As the UAE really starts to heat up, discover a myriad of money-saving deals to keep the family entertained.
Summer activities UAE style
The summer is normally a time for trips abroad with the family to visit relatives or to escape the heat for more temperate climes. But for those of us watching our spending habits, this summer is a radically different one, as economic realities have forced us to think closer to home. If you consider yourself a member of the frugal set - or if you simply made a vow to get to know your neighbourhood better - you'll be happy to discover that there are myriad money-saving deals out there to keep the family entertained. Whether it's racing down a ski slope or watching a film while floating in a swimming pool, the emirates offer excitement for all tastes and ages. To get you started, Rebecca Bundhun has compiled a diverse list of events that will help save those dirhams. So get out there and start exploring. Last summer, Bansrelal Goshichand spent Dh15,000 on a two-week holiday to Australia. This year, he says, he plans to spend the summer in the UAE to save money and spend more time with family and friends. "I think we're all careful about our spending and having some backup money for security," says Mr Goshichand, a marketing executive who was born in Dubai. Indeed, given the global slowdown in tourism and the typically slow summer season, leisure attractions, restaurants and hotels have been forced to come up with some -exceptional promotions to entice -customers. "With so much stuff going on in Dubai, one can enjoy staying here for the summer," says Mr Goshichand. "You've just got to keep the outdoors to a minimum." Living with his parents, siblings and six nieces and nephews aged between a few weeks old and seven, he says he likes activities that keep the whole family entertained, such as water parks.
Kirke Williamson, 30, moved to Abu Dhabi this year with her husband and young son, Thomas, who is three. She plans to spend the summer in the capital with her family. "Last summer I was working and my husband was away working in Qatar, so I think we are spending a little bit more money than last year having quality family weekends." Ms Williamson, who is originally from Estonia, says they're looking to save money through summer deals wherever they can, and adds that the family wants to spend some weekends in Dubai and is currently shopping around for a bargain hotel deal. "We want to look for a great offer," she says. Mrs Williamson plans to visit Wild Wadi water park. On a recent outing, she says that she and her husband and son visited the aquarium at Dubai Mall, which is a relatively inexpensive excursion. She adds that her family also spends a lot of time at the beach and eating out, and that The Summer in Abu Dhabi events are a source of fun for the entire family.
As temperatures soar, everyone will be looking for ways of keeping cool, but that needn't mean staying indoors. Aquaventure, the water park at Atlantis, is offering a special "cool summer nights" deal every Thursday between 8pm and midnight. The 17-hectare water park includes seven new watersides and a 2.3-kilometre river ride with tidal waves and pools. A current promotion is offering admission prices of Dh175 for adults and Dh100 for children. Meanwhile, the Palm Jumeirah's flagship hotel, Atlantis, which opened with a US$20 million (Dh73m) fireworks launch party last September, is running a special summer rate of Dh800 per regular room, a deal that includes unlimited free entry to Aquaventure, as well as to the Lost Chambers, a network of underground tunnels and passageways that gives visitors a view of more than 20 marine habitats and an abundance of fish and marine life. www.atlantisthepalm.com
If you are looking for a popular way to keep cool this summer, pay a visit to one of the world's largest indoor skiing venues. Located at the Mall of the Emirates, Ski -Dubai is featuring a great package that admits two adults and up to four children for only Dh360. The venue has five runs that vary in difficulty, height and gradient. This deal expires on Sept 30. www.skidxb.com
The "dancing" fountain next to Dubai Mall is quickly becoming a popular attraction. Best of all, it's completely free. The fountain is a music, water and visual display that should appeal to all ages. At 900 ft (275 metre) in length, it is billed as one of the world's most advanced water, light and sound events. Onlookers from Dubai Mall and the Souq Al Bahar lake promenade can see the fountain rising to a height of 500 ft, equivalent to a 50-storey building. wwwthedubaimall.com
The hotter the better. The Crowne Plaza hotel, on Sheikh Zayed Road, is offering a summer promotion that gives customers a discount on food for lunch and dinner equal to the outside temperature. www.crowneplaza.com
Enjoy the underwater world this summer by spending a few hours at the Dubai Aquarium, which features a 270-degree glass walk-through tunnel that gives visitors a close-up aquatic experience. Entrance to the tunnel is Dh25 for adults and Dh20 for children. Entrance to both the tunnel and the underwater zoo is Dh50. www.thedubaimall.com
