Upon first inspection, Dubai lives up to its reputation as a millionaires’ playground; it is chock-full of business folk impeccably turned out in Arab thawbs or designer labels, driving huge cars from one gleaming, gargantuan mall to the next. But while this futuristic city in the middle of the desert is great fun for those with money, it is also ideally set up for kids.
Children are revered in Arab culture. During our stay in Old Dubai my three-year-old son was high-fived, hugged and had his cheeks squished affectionately by everyone we met, from waiters and bellhops to stern-looking police officers and souk traders. So it follows that, given the centrality of children to daily life here, much of the infrastructure of this new city has sprung up to appeal to a childlike sense of fun — and I can confirm that it also works for big kids.
Many of the top hotels come with kids’ clubs and babysitting services, pools and child-friendly menus. But you could say that for most other luxury destinations. For thrill-seeking youngsters, however, Dubai has the edge. Waterslides? Rollercoasters? Terrifying animals? Snowboarding? No problem.