While the heat outside might be reaching apocalyptic proportions, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com steps inside and discovers where the action really is! Whether you’ve been here for years or are new to the UAE, there’s loads to do under the cooling breeze of a never too distant A/C.
What kid doesn’t love animals?
Tempt them away from the screen this summer with our list of indoor animal fun. And whether you swim with dolphins or learn natural horsemanship, feed a falcon or get inches away from a cheetah, we can promise you, they won’t be bored this summer!
Arabian Wildlife Centre
Why go? Consistently rated as one of the ‘happiest’ zoos by TripAdvisor, it’s also fully air-conditioned, educational and loads of fun!
What to do: If you thought visiting the zoo involved traipsing around animal enclosures in the baking sun, you haven’t been to the Arabian Wildlife Centre. While the animals live outside (don’t worry they’re indigenous, so more than used to the heat), visitors to the centre remain firmly fluster-free indoors. This fantastic centre has everything to keep animal-loving kids enthralled, from the indoor avery and nocturnal enclosures to the fish, scorpions, wolves, baboons, gazelle and more. Then when you’re done, head to the café (where although the food is pretty basic), the panoramic windows allow the park’s larger inhabitants to roam past the windows only metres from your table.
Highlights: Vomit-inducing snakes at kiddie-eye level and BIG cats snoozing literally millimeters away against the viewing glass.
Info: Sharjah/Al Dhaid Road (E88) interchange 9 (past the cement factory). Sunday to Thursday 9am to 6pm (closed Tuesday) Friday 2pm-6pm and Saturday 11am to 6pm. Admission fees: Adults: Dhs15 Children: Dhs10 and under 5’s free.
Dubai Desert Camel Trek
Why go? The desert at sunset aboard a ship of the desert- do we need to say more?
What to Do: Visit this authentic Emirati farm out in the Fiya desert and meet Al Dhabi's camels for a desert trek to remember. Take your camera and capture the sunset, before heading back to the farm for refreshments and to meet all the other desert farm residents.
Highlights: Cruising the sands on your very own 'ship of the desert.'
Info: Al Dhabi Animal Hire/Dubai City Stables, Off the 611 Emirates Rd, Price: 175 per person/per hour. Contact: 055 167 0188 or 050 568 0080.
Why go? Seriously, who doesn’t love watching well-kept sea creatures doing awesome tricks?
What to do: There’s a whole host of well trained, well-kept animals on show at the Dolphinarium. Take in the dolphin and sea-lion shows, watch the parrot display, see Aladdin’s show, experience the 5D cinema, visit the mirror maze, try the soft play, phew! We’re tired just listing it all! Suffice to say, enough to entertain the whole family for an action packed day indoors.
Highlights: The shows
Info: Dubai, Creek Park. There are three shows per day, (11 am, 3 pm & 6 pm) prices start from Dhs 50 for children under 11 years and adults from Dhs100. Visit: here
Why go? We’re asking ourselves the same question too… but for those who love everything that slithers and crawls it’s apparently a must-see!
What to do: If you hate snakes, lizards and spiders, look away now. This shop/zoo/education centre is packed with the UAE’s slipperiest residents. Decked-out like a cave, this place is perfect for anyone wanting to know more about how these creatures live.
Highlights: Feeling brave? Then learn how to handle a snake/iguana/tarantula and get your photo taken too.
Info: Dubai, Uptown Mirdif Mall. Open 10 am to 10 pm weekdays, Friday/Saturday- 3 pm to 11 pm. Admissions: Dhs 20 per person. For more information visit: here
Ras AL Khor Bird Sanctuary
Why go? While 175 bird species call this mangrove forest and wet-land home, for the kids, it’s all about the gorgeous pink flamingoes
What to do: With three ‘hides’ each offering different bird species sightings, this bird sanctuary would be an unlikely summer hotspot, if it wasn’t for the ingenious air-conditioned hides, car access between each location and scopes, binoculars and helpful attendants to explain exactly what you’re seeing.
Highlights: Watch the rangers feed the flamingos around 3pm daily
Info: Dubai/Hatta motorway, it’s not particularly well signposted but the coordinates are: 25.185125 , 55.331003.
For more information visit: here
Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
Why go? It’s a world-class pioneering hospital for the world’s most expensive birds - seriously, when are you ever likely to experience that again?
What to do: This tour is far from the basic falconry display you’ve probably seen before. Tour the hospital and see the birds being treated by world-class bird doctors. Learn about the history, tradition and culture at the falconry museum. Meet the Emiratis who use the hospital, then see the rescued birds who live there and observe an unlikely falcon mani-pedi-grooming session.
Highlights: Hold and feed a falcon and visit the free-flight avery to see the birds in action
Info: Abu Dhabi, behind the airport. Tours available Sunday to Thursday from 10 am to 2 pm. Tours must be booked in advance at: here. Admissions: Adults: Dhs 170 children: Dhs 60 for a 2 hour basic tour package.
Why go? Step under the waves and discover the UAE’s amazingly diverse sea life
What to do: This small but perfectly formed aquarium offers visitors a glimpse into the UAE’s teeming waters. Each tank, tunnel, viewing deck and bridge allows visitors amazing views of the aquarium’s beautifully created underwater habitats. See mangroves, harbours, rock canyons and open sea. There’s a café with cake and the added bonus of free admission to the maritime museum right next door all on the same ticket.
Highlights: Take a walk through the ocean tunnel
Info: Sharjah, Al Khan historic area. Open Saturday to Thursday: 8 am to 8 pm & Friday: 4 pm to 10 pm. Admission: Children under 2: free, adults: Dhs 25, children: Dhs 15 and a family pass Dhs 70. For more information visit: www.sharjahmuseums.ae.