert oasis, it is well-equipped to entertain families from all over the world.