We were in Dubai in December 2017. Our daughter was just under four months old at the time, and it was our first exotic trip with a baby. We chose Dubai, and we believe it’s the perfect destination for exotic vacations with a small child, especially during the Polish winter.
Dubai with a baby – we recommend it!
Short non-stop flight: Flight less than 10 hours.
Climate: Warm but not too hot. In the winter months, Dubai’s temperature drops below 30 degrees Celsius, making it warm enough for beach activities and swimming in the ocean but not too hot. Evenings can be slightly cooler (shockingly, below 25 degrees) with a light breeze.
Healthcare: Quick access to high-quality medical care.
Culture: Exotic but ‘civilized.’
Attractions: Not too much sightseeing, but not just lying on the beach either.
Ideal time difference: 3 hours from Poland, 4 hours from the UK. When it’s 11:00 PM in Dubai, it’s only 7:00 PM in the UK. Thanks to this, not only do you avoid the hassle of adjusting your child to a different time, but you can actually take advantage of this difference. We functioned according to UK time, so we put our little one to sleep at 11:00 PM (which was 7:00 PM for her), allowing us to take many evening strolls because we didn’t have to be back at the hotel by 7:00 PM
What to vaccinate your baby against
When it comes to whether or not to vaccinate and for what, we usually check the website of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which I highly recommend.
In Dubai, standard vaccinations from the regular vaccination schedule are sufficient. These include measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and chickenpox.
Additional recommended vaccinations include Hepatitis A and typhoid fever. These diseases can be contracted through contact with contaminated food or water, so it’s best not to give children tap water and to avoid raw, unwashed fruits or vegetables.
In the UAE and Dubai, there is no risk of malaria, dengue, or yellow fever.
Is Dubai safe?
Dubai and the United Arab Emirates are very safe for tourists. In the Global Peace Index, the UAE ranks 45th (Poland: 32, UK: 57). The high standard of living, strict laws, and advanced monitoring systems mean that common crimes hardly affect tourists.
Dubai is one of those cities where you can wander late at night without worrying about your safety. No one will attempt to steal your phone or the contents of your bag. Of course, it’s wise to use common sense, but this place is much safer than most European capitals.
It is a Muslim country, and many people immediately think of terrorism. So according to the Global Terrorism Index, the threat of terrorism in the United Arab Emirates is lower than in Poland. The higher the ranking, the lower the threat: UAE – 127th place, Poland – 102, UK: 28.
Dubai with a baby – rent a car or rely on public transport
Dubai is a very expansive city. Very. And we say this as Londoners, who are used to large cities. If you plan to explore Dubai with a baby, it’s worth considering. But to the point: getting to many attractions can take an hour, whether you use the metro or a car.
In our opinion, renting a car is the best option, especially since you can find free parking near most attractions, usually in shopping centers.
Unfortunately, many roads outside the city are toll roads.
Dubai with a baby and public transport Public transportation, such as the metro, trams, and buses, reach most tourist spots, and transporting a stroller is, of course, free. However, you still need to walk a few minutes to several minutes to reach your destination.
Sun and heat – A short walk in scorching sun may not be a problem for regular tourists, but it can be challenging with a baby who should not be exposed to the sun. Sidewalks, or rather their absence – Sidewalks that unexpectedly end, are sloped, or obstructed by cars and bicycles.
Where to stay – child-friendly hotels in Dubai
When choosing a hotel, it’s best to decide in advance whether you want to explore or relax on the beach. Dubai is a very expansive city, and getting to many attractions can take over an hour (regardless of whether you’re driving, taking a taxi, or using public transport).
We’ve selected a few hotels that, in our opinion, are worth considering. We stayed at the first one because it was the most affordable option for our travel dates.
Savoy Suites Hotel Apartment – where we stayed; a hotel with a rooftop pool located in the eastern part of the city.
Al Khoory Atrium – a hotel 10 minutes’ walk from the Mall of the Emirates (with its ski slope) and 10 minutes by metro from the Marina. It has a pool, parking, and a spa.
Dubai with a baby and breastfeeding
Dubai is a very modern city, but I was a bit concerned about how it would be to explore the city with a baby. It turns out I didn’t need to worry.
