Wonderful city, another magnificent culture and another excellent religion, information’s that sometimes panic when planning a trip abroad with children. Back from a family trip to Dubai, we inform you everything we’ve learned from our Dubai experience to help you get the excellent out of yours!
No recommendation of visits or good addresses here, just the realistic information to spend a pleasant and stress-free family.
Dubai Holidays: When And How To Get There?
Do we have to have a visa to enter Dubai?
Yes and no. The tourist visa (valid for 90 days) is compulsory but issued free of charge upon arrival (for many countries Australia, France, United States ECT…).
You do not even have to organize any particular formalities upon your arrival, except for the mandatory passage by the office that issues these visas and will only stamp your passport (which you will have to buy before leaving for your commune).
What is the best season for a holiday in the UAE?
Between November to March is ideal time for your trip, The temperatures then vary around 30 ° C, ideal to enjoy the beach (with or without children elsewhere) and allow you to enjoy all the activities, including the desert, without suffering the heat.
Indeed, temperatures can rise beyond 40/45 ° C from May making the atmosphere suffocating and activities with children quite impossible (except shopping!)
We spent New Year’s Eve there and had temperature spikes up to 34 ° C on December 30th! However, Dubai being located on the coast, a (very) light wind makes the temperature quite acceptable for the whole family.
Only disadvantage of this period, the days are generally shorter and the night falls around 17h-17h30. This, however, allows you to enjoy certain benefits (night shows, illuminations of buildings and boats on the Creek) at decent hours for children. No worse then.
Health And Security
Before You Go Dubai
You may require vaccinations or other preventive medicines before you leave for Dubai, mostly if you are also visiting other countries in the region. Your doctor will recommend you on which vaccinations you require. He or she will ask you about your health, what vaccinations you have had in the past, which countries and regions you will be visiting, and what activities you have planned. See your doctor minimum four to six weeks before you travel to make sure that there is time for your vaccinations to take effect.
No vaccinations are required for travel to Dubai.
It is essential to check that any boosters or usual vaccinations are up to date before you travel. This may contain the collective DTP vaccine (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis – also known as whooping cough), measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and polio.
If you need to take antibiotics or particular medications, ask your doctor for a copy of the prescription to keep with the medicine.
For a family medical kit, just plan an anti diarrhea, what protect you and treat you insect bites, an anti-inflammatory and possibly, if you plan to leave Dubai, pellets to sterilize the water.
Is Dubai A Safe City?
Very! You have no fear to have at your level of security during your stay with your family. Whatever the neighborhood we always felt very safe with the children.
Do not be fearful, Dubai is as safe as any European city and, having stayed there for a week, I would even say that we felt much safer there than in Brussels or other Belgian cities: no beggars, no theft, no scams on the horizon, many police and guards in the streets and around tourist places, …
Security checks are omnipresent at the entrance of major tourist attractions (at the entrance of the Burj Khalifa tower, for example, you will have to pass a security gate and submit to a possible search of your backpack. ).
We have not felt any fear of theft or aggression, even at night in the popular neighborhoods that are very lively and the eyes of locals are always kind to families with children. At the limit they will redouble attention to you, allowing you to cross even where it is not expected a priori, helping you find your way, guiding you in the maze of alleys Deira,
Cost Of Living In Dubai
Are you going on family vacations, how to select reasonable child-friendly accommodation?
Two solutions are available to you to enjoy an affordable stay in Dubai without depriving you of comfort:
- opt for an apart hotel , which allows you to save on meal prices (while often offering breakfast included)
- Ex-center yourself a bit by choosing a hotel in a neighborhood on the other side of the Creek , in Deira for example or to Al-Mamzar. If you choose to move with a car rental, it will not be a problem to get out of the city, on the contrary!
What Is The Budget For Eating, Going Out, Visiting?
The price of food, like activities, will depend a lot on the neighborhoods in which you are. Of course the tourist and leisure activities, including restaurants, in the marina areas, Down Town, Palm Jumeirah, Burj al Arab etc. are much more expensive than in the most popular areas of Bur Dubai and Deira.
But as everywhere, it is possible to find something to eat at a reasonable price. In the Shopping Centers you will have as many large fast-food restaurants that your children may like, as well as affordable snacks: sushi, sandwiches, pasta and pizzas, and at Bur Dubai’s famous Arabian Tea House.
A little dhow or dhow ride will cost you 20 € per person in Madinat Jumeirah, while it will only cost you 1 € to Deira … again, use common sense and choose your activities by focusing on neighborhoods more popular (and so much more culturally rich) of Dubai. Your wallet will thank you. And this will allow you to spend a holiday with a cost that will not be higher than that of life in Europe.
On the other hand, we were quite surprised, considering the prices required for tourist attractions (water parks, boat rental, desert trips, etc.), to note that all museums in Dubai (and outside, in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain for example) were generally free or required a paltry entrance fee (often less than € 1 / person).
Do not skimp on the small museums in Dubai that will allow you to better understand the evolution of this city, its origin and culture.
Can We Negotiate Prices?
Yes, of course, as in many Eastern countries, haggling is part of customs, but to a lesser extent in Dubai.
Westerners and expats are numerous and prices in the Mall and many small shops are fixed and firm. You can negotiate the price of your taxi and also in the souks and some small shops of the districts of Bur Dubai and Deira but the exercise is less widespread than in other countries.
Getting Around Dubai
What is the easiest way to get around the city?
It all depends on where you live and what you want to do. To get around the city and connect quite distant places, the ideal is the subway : very fast, clean, quiet, two lines that cross the modern city from one side to the other, a passage every 10 minutes from 5:30 to midnight in week (until 2am on Thursday and Friday), a rate accessible even for large families.
