For many people, Dubai conjures up a picture of glamorous excess. It’s characterised by towering skyscrapers (its Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building at 828m) and ambitious land reclamation projects, like the Palm Islands and The World, a series of artificial islands that recreate a map of the globe when seen from an aerial view.

This flashy image of the most famous emirate in the UAE is a fairly accurate one, as Dubai’s officials are keen to portray it as one of the world’s foremost luxury holiday destinations. However, there’s much more to Dubai than sipping cocktails by the pool in the shadow of iconic buildings. In fact, Dubai is a surprisingly family-friendly destination, with many activities to keep both children and parents captivated for days.

Famously, shopping is a favourite pastime of both residents and visitors to Dubai. And, when faced with Dubai’s intense heat, it’s not hard to see why people might prefer spending time in its indoor, air-conditioned malls to sitting outside. The annual Dubai Shopping Festival (usually held in January or February) may be the best period within which to find great bargains, but there are so many shops in Dubai that great purchases can be found year-round.

Large malls like The Dubai Mall and the Mall of the Emirates are the best places to shop with the family. This is because, should you tire of visiting store after designer store, there’s plenty of other activities on offer. For example, The Dubai Mall is home to the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, which has around 33,000 under-sea animals, while the Mall of the Emirates houses a huge indoor ski slope. Combine these activities with plenty of international eateries and ice cream stalls and you’ve got a full day of family fun ahead.

For something a little more active, try go-karting at the Dubai Autodrome, where you’ll find both indoor and outdoor tracks as well as the occasional free biking session. Or head to Creekside Park, where scenic cable car rides are sure to wow both young and older children, whilst also providing ample opportunities for great holiday photos. Dubai also has a teeming sports calendar so if you’d like to take your family to see a sporting event, research what’s on during your trip. In December, for instance, Dubai hosts the international Rugby Sevens tournament while February’s annual Dubai Tennis Championships promises exciting volleys and a few famous faces.

With so many activities to choose from, Dubai certainly seems like the ideal location for a family holiday. Flights to Dubai from London are usually between seven and eight hours long and the time difference between the UAE and the UK is only three hours, so it’s the perfect place for an exotic half-term break or a post-Christmas sunny getaway.

Disclaimer: The information contained within this article is the opinion of the author and is intended purely for information and interest purposes only. It should not be used to make any decisions or take any actions. Any links are included for information purposes only.