When you hear Dubai, it brings images of record-breaking skyscrapers, elegant fine-dining restaurants, massive shopping malls, and historical spots. While there is no denying that Dubai is known as a playground for adults, it does have many activities for kids. From theme parks and watersports to aquariums and desert adventures, it is packed with fun activities that are just waiting to be explored. Listed below are some of the best things you can enjoy with your little ones in this Emirati city.
Legoland offers several interactive experiences and water slides that you can enjoy as a family. Most of the rides here are aimed at children aged 2-12 years. Kids can build their own structures with colorful Lego building blocks. One of the best attractions in Legoland is the build your raft activity, where children can make their own boats and sail them from the top of the water stream. Some key attractions are Lego Wave Pool, Splash Safari, Joker Soaker, and Twin Chasers. It is divided into themed zones, and in Miniland, you can see Lego models of Burj Khalifa, Dubai Creek, Ski Dubai, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, and Dubai International Airport.
Dubai Miracle Garden
Dubai Miracle Garden transports you to a fairytale land where you are surrounded by thousands of beautiful flowers in a riot of colors. This sprawling natural flower garden has more than 150 million flowers that are a visual treat. The unique installations using flowers and plants will leave you speechless. The garden also surprises the visitors with new installations made entirely with flowers and plants every year. It is spread over 72 000 square meters and has a photo booth, a souvenir shop, and an impressive butterfly garden.
KidZania integrates education and entertainment, thereby offering a fantastic platform for the kids. It replicates a mini city where the streets are brimming with offices, fire stations, banks, stores, restaurants, and hospitals. Kids get an opportunity to role-play various adult professions, including journalists, teachers, doctors, chefs, firefighters, police officers, and cashiers. It is an excellent way to understand what their adult life would be like. The little ones get paid in KidZania currency, redeemed inside stores. The KidZania Space Center teaches the children about the universe, space, and astronauts using simulated attractions.
Located in the Dubai Parks and Resorts, Motiongate Dubai offers exciting rides and attractions based on some of the most successful Hollywood movies. Step into the land of your favorite movies as soon as you enter this theme park. You can meet your favorite stars from legendary Hollywood studios, including Columbia Pictures, DreamWorks, Smurfs Village, Lionsgate, and Studio Central. Escape to the magical world of Madagascar, The Hunger Games, Kung Fu Panda, The Smurfs, Ghostbusters, and more. If you are a die-hard Hollywood fan, then this place is unmissable for you.
The mighty Burj Khalifa is visible from any part of Dubai and needs no introduction. Book tickets to the top of the building from where you can enjoy a 360-degree birds-eye view of Dubai’s everchanging skyline. You can also see famous landmarks such as Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina from the telescopes placed here at strategic locations. The diverse landscape of the ocean on one side and the desert on the other is a sight to behold. The best time to visit this breathtaking structure is in the evening when you can witness a captivating sunset and the gorgeous Dubai Fountain.
The Global Village is a massive open-air exhibition that only opens during the winter months of October to April. This incredible cultural extravaganza showcases iconic landmarks of various countries under one roof. The nations put up pavilions having the most outstanding food, rides, live shows, interactive games, handicrafts, and other local merchandise belonging to their respective countries. If you are visiting Dubai in the winter months, this is one place you must indeed visit.
Situated near the posh Dubai Marina, The Walk at JBR is a delightful mile-long stretch lined with plazas, restaurants, nightclubs, high-rise buildings, and boutiques. It is an ideal place to spend an evening enjoying the fun and frolic of the place. Several events and pop-up markets are also held here from time to time, where you can buy jewelry, home decor, artifacts, handicrafts, apparel, and other knick-knacks. This beachside promenade comes alive post-sunset and is thronged by locals and tourists.
Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
One of the top kids’ activities in Dubai, Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, offers you an excellent opportunity to observe marine life closely. The gigantic award-winning tank is amongst the largest suspended aquarium tanks globally, and you can see it as soon as you enter the Dubai Mall. Surround yourself with fascinating aquatic creatures such as giant crocodiles, jellyfish, manta rays, sharks, piranhas, and stingrays. You can also sign up for the programs to feed these animals. The aquarium also offers an internship program for kids where they can learn about the life and habits of these animals.
VR Park provides an escape from reality into an imaginary world, blurring the lines between perception and reality. A first-of-its-kind theme park in the Middle East, this indoor virtual reality and augmented reality park offers 18 mind-blowing rides and interactive experiences in different themes such as action, horror, sports, education, and adventure. The popular rides here are Burj Drop, The Walking Dead VR Outbreak, Dubai Drone, APE-X, The Raft, and John Wick Chronicles, and they are perfect for getting your adrenaline pumping.
Ski Dubai is a huge indoor ski park built in the middle of the red Arabian desert. The park maintains a sub-zero temperature all year round and is an excellent place for the entire family. It features an 85-meter-high mountain with five different slopes with varying difficulty levels and an ice cave for the kids. It also has giant snowballs and climbing towers where your kids will have a blast. Other exciting activities include tobogganing, zorbing, tube slides, chairlift, snowboarding, and skiing. The high point of Ski Dubai is the March of the Penguins show, where you can interact with these adorable creatures.
