Keep the kids entertained during the winter holidays in Abu Dhabi

Hala Khalaf runs down five of the best options for parents with children in need of something to do in the capital during the holidays.

Esraa Rothman, an American expat in Abu Dhabi who founded the online network Moms Guide Abu Dhabi (, a non profit organization, launched to inspire, empower & connect women, says that there's plenty to keep kids engaged during their time off from school – activities that combine learning, creativity and good, old-fashioned fun. The site boasts a "Calendar of Events" that is an accurate measure of the pulse of the city and a guide to lesser known modes of fun. Rothman picks five of the best:

1 Watch a movie outdoors

There are two places in Abu Dhabi that do this on Friday evenings: the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and Yas Marina. We like the BBQ and Movie Night at Saadiyat. It's a movie night combined with a family barbecue. There are beanbags set up for the kids and a huge screen outdoors in the garden. The kids get to run around, ride their bikes, play and don't have to be quiet like they do in the cinema. Two movies play each night, starting at 6pm. By the time that the evening is over, the kids are fed and ready for bed. Dh99 per adult, kids under six are free, above six pay Dh45, visit

2 A one-stop activity zone

At Yas Marina on Fridays, from 7pm to 9pm, there's a free movie night for families. On Saturdays, from 10am to 2pm, there's an outdoor market with fresh produce and small businesses selling everything from jewellery to handicrafts to souvenirs, a combination of outdoor bazaar and farmer's market. The marina has fun sprinklers set up, so that kids can run around in their swimsuits. There are seven restaurants in the marina to choose from and a playground that is surrounded by water. Visit ­

3 Stories and pyjama parties

Starting January 2014 onwards Moms Guide Abu Dhabi in collaboration with The ROOM in Zayed Sports City will be hosting Pajama Parties on Thursdays. Kids can come in their pyjamas and enjoy milk, cookies and bedtime stories. Then there's a short session of stretching & relaxing before they're sent home to bed. Tickets are 45 AED per session and there's a special rate if bought in December. Contact The ROOM at Zayed Sports City to buy tickets.

4 Abu Dhabi Pearl Journey

The Abu Dhabi Pearl Journey takes adults and kids on the first cultural and tourism tour of its kind. It takes place on an authentic pearling boat called the Jalboot, which was traditionally used in pearl diving. You get to learn all about the history of pearl diving in Abu Dhabi and take a tour of the reefs where pearls are found. It's fun and educational for the kids and you also learn to open an oyster and get to keep the pearl inside. Dh500 per adult and Dh400 for kids below age 12, visit

5 Arabian Nights Village

Just outside Abu Dhabi, on the road to Al Ain, the Arabian Nights Village is a perfect getaway. It's a whole village nestled in the middle of the sand dunes, made up of traditional Emirati houses. Park your car in Khalifa Park in Abu Dhabi and they pick you up and drop you off the next day. It's like a blast from the past: there are no televisions, no telephones, no technology; it's a disconnect from everything. Some rooms take the form of a traditional Bedouin tent, some are just like the palm houses that Emiratis who were pearl divers used to live in by the coast. It's a chance to show kids how to have fun without the iPad. Visit