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Exterior view of Madinat Jumeirah


As the days draw in, our thoughts turn to sunnier climes to help us through the chilly winter months. Promising endless blue skies, palm-fringed beaches and adrenaline-fuelled attractions, Dubai is a veritable paradise for families. Throw in an easy seven-hour flight and a mere four-hour time difference (ie minimal jet lag for little ones) and a winter holiday in Dubai could be just the ticket.

Dubai’s dazzling futuristic skyline, perfect white-sand beaches and buzzy international vibe all offer plenty of attraction for children of all ages. Add in a warm Arabian welcome and kid-friendly cuisine and this modern emirate is an easy introduction to the Middle East.

Dubai is renowned for its beach resorts and hotels, but also boasts a wealth of family-friendly hotels. One of the most popular is Atlantis The Palm, a dazzling pink palace on Palm Jumeirah. All guests have free access to the Lost Chambers Aquarium and Aquaventure Water Park, as well as the chance to dine with the fishes in Ossiano, the hotel’s acclaimed underwater restaurant (but maybe order the chicken!).

Overlooking one of Dubai’s finest beaches, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel is another great base for families, not least because of its brilliant Wild Wadi Water Park. Shaped like a silver-blue wave on Jumeirah Beach, every room has floor-to-ceiling windows and views over the Persian Gulf.

One of Dubai’s beautiful palm-fringed beaches

Set slightly out of town, the Polynesian-themed Lapita Hotel is well-placed for Legoland Dubai, Motiongate and Bollywood Parks. Guest perks include unlimited entry into all three theme parks, plus free Q-fast passes. While many of Dubai’s waterfront hotels have private beaches, there are also several public beaches within easy reach of Downtown. Nearby is the recently opened La Mer, a new vibey beachfront district with designer shops, hip beach clubs and family restaurants.

With more and more theme parks springing up each year, Dubai is primed to steal Florida’s crown as the theme park capital of the world. Take your mini thrillseekers to Dubailand and IMG Worlds of Adventure, the largest indoor theme park in the world, and ride Velociraptor, Dubai’s fastest coaster. Or venture south to Dubai Parks and Resorts for Legoland Dubai, Bollywood Parks and Motiongate, a Hollywood-themed park that has just launched The World of the Hunger Games.

But there’s more to Dubai than rippling sands and rollercoasters – it can be an educational experience, too. Green Planet is a massive futuristic biodome in CityWalk, which houses a man-made tropical rainforest. Kids can chat with the toucans or just hang with the resident sloth, all while learning about the planet’s ecosystem. And Downtown is just as much fun after dark. Separating Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa are the world’s largest performing fountains.

Each night, the Dubai Fountains dance their merry aquatic ballet to songs from around the world. To completely blow their minds, why not book tickets to the all-new resident La Perle show in Al Habtoor City? The aerial-slash-aquatic spectacular was created by the former director of Cirque du Soleil, Franco Dragone. And if the kids start to miss the chilly weather, there’s always Ski Dubai, the Middle East’s largest indoor ski slope. A winter holiday never looked so good.

Father and son at The Green Planet, Dubai’s fascinating bio-dome


Find out more about hot winter holidays in Dubai.