It’s still just about cool enough to enjoy have my lunch outside as long as there’s some shade and whether you’re in Dubai on holiday or you live here you’ll probably agree it’s always nice to have a view too.
So for discerning babies, here’s some inspiration before it gets too hot for great places to fling / eat your lunch outside and with that view…
Elevated at first floor level for beautiful views of the driving range from the terrace, there’s plenty of umbrellas for shade and fantastic food very reasonably priced. It’s also licensed in case mum or dad fancy a cheeky glass of something. A light lunch for 2 adults (with me sharing their food and the delicious bread basket) costs around Aed 100-200. Naturally there’s valet parking too if it’s too much hassle to walk from the car park right next door. Use your Timeout City card for a discount.
Decked terraces over the water and a fantastic view over the Creek and Dubai skyline views, this is one of my favourite haunts. It’s abit of a pain lifting my pushchair up and down the steps but the staff are always on hand to help and it’s totally worth it. Wide variety of excellent food. Licensed. A light lunch for 2 adults (without alcohol) is around Aed 150-250. They also provide a bread basket which keeps me occupied til the food arrives. You can also use your Timeout City card here.
This is an arabic inspired cafe but even if you’re not mad about arabic food you’ll still find something you’ll love on this menu. The date bread they bring out is amazing. Not licensed but Mum and Dad love the coffee here, not least because of the toffee-like date they serve with it. It’s located on the Marina so you can people and boat watch at the same time. You can even round off your lunch with a trip on Captain Jack (boat tour around the Marina) that departs just opposite. Light lunch around Aed 100-200.
If you’re after a lush green view come here! Situated on the ground floor in the clubhouse and close to the pool. Large range of food, great atmosphere but still always possible to get a table even on a weekend. Of course the food is top notch and you can even get a real (pork) bacon sandwich. A light lunch is around aed 150-250 for two without alcohol. Licensed.
The view from here is pretty incredible as you look over Dubai’s coastline from the Palm. This licensed restaurant is by the beach at Tiara Residences but is open to non- residents. It’s a bit tricky to find your way to the restaurant from the basement car park but once you emerge into daylight and see the view, you won’t be disappointed. Food is good although not as great as some of the other places mentioned and Mum finds the chairs too low for the tables but she is a bit fussy. All worth it for that view. Use your Entertainer voucher for buy one get one free on main courses.
Want to have lunch whilst gawping at the Burj Khalifa? This is your place! Very popular with families you’re in good company as you watch how far you can fling your bread roll. I’ve seen Mum’s eyes light up at the cakes here. Can get very busy and you might need to wait for an outside table. If the wait’s too much, head down to the other end where there’s another Cafe Bateel or The Social House is also nice and similar to More.
If you have any outdoor lunchtime favourites with a view let me know as I’m always keen to try somewhere new!
Considering its massive size, Mushrif Park is not a park that’s often talked about but bearing in mind its far out location (beyond Mirdif) perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. We went in the middle of the day during the week and it was totally deserted. In fact other than gardeners and park wardens we saw absolutely no one else at all.
After hearing it recently described as ‘barren’ by one of Mum’s friends (well that’s the publishable description anyway) I wasn’t getting too excited beforehand, but although it’s fair to say it is a ‘desert park’ (rather than the much more lush Creek Park or Safa Park), it was certainly worth a visit.
The highlight of my trip was a wander around the International Village (not to be confused with Nakheel’s International City development, nor Global Village next to the Arabian Ranches). The park’s International Village is a small but shady area in the centre of the park with traditional houses from around the world. They’re not full sized but they are just big enough to walk inside and I can imagine once I’ve mastered walking I will really enjoy toddling in and out of them.
Next to the village was a rather sorry looking animal pen with several rabbits, pigeons and a peacock all in together- it seemed a bit pointless and sad, but the rabbits with their babies were cute, I admit.
Elsewhere in the park there’s the usual unappetising Malik Burger cafe, a swimming pool, several average looking playground equipment areas, barbecue areas, a cycle track and, most excitingly, an equestrian centre. We didn’t go in but if I were a bit older it would be great to hire a horse here and trot round the bridle paths. (Click here for more information about riding in Mushrif Park) As the park is quite undulating in places it would be great for mountain biking.
