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Travel to the UAE with Kids


Page update - Sep 17, 2022

Vacations with children always have features, and in the case of the UAE, there are even more features. What to think about? What to buy in advance and take with you? What do you need to know in advance? Read the answers in this review - 12 things you need to know and do not forget.

Prices and other information on this page were updated in September 2022.

Important change in 2022

In the Emirate of Dubai, as of August 19, 2022, it is strictly prohibited for children to be in adult pools in hotels. It is prohibited even under adult supervision.




Point 1: Border-crossing rules

As of June 1, 2018, there are clear and strict rules for children under the age of 18 entering the UAE .

First. To enter the UAE your child must have his/her own passport. If the child is "listed" in the parents passports (some countries do such a thing) then he/she will not be allowed into the UAE.

Second. The child must cross the border with the parent with the same family name. Otherwise, you must have a document proving the relationship. A birth certificate in English or Arabic is suitable.

If English or Arabic is not the state language of your home country then we recommend making an official translation to English. In practice, some tourists easily enter with the original certificate in other languages. But we recommend re-insure, and better to make a translation.

Third. If your child crosses the border with a third person, he/she will need the permission from the parents. Also, need a birth certificate to determine parents. There is no clear form of the permission in the UAE. Parents write such a permission at their own discretion. But remember that the permission should include the name and document figures of the child and the persons you trust your child to.

Remember these rules, and you can pass the migration control without problems.



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Point 2. Who is considered a child and who is not in the UAE

In the Western countries the majority age is clear - 18 years old. In the Arab countries the situation is more complicated. Some rules and laws apply from the age of 18, some from the age of 12.

For example, there is no dress code for children in public places and beaches, but only until the age of 12. Once a child turns 12, he/she is required to dress modestly. We talked about the rules of the dress code in the review "What is not allowed in the UAE".

Children are not subject to the rules of the holy month of Ramadan, but only until the age of 12. As soon as a child turns 12, it becomes forbidden to eat and drink in public places during Ramadan. And those rules relate to tourists too. Read more in our review "Ramadan in the UAE".

In the Dubai Metro, a male child under the age of 12 can stay with his mother in the female section of the train. From the age of 12 no longer - go to the general carriage. The same goes for female seats in buses.

You may also sit in the front seat of an automobile only from the age of 12.

Drinking alcohol is permitted from the age of 21 (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah). In the Emirate of Sharjah, drinking is generally prohibited at any age. The UAE has strict laws regarding alcohol, we have described them in detail in the review "Alcohol in the UAE". If a minor is caught drinking alcohol, his parents will be in big trouble.




Point 3. The sun is dangerous

If you vacation in the UAE in the winter months then no need to be afraid of the sun. But getting a sun or heat stroke is very possible in the summer months.

The problem is very actual for children because many of them don't know and don't understand the threat and the rules to avoid the threat. First of all, explain to your kid the rules of conduct in the heat and under the scorching sun. Read our review "Weather in the UAE by month" about the weather.

Headdresses must be worn. It is best to cover your shoulders to prevent getting burnt. If possible, stay in shadows. It is better to limit your exposure to the sun in the first few days, so as to allow the skin to adapt quietly to the new conditions.

Note: Leaving your child in the car in hot weather is strictly forbidden by law. In accordance with the UAE Law #6 of 2016 (Child Protection Act) if you leave your child in the car locked up in the heat the penalty is a fine from 5,000 to 1,000,000 dirhams and/or a jail term of 10 years or more. See our page "UAE Dirham" for the current exchange rate of the Emirati currency.



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Point 4. Is it safe in the UAE?

Quite safe. Numbeo's Safety Index score for cities around the world is 83.77 for Dubai and 88.56 for Abu Dhabi. It is a very high safety index. By comparison, London has 46.63 and New York has 51.05 (September 2022 figures).

Some tourists say: "How can it be safe? Most of the population are Hindus, Pakistanis, Iranians!". Not a secret, many Europeans afraid, because crime level in those countries is higher by statistics.

And indeed, most of the UAE's population are guest workers from India, Iran, and Pakistan, as we discussed in detail in the review "The Population of the UAE". But they are selected Indians, select Iranians, and select Pakistanis.

In most countries, the labor migration is lightly controlled or even uncontrolled. But things are different in the UAE. A migrant cannot just come to the country. Companies invite them to the UAE to work, this system is called "kafala". They invite only those who are needed for the economy of the country, and as many people as necessary. Candidates are checked. If an Indian or a Pakistani has a criminal record in his home country, he will never be allowed into the UAE.

