Canadian Expat Mom

The Layover: 24 Hours in Dubai (with kids)


dubaiWhen I think of Dubai I think of all things shiny and new.  With bright lights and a big flashy city that’s popped up in an otherwise barren dessert.  I can’t help but think of it as the Las Vegas of the Middle East; minus all the casinos and alcohol.

When you’re flying from North America or Europe to the Far East or Australia, Dubai is often a connection point for large international carriers.  On a recent flight to South East Asia, we were offered a long connection in Dubai and we jumped on it; knowing our kids would be much better off after a good night sleep and some time outside of the airplane before we finished the rest of our journey.

Having previously visited the UAE we knew that we wouldn’t be short on things to do to keep us busy on our layover.  Having only 24 hours to enjoy this luxurious city, we decided to not waste time commuting out to the Palm or the Marina, but stayed downtown, where we’d be close enough to get back to the airport easily the next day.

With only a short time at our disposal we decided to choose a hotel near the Dubai Mall and stick to that area because it’s much more than a mall and we knew there would be far more options than we’d be able to do in our short time frame.  Wanting to be well rested for the next leg of our journey, we decided to just relax, unwind, and enjoy some good food and the great atmosphere that was at our doorstep.
If you only have a short time in Dubai, might I suggest a room with a view.  Make the most of this amazing skyline and splash out on a Burj Khalifa view.  How many times will you be able to say goodnight and wake up to a view of the world’s tallest structure.
Stretch your legs while window shopping in the luxurious Dubai Mall.  With everything from pharmacies, to high end, security at the door shopping  If you can think of a great store to shop in; it’s probably waiting for you in the Dubai Mall.  From diamond alley, to chocolatiers with rhinestone incrusted door handles.  There’s definitely a high end feel to this glistening, clean and posh shopping centre.
While your kids drool on the windows of the cupcake shops, you may wonder where your husband has snuck off to.  He’s probably joined the other men-turned paparazzi, as they all take out their phones out to take pictures of the cars in the valet line.  These cars each come close to the price of a middle class mortgage.  So now your kids and your husband are both drooling.
Your kids might enjoy the aquarium, but if you don’t feel like buying a ticket and fully committing an afternoon, you can compromise.  There’s a portion of the aquarium that you can see from inside the mall and your kids can get their under the sea fix by spending a bit of time at the giant fish tank wall.  Heads up:  It’s strategically places across from a massive candy store. You do the math.
The Canucks in the crowd can get their Timmy’s fix not once, but twice in the same mall!  Bet you didn’t see that coming when you walked into a mall in the Emirates!
Speaking of Canadians…there’s a giant skating rink too, so you might as well continue on with the Nationalism, rent yourself a pair of skates and show the Emiraties how we do it.
Our favourite casual, family restaurant when we’re in Dubai is called Social House.  With a menu catering to both East and Westerners, the food is fantastic and they have highchairs and a kid’s menu, but still manage to keep it classy so you don’t feel like you’re eating at Chuck E Cheese(not that there’s anything wrong with that).  The best part about this place is that it has an outdoor patio that parks you right beside the Burj Khalifa and at a front row seat for the nightly water show set to music (a la Bellagio) that’s not to be missed.
Hot Tip:  This is the UAE, and locals eat here; unlike the big hotels.  So don’t ask for a wine list because you’ll be embarrassed.  They don’t serve alcohol.  Don’t ask me how I know.
So there you have it my friends.  24 hours of fun filled family time in Dubai.
I suggest you stay longer if you can because there’s obviously more to any place than you can see in 24 hours.  But if you do have the opportunity to make a Dubai connection; take it, because although it may be a bit ‘Legas-y’ the people are friendly and everything is well manicured.  If you look in the right places there’s more to Dubai than the malls, and for a girl like me, living deep in the heart of the ‘Old World’ Dubai is a breath of fresh, inviting air where everything is shiny and new.

6 thoughts on “The Layover: 24 Hours in Dubai (with kids)

  1. Lisa W

    What no spa !?;) Just how long have you traveling for? Yep, the flush and rushes are quite the cultural experience best avoided by all!!! Gotta prep myself for the next… ” Where’s Lisa Now?” edition!

    1. Canadian Expat Mom Post author

      Hey Lis! We’ve been on the road for about a month now. Leaving Hong Kong tomorrow and heading back to Dubai for a couple of days, just to save our sanity with long flights and time change. Then we’ll be happy to sit tight at home for awhile. Don’t worry, I’ve got a back stock of spa pieces over the last few weeks. They’ll be appearing soon! 😉

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