I would definitely advise bringing a car- not just because it’s nowhere near any public transport and you would probably struggle to get a taxi- but because it’s so huge you really need a car just to get around it.
Admission is AED 10 per car or AED 3 per individual. There’s no ladies days and no dogs allowed.
From the E111 heading towards Sharjah, take the next major turning to the right after the turn off for Mirdif City Centre Mall (D89). Head under the under pass and the park is further up the road on the right hand side. It’s well signposted.
A Dubai summer will guarantee you have a real challenge to avoid overheating in the back seat. However, there’s a few things you can do to make sure your baby is as comfortable back there as possible:
- The most obvious one is air conditioning. Not all cars have an AC vent in the rear so if you’re in the market to buy a car this might be something to put on your checklist. Before the summer really kicks in it can be worth taking your car for an AC service as from time to time the gas in the AC system will need changing. A check over at a garage or service station is only around AED 200 – 300 and will make sure it’s working at its best when it’s needed most.
- Recirculate the air in the car so the AC is cooling down air that’s already cool, not working flat out cooling the hot air from outside.
- When you get in a car that’s been parked in the sun the air inside is much hotter than the outside so give your AC a helping hand and open your front windows for a minute to let the really hot air escape.
- A heavy tint on your rear passenger windows reflects infra-red rays and can make a significant difference to the air temperature. It does need replacing every few years though and beware not to go too dark or you’ll find yourself paying to get it removed when you next register your vehicle.
- If you don’t want to go for a tint, window shades can help. You can get retractable ones like this or similar ones are also available from Mothercare, but check that they’re not obstructing the driver’s visibility. Shades or tint are also great for privacy if you want to breastfeed in the back of the car. Just be careful not to try and open the electric windows with a shade attached (like Mum often does).
- Parking under shade reduces the temperature in the car by 5C compared with parking in the full sun. If it’s not possible at least use a windscreen shield to pop on your dashboard.
- Always always keep bottled water in the car in case you break down in the summer. Remember to replace it fairly regularly as the heat can make chemicals leach out of the plastic bottle and into the water. (see my post on drinking water) A bottle of water can also come in handy to top up your windscreen fluid if you get caught in a sandstorm.
- Leather seats can be excrutiatingly hot on little bare feet, especially when you’re in a rear facing car seat and you like to press your toes into the leather. Drape a muslin or blanket across the seat, but just be careful not to let it interfere with the fixing of the car seat.
- Most Maxi Cosi car seats have an optional fabric cover you can attach which are less sweaty in hot weather. I have a ‘summer cover‘ for my Maxi Cosi Pebble which is cooling in summer and machine washable too. If you choose a car seat which does not have ‘summer cover’ then consider getting one in a lighter coloured fabric.
- Keep a water spray in the car for an instant cool down. You can either buy an empty spray bottle which you can refill (like this one from Boots) or you can buy something like the Evian aerosols from a pharmacy or supermarket. On very hot days don’t leave the aerosols in the car or they can explode in the heat. If, like me, your baby is not so impressed at having a mist sprayed in his face you could spray a flannel or muslin and pat his little forehead cool with it.
- Most importantly keep everyone well hydrated. If breastfeeding, allow extra time to park up in a safe place or make sure your baby has water in his bottle / sippy cup.
- Don’t be in the habit of running low in petrol – it’s no fun getting stranded in the summer and with no AC it could quickly become a dangerous situation for a young baby.
Now that I’ve started eating foods, Mum’s weekly supermarket bill has gone through the roof with all the fresh fruit and veg I am
throwing on the floor devouring, so she has decided to make a regular trip to the Fruit and Vegetable Market in Dubai. She paid about AED 140 (without much bartering) for all that lot in the picture above which would easily have cost AED 350 – 400 in Spinneys and this lasted Mum, Dad and me about two weeks.
Admittedly it’s not quite as convenient as picking up our fruit and veg during our supermarket shop, but it’s easily accessible with a car and I find it a fascinating trip out with lots of new things to look at.