Hilton Dubai Jumeirah and Hilton Dubai Creek recently announced their first-ever summer campaign, and it includes some attractive offers for GCC residents. The hotel chain is offering a 20 per cent discount across all restaurants, spas and leisure activities. In addition, children are receiving special attention this year with the "Kids Holiday for Free" programme. Children up to the age of 16 can stay for free in their parents' room and enjoy complimentary breakfast, lunch and dinner when eating with their parents at a Hilton restaurant. The deals at the Hilton Dubai Creek include a 20 per cent discount at Glasshouse Mediterranean Brasserie and Verre, members of the Gordon Ramsay empire. Make sure you plan in advance, as the deals will vanish after Sept 30. www.Hilton.com/Dubai
If you have a bit more cash to spend but want to stay closer to home, escape the city with a trip to Sir Bani Yas Island. Summer deals include Stay and Fly, where you can spend five nights at the resort but pay for only three. This package includes a scenic flight to and from the island (from Abu Dhabi) and a variety of island activities such as game safaris, kayaking and snorkelling. Prices begin at Dh2,100 and the five-night special expires on Sept 17. For shorter trips, there's also a Mini Stay deal, which allows you to spend three nights for the price of two. This package starts at Dh1,400 and runs until Sept 19. www.desertislands.anantara.com
The Montgomerie has put together an attractive package for golf lovers. For Dh1,199 two guests can stay one night at the award-winning hotel. Book one evening's accommodation for two guests in the 5-star boutique hotel and enjoy breakfast and two of the following pleasures: a round of golf, a 30-minute massage at Angsana Spa or dinner at Nineteen. This offer is valid until Sept 22. If you decide to stay at the Montgomerie, make sure you check out Dive-In Moviesand relax in the cool pool while enjoying a film. The first movie starts at 7.30pm, followed by the showing of a different film at 9.15pm. The screenings take place on Thursdays and Fridays through August. Places are limited and booking are essential, and you can buy your tickets at the hotel. Children 12 and under are free, and adults pay Dh45 for admission. www.themontgomerie.com
Discover another emirate by escaping to Sharjah for a weekend stay. The four-star Oceanic Hotel is offering single rooms for Dh99 and double rooms for Dh199, while a double room at the five-star Radisson Blu can be had for Dh299 a night. While you are there, escape the heat in one of Sharjah's many museums or take a journey into the past at the Heritage area. These deals run through Aug 31. www.oceanichotel.com www.RadissonBlu.com
If skiing is not your style but you still enjoy winter sport, get on the ice at the Abu Dhabi rink at Zayed Sports City. And this is a real deal: Entry and skate hire costs only Dh25 for two hours of frozen fun. 02 4448458
If you are looking for a great way to keep the children amused, look no further than Modhesh World. Part of the Dubai Summer Surprises festival, it is a firm favourite among kids, and a lot of parents seem to like it as well. Based at Dubai Airport Expo, it is the region's largest indoor entertainment venue and includes 50 separate events spread over 37,000 square metres. Children can enjoy a fun fair, a stage on which entertainers will pick youths from the audience to come up and join them for games and sing-a-longs, a food court and rides on miniature horses, among many fun events. Other attractions include an interactive gaming centre in which kids can play all kinds of PC-based sport against opponents on giant screens, an inflatable adventure park and an arts and crafts centre. Admission is Dh10 for adults and Dh15 for children. Modhesh World runs until August 14. www.modheshworld.com
There's plenty going on to keep everyone entertained at the six-week family carnival. The majority of the events are based around the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, where seven halls have been transformed into a unique island-hopping experience. Artists from the acclaimed Flying Trapeze Australia show will perform twice nightly during the week and three times nightly during weekends. Following that show, members of the audience can participate in trapeze lessons. There is also a sport island where visitors can tackle challenges going by names such as Gladiator, Wakeboard, euro Bungee and archery. Glow-in-the-dark puppetry, and dance and music performances from Aboriginal and Zulu artists are also on offer. Tickets for Summer in Abu Dhabi are available at the door and cost Dh40 for adults and Dh30 for children under 12. The events run through August 15.
Magic On Ice is the world's first and only magic show on the frozen stuff - a 60-minute performance that will take at the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink at Zayed Sports City. This show features world-class figure skating and captivating magic tricks. Magic On Ice begins today and runs daily from 8pm, apart from August 9. Tickets for the programme cost Dh200 for adults and Dh75 for children under 12. www.summerinabudhabi.com
Step back in time at the Dubai Museum, which is located in the reconstructed Al Fahidi Fort, originally built in 1787. Galleries recreate scenes from the city's important creek, traditional Arabic houses, mosques the pearl diving trade. The museum is open Saturday through Thursday from 8:30am until 8:30pm and on Fridays from 2:30pm until 8:30pm. The admission fee is Dh3. www.dubaitourism.ae