Dubai Mall is one of the most famous and colossal malls in the world. It consists of 1200 plus stores with branded, luxury, and local chains. But the mall is not just a shopping destination; it houses myriad entertainment options too. From the largest aquarium in the world and a unique virtual reality theme park to the tallest choreographed fountain system and an Olympic-sized ice rink, you can find so many things to keep you on your toes here. And believe it or not, this mall is home to an ATM that dispenses gold bars and gold coins. Isn’t it cool?
There are countless things to do in Dubai with your little ones that you will be spoilt for choice. Other places that you can visit are Aquaventure Waterpark, Glow Garden, Dubai Dolphinarium, Wild Wadi waterpark, the beaches, etc. If you have time, you can also plan a visit to Ferrari World and Warner Bros. World in Abu Dhabi. Dubai has an impressive mix of entertainment, learning, fun, and history to keep the kids engaged.
Beyond the hype, a dirty side of Da Lat
Most of this is true, but that’s not the only local reality where things get pretty ugly, too. Unless this reality is recognized and seriously addressed, Da Lat will lose its charm and become a shadow of itself.
Here’s an unflattering picture of the other side.
When walking or running on a sidewalk around Xuan Huong Lake in Da Lat in the early morning, at a certain point you can no longer stay on the sidewalk. One is forced to walk or run into the street as there can be up to ten street kitchens completely blocking sidewalk access. Going out on a street at night can be a bit dangerous as there are quite a number of drunk drivers on the road at night, some driving at speeds well in excess of 120km/h.
These street vendors sell food and drink in plastic bowls and cups. Plastic waste is scattered about a hundred meters in front of and behind their stands. Food and drink thrown away or spilled on sidewalks and streets is a common sight.
Because food safety isn’t monitored regularly, or because people might be very drunk, it’s also not uncommon to see vomit on sidewalks. Open stool and urination is a regular occurrence in the early hours of the morning.
There are many signs along the lake advising that making fires is forbidden, but the street vendors completely ignore them. Many tourists from warmer parts of Vietnam easily come to Da Lat in shorts and T-shirts, despite the colder weather. Street vendors want these visitors to stay warm so they stay longer and buy more food and drink. Sidewalks are often blackened with ash from these staying-warm fires.
When I was photographing these fires, a street vendor threatened to stab me with scissors several times. Some vendors started throwing rocks. A man tried to grab my walking stick and the cell phone I use to take pictures. I reported these incidents to the police but they took no action.
These charcoal fires release many deadly toxins such as PM2.5, carbon monoxide and benzene. When street vendors run out of charcoal, some start burning plastic waste. Burning plastic waste releases dioxins and other highly toxic substances. A piece of dioxin the size of a grain of rice is enough to poison a million people.
To keep their customers happy, some street vendors sell beer and other alcoholic beverages. Some install large speakers so their customers can sing and make lots of noise when they get totally drunk. Not infrequently, the karaoke singing continues until 4 a.m. and can be heard up to two miles away. Although the law prohibits singing karaoke after 10:30 p.m., this law is not enforced around Xuan Huong Lake. Once I heard karaoke singing in three different places around the lake, all blaring at the same time.
Almost everything I have described so far represents laws that are constantly being broken. But why don’t street vendors and their customers obey the law when it’s clearly stated on signs in the area?
The answer is simple.
Laws are not enforced. I have more than 12,000 pictures on my files of breaking the law in this city that gets dirty and ugly quite often, but I didn’t see a fine being issued when I called the police to intervene — not once.
A policeman explained it to me in a somewhat pompous way. If the police consistently enforce laws, it would infuriate many people, and with many angry people out and about, the country’s stability would be undermined and civil unrest could ensue.
The same officer went on to explain that if the police strictly enforce the law, things could get out of hand very quickly. People could become violent, and if the police hit back to defend themselves, controversy would ensue.
With a huge police force and militia, Vietnam has everything it needs to counter the violence and maintain political stability. So what’s the problem?
For many years, the police in Division 8 themselves have blatantly flouted the laws about dumping trash, throwing cigarette butts on the ground, and burning garbage. They even ran a fire pit on police property.
How can the police enforce laws when they themselves break them all the time?
On October 31, I informed a senior police officer in Da Lat that I have over 12,000 pictures of people breaking laws – laws related to setting fires on sidewalks, burning trash, dumping trash, dumping of waste and fishing in the filthy waters of Da Lat Xuan Huong Lake and its stinking lagoons, singing karaoke until 4 a.m., binge drinking, drunk driving, high speed motorcycle racing and so on.
I was surprised when he explained that I should not photograph people breaking the law unless their lawlessness directly impacted my safety and well-being.
Surely it is every citizen’s duty to record violations of the law and report them to law enforcement?
Even when someone threatened me with violence, he advised me not to take photos and to report the person to the police unless I had stab wounds or other injuries.
I was stunned.
I think the government needs to be much more serious about enforcing its most basic safety and environmental laws. If it doesn’t, it won’t be able to tackle far bigger things like the impact of global warming, carbon neutrality and sustainable development.
