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How to Make The Most Of Life In The UAE: Free Diving, Skiing, Karting, Horse Riding – And So Much More…

How to Make The Most Of Life In The UAE: Free Diving, Skiing, Karting, Horse Riding – And So Much More…

by Jane TalbotSeptember 24, 2018

Thanks to the discovery of oil and the guidance of visionary leaders, the UAE has seen a rapid growth in economic and infrastructural development in the last 40 years of the likes rarely seen before. This has resulted in the swift emergence of a powerful economy that has evolved from a position of practical obscurity to become an important member in global affairs and an influential nation in the Gulf region.

Such rapid economic development has transformed the Emirates into a nerve centre of innovation that boasts a robust and diverse work force that has flocked to the shores of the UAE, converging talent from across the globe. The outcome is a mix of nationalities unlike anywhere else in the world. Of the 9.5 million people living and working in the UAE, expats make up 88.5% of the countries population. Bringing with them an abundance of culture, traditions, cuisines and customs to combine with the rich heritage of the indigenous people that has an unparalleled capacity to broaden the mind and nourish the soul.


What Does That Mean For Families Living Here?

It means a plethora of after school activities, hobbies or weekend adventures that are diverse in the extreme. Whether your stay is short term or long, living in this unique desert city offers the chance to learn about and explore enriching opportunities that would not necessarily be available in your home country.

In no particular order, has created a guide to some of the more remarkable and unusual activities inspired by the UAE. From the cost effective extra curricular activity to the top-end professional development course, with a variety of the ultra-cosmopolitan trend to the hobby steeped cultural traditions.


Make The Most of the Beautiful Beaches
It doesn’t get much better than the natural resource that is the ocean, so unsurprisingly there are a huge array of activities offered from companies that provide a variety of courses, classes and lessons that evolve around the abundant offerings of the sea.


Living so close to some beautiful natural beaches means that it is important for children to learn to swim, but it is also vital that they understand the dangers associated with being in the sea and how to stay safe at the beach.


Pirates Surf rescue
An Australian concept, Pirates Surf rescue is located in Kite Beach, Dubai offering ‘Little Nippers’ sessions for children aged 6-13 years. This includes life saving techniques, how to use rescue boards, body boarding, surfing skills, first aid training and CPR (from the age of 10). The kids also learn how to spot dangerous rip tides and what to do in the event of a jellyfish sting.

From 14 years old, students can join the Senior Programme, which offers training in all forms of sea rescue, including Jet Ski and helicopter rescue. This course culminates in an externally conducted exam and the potential receipt of a certificate in surf life saving.

COST: A 10-week course is 1,000 AED plus 200 AED registration fee.
Tel: 055 527 8931
Email: [email protected]


Orca Diving Centre – Padi Seal Team For Kids

There are some beautiful areas to go scuba diving in the UAE, including the infamous Dibba Rock where sightings of Turtles are common and the chances of spotting black reef tip sharks are likely. There is also Zainab Rock off the coast of Fujairah, Sharm Rocks near Snoopy Island and Inchcape close to Al Agah.

From 8 years old, kids can learn basic scuba diving and earn their PADI certificate as well as discover ocean navigation techniques, buoyancy and environmental awareness. All of the equipment is provided and a diving suit can be rented for 35AED. The training is on a 1:1 basis.

The flexible booking, practical session take place at the convenient location of your own pool area in Dubai and is supported by E-learning lessons that cover the theoretical and technical elements of diving.
COST: 1,200 AED
Tel: 054 444 6088
Email: [email protected]


WaterCooled WaterSports
With 4 locations across the UAE, (the Abu Dhabi Corniche location is coming soon) Watercooled Watersports has been offering classes across the full spectrum of water sports since 2012.
With 2,100 certified trainers it provides, windsurfing, Kite boarding, stand-up paddle boarding, sailing, wake surfing and wakeboarding lessons, to name but a few, at its internationally recognised training centres.
Age limitations are dependant upon the choice of activity and prices vary accordingly.
Jebel Ali:
Tel: 00971 04 887 6771
Email: [email protected]

Dubai Marina:
Tel: 00971 04 887 6771
Email: [email protected]


Embrace the UAE’s rich heritage

With a long and rich history that dates back thousands of years it is no surprise that the people and leaders of the UAE are hugely passionate about, and invested in ensuring that their traditions are preserved. In that vein, resident guests in the UAE have a wide range of courses and classes that they can take to help them to appreciate and understand the customs of their host country.


Dubai Henna by Sara
Henna is a major part of the history of the UAE, it was originally used to decorate a bride on her wedding day and the tradition is still a popular beauty treatment to this day. Made from crushed leaves of the Henna tree, the powder is compressed with water or lemon juice and is then applied in intricate design on the skin with a pointed cone.

With studios in Sri Lanka and Dubai (JLT), Dubai Henna by Sara is the first ever internationally certified Henna artist studio in the Middle East. The studios offers a variety of courses starting from Basic Design to Bridal level.

