I love answering questions about Dubai.

“How was it?” Remarkable.

“Did you like Dubai?” Yes, I did.

“What was your favourite experience?” Sunset Safari.

“What is Dubai like for families?” I’ll tell you.

Perhaps better known for luxury hotels and sensational shopping, I was surprised at the wide range of family friendly activities available in Dubai, the capital of United Arab Emirates. In one day, you can easily travel from the desert to the beach to the snow. There’s a ski field in a mall, a children’s mini world, palm trees covered in lights and slides surrounded by sharks! It’s the sort of place to squeeze in many amazing experiences in a few days.

Let me pick out some of the best of Dubai for families.

1. The Malls

The Dubai Mall

The Dubai Mall is big. No, it’s huge. By some measures, it is the world’s largest shopping and entertainment destination, welcoming more than 100 million visitors a year. Apart from the excellent shopping, there’s plenty to keep the children entertained, and one of my top picks to visit in the mall with the kids is KidZania.

KidZania: KidZania is like a mini city, especially for kids. That’s the best way to describe it. The award winning educational entertainment facility is a place where children can choose from 80 different jobs – from surgeons to chefs; firefighters to photographers. From these jobs, children earn a ‘wage’ and spend their hard earned “money” on various activities in their own miniature shop or racing cars round KidZania’s own track.

Idea: Provide paper and pens for the kids to draw their own mini city scene after their KidZania experience.

Ice Skating Rink: The Dubai Ice Skating Rink is located inside the Dubai Mall and hosts many different events and activities all year round.

Idea: The Dubai Mall sits next to Burj Khalifa Lake and in the evenings you can watch The Dubai Fountain. The choreographed, free fountain show is set to music and lights; shows are at 20-minute intervals from 6pm. Absolutely beautiful!

Aquarium and Underwater Zoo: One of the centerpieces of the Dubai Mall is the Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. The Aquarium holds the world’s largest tanks (51m x 20m x 11m) with a viewing panel more than 30m wide, 85 species and over 33,000 animals in total as well as a brilliant walk-through tunnel. The Underwater Zoo section’s different marine environments include rain forests, rocky shores and a Penguin colony.

Idea: Try a counting game and see how many sharks you can see.