You don't have to worry too much about security.




Point 5. A child can get lost

This is possible, especially in large shopping malls like the Dubai Mall or Mall of the Emirates. What to do in this case?

Of course you can buy yourself an "anti-lost baby kit" like the one pictured near, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen. But it is very inconvenient.

Better to go to the police or security personnel. They will help find the child. Recall that everyone in the UAE speaks English, although the official language of the country is classical Arabic, though in everyday life they speak their own dialect Gulf Arabic. We have explained in detail on the page "What language is spoken in the UAE".

Our tip! Give your kid a piece of paper with the following written on it: his/her name and surname, the names and surnames of the parents, the hotel where you stay.

If you bought a local SIM-card, specify your phone number also. But even if you use roaming, you must indicate your home country number. We talked about which SIM card to buy in the reviews "Internet in the UAE" and "How to call from the UAE".

This way the chances of finding your child quickly will be maximum. Explain to your kid that if he/she gets lost then he/she should come with this piece of paper to the first policeman he/she sees.

This method works not only in the UAE, but in any civilized country. If the police or security found and returned the child, DO NOT give them money as a gratitude. Don't forget to thank them verbally.



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Point 6. Nutrition and hygiene products for babies

In the United Arab Emirates, there is no problem with baby food, diapers or other hygiene products for babies. There is everything in a wide range. You can buy in supermarkets, children's stores BabyShop, Mothercare, Mamas & Papas and others.

The prices are high. But it is hard to say what price is high or low, because you need to compare with prices in your home country. For example, a 120 gram jar of mashed apples costs 6 dirhams. At the time this page was updated (September 2022), that's USD 1.65, GBP 1.42 or EUR 1.63.

If the price seems high then don't be surprised. Most food in the UAE is imported. Most hygiene products are imported. And even if a hygiene product is produced locally then raw material for it is imported.

According to the price, you may decide. You may take a reserve of 1-2 days. Then find a local mall and buy everything you need there. If you want to save money, then take a full stock for the entire vacation. Baby food can be brought in with almost no restrictions. Read our review "What you can and can not bring into the UAE".

Forget about any food products, which require storage in a refrigerator. They will not survive the flight. The flight time for Dubai or Abu-Dhabi is long. Plus you will leave home 4-5 hours before your flight. Plus you need time to get through security after landing and get to the hotel. During this time, the dairy products may spoil and become dangerous.

However, your baby needs milk. So take either pasteurized baby milk, or powdered baby milk, or milk porridge.




Point 7. Overweight due to baby food

Many tourists who take a full supply of baby food with them face the problem of overweight luggage. This problem is solvable.

The heaviest part is the glass jars of meat, vegetable and fruit purees. For example, a 100-gram jar of puree weighs 200 grams or even more. That is, there is even more glass than the puree itself! If you do not believe then weigh yourself.

Take a vegetable and fruit puree in plastic bags (if it is available in your home country). With meat purees the situation is more complicated, since they are very rare available in plastic packaging now. You can take meat puree in tin cans, so you will save weight.

Tin and plastic packaging is more convenient than glass, as it will not break.

Baby porridge is packed in airtight bags, and these bags are placed in cardboard boxes. If you want to save space in your suitcase, take a bag rather than a box.

If you are used to brewing dry porridge, take a cup mini-heater with you to brew it. Not every hotel has a kettle in the rooms. A cup mini-heater weighs about 100 grams.




Point 8. Meals for older children and teens

In the Arab Emirates, there are restaurants, cafes and fast food in almost all cuisines of the world. However, not all foods will be suitable for your child. Any new ingredients, sauces, spices can cause an unpredictable reaction.

Cheap cafes, eateries and street food in the UAE are aimed at expats from India, Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia. The food is spicy in most cases. It is not recommended for children to eat there.

The first option is to eat at the hotel restaurant, not necessarily your own, you can eat at a neighboring hotel. Cooks in hotel restaurants adapted to the European taste - without spices.

The second option is to look for cafes and eateries with the usual food. There are quite a few pizzerias in the UAE. There are the usual fast-food places: McDonald's, KFC, Burger King and others. Eat there, there will be no problems.