Photos by Paul A. Olivier of public waste in Da Lat:
*Paul A. Olivier is an American expat living and working in Da Lat.
How two Hyderabadi 3D artists are popularizing city’s flyovers, roads, buildings at global level
Hyderabad: For most of us, photography means clicking photos of a beautiful sunset, landscape or people. But Laxman Pithani and Nikhil Chakravarthy from Hyderabad are crazy about new buildings, roads, highways, flyovers and other infrastructure projects in the city.
“When you’re driving on a newly constructed freeway, with not many vehicles and hardly anyone to stop you or ask you anything, you have a kind of absolute freedom. We both enjoy it,” says Nikhil.
Laxman and Nikhil jointly run a Twitter and YouTube page, Traveling with Laxman, where they post videos and photos of newly constructed or inaugurated flyovers, roads and buildings. They have released drone footage of the Uppal SkyWalk project, the renovated Yadagirigutta Temple, Gandipet Park, the Biodiversity Flyover and more.
Laxman (left) and Nikhil (right) at the recently inaugurated Shilpa layout transition
Her most recent work was the transition of the Shilpa layout. When the city witnessed their first Formula E racing event, they were there to capture the track on which the race took place. On their Twitter Page Travel with Laxman, they have around 2,806 followers and on their youtube Page they have around 57,000 subscribers.
Transition of the Shilpa layout
It’s not about the end product. But Laxman and Nikhil began pursuing infrastructure projects in the city from the start. “If there are upcoming projects, we consult the person concerned and get detailed information about it. We shoot it from start to finish,” says Laxman.
In this way, it helps the audience to keep up to date with the progress of these projects.
When Laxman met Nikhil
Laxman is originally from Hyderabad but Nikhil is from Tenali in Andhra Pradesh. He moved to Hyderabad in 2002. Both met in 2007 in an animation institute `Arena; where they served as 3D training faculty. Here they taught the students how to use animation techniques in films and character forms. They later moved on to teach interior design at the same institute. In 2015 they both joined Custom Furnish, a company specializing in interior design, where they worked as 3D artists. In 2019, Nikhil left and Laxman continued for another year and a half before retiring in 2021.
Durgam Cheruvu Bridge
Ever since they met, they have discovered their shared passion for travel. Your definition of travel sounds very unique and interesting. “We both love to explore unknown roads. I can drive straight for 10 hours without thinking about the destination. We used to always discover new roads, overpasses, buildings, etc. on such trips, which fascinated us a lot. Each specific destination where nobody bothered us gave us a different kind of freedom,” explains Nikhil.
Until December 2021, Laxman and Nikhil were doing this as a part-time job. But in December 2021 both resigned and started doing so full-time.
Her work is now also being recognized by the Telangana government, which is asking for her help in getting photos of some of the infrastructure projects in the city.
Command and Control Center, Banjara Hills
Development in Hyderabad
Both Laxman and Nikhil say the pace of development in Hyderabad has been very fast compared to other cities. “I was born here, so I’m really excited to see the city developing at this pace,” says Laxman. Nikhil adds: “Something happens every week that it just can’t keep up with this speed. For example, the other day when the Shilpa layout flyover was inaugurated, on the same day Skyroot Aerospace’s private rocket was launched from Sriharikota.”
transfer of biodiversity
In addition to updating townspeople on the development, Travel with Laxman now allows many expatriate Hyderabadis to regain their lost connection with the city. “We have people calling from places like the United States and telling us they’re excited about how their city is doing,” says Laxman.
Renovated Yadadrigutta Temple
The duo are happy to be able to fill this gap faced by Hyderabadis living elsewhere.
Wedding of the week: Lovebirds elope on a Balinese beach following three months of top secret planning
Jamie Hart, 36, and Daniel Sutton, 44
Western Australian senior graphic designer Jamie and welder Daniel always knew their wedding should be small and intimate, but they also wanted an element of surprise.
The couple, who met online in March 2021, had planned a trip to Indonesia and made the spur of the moment decision to elope because why not? They were too excited to wait a year to tie the knot, so they turned their engagement party into a secret wedding celebration.
After legally signing the papers at The Old Tower House in Perth a week earlier, Jamie and Daniel said ‘yes, I do’ in Bali, with Daniel honorably taking Jamie’s maiden name, Hart.
When and where
The big day took place on October 22, 2022 on the white sandy beaches of the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa.
Jamie’s dress of choice, Morilee, was by New York bridal designer Madeline Gardner.
There was no need to travel to their honeymoon destination as the newlyweds were already there! They celebrated in Nusa Dua, Ubud, Seminyak and Canggu.
If you would like to be featured, send your wedding details and high resolution photos to [email protected]
Add details about when, where, dress information, honeymoon and anything that made your big day special!
- Beyond the hype, a dirty side of Da Lat
- How two Hyderabadi 3D artists are popularizing city’s flyovers, roads, buildings at global level
- Wedding of the week: Lovebirds elope on a Balinese beach following three months of top secret planning
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