Doing Dubai with the Grandparents
It’s that time of year again when my children start to remember there are old people in the world! That time of year when parents arrive in Dubai in their droves to escape the harsh winters of Europe and North America to spend time with their families.
After the initial thawing out there is always the challenge of what to entertain them with as many of our parents tire easily but still want to see this exciting vibrant city without spending days by the pool, trawling shopping malls or hitting a golf ball endlessly on the golf course.
Arriving from the west (especially the UK) they may have read a lot of negative press about the UAE so my first recommendation would be to take them to Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) at the Bastakiya House for a traditional Emirati breakfast. This is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy local food and chat with local Emirati about UAE culture and religion dismissing all those rumors they have read in the UK tabloid press. You can park right outside the house. Breakfast takes place every Monday & Wednesday at 10.00am.
After breakfast take a walk through the cool wind tower houses of the Bastakiya area and visit some of the beautiful art galleries such as The Majlis Gallery or enjoy a refreshing juice at The Basta Art Cafe. Head up to The Dubai Museum where your visitors will learn about the history of Dubai from being a small pearl diving community to what it is today.
Another day, park your car at the car park opposite Carrefour at Shindagha and take the short walk down to the creek where you can wander along the side of the Creek and board an Abra across to the Spice Souk. This is a lovely journey and lets you enjoy all the buzz of life on the creek with great views and photos of dhows as they return from their trips to destinations such as Mumbai. On the other side of the creek it is a short walk through the underpass to the Spice Souk where you will all be entertained by the Spice sellers as they educate you as to what all the spices are and used for – you will not leave without buying something!
Jumeirah is a still a popular destination and the shopping malls are small enough not to tire your guests. Take a photo stop at Jumeirah Mosque then head across the road and park at the beach where you can take a pleasant stroll and let your visitors dip their tows in the Persian Gulf. Carry on down to The Jumeirah Beach Hotel and have lunch at The Dhow & Anchor sitting outside taking in views of the well known Burj Al Arab .
If you yourself are not too familiar with all of the sites above then another great way of seeing some of the sites is by The Big Bus Tours. Your visitors could do this with or without you over a 24 or 48 hour period hopping on and off the bus at the designated bus stops.
Dubai is built out of a desert so take them to the desert. Obviously dune bashing maybe a bit adventurous so take a drive out to The Hatta Fort Hotel . On the way enjoy the ever changing landscape of white sand to red sand with the magnificent Hajar Mountain range in the background. At the Hatta Fort Hotel you can enjoy a peaceful lunch away from the rush of Dubai. Remember to take your passports with you as you cross into Oman temporarily and they are now checking passports.
In the evening I would recommend visiting the Mina al Salam Hotel and have a pre-dinner drink at The Bahri Bar taking a seat outside to really take full advantage of the beautiful setting and view the Burj Al Arab in all its glory at night. This location spoils you for choice when it comes to restaurant options but a short walk downstairs will take you to Zheng He’s for an excellent Chinese Meal.
Nowadays it is not just the Burj Al Arab our visitors like to see but also the worlds tallest tower The Burj Khalifa. This is spectacular day or night and the dancing fountains in front of the Dubai Mall add to the entertainment of the evening. Book a table on the balcony of The Rivington Grill or have a dish of pasta at Carluccio’s to take advantage of both theses fantastic sites.
If they are here over the weekend take them to watch the camel racing just past the Sevens Stadium on the Al Ain Road at Al Marmoum Camel Racetrack. Races are at 7am and 2.30pm. This is a free activity and a great glimpse into an Emarati and Arab culture and tradition.
Let them see Dubai from the ocean by taking a trip on the Dubai Ferry which departs from Al Ghubaiba (in front of HSBC on the Creek) or Dubai Marina Mall. These ferries are very comfortable with routes that circle the city’s historical sites and Dubai’s striking coastline. There are a variety of routes on offer including a trip from Al Ghubaiba along the coast to Dubai Marina Mall (or the reverse) so you are travelling from the heart of old Dubai to the heart of New Dubai. Or you can travel from Al Ghubaiba to the mouth of the Creek and up the Creek to the floating bridge. Click here for timings and other options.
When the weather is still fantastic the above suggestions are great sites for your guests and they will leave Dubai really feeling like they have seen Dubai rather than just the inside of a shopping mall.