You can eat fresh fruit and vegetables from the supermarket. You can make sandwiches out of bread (flatbread), cheese, butter, and sausages from the supermarket. Of course, this option is not the healthiest, but it is safe. For the prices of basic foods, read our detailed review "Food Prices in the UAE".




Point 9. Tap water

Tap water in the UAE is suitable for drinking. It is slightly salted, as it is desalinated seawater.

But there is an opinion among the expats in Dubai that the local water leads to hair loss, dry skin, and premature aging. This is just an opinion that has not been proven in any way.

We will express the opinion of Dr. Mike Ryan, who lives in Dubai. He has conducted several clinical trials on Dubai water and says:

"Science doesn't know the mechanism by which local water can cause hair loss. It's just a lot of people come to live in the UAE and after 12-18 months they start having problems with their hair, they associate it with the water. Most likely other factors cause the problem: food, arid climate, stress."

Who's right? Who is wrong? Let the doctors decide for themselves. And while they deal with this problem, we advise to give children only bottled water, and do not drink tap water. In this matter, it is better to be reinsured.

And especially since a bottle of water is not that expensive - 1.5-2.5 dirhams for 1.5 liters.




Point 10. Child seats

In 2017, new federal highway safety rules came into force. Under these rules, a child 4 years old or younger must be in a child safety seat in a car.

Previously, there wasn't much of a penalty for not wearing a child safety seat. But in 2020, the police began to actively monitor and fine. The fine is 400 dirhams and it is possible to deprive the driver's license. In August 2020, police said they fined 4,700 drivers in a year who drove children under 10 years old in the front seat or without a car seat.

This rule can cause inconvenience for tourists. After all, if you vacation with children, you'll have to look for a taxi cab with a baby seat.

Mentally prepare to hear from a cab driver the phrase "Sorry, no baby seat" or similar. Then you'll have to find another driver, or then a third or fourth.

If you have a local SIM-card and order a cab by phone, remember to say the phrase "baby seat". If you order through the app or through the website, don't forget to tick the "Baby Seat" option.

There's also another restriction right now. According to covid safety rules, no more than two adult passengers + one child under the age of 15 can be in a cab. For example, if you have two parents + two children, you have to take two cabs at once. But in fact, now this rule is widely ignored. Maybe in the moment you are reading this review the rule will be already canceled. There are special cabs for four and more passengers, as we talked about in the review "Taxis in the UAE".




Point 11: Moving with a stroller

It is comfortable to move around the UAE with a stroller.

Most Dubai Metro stations have elevators and escalators. However, the cars are often crowded and lack space during rush hours. If you listen to the experience of expats, they recommend buying a Gold card to ride in the Gold car, it is usually not so crowded. Read about the fares and the difference in price between Gold and Silver in our review "Dubai Metro".

And do not advise riding on weekdays during rush hours, when all the subway cars will be "full to the brim". The same advice applies to buses and tram.

But the best option is a front-facing baby carrier or backpack carrier. In this case, there will be no problems in transport at all. However, this option is not suitable for everyone, not everyone's health and fitness allow.

Do not forget that most baby carriages are made of synthetic fabric. If the weather is hot then the baby's back usually sweats. When get out of the heat and get into an air-conditioned room, there is a serious risk of getting sick. Be careful.




Point 12: Dangers at sea

No need to fear sharks on the beaches in the UAE. Sharks do not swim up to the beaches and do not attack people. During the whole time of observations there were only 3 cases of shark attacks on people and all 3 without deaths. We have told about all this in detail on the page "Sharks in the Arab Emirates".

Other sea creatures can pose a real danger. For example, jellyfish can sting. At night sea urchins can crawl on the beaches, which do not attack, but you can accidentally step on and get hurt by needles.

In coastal waters there are many poisonous fish that do not swim up to the beach, but they are sometimes brought to the beach by the currents and tide. Rarely, there are even lion-fishes near the beach.

To avoid these dangers, it is better to be near your child while swimming in the sea. Or at least explain to him/her not to touch the sea creatures. Remember that the Persian Gulf is a place of habitation for many dangerous creatures.




Have a great vacation in the UAE, and read our interesting pages about this country (see list of pages below).

TIPS

Tips for Tourists in the UAE

IMPORTANT FOR TOURISTS

What to Take for the UAE

What You Should Not Do in the UAE

To the UAE with Kids

Sharks in the UAE

Weather in the UAE by Month

Holidays in the UAE

Are Unmarried Young Women
Allowed to Enter the UAE?

