Voted the seventh safest city in the world by global data website Numbeo, Dubai is a great place to bring up children.
With tax-free living, top-notch schools and hospitals, plus free Covid-19 vaccinations for all residents, it is easy to see why the UAE is a popular destination for expats, who make up nearly 89 per cent of the population.
Villas with gardens are the most popular option for families moving to Dubai, and luckily the emirate has dozens of developments to choose from, depending on your budget.
As a general rule of thumb, the further away from the sea, the cheaper the annual rent.
But remember many of the roads of Dubai are multi-lane highways, so the morning commute will never be that long.
With so many neighbourhoods on offer, it can be hard to choose, so The National has collated some options for you. Here are five fantastic areas in Dubai to bring up children.
Approx Dh250,000 to rent a 4-bed villa for one year
A gated community, Arabian Ranches has proven so popular that it has expanded into the desert with Arabian Ranches 2 and 3.
The original Ranches has over 4,000 villas in 12 distinct neighbourhoods, each with its own tennis courts, gym, lifeguarded swimming pool and children’s playground.
Other facilities include a skate park and basketball courts, plus a nearby polo club with horse riding lessons for children and adults.
As with many communities in Dubai, the houses are centred around a golf club. Arabian Ranches Golf Club is a desert-style 18-hole signature course, with two popular local restaurants, The Ranches and Maison Mathis. The Hamptons Cafe on the edge of the community is also popular.
The villas are a mix of traditional Arabic and contemporary Mediterranean architectural styles and the more expensive properties are very spacious. Many have open-plan kitchens and his-and-her bathrooms.
All have large gardens, some very large with private pools, but those will cost much more than the average mentioned above.
The nearby Ranches Souk in Arabian Ranches 2 houses a Carrefour supermarket, several cafes, a Fitness First gym and the Cheeky Monkey’s indoor play centre for younger children.
Parents can pick between Raffles Arabian Ranches Nursery or Blossom Arabian Ranches 2 for younger children, or Jumeirah English Speaking School for older children.
Foremarke School (soon to renamed Repton Al Barsha) and Kings Al Barsha are a ten-minute drive away.
Approx Dh140,000 to rent a 4-bed villa for one year in the Maple communities
A brand new development close to the city, the houses are centred around the 18-hole Dubai Hills Golf course, and get less expensive the further you get from the fairways.
There are two restaurants in the golf club – The Duck Hook and the Hillhouse Brasserie – and both are very community-orientated and child-friendly.
New-build villas all have gardens, albeit some are quite small, and there are community playgrounds and pools dotted around the area, plus volleyball, basketball, and padel tennis courts.
Other communal facilities include shaded pathways for jogging and walking, picnic lawns, outdoor gyms and even a dog park.
The development is moments away from the schools in Barsha South, including Foremarke (Repton Al Barsha), Gems Founders School Al Barsha and Kings’ Al Barsha.
Blossoms Nursery opened in October 2020 to cater for babies and toddlers and it is conveniently located next to the Geant Express, which at present is the only supermarket in the area.
The massive Dubai Hills Estate Mall was delayed by the pandemic, but it is now due to open in September.
With 650 shops and restaurants, a hypermarket, an outdoor concert area and an 18-screen cinema, there will be no need for residents to leave their area for entertainment.
The respected King’s Hospital, which is a few minutes drive from the mall, offers all the health services you might need, including an emergency room for breaks and burns.
Harry Tregoning, the founder of Tregoning Property, described the area as “very central”.
“It’s really well located for schools and also the main financial centres for working parents.
“It’ll only get better when the mall opens up, and the recently planted greenery settles in, creating a much greener environment,” he said.
Approx Dh420,000 to rent a 4-bed villa on a frond
A world-famous landmark in its own right, Palm Jumeirah is seaside living at its best with a price tag to match.
There are several different types of villas available to rent, with mature gardens, swimming pools and private steps down to the shore.
Entertaining children is easy when you live by the beach and many families buy canoes and paddleboards for water sports, plus snorkel sets to observe the visiting stingrays.
Furthermore, Atlantis, The Palm resort on the nearby crescent houses some of the best attractions in Dubai, including Aquaventure Waterpark, Dolphin Bay and Lost Chambers Aquarium.
Not long ago there were no supermarkets or shops on the Palm, but all that has changed,
“It’s finally coming into its own since they opened the Nakheel Mall, Galleria Mall and the Pointe development,” Mr Tregoning said.
“It’s now really well served by shops. There’s also the Al Das Medical Clinic and Blossom Palm Jumeirah Nursery.”
Residents do need to travel off the Palm to educate their children, and there can be traffic jams coming down the trunk at peak times.
The closest schools are 15 minutes away on Sheikh Zayed Road and include Gems Wellington International School, American School of Dubai and Dubai International Academy in Emirates Hills.
Approx Dh140,000 to rent a 4-bed villa for one year
This leafy community was purpose-built for families and is gated for greater security. It is located just inland from the Dubai Marina, behind the Emirates Hill development.
Most of the 4,800 villas are two- and three-bed, painted pastel colours, with small private gardens.
There are some four-bedroom villas, but not many, Mr Tregoning said.
“It’s a great starter community for new families with young children. It’s established and green, and convenient for people working in Media City and JLT,” he said.
The community is built around several lakes and public parks, with playgrounds and reasonably-sized swimming pools dotted around.
Families love the sense of community, as children are safe to play in the park and ride their bikes together around the lakes.
Shoppers will find plenty of options, including Meadows Souq and the recently refurbished Meadows Village, which has a Waitrose. The new upscale Springs Souk includes a Carrefour supermarket, coffee shops and restaurants, plus the indoor playground Dig It and Raffles Springs Nursery.
For older children, JSS International School, Emirates International School Meadows and Dubai British School are nearby, while Nord Anglia International School is only a ten minute drive away.
Approx Dh250,000 to rent a 4-bed villa for one year
One of the older areas of the city, Umm Suqeim is a seaside neighbourhood, with a mix of large villas, compound communities and palaces.
The neighbourhood is made up of a mix of nationalities, said Laura Stockwell, the British founder of local estate agent Mr & Mrs Stockwell.
“Families love living in Umm Suqeim because they get all the advantages of living in a city; good schools, a short commute, access to restaurants and shops plus the added bonus of being close to nature at the beach,” she said.
Kite Beach is one of its biggest attractions. The large stretch of sand is also home to numerous food trucks and kids’ activities, including bouncy castles, trampolines and go-kart racing.
The nearby skatepark and outdoor activity centre X Park Jr is also hugely popular with children of all ages, while Umm Suqeim Park and Safa Park 2 both have playgrounds set in lush green grounds, which are perfect for picnics.
Cafes like the Ailuromania Cat Cafe, where you can pet the resident cats, and Jones the Grocer welcome children with imaginative special menus, and kids’ play areas.
There are plenty of malls and supermarkets dotted around the area, including the giant Mall of the Emirates which contains pretty much every retail outlet you could imagine, plus a cinema and ski slope.
The school run is likely to be short, as the area is home to dozens of nurseries plus primary and secondary schools, including Horizon International School, Kings School Dubai and Gems Jumeirah Primary School.
Medical centres include Dubai London Clinic in Umm Suqeim 2 which offers most services including A&E, and King’s College Hospital London has a small outpost in Umm Suqeim 1.
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