Family travels in the Middle East will fill you with beautiful sights, heavenly cuisine, and adventures you will never forget. One of the best places to take your family is the United Arab Emirates—it’s filled with many opportunities to relax, explore the marketplaces, and visit the many museums and parks.
If you’re thinking of going or currently planning a trip, here are some of the best family vacation ideas for the UAE.
A Quick Lesson in UAE History
In 1971, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) became an official country when it declared independence from Great Britain. The seven emirates that make up the UAE have seen this area go from a rapidly developing region to a prosperous hub for global business and tourism.
Today, the UAE boasts a long list of architectural, commercial, and entertainment wonders. UAE is home to the world’s tallest towers, the world’s largest shopping mall, and the world’s longest zipline. The combination of the past and present make this place perfect for your family vacation.
Top Vacation Ideas for Families Visiting the UAE
Most families think of Dubai first when planning their vacation to the UAE. However, there are many locations to choose from when planning a family trip to the UAE. There are various vacation activities that you can organize for your family throughout the emirates. Whether you are looking for outdoor adventures, cultural experiences or relaxing beaches, the UAE offers many of these activities across the seven emirates.
Ras Al Khaimah
North of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah is a favorite for both local residents of the UAE and international travelers. It is located less than an hour from Dubai and shares a border with the country of Oman. Visitors here are welcomed by greener areas, scenic mountain ranges, and quiet beaches in comparison to some of the more touristy locations nearby.
Activities for kids and families fill this beautiful location. They include the following:
- Dhayah Fort: They built the only hilltop fortress in the UAE built upon the remains of older and ancient structures in the bay of Dhayah oasis. Families can climb this fortress and take in the panoramic views only found at the top.
- RAK Camel racetrack: There is a rich heritage of camel racing in the UAE. You can see camels any day of the week trotting along the track to prepare for the weekend race. Seeing a camel race will require your family to rise early. Races begin at 6:30 am each Friday during the winter months.
- Al Wadi Equestrian Adventure Center: Your family can take in the desert’s beauty from the saddle. You can take guided tours or go at it alone. Families will find the center equipped for the novice, children, and experienced riders.
- Bassata Desert Camp: Families longing to experience the Bedouin lifestyle can visit this desert camp. Here you can partake of genuine Bedouin cuisine and gaze at the stars while relaxing on plush pillows.
- Al Jazirah Al Hamra: Meaning the Red Island in English, Al Jazirah Al Hamra is a town south of Ras Al Khaimah that is a “must visit” place for those who want a historical cultural experience. Check out this hamlet that has ancient buildings and structures that look frozen in time. Al Jazirah Al Hamra was built in the 17th century by three local tribes, including the Zaab tribe. In 1830 the town was home to local pearl fishermen before it was abandoned completely during the 1960s. Now visitors can explore the town like an outdoor museum free of charge.
- Jais Adventure Peak – Jais Adventure Peak is located on the UAE’s highest mountain, Jebel Jais. Jais Adventure Peak consists of many adventure attractions designed to help you explore the mountain and surrounding vistas.
- Jebel Jais Flight – Officially the world’s longest zipline according to the Guinness World Records. Visitors can soar above the mountain range at speeds up to 150 kph. The zipline ride ends on a transparent platform that makes you feel like you are suspended in the air. This attraction is a must-do experience for those who have no fear of heights.
- Jais Sky Tour – Comprising seven zipline networks designed to help visitors explore the Jebel Jais mountain range. Don’t forget to check out the hanging sky bridge too.
- Jebel Jais Viewing Deck Park – For those who want a slightly laid back experience at the adventure peak, the viewing deck is a perfect place to unwind. There are seven viewing decks with many binocular stations that overlook views of the Arabian Gulf and Hajar Mountain valleys.
- Jais Sky Maze – This is a ninja warriors dream obstacle course. The new obstacle maze has rope swings, swinging loops, and wobbly bridges and much more. The sky maze is 2 levels of endless adrenaline pumping fun.
As the magnificent capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi has plenty of places and attractions for a family vacation. Since being established as the political and administrative capital of both the emirate and federation in 1971 Abu Dhabi has rapidly grown. The architectural skyline is diverse and reflects the history and development. Alongside traditional Bedouin, homes are futuristic skyscrapers, lavish homes, breathtaking mosques, and sprawling beaches.
When your family visits Abu Dhabi, be sure to check out these outstanding attractions.
- Ferrari World: Ferrari World is an amusement park designed for people of all ages. There are five zones where families can ride the world’s fastest roller coaster or drive a scaled-down Ferrari race car. Even small children can get in on the action with a zone dedicated just for them.
- Marina Circuit Formula 1 Race Track: If your family enjoys racing, you can get tickets to see the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race. Check out their site for dates and ticket prices.
- Al Jahili Fort: The Al Jahili fort is a spectacular display of architectural reconstruction. A visit to this fort will share the history of Al Jahili, and after your tour, you can refresh in the beautiful park nearby.
- Arabian Nights Village: Arabian Nights Village offers families the opportunity to experience what life was like for nomads in the area. While there, you can enjoy the food, the relaxation, and stay overnight if you so desire.
- Historic local markets and shops: The abundance of local markets and shops will leave your family in awe. You can purchase authentic food, unique souvenirs, and truly immerse your family in the UAE’s way of life.
Dubai is the city most people think of when they think about the UAE. It is a global tourism destination and center of international business deals. Even so, Dubai has a plethora of activities that families can enjoy while vacationing there.
- Jumeirah Beach Park: The Jumeirah beach is a ½ mile-long beach that offers families beautiful ocean views. You can cool off in the water or purchase a sun lounger to relax in. There are lifeguards on duty that will relieve your worries about your family’s safety.
- Wild Wadi Water Park: Wild Wadi water park is near Jumeirah beach. It is a perfect place to get wet with the many water slides and rides available.
- Dubai Mall: Families can expect to spend a sizeable chunk of time here. This mall is one of the largest malls in the world. You can also shop, but your family can also catch a movie, go ice skating, or visit the indoor aquarium.
- Ski Dubai: Your family can enjoy the snow even in the summer. Ski Dubai is an indoor ski park. Families can get up close with penguins, enjoy skiing, tubing, and dining.
- Outdoor Activities: Families that enjoy being outdoors will find an endless amount of outdoor activities in Dubai. Your family can choose from off-roading, hiking, sandboarding, or trekking. If those are not for your family, then maybe a camel ride or falconry is a better choice.
Book Your Next Family Vacation to UAE
Family vacations should be about making memories and experiencing something new. In the United Arab Emirates, families can enjoy education sites in Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah. In Dubai, your family can immerse themselves in the 21st-century activities UAE residents enjoy.
The UAE has resumed most transportation operations (including airports) and business operations (including daycares and school). Many hotels, restaurants and businesses have launched Covid safety precautions and are open for travellers. For the latest Covid information related to travel, please visit consult the official UAE government site or your local government agencies. In July 2020, Ras Al Khaimah was also declared as the first safe city in the world, receiving the Bureau Veritas Safeguard Assurance Label and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travel Stamp.
Start planning today, the trip that will take your family to the heights of Arabia.