At this market you tend to have to buy in bulk but you can buy huge quantities and it still be substantially cheaper and often much fresher than the tiny packet you would buy in Spinneys. You could split your purchases with a friend or neighbour, or like Mum you could freeze some of it. If you buy carefully you can get away with going just twice a month and still save heaps of money.
The market is well signposted off either the Al Khail Road (E44) or the Emirates / Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road (E111) and there is plenty of parking but it’s much better to park in the Union Co-op car park and walk the short distance across the road. If you pull up directly outside the market you are likely to get surrounded by irritating guys trying to get you to buy a punnet of peaches they have been carrying around in the sun for several hours.
Being Dubai, you don’t have to worry about carrying your purchases. As you enter the market there is a group of guys with wheelbarrows and one of them will follow you round and carry your shopping back to your car. Mum usually pays the guy AED 10 and he seems happy with that.
I like to peruse the market from my Ergo baby carrier but you could probably just about take a stroller if you needed to. We don’t see many other babies or children around but we don’t get any hassle. In fact last time I was there I was given a banana by one friendly stall holder (perhaps he thought I was a little monkey).
After a few visits Mum quickly realised that if you’re going to buy in bulk then it’s best to buy things that keep a week or so or that freeze nicely. Pumpkin and watermelon are particularly good just to keep in the fridge for a week or even longer. Mangoes and pineapples, simply cut into chunks with or without the skin freeze beautifully without faff and defrost quickly for my snacks.
My top tips for things to buy are as follows with the average price Mum usually pays in brackets next to them:
Watermelon (AED 10 – 12)
Pumpkin (AED 6.50 – 8)
Cauliflower, huge (AED 5)
Broccoli, 4 pieces (AED 10)
Mangoes, large, 9 pieces (AED 30)
Pineapple, large (AED 5)
Nectarines, around 15 (AED 9)
Sweet potato, 3 pieces (AED 8)
Large box of kiwis, around 20 (AED 10)
You can also get large boxes or even sacks of things like tomatoes, onions, carrots, potatoes and courgettes for AED 5 – 10 each. If you’re good at bartering you can probably get these for even less.
The market is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week but the earlier you go in the day, the fresher the produce.
Directions: From the E111 (formerly Emirates Road, now known as Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Rd) heading towards Sharjah, come off at Manama St. It’s well signposted from this road. It’s also well signposted from the E44. The market is under cover and next to a large Union Co-op supermarket.
Dubai used to be the city where you need a car but it was, and still is, a city where driving can be a terrifying prospect especially to tourists or newly arrived expats. Thankfully in the last few years Dubai’s public transport system and taxi service has improved and now there are several options for a baby to get around the city.
1. By car
It has to be said, if your mum and dad have their own wheels – this is the most convenient option for getting around. Unless you’re heading out to the old part of Dubai, parking is generally easy and plentiful. Just make sure your car seat is properly fitted and off you go. But bear in mind you will need to drive defensively if you are not used to driving in Dubai: expect a car to pull into that gap right in front of you and then brake sharply, expect the car in the next lane to swerve towards you while he checks his phone for emails and certainly do not expect anyone to signal.
Car hire companies in Dubai usually can provide a car seat for an additional charge but it makes sense to bring your own as most airlines allow you to bring it for free. For protection, you can plastic wrap it at Dubai airport for AED 20 (about £3.50) and at Manchester, Gatwick or Heathrow for just a few pounds too.
2. By taxi
Taxis are plentiful in Dubai but the driving standards are variable and sometimes
usually quite shocking. I would never ride in a taxi without a carseat but I know a lot of babies that do as it isn’t illegal here. Don’t be afraid to ask the driver to slow down or drive more carefully. The taxis with a pink roof are ‘Ladies taxis’ (although men can use them too if they are with the family) these have a car seat that can be fitted in for you. If you call up Dubai Taxi you can request one or sometimes there will be one at the airport. The snag with this service is that Dubai Taxi won’t guarantee that they will be able to supply one which in practice is pretty useless if you need one. The best way round this is to have a pram that has a car seat attachment and make sure you know how it fits into a car with seatbelts. (Mum watched a Youtube video to learn how to do it properly). You can also hire a Dubai Taxi for 6 hours for AED 500 or 12 hours for AED 800. The number for Dubai Taxi is 04 208 0808.