Of course, I always tried to breastfeed discreetly so that people around me wouldn’t see that I was breastfeeding. A long, wide scarf for cover is essential! Whenever possible, we would go to a café and sit at a table somewhere in a corner (finding a café was never a problem).
I also breastfed at a bus stop or at a metro station in the mother and child restroom. Unfortunately, there are no chairs there, but it’s really very clean, and I highly recommend it if you can’t wait.
Eating in Dubai – what will a small child eat
I often hear questions about whether we had stomach problems in Dubai. We didn’t.
I understand the concerns – many people look at Dubai through the lens of the common perception of other Arab countries like Egypt or Tunisia. Allegedly, gastrointestinal issues are the norm there (we haven’t been, so we can’t comment).
Dubai is a modern, Western city. There are various restaurants there: local, international, chain restaurants, and family-friendly options. You can’t compare it to eating street food in Asia. The chance of stomach problems is the same as when traveling to London, Barcelona, or Prague.
Dubai with a baby in a stroller
Dubai is incredibly family-friendly and most attractions are accessible for families with strollers. There are elevators or ramps everywhere.
Aquarium and Underwater Zoo at The Dubai Mall – You can see the enormous aquarium from the outside without buying a ticket and going inside. However, it’s worth visiting. The entire attraction is stroller-friendly, and the tour takes about an hour or two. Colorful fish and other aquatic creatures are an interesting sight even for a three-month-old baby (tested!).
The Dubai Fountain Show at Burj Khalifa – The Dubai Fountain shows take place every half an hour. Evening shows are very popular, and it can be challenging to find a spot by the railing. To get a better view, consider sitting down for dinner or a snack at one of the restaurants along the promenade. Prices are comparable to other restaurants. The show itself is free.
The world’s tallest building – Burj Khalifa – The entrance to the observation deck is located in the center of The Dubai Mall. You don’t need to pay for a baby. Unfortunately, the lines are very long, so to avoid a long wait, it’s worth buying priority entrance tickets on Groupon in advance. You can’t take a stroller to the top (you can leave it in the storage area), so you’ll need to carry the baby. You can borrow a free baby carrier (or use your own).
Shopping on the top floor of The Dubai Mall – Most popular clothing brands have stores here with children’s items. However, many were above our budget.
Beach time – Most beaches offer rental of sun loungers and umbrellas, but the cost can be daunting. It’s a good idea to bring a beach tent or another type of shelter for your baby because the sun is really strong.
Where to take a stroll with a stroller when the baby is asleep:
Dubai Marina – Sometimes it’s hard to find shade, but it’s peaceful and, most importantly, flat – a paradise if you need to walk with your baby in a stroller (we all know that if you stop, they’ll wake up…).
Dubai Creek – Can be a bit noisy at times, but it’s flat and wide.
The Gold Souk – Similar to the area on the other side of Dubai Creek, it can be noisy, but there are no stairs, and it’s comfortable for strollers.
Dubai Canal Boardwalk – A nice walk along the canal.
Shopping malls: The Dubai Mall and The Mall of the Emirates – Huge shopping malls, perfect when you need to cool down and escape from the sun. We recommend the floors with exclusive brands – they are less crowded and much quieter there.
Dubai with a child – attractions for slightly older children
Dubai seems like a paradise for children. At every turn, we encountered attractions that would surely please our Nella, but only in a few years. So here are a few places we know exist but didn’t have the chance to check out.
Dubai Parks and Resorts – Several theme parks located in one place: Legoland, Riverland, Bollywood, Motiongate.
Aquaventure Waterpark – A water amusement park at the Atlantis hotel on an artificial island, said to be the best in the country. You can easily spend a whole day here.
Sandboarding in the desert – An integral part of most desert tours. From Dubai, you can do such a trip in just a few hours.
Ice skating rink – The year-round ice skating rink at The Mall of the Emirates.
Ski slope – Ski Dubai at The Mall of the Emirates doesn’t need much advertising. It’s not just a ski slope with a real ski lift but also a space for sledding and other snowy fun. Open year-round.
Wild Wadi Waterpark – another water park