Basic Henna Mixology Course: 2 day course with 5 hours of hands on practice 500 AED
Henna Basic Design Course: 3 day course with 7 hours hands on practice 800 AED
Bridal Henna Master class: 5 day course with 16 hours hands on practice 1000 AED
Jagua Body Art Introduction Class: 1 day course, 2 hours in total 500 AED

Tel: 0557393321
Email: [email protected]


Solid Rock Music & Dance Zone
Belly dancing is a well-known style of dance found across the Middle Eastern region and is one of the oldest forms of dance in the world. Here in the UAE, Belly dancing is a common form of entertainment during Desert Safaris and in restaurants serving Arabic cuisine.

It has become a popular hobby of choice internationally for the fitness benefits and fun factor. Solid Rock is located in Al Barsha in Dubai and offers a range of belly dancing classes for all skill levels for those over the age of 16. There is a maximum ratio of 1 teacher for every 4 students to amplify results (it is female only).

Registration 157.50 AED
1 session AED 150
8 sessions 570 AED
12 sessions 750 AED

Tel: 043957807
Email: [email protected]


Living in the UAE provides the perfect opportunity to learn how to cook the local cuisine. SCAFA is a culinary and finishing school located in Dubai that offers a full spectrum culinary training. Full time educational training programmes are available for aspiring chefs and part time courses are available for those aiming to expand their knowledge and home baking skills with Arabic cuisine lessons.

The 3-hour long Arabic cooking classes focus on traditional meals and ingredients such as Fattoush salad, Hummus, Fateh and Umm Ali. The classes are hands on, interactive sessions with all materials provided.

1 session is 500 AED

Tel: 04 234786777
Email: [email protected]


ESMOD International Fashion Institute
The Abaya is the traditional wear for females in the Middle East and a popular garment in the UAE. Islamic fashion has seen a peak in interest globally in recent years as the fusion of western influence over oriental apparel has meant Abaya styles have evolved in increasingly more elegant garments without losing their function of modesty.

ESMOD has developed the first course of is kind in the world with its exclusive programme teaching Abaya design. The goal of the programme is to teach fundamental fashion design involving Islamic fashion, taught by professional designers and stylists. Courses begin with the creation of a mood board through to building a potentially extensive portfolio. Numbers are limited, as class sizes are kept small enough to give the appropriate amount of attention to each student. This is a professional course as opposed to a hobby, with a price tag that reflects this.
Courses are broken down into level 1 and level 2 with a certificate issued on completion.

COST: 15,960 AED
Tel: 04 4291228
Email: [email protected]


Al Dhabi Riding

Camels have been a part of the Emirati culture for decades as a reliable and steadfast resource in the transportation of food, as a source of clothing and a mode of transport. Over the years, camel breeding has been invested in and refined making camels a status symbol and an animal of considerable value. The UAE is home to some of the world’s finest (and fastest) specimens.

Al Dhabi Horse Riding Club offers a true cultural experience with the beast of the Bedouins, offering camel riding classes from its farm location in Al Khawaneej. Restricted to riders over 7 years old, the sessions take place over the rolling desert hills. An extra service of home pick-ups and drop offs can be provided for an extra charge.

COST: Pick up and drop off 250 AED per person.
130 AED per rider, per session

Tel: 055 1670188


Enjoy The Majestic Arabian Horses

The Arabian horse has a distinctive head shape and high tail carriage and is one of the most easily recognisable and distinctive breeds in the world. Dating back 4,500 years, they have also played a major role in the cultural development of the UAE, representing a symbol of chivalry, pride and nobility.

The love of the Arabian horse is shared by all of the people of the UAE: his Royal Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, being one of the worlds most influential equestrian breeders and the winner of the global endurance championships.

From desert, beach, moonlight, individual or group riding lessons and even interaction with horses as a form of therapy, there are numerous options accessible to the horse enthusiast of any age and skill level throughout the UAE.


Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club Dubai
Located near the Arabian Ranches in Dubai, the fully equipped equestrian centre offers a variety of courses revolving around the horses; one of the standout options is the Horse stable management for kids. The 3-day course ensures that the rider understands that owning a horse is a responsibility that means daily dedication and commitment. It is ideal for a young person looking for a future working with horses.
On day 1 the students learn the basics of responsible horse care, which includes an introduction into the different types of horses and their basic physiology. Day 2 and 3 contain theoretical elements and physical demonstrations of care, procedures of stabled horses, stable construction, routines, bedding, mucking out, handling, grooming, bandaging, plaiting, trimming and clipping.
COST: To be confirmed on enquiry.
Tel: 04 3618111
Email: [email protected]

Winner Equestrian Club
Book a family session of moon lit horse riding away from the busy city with Winners Equestrian club. The sessions are open to riders of all levels with fully trained horses and qualified and experienced instructors. The riding takes place on the outskirts of Mirdif, across the desert covering an expanse of 1,300 acres.
Trousers and trainers must be worn and all equipment is provided. All riders must be over 8 years old and have a maximum weight of 90kgs.

COST: 200 AED per person per session.
Tel: 050 103 1243
Email: [email protected]


Enjoy Some Of The World’s Finest Facilities
The UAE is known for aiming high and building big. Boasting the world’s tallest building, the world’s only 7 star hotel and the world’s largest shopping mall is no mean feat. The qualities of the sports facilities are as impressive as what anything the city has to offer.


