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Visiting or living in Dubai as a baby?

I\'m a British expat baby in Dubai and have some ideas on where to go, what to do and how to deal with the climate. Take a look...

Dubai Fruit and Vegetable Market

What a lot she got!

What a lot she got!

Now that I’ve started eating foods, Mum’s weekly supermarket bill has gone through the roof with all the fresh fruit and veg I am throwing on the floor devouring, so she has decided to make a regular trip to the Fruit and Vegetable Market in Dubai. She paid about AED 140 (without much bartering) for all that lot in the picture above which would easily have cost AED 350 – 400 in Spinneys and this lasted Mum, Dad and me about two weeks.

Dubai Fruit and Vegetable Market

Dubai Fruit and Vegetable Market

Admittedly it’s not quite as convenient as picking up our fruit and veg during our supermarket shop, but it’s easily accessible with a car and I find it a fascinating trip out with lots of new things to look at.

At this market you tend to have to buy in bulk but you can buy huge quantities and it still be substantially cheaper and often much fresher than the tiny packet you would buy in Spinneys. You could split your purchases with a friend or neighbour, or like Mum you could freeze some of it. If you buy carefully you can get away with going just twice a month and still save heaps of money.

The market is well signposted off either the Al Khail Road (E44) or the Emirates / Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road (E111) and there is plenty of parking but it’s much better to park in the Union Co-op car park and walk the short distance across the road. If you pull up directly outside the market you are likely to get surrounded by irritating guys trying to get you to buy a punnet of peaches they have been carrying around in the sun for several hours.

Barrow boys at the Dubai Fruit and Vegetable Market

Barrow boys at the Dubai Fruit and Vegetable Market

Being Dubai, you don’t have to worry about carrying your purchases. As you enter the market there is a group of guys with wheelbarrows and one of them will follow you round and carry your shopping back to your car. Mum usually pays the guy AED 10 and he seems happy with that.

I like to peruse the market from my Ergo baby carrier but you could probably just about take a stroller if you needed to. We don’t see many other babies or children around but we don’t get any hassle. In fact last time I was there I was given a banana by one friendly stall holder (perhaps he thought I was a little monkey).

After a few visits Mum quickly realised that if you’re going to buy in bulk then it’s best to buy things that keep a week or so or that freeze nicely. Pumpkin and watermelon are particularly good just to keep in the fridge for a week or even longer. Mangoes and pineapples, simply cut into chunks with or without the skin freeze beautifully without faff and defrost quickly for my snacks.

My top tips for things to buy are as follows with the average price Mum usually pays in brackets next to them:

Watermelon (AED 10 – 12)

Pumpkin (AED 6.50 – 8)

Cauliflower, huge (AED 5)

Broccoli, 4 pieces (AED 10)

Mangoes, large, 9 pieces (AED 30)

Pineapple, large (AED 5)

Nectarines, around 15 (AED 9)

Sweet potato, 3 pieces (AED 8)

Large box of kiwis, around 20 (AED 10)

You can also get large boxes or even sacks of things like tomatoes, onions, carrots, potatoes and courgettes for AED 5 – 10 each. If you’re good at bartering you can probably get these for even less.

The market is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week but the earlier you go in the day, the fresher the produce.

Directions: From the E111 (formerly Emirates Road, now known as Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Rd) heading towards Sharjah, come off at Manama St. It’s well signposted from this road. It’s also well signposted from the E44. The market is under cover and next to a large Union Co-op supermarket.



Transport in Dubai with a baby

Dubai used to be the city where you need a car but it was, and still is, a city where driving can be a terrifying prospect especially to tourists or newly arrived expats. Thankfully in the last few years Dubai’s public transport system and taxi service has improved and now there are several options for a baby to get around the city.

1. By car

It has to be said, if your mum and dad have their own wheels – this is the most convenient option for getting around. Unless you’re heading out to the old part of Dubai, parking is generally easy and plentiful. Just make sure your car seat is properly fitted and off you go. But bear in mind you will need to drive defensively if you are not used to driving in Dubai: expect a car to pull into that gap right in front of you and then brake sharply, expect the car in the next lane to swerve towards you while he checks his phone for emails and certainly do not expect anyone to signal.

Car hire companies in Dubai usually can provide a car seat for an additional charge but it makes sense to bring your own as most airlines allow you to bring it for free.  For protection, you can plastic wrap it at Dubai airport for AED 20 (about £3.50) and at Manchester, Gatwick or Heathrow for just a few pounds too.

2. By taxi

Dubai ladies taxiTaxis are plentiful in Dubai but the driving standards are variable and sometimes usually quite shocking. I would never ride in a taxi without a carseat but I know a lot of babies that do as it isn’t illegal here. Don’t be afraid to ask the driver to slow down or drive more carefully. The taxis with a pink roof are ‘Ladies taxis’ (although men can use them too if they are with the family)  these have a car seat that can be fitted in for you. If you call up Dubai Taxi you can request one or sometimes there will be one at the airport. The snag with this service is that Dubai Taxi won’t guarantee that they will be able to supply one which in practice is pretty useless if you need one. The best way round this is to have a pram that has a car seat attachment and make sure you know how it fits into a car with seatbelts. (Mum watched a Youtube video to learn how to do it properly). You can also hire a Dubai Taxi for 6 hours for AED 500 or 12 hours for AED 800. The number for Dubai Taxi is 04 208 0808.

