Adventures in Dubai

It’s been a little quiet around here because the O’s spent last week in Dubai. My brother, Mr V lives in nearby Abu Dhabi so we decided to have a family holiday together and catch some winter sun.

Our holiday was very much arranged around what Little O would enjoy, but fortunately that gave us all the opportunity to be big kids.

We stayed in a beautiful apartment near the Dubai Marina, which is an area made up of completely reclaimed land. It is dominated by huge skyscrapers (our apartment was on the 21st floor of a 54 story building), which are as impressive by day as they are by night.

We went to the amazing aquarium in The Dubai Mall. Little O was very excited by the sharks and loved getting to feed the fish.

This is also where we started off an obsession of posing with fake crocodiles.

The aquarium has a dazzling array of fish, reptiles, birds, amphibians and other creatures and the fact that it’s in a shopping mall is very impressive. It was our first indication of Dubai’s ingenuity and focus on grandeur.

The mall also features a waterfall.

And if you venture outside you can watch the musical fountain show and look up at the Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest building in the world. It is hard to explain just how imposing it is and no photos do it justice. It is honestly quite magical.

We made a trip to the Legoland Waterpark, where I continued the crocodile sitting. Little O and Mr O both became obsessed with building Lego boats and racing them down a water slide and much fountain splashing happened.

The next day I got to see my friend, E, who I worked with a long time ago and who now lives in Dubai. She introduced us to a lovely restaurant where we had a delicious breakfast. Well most of us. Little O mostly just drank the syrup from his pancakes.

We headed off to the Motiongate theme park, which is kind of like Disney but with Dreamworks films. We thought Little O would love it but he mostly found it a bit scary and I think he was possibly a bit small for it.

Mr O and I really liked the Madagascar and Hunger Games rollercoasters though so it was somewhat salvaged.

Fortunately our next stop was Legoland (the dry bit), which was far more to Little O’s taste. He loved the Lego submarine, that travels through a real aquarium, enjoyed building giant towers with his uncle and experienced possibly the best ten minutes of his life driving a small Lego car.

I loved the miniature scale model of Dubai and all the Christmas decorations.

Overall I was impressed by how clean, efficient and organised the city is. It is a marvel of modern engineering and if you don’t think too hard about how it is built and propped up by cheap migrant labour, it’s an excellent holiday destination, especially for children.

The best part about it for me was seeing my brother. It is a rare occurrence for us. We’ve lived in different countries for the last eleven years and his intense work schedule and my young family have made spending time together a challenge. When we do get to hang out it’s like no time has passed and it was amazing seeing how quickly he and Little O bonded. In fact the first thing Little O said to me when we got home was “I miss my uncle”.

Hopefully it won’t be another two years before we get to see each other again!


  1. That’s a lovely story of family reunion, and fun with a little one. You did well to escape the weather here too. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. It was a bit of a shock to the system coming back to the British weather although the cold and dark does feel rather festive to me. I grew up with hot Christmases and they’re a bit odd.

  2. That sounds like such an exciting trip. I’ve seen pictures and heard that Dubai is a modern marvel. Sure looked that way in your photos . . . very westernized. I was surprised to see a leggo set of Santa. Do they celebrate Christmas there like we do in the west?

    Was it a long plane trip there? I know how difficult it is to be far from family. At least my family lived in the same country when we lived 1,200 miles away. I moved back home only 4 years ago after 25 years away.

    I’m so glad you got to spent time with your brother. Sounds like little O really loved being with him. BTW, the little guy is sure is growing up. He’s adorable.

    Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed coming along with you in your tale and photos.

    1. Dubai is an interesting place because it is theoretically a “Muslim” country. However their focus is on whatever tourists will like so although they don’t really celebrate Christmas as a holiday they do decorate… a lot.

      It was a seven hour flight. On the way there is was okay because it was a night flight so Little O slept. They way back was a day flight and he was rather rambunctious. This very much annoyed the woman in front of us who had angry words with me but you are super limited in what you can do with a toddler in a small space. We’ll be taking him on his third trip to South African next year, which is eleven hours so wish us luck.

      It was wonderful to see my brother. Hopefully it won’t be ten years again!

      1. Oh boy, good luck with that trip next year. Glad you had a lovely time, despite the annoyed woman.

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