- We live, breathe and love Dubai – but what about the other six Emirates in the UAE? We’ve rounded up the highlights for British families in Dubai, from wandering around abandoned villages, to bartering for that night’s dinner at a local fish market, to canoeing through peaceful mangroves. It’s time to jump in the car and explore…
It’s just an hour down the road, but feels surprisingly unfamiliar when we get there – so what is there to do and see in the capital of the UAE? The stunning, whitewashed surroundings of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque are the perfect place to start. You need to cover from head to toe, so remember to wear long-sleeves and trousers, along with a headscarf. If you’re enjoying a spot of culture, the Zayed National Museum is another very worthy pit-stop, telling the story of the birth of the UAE. And for the kids? Yas Island, of course – from the thrills of Ferrari World, to the splashes at Yas Water World, there’s so much to entertain them.
This tiny Emirate boasts a long stretch of golden sand, which is definitely one reason to make the drive (especially if you like your own personal space and are fed up of having it invaded on the public beaches of Dubai). If you can pull yourself away from the sand, the late 18th century fort that now houses Ajman Museum offers culture, whilst Ajman Fish Market is the perfect pit-stop for fish lovers before you head home (with no less than 116 stalls selling seafood at prices that put the fish monger at Waitrose to shame). Anyone for lobster?
Located on the opposite coast of the UAE to Dubai and backed by mountains, Fujairah offers a beautiful change in scenery when you want to escape the bubble of the city. A day here is all about exploring the scenery, whether you jump on mountain bikes (always in an organised tour, unless you know the terrain very well) or hop aboard a boat for some sightseeing, fishing, or snorkeling. You’ll feel like you’ve travelled to a different corner of the earth, but the truth is that the journey only took about 40 minutes.
Ras Al Khaimah
One of the most popular weekend getaways for British Mums in Dubai, most of us have set foot in this Emirate at least once – but what is there to explore beyond shiny hotel lobbies and golden beaches? Let’s start with Al Jazirat Al Hamra; one of the oldest historical sites in the UAE, with old schools, mosques, and narrow streets to wander. All occupied until about 40 years ago, it now has the feel of a ghost town. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Ice World Water Park is definitely worth leaving your hotel for. The old-school water park is far quieter than its glitzier counterparts in Dubai, but the kids will have a ball on the rides (without blowing the budget).
Sharjah is simply the fastest route to a weekend away in Ras Al Khaimah, right? Well no actually – as there is plenty to explore within its borders. The city’s very own Arabian Wildlife Centre is a great place to start, with air-conditioning throughout the building so you can visit even in the summer months. Then there’s the Sharjah Discovery Centre, which gets great reviews with British Mums in Dubai. Split into 7 interactive areas, kids can explore everything from human senses to water. Finally, if you want to soak up a little culture, visit Sharjah Heritage Area, where you can step back in time and explore authentic Bedouin village homes, complete with their wind towers.
With well-known bottle shop Barracuda within its borders, a lot of British Mums have already set foot in this tiny Emirate – but what else is there to see? Often described as ‘sleepy’, most of the fun to be had in Umm al-Quwain involves heading to the coastline. From canoeing through mangrove swamps, to jet skiing in the clear waters, to crabbing in the shallows, you can zone out from the pace of Dubai life for a while. Not forgetting Dreamland Aqua Park, which offers plenty in the way of high-octane entertainment, with the opportunity to stay overnight in one of the park’s on-site chalets, complete with their own barbecues and first entry to the park the next morning.
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