All-Inclusive in the UAE

Power Sockets & Voltage in the UAE

Hotels in the UAE with Own Beach

GENERAL INFORMATION

The UAE - Info, Facts, Figures

What Language is Spoken in the UAE

Population and Citizens of the UAE

History of the UAE

Flag of the UAE

Friday and Weekend in the UAE

Ramadan in the UAE

Sheikh Zayed - Father of Nation

Sheikhs of the UAE

GIFTS AND CUSTOMS LAW

What to Bring from the UAE

What You Can and Not Bring In the UAE

What You Can and Not Take Out the UAE

VAT Refund in the UAE

Shopping in the UAE - Why is Cheap

Date Fruits in the UAE

Camel Milk and Dairy Products

Bakhoor and Oud

MONEY AND EXPENSES

Money in the UAE - Emirati Dirham

Currency Exchange in the UAE

How Much Money to Take to the UAE

Food Prices in the UAE

Tourist Taxes in the UAE

Alcohol in the UAE

Cigarettes and Smoking in the UAE

Vape and iQos in the UAE

TRANSPORT

Dubai Metro - Fares and Map

Taxi in the UAE - Fares and Guide

NOL Transport Card Dubai

Dubai Tram

Dubai Monorail

Buses in the UAE

FROM AIRPORT TO CITY

From Dubai Airport (DXB) to City

From Al Maktoum Airport (DWC) to City

From Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH) to City

From Sharjah Airport (SHJ) to City

TRIPS BETWEEN EMIRATES

From Dubai to Abu-Dhabi

Free Buses Dubai - Abu-Dhabi

From Sharjah to Dubai

From Ras Al-Khaimah to Dubai

From Ajman to Dubai

From Fujairah to Dubai

From Umm Al-Quwain to Dubai

TELECOM

Internet in the UAE

Cheap Calls from the UAE

Free SIM-card in Dubai

UAE Phone Codes

EMIRATES

Dubai

Deira

Bur Dubai

Dubai Marina

Jumeirah

Downtown

TOP Attractions in Dubai

Beaches in Dubai

Abu Dhabi

Al Ain

Yas Island

Beaches in Abu Dhabi

Sharjah

Beaches in Sharjah

Ajman

Ras Al Khaimah

Umm Al Quwain

Fujairah

ATTRACTIONS IN THE UAE

Best Attractions in the UAE

Free Attractions in the UAE

DUBAI

Burj Khalifa

Dubai Fountain

Excursions in Dubai

How to Save on Entertainment in Dubai

DUBAI MALL

The Best in Dubai Mall

Dubai Aquarium

Candylicious in Dubai Mall

Waterfall in Dubai Mall

DUBAI DEIRA

Gold Market in Dubai

Al Mamzar Beach and Park

Deira Clock Tower

City Centre Deira Mall

JUMEIRAH DISTRICT

Burj Al Arab

Wild Wadi Water Park

Jumeirah Mosque

Dubai Marina Mall

Madinat Jumeirah

Jumeirah Beach

PALM JUMEIRAH

Aquaventure

The Lost Chambers

Dolphin Bay

Palm Fountains

The View at the Palm

DUBAI PARKS AND RESORTS

LEGOLAND

MOTIONGATE

LEGOLAND Water Park

BLUEWATERS ISLAND

Ain Dubai

Madame Tussauds

BUR DUBAI

The Dubai Frame

Dubai Dolphinarium

Al Fahidi Fort Museum

Museum of the Future

DUBAI - SOUTH-EAST

Global Village

Miracle Garden

Butterfly Garden

IMG Worlds of Adventure

MALL OF THE EMIRATES

Mall of the Emirates

Ski Dubai

ABU DHABI CITY

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Louvre Abu Dhabi

Emirates Palace

Observation Deck at 300

Sheikh Zayed Memorial

Heritage Village

Corniche Waterfront

Sir Bani Yas

YAS ISLAND

Ferrari World

Formula Rossa

Galleria Ferrari

Warner Bros Park

Yas WaterWorld

Yas Marina & Formula 1

Yas Mall

SHARJAH

Sharjah Fountains

Sharjah Aquarium

Museum of Islamic Civilization

Al Noor Mosque

Mega Mall

AJMAN

Ajman Fish Market

Ajman Fort and Museum

City Centre Ajman Mall

UMM AL QUWAIN

DreamLand Water Park

NATIONAL CUISINE

Emirati Cuisine - What to Taste

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