Dubai is an ideal spot for families with young children and there is loads to do for families and plenty to keep toddlers entertained. The beaches are stunning and there are zoos, aquariums, play areas and plenty of family friendly restaurants and hotels to choose from. Don’t miss out on the world’s tallest structure; Burj Khalifa which stands 828 metres and 160 floors tall. The dancing Dubai Fountain offers a nightly show, which can accessed through the Dubai Mall; just in case you have some shopping to do first and toddlers will be mesmerized by this huge, colourful display. For the history buff; Dubai Museum is a great place to start where modern technology meets history in an underground fort that shows the fascinating transition from village to modern empire that the Emirate is today. The Markets or Souks as they are called are worth a visit and can be found on both sides of the Dubai Creek.
Turkey is a very family friendly destination and offers a fantastic mix of stunning beaches and historical sights. Some of the best known beach spots such as Kusadasi, Bodrum and Marmaris will offer baby and toddler friendly accommodation and Istanbul’s hotels will also have hotels with cots. If you are visiting Istanbul, be sure to check out the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace. Turkey is one of the safest countries in the Middle East for travellers, with a stable and democratic political system and well-developed transport infrastructure. Check the security situation, however, before you travel in areas close to the borders with Syria and Iraq.
With almost year-round sunshine, fabulous beaches, fascinating forts, desert adventures, world-class theme parks, spectacular wildlife, and activities to suit all interests, the emirate of Abu Dhabi is a brilliant family holiday destination. Abu Dhabi’s three main regions – the UAE capital and its environs, the ‘Oasis City’ of Al Ain (the Eastern Region) and Al Gharbia (the Western Region) – combine to offer visitors 400 km of pristine coastline, 200+ natural islands, vast swathes of serene desert, mangroves and lively, cosmopolitan cities. And while it feels exotic, Abu Dhabi is easy to navigate with babies and toddlers, with good road systems, car hire and inexpensive taxis (many of which will provide car seats on request). English is widely spoken, and most road and shop signs and restaurant menus are in English as well as Arabic.
Jordan is a fascinating destination with beaches, history and monuments that will leave you in awe. Despite its close proximity to more volatile countries in the Middle East; Jordan’s security is first class. Avoiding the area closest to Syria and Iraq (3km within both borders) is recommended but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the country. Make sure to visit Petra, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World where the breathtaking ruins will have you in awe. Float in the Dead Sea, dive in the warm waters at Aqaba or relax in the natural hot springs underneath a waterfall. Most people in Jordan speak English and the country is modern and accessible. Jordan has largely escaped the unrest arising from the Arab Spring and it remains one of the safest countries in the region to visit.
Egypt’s history, culture and beaches make it a fantastic family holiday destination. The country is generally safe and clean however tummy upsets are common so use bottled water with young children and make sure jars of baby food are sealed. Sharm el Sheik is a hugely popular family holiday spot and offers stunning beaches and superb hotels at affordable prices. Cairo, although a fascinating place close to the Pyramids and the Sphinx is unfortunately not an easy place to take a baby or toddler as it is not stroller accessible and does not have the facilities that parents might require with young children.
Please note that there is currently a crisis in the Sharm el Sheik area of Egypt due to the recent plane crash. Most flights to and from the region have been cancelled due to the heightened risk of terror attacks. It is currently not advisable to visit the area and the UK and Irish governments are advising against travel here until after Christmas 2015 (at least) when hopefully the situation will be resolved. Keep an eye on your government’s foreign office website for updates on travel safety.
Oman has recently invested heavily in tourism and it shows. An absolute must is watching the hundreds of green sea turtles come up to nest on one of Oman’s beaches (the best time for this is September to November). The Historic village of Nizwa is home to one of Oman’s mightiest forts and here you will find plenty of Souks selling crafts, clothing and jewellery. A visit to Oman would not be complete without a cruise through Khor Ash Sham; a 16km inlet where you are treated to remote hamlets along the shoreline along with pods of dolphins.