Huge Dubai Metro Stations
Otherwise Dubai has a rather well-developed bus network with two-story buses that look more like coaches, with air conditioning, and all the comforts. Only downside, they are rather slow but to move in a specific area of Dubai is perfect.
For your convenience, do not have to look for your way and public transport lines, opt for the Taxi.
Last but best option, for greater freedom of movement with children and the opportunity to push your sights a little further than Dubai, Rent A Car In Dubai. We tell you right after.
For Fun, Take A Boat Trip: a taxi boat on the Creek between Deira and Bur Dubai (folklore insured!) Or from the marina. There are many proposals for tourists, at prices often exorbitant but the two options available to you are very accessible: about 1 € / ride for the waterbus on the Creek; 15 € (8 € for children) for a one-hour Dhow cruise on the Captain Jack from the Marina.
Is It Worth Renting A Car?
You will find local Car Rental Company In Dubai as well as major international brands that offer all the security and accessories you may need: insurance, 24-hour service, rental of child seats, GPS.
Of course you can play luxury and get into the skin of the Dubaiotes by choosing a luxury car, but know that it is quite possible, low-budget to rent a “classic” sedan car for families (from 40 € per day). Be careful however that this type of vehicle is not suitable for a “desert” outing, which you can do with a specialized agency on site eventually. Otherwise, plan to rent a 4×4 vehicle.
If you want to travel a lot on a single day or get out of the city to Abu Dhabi, Hatta, Al-Ain or even just move from “modern” areas to the Deira and Bur Dubai suburbs that are less well served by the metro, renting a car may seem like a good idea.
It is also a quick and easy way with children (a nap to take during the journey “hop! To sleep”) to connect neighborhoods far apart from each other. Do not forget that Dubai is a very large city!
After, the car parks are numerous, often free, and the price of petrol is ridiculous. So the cost of renting, if you are many to enjoy the car, can quickly be depreciated compared to public transport trips.
What Is The Legislation Concerning Child Car Seats?
It seems that the legislation is changing but at the time of our trip (2016-2017), the car seats were not compulsory for the children. But remember, it’s about their safety first and foremost. If you can of course rent a child seat at the car rental agency, the price can go up very quickly for a few days of stay.
We had opted to take 2 seats “galettes” in our bags for the two youngest but if you have babies or children who need a seat of groups 0-1-2, to avoid moving with luggage too heavy and bulky, you can provide a stop in a supermarket (eg Carrefour) to buy a seat at a price lower than the rental. It will probably please the hotel or a family when you leave.
What Should I Be Aware Of At The Level Of The Highway Code?
The legislation is quite strict from every point of view (except, surprisingly, with regard to children in the car): no tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol (even make a cross on a small beer or a glass of wine), the speed is very controlled (radar VERY frequent on the main axes and no margin of tolerance), obligation to have his driving license on himself.
What If I Have An Accident?
Even with extra care you can run into a driver who is less experienced than you. In any case, do not move your rental vehicle and call the police before directly informing your car rental company.
How Do The Tolls Work?
The highways that pass through Dubai and leave the city are, on some sections, paid . But there are no toll areas like in France or in Europe. Vehicle owners have a sticker called SALIK on their windshield which is automatically scanned by the terminals at the entrance of the pay sections. Your car rental will have this sticker and your rental company will charge you the total bill at the end of your stay.
To give you an idea, for 8 days of rental and many trips (1200 km traveled in 8 days in and around Dubai by systematically borrowing these sections pay) we paid the equivalent of 20 €.
Is It Easy To Park In Dubai?
Yes, surprisingly, it’s easy enough. Because all shopping centers and tourist sites offer parking. Generally free.
The only parking we had to pay was at the Marina (but honestly we could have searched a bit more to find non-paying areas in the area but we were expected for a boat trip) and in the Deira area (we paid € 5 for more than 5 hours of parking near the Fish Market and the Gold Souk).
In Bur Dubai we took advantage of free Carrefour hypermarket parking and elsewhere free parking also Mall, these gigantic shopping centers.
How to adapt to local traditions? What should we pay attention to during our trip?
While the majority of the population is Muslim, Dubai is also a city of expatriates and residents are used to dealing with foreigners with other customs than their own.
This does not prevent you from being respectful of their religion and customs and paying particular attention to your behavior in the city.
I Am A Woman, How Should I Expect To Get Dressed In Dubai?
You will quickly see in the Shopping Centers and on the beach tourists dressed as at home: short shorts, short skirt, tank top, if the Dubaiotes look good in front of these fashions, they are however little appreciated and a little decency is the welcome, out of respect for their tradition.
You must not be veiled , cover yourself completely from head to toe, but avoid clothing above the knee, shoulders uncovered, plunging necklines or clothing too tight.
The only time I felt uncomfortable with my outfit was in Al-Ain where all the women wore the black burka. Even in pants and with a long-sleeved T-shirt, the men scrutinized me with questioning and insistence. Fortunately I had a long scarf that I have very quickly, despite 35 ° C, wrapped around my head and my arms. Not great comfort for a ride in the mountains of Jebel Hafeet but necessary not to attract unnecessary attention in Al-Ain. .
Note that if in Dubai the inhabitants get used slowly, and despite them, to less stringent outfits of Western tourists, when you leave the city customs are still strong and you will have to adapt your outfit.
Should I Wear The Veil?
The veil will be necessary, if you are not Muslim, only to enter mosques and places of worship. For the rest, if your outfit is correct, it is not necessary to bring a scarf or veil in your luggage.