3. Safedriver

With the Safedriver service  a driver comes out to you and drives you and your car home so there’s no lugging a carseat about when mum or dad might fancy a glass of wine. For popular times (like brunch kicking out time) make sure you book a day or so in advance as they get booked up quickly. The cost for one way usually works out about the same as getting a taxi there and back although there is a minimum charge of AED 120. Call 80072337 to book or enquire.

4. Metro

Dubai MetroThe Metro in Dubai is cheap, clean and efficient but is fairly limited in its destinations so although it’s fantastic to get to some locations it’s likely you’ll need to use other forms of transport too. There are plenty of lifts and it’s easy to get a stroller on and off the train, but best to avoid rush hour. The end carriage (next to Gold Class) is for Women and Children only. It’s great for getting to Dubai Marina, Mall of the Emirates and Downtown Dubai (for Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa) but doesn’t pass particularly near to a beach or Madinat for example. This link explains the fares and ticket system (you need a ‘Nol’ card -a bit like a prepaid Oyster card).

5. Bus

Dubai buses are fairly easy to get a stroller on and off, but if the bus is crowded you may not be allowed on unless it’s folded up.  Try and make your way down the bus to the stroller space near to the rear doors. Many of the bus stops have air conditioned waiting rooms which are essential if you’re using the buses in summer.  Don’t forget to buy a ticket before you get on – a prepaid ‘Nol’ card can be purchased from any Metro station or Spinneys supermarket. See here for further details.

6. Dubai Water Taxis

Dubai Water taxiThese are great fun and incredibly plush inside, similar to business class air travel. You pay for the whole boat up to 10 people and, like a regular taxi, you don’t share with strangers. It’s not so much for actually getting from one place to another, but fantastic for seeing Dubai by the water.

Getting a stroller on and off them can be a bit tricky but the crew are usually very helpful and will no doubt give you a hand. Make sure you pick a day when the sea is calm as it can get a bit choppy. Call up and book in advance – maybe even a day ahead for weekends. Here’s details of the tariff. You can get from the big flagpole in Jumeirah 1 (Jumeirah Open Beach) to Dubai Marina for AED 225 but that’s for up to 10 people, so not bad value if there’s a group of you.  Telephone: 8009090 for bookings and enquiries.

7. Bus tours

There are several open top bus companies in Dubai where you can hop on and off. These are aimed at tourists and can be a good way of getting around to see the main sights of Dubai in a short time.  You can buy 24 or 48 hour passes, but beware you may need to buy a separate pass for after 6pm. Some tickets include a boat trip down the Creek. See Big Bus Tour’s website for further information.

Easy Peasy Carrot and Cheddar Muffins

Carrot and cheese muffins

Easy Peasy Carrot and Cheese Muffins

Mum’s all about making things easy and these muffins are so simple I’m sure I could rustle them up myself. Mum puts me down on my play rug and less than 10 minutes later the muffins are in the oven. These muffins freeze well and defrost within an hour on the worktop (or in seconds in the microwave) so are perfect for making in bulk and getting one or two out just as you need them.

Carrot and cheese muffins are my favourite and I also love the banana ones. Banana muffins are slightly quicker – the carrot and cheese both need grating- although this can be done in seconds in a food processor. Because they are nice and easy to pick up and eat even without teeth, I’ve been eating these since I was only 6 months old.  But they’re also great for the whole family.  No excuses now – getting baking and enjoy!

Easy Peasy Carrot and Cheese Muffins

1. Melt 120g butter (ideally unsalted) in the microwave. Mix in 4 eggs, 6 or 7 grated carrots and a few handfuls of grated cheddar.

Carrot and cheese muffin mix

2. Sieve 300g self raising flour in another bowl and fold in the egg mixture.

carrot and cheese muffins before baking

3. Fill the muffin cases 2/3 rds full and bake at 180C for approx 12 minutes.

Carrot and cheese muffin

In place of the carrot and cheese you could add 6 to 8 mashed ripe bananas. Throw in some sultanas if you fancy. Theses quantities make approximately 30 smallish muffins.

I have adapted this recipe from the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook  by Gill Rapley which I highly recommend. My Porridge Fingers recipe has also been adapted from this book.

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Dubai Miracle Garden

Dubai Miracle Garden

Dubai Miracle Garden

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It’s not quite a park, but as the name more than suggests, more of a garden with millions and millions of bright flowers, some in arches you can walk under, some form the hedges Read more…

My changing bag… or is it a handbag?

The few times Mum or Dad have tried to chance leaving my changing bag at home I always make sure I fill my nappy in the most spectacular way just to emphasize the importance of lugging it around at all times. They might want to feel spontaneous and free but they need to realise that’s just a ridiculous notion these days.

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Porridge fingers

Porridge fingers

Porridge fingers

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