With the Safedriver service a driver comes out to you and drives you and your car home so there’s no lugging a carseat about when mum or dad might fancy a glass of wine. For popular times (like brunch kicking out time) make sure you book a day or so in advance as they get booked up quickly. The cost for one way usually works out about the same as getting a taxi there and back although there is a minimum charge of AED 120. Call 80072337 to book or enquire.
The Metro in Dubai is cheap, clean and efficient but is fairly limited in its destinations so although it’s fantastic to get to some locations it’s likely you’ll need to use other forms of transport too. There are plenty of lifts and it’s easy to get a stroller on and off the train, but best to avoid rush hour. The end carriage (next to Gold Class) is for Women and Children only. It’s great for getting to Dubai Marina, Mall of the Emirates and Downtown Dubai (for Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa) but doesn’t pass particularly near to a beach or Madinat for example. This link explains the fares and ticket system (you need a ‘Nol’ card -a bit like a prepaid Oyster card).
Dubai buses are fairly easy to get a stroller on and off, but if the bus is crowded you may not be allowed on unless it’s folded up. Try and make your way down the bus to the stroller space near to the rear doors. Many of the bus stops have air conditioned waiting rooms which are essential if you’re using the buses in summer. Don’t forget to buy a ticket before you get on – a prepaid ‘Nol’ card can be purchased from any Metro station or Spinneys supermarket. See here for further details.
6. Dubai Water Taxis
These are great fun and incredibly plush inside, similar to business class air travel. You pay for the whole boat up to 10 people and, like a regular taxi, you don’t share with strangers. It’s not so much for actually getting from one place to another, but fantastic for seeing Dubai by the water.
Getting a stroller on and off them can be a bit tricky but the crew are usually very helpful and will no doubt give you a hand. Make sure you pick a day when the sea is calm as it can get a bit choppy. Call up and book in advance – maybe even a day ahead for weekends. Here’s details of the tariff. You can get from the big flagpole in Jumeirah 1 (Jumeirah Open Beach) to Dubai Marina for AED 225 but that’s for up to 10 people, so not bad value if there’s a group of you. Telephone: 8009090 for bookings and enquiries.
7. Bus tours
There are several open top bus companies in Dubai where you can hop on and off. These are aimed at tourists and can be a good way of getting around to see the main sights of Dubai in a short time. You can buy 24 or 48 hour passes, but beware you may need to buy a separate pass for after 6pm. Some tickets include a boat trip down the Creek. See Big Bus Tour’s website for further information.
Mum’s all about making things easy and these muffins are so simple I’m sure I could rustle them up myself. Mum puts me down on my play rug and less than 10 minutes later the muffins are in the oven. These muffins freeze well and defrost within an hour on the worktop (or in seconds in the microwave) so are perfect for making in bulk and getting one or two out just as you need them.
Carrot and cheese muffins are my favourite and I also love the banana ones. Banana muffins are slightly quicker – the carrot and cheese both need grating- although this can be done in seconds in a food processor. Because they are nice and easy to pick up and eat even without teeth, I’ve been eating these since I was only 6 months old. But they’re also great for the whole family. No excuses now – getting baking and enjoy!
Easy Peasy Carrot and Cheese Muffins
1. Melt 120g butter (ideally unsalted) in the microwave. Mix in 4 eggs, 6 or 7 grated carrots and a few handfuls of grated cheddar.
2. Sieve 300g self raising flour in another bowl and fold in the egg mixture.
3. Fill the muffin cases 2/3 rds full and bake at 180C for approx 12 minutes.
In place of the carrot and cheese you could add 6 to 8 mashed ripe bananas. Throw in some sultanas if you fancy. Theses quantities make approximately 30 smallish muffins.
Breastfeeding in public in Dubai is perfectly acceptable which may come as a surprise, especially as you probably haven’t noticed many babies being breastfed but that’s just because it is usually done very discretely. In fact it can be so discrete, Mum has even Read more…