Parents in UAE criticise 'exorbitant' fees of children's winter camps
Hard-pressed families claim finding firms with affordable prices is tough
Working parents have criticised the “exorbitant” fees of winter camps which offer activities for children over the school holiday.
Hard-pressed families said finding firms with affordable prices was tough, while the operating hours of cheaper companies were often unsuitable.
Some programmes cost around Dh250 a week but are limited to taking youngsters for just a couple of hours a day.
Others are priced much higher at between Dh700 and Dh900 a week, leaving many parents who are unable to take time off from work struggling to meet the extra financial burden.
“Camps with affordable prices are rare and those that do exist won’t keep children for more than three hours,” said Ahlam Eid, 37, a mother-of-two from Jordan who lives in Sharjah.
“Leaving my five-year-old boy and seven-year-old girl at home alone is not an option.
“We needed to find a camp that will accommodate them for about seven hours a day until one of us finishes work and picks them up.”
Many parents begin searching for suitable winter camps for their children in early November.
Coursetakers, an online education platform in the UAE, said some 83 firms were registered on their site.
Of these, 64 per cent are in Dubai and 24 per cent in Abu Dhabi. Just 7 per cent are in Sharjah, 4 per cent in Ajman and only 1 per cent in Ras Al Khaimah.
Ms Eid said she and her husband had finally decided on a winter camp that charged Dh3,000 for both her children for three weeks, but that the fee was still over the family budget.
“School breaks and vacations always drain our budget and we need to save in advance in order to keep things under control,” she said.
Another parent from Abu Dhabi said she no longer sent her children to winter camps because of what she claimed were exorbitant charges.
“It’s becoming way too expensive and my kids are not enjoying them,” said Rima Dandan, a 48-year-old Lebanese national with two children aged 11 and seven.
“We decided to keep them at home during the winter break.”
Maitha Salem, 31, from Ras Al Khaimah, said options for her three children were limited because of a lack of camp numbers in the emirate.
“They should plan more camps as many children stay at home in front of the television without doing any physical activity during the three-week break,” she said.
Mohammad Urfi, chief technology officer of Coursetakers, said winter camps tended to offer a mixture of activities, from music and art to sport and cooking.
He said the cost of organising classes, hiring staff and providing adequate supervision invariably led to significant costs.
“Winter camps are not just about children playing games anymore,” he said.
Updated: December 15, 2018 12:07 PM