Dubai isn't the kind of the desert you would imagine. It doesn't reflect the old desert image of tents, camels and primary living. On the contrary, it is the sophisticated, most civilized image of the world. Many places in this country made their way to the Guinness record book, through being the highest skyscraper "khalifa tower", the longest gold chain, longest stationary bicycle, biggest raffle of Rolls Royce cars!, longest taxi parade, tallest hotel "Burj al Arab", tallest fountain, largest shopping mall "Dubai mall", the list goes on and on for pages maybe. Traveling to such a place for a week or may be a month, gives you the opportunity to see and try nearly every available thing human race ever invented. You can begin with the desert experience all the way to have your tea on the top of the world's highest skyscraper. But how would it be to live here? What would it be like if having your breakfast in the shades of that huge building is your daily or weekly activity? Would your adrenaline rush through your body the same when you do all the activities you would think of over and over again? Would it give you the same pleasure? Riding horses, sky diving, using the fastest roller coaster in the world at "Ferrari world", located in AbuDhabi a close emirate which is an hour drive trip from your home, would it still be the same? Or the correct question would be? How easy or challenging is to have a future to do list of activities, in a place where adventure is what you do on daily basis?!
Now, imagine raising kids in such a dynamic world! This is the real challenge. The first question that comes to mind is, are kids over entertained in this place? If yes, is there a limit? To make my point more clear I should mention that my 3 years old boy, already took ice skating lessons, ski lessons, have a Ferrari driving license and He asked Santa for a laptop this Christmas!.
Kids are entertained here, I agree, they try things that other kids don't know exist. They deal with sports daily, where certain kind of sports are their daily game. When I was at my boy's age, my ultimate game was hide and seek, I enjoyed it, he enjoys it too. I used to play that between the trees of our garden or our neighbors' garden, he plays it between the huge walls of the malls and we don't even have neighbors!. The difference between yesterday and today is huge, I was first introduced to computers when I was grade 12, he, a preschooler, spend hours online, learning and playing various games. The difference between our time and theirs and add to that living in a different country away from family, friends and known neighbors, make it hard even to us, parents, to decide when it is too much of entertainment. Deep inside, there is always the well of protecting our kids from loneliness and the greatest fear is watching them losing their childhood between closed doors, cause once upon a time, we decided to offer them a financially better life. We don't want our kids to pay for our decisions. And sometimes, maybe, we overreact.
Kids at home, preschoolers, toddlers and babies are rarely to do anything. If your kid belongs to this group, the options are: 1-you have friends, neighbors or family members that are there to make sure that this baby don't think that life is all about you, you don't want to go to shyness, loneliness and the mental troubles that comes along with that, nevertheless you should keep in mind the physical activities that this baby should do to insure a healthy growing. 2- you don't have this community and you believe that the baby should interact with the world. Your options are endless, playgroups, activities, places to visit that are child friendly, and on. If you don't know what to do, use the net! This country uses the net efficiently and at all levels.
Now if your baby goes to school, the options are the same but with one difference, now you are affected with what other kids do and know, you won't tolerate a lot of the "all the other kids skates, and we live so close to the ice rink, I should learn that!" pressure. This won't end up here, cause as I said before there are too many activities. And if you want to catch up with others you should "entertain" your kid, or simply not! But if not you will be heading to endless hours of learning, lost childhood and suffering kids. You would think that you can control this, and you are right. But unfortunately it isn't as easy here as in other countries. Because here, daily, without any occasion, celebration or a known reason, people will be celebrating, kids all around you will be playing, activities again! and entertainment. sometimes you enroll your kids in such activities without further planing.
The good thing is that there could be a third option between the "always at home, with lost childhood" and "over entertained" options, but it is a real challenge to get there.
I look at the long queues everywhere, at each gate, game, place ( parks and beaches) and it worries me, what if all these kids are missing the point! They don't know what their parents are worried about, they can't understand what they are missing. What if they were spoiled by the good intentions of their parents! If they were lucky to try all these activities and visit these fancy places, how hard would it be for them to be entertained when they grow up! Will they have the same sense of fun and time enjoyment like us?! A worried SAHM in Dubai