The Hamdan Sports Complex

One of the biggest multi sports facilities on the globe; the complex is built over 24 hectares of land, near the Emirates Road. The distinctive blue building is host to 2 Olympic sized swimming and diving pools that feature advanced technology movable floors. The pools themselves can and have been covered by a sturdy surface that has seen international championships take place such as basketball, handball and karate.

There are 15,000 spectator seats in the 3-tiered competition arena that overlooks the 10 lanes Olympic pool.

A huge variety of lessons, classes and session, both aquatic and otherwise take place at Hamdan Sports Complex, (such as Dudive and Free Diving detailed below) and this professional standard resource is readily accessible to all.


Offering the UAE’s only high boards and springboard diving classes, DuDive has a reputation for being the coolest activity for kids over 5 years old, offering classes to all levels and abilities, (the only requirement is confidence in deep water).

Weekly diving lessons, pay as you go sessions and camps are all available, with fully qualified international coaches. Sessions move between the high tech training and Olympic pools with international-standard boards ranging from 1 to 3 meter springboards to 1 to 10 meter high boards.

Tumble Tots sessions are available from 3-5 years old where the children learn basic skills to increase their coordination and spatial awareness.
DuDive split the school year into 2 terms only. Term 1 is September to February and term 2 is the remainder of February through to July.

COST: Pay and Play drop in is 60 AED for member and 80 AED for non-members.
300 AED membership fee
Term 1: Tumble Tots: 1 session per week 1,500 AED
Level Class: 1 session per week 1,800 AED
2 sessions per week 3,200 AED
3 sessions per week 4,200
Tel: 050 1428686
Email: [email protected]


The Free Diving Club
Fully embrace the 7000-year-old legacy of pearl diving in the UAE by learning how to practice the ancient art of free diving (16 years and older).
The beginner’s course is AIDA 1 (International Association for Development of Apnoea), which is recommended for students with no previous diving experience to learn the basic techniques. Once the AIDA 1 course has been passed the learner can try the AIDA 2 open water free diving sessions. This covers basic skills and knowledge needed to become a recreational free diver. The course consists of 2 theory sessions, a pool session and 3 open water dives.

The prices include equipment but the student needs to bring along their own wetsuit.

The pool training and dry training takes place in the state-of-the-art, Hamdan Sports Complex opposite Global Village in Dubai, with fully qualified, first aid certified instructors.

The Free Diving club plans regular group trips across Dubai, Mussandam and Khorfakkan, in travelling convoy, more information is available on it’s website.

AIDA 1: 450 AED
AIDA 2: 1,750 AED
Tel: 050 85 24 524
Email: [email protected]


Ski Dubai

Located in the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, Ski Dubai is the first in-door ski resort in the Middle East that uses state-of-the-art technology to produce real snow. Visitors can have a go at tobogganing, snowboarding, skiing, a giant ball run, slides, chairlift and zip line, and meet the resident snow penguins in the constantly maintained temperature of minus 4 degrees.

Private and group lessons are available in Skiing and Snow boarding from beginners through to advanced with fully qualified international instructors.
Resident’s rates are available with the UAE ID and special offers on packages are available frequently. There is also an app that allows booking management.

COST: Rates vary extensively dependant upon age and level.
Tel: 04 800 (FUN) 386
Email: Complete the contact form on the website.


Dubai Autodrome

Completed in 2004, the Dubai Autodrome is a fully integrated motorsport facility that has 5.39km circuit with 6 configurations, a race school and indoor and outdoor karting tracks. All designed to strict safety standards.

The striking facility is located in Motor city, near the Arabian ranches and has been the host for a number of prestigious international events such as FIA championships, European Touring Car Championships and the well know Hankook 24H Dubai Endurance Race.

Karting is a major draw for the younger crowd and has minimum age restriction of 13 years old for the outdoor circuit and 7 years old for the indoor circuit.

The karts are all of modern design and manoeuvrability and all the accessories, such as gloves and balaclava are included in the price. All laps and race timings are tracked for performance results and pre booking is not essential.

It also offers, kids parties, summer camps, a digital race room, laser tag and karting tuition. Group sessions are available in 4-hour stints, which include lectures and track time and private 1:1 sessions can be booked for a bespoke service.

COST: Prices vary depending on the wide choice of activity. Details can be found on the downloadable booklet from the website.
Tel: 800 KARTING
Email: [email protected]
Web: www/

About The Author
Jane Talbot
Special Projects Reporter on, Jane Talbot is a renowned features journalist and researcher recognised for her in-depth and inciteful documentation of key issues facing parents in education worldwide. She brings to more than two decade’s experience in journalism and an authentic, deeply compassionate commitment to writing that places the welfare of children and families centre stage. “I write to support families facing the hardest decisions in education – whether that is the first day at school or navigating challenges like dyslexia. I see journalism as a vocation that promises, little by little, to change the world for the better. SchoolsCompared gives me the chance to play my part, for parents and children, in that bigger picture.”

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