Things to do when it rains in Dubai, from escape rooms to museums

Take the family to a gaming arcade or organise a movie marathon at home

Glitch in Deira offers plenty of of digital entertainment, VR arcades and a bowling alley. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Rain is forecast for the UAE this week, with gloomy weather predicted to last until Wednesday.

Residents are advised to stay at home for their safety, and to exercise utmost caution if stepping out. Even so, plenty of indoor activities are ongoing around town, although timings are subject to change.

If you are in Abu Dhabi, here is our guide for inspiration, which includes activities such as visiting Louvre Abu Dhabi or checking out the city's indoor theme parks. For those in Dubai, here are some wet weather ideas.

Visit an indoor aquarium

There is no shortage of aquariums in Dubai, such as the Lost Chambers Aquarium in Atlantis, The Palm and Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo in Dubai Mall. Above ground, there is Green Planet at City Walk Dubai. The indoor vertical rainforest is home to more than 3,000 species of flora and fauna, and the park recently welcomed a bearcat and cotton-top tamarin twins into its furry family.

Test your skills at an escape room

Head to TEPfactor in Jumeirah Beach Residence, which offers a variety of physical and mental challenges. Phobia has two locations in Dubai's Jumeirah Lakes Towers, while The Dark Room in the Red Diamond Building is said to be a particularly terrifying experience. There's also NoWayOut, which has several venues in Dubai offering horror-themed rooms. Horror movie fans can opt for Deep Dark Dubai, with experiences inspired by shows such as Paranormal and The Sinner.

Break things at The Smash Room

Although rain is usually known for its calming effect, The Smash Room in Al Quoz offers an alternative option. The space helps many people de-stress by allowing them to smash and shatter everyday objects – from television screens and DVD players to glasses, plates and furniture. There is a choice of weapons, including crowbars, sledgehammers, and cricket and baseball bats. Visitors can even hurl things at concrete walls as another way of releasing pent-up energy.

Tour a museum

There are plenty of museums to visit in Dubai, including Museum of the Future, which showcases some of the world's leading future technologies. The landmark building has a dedicated space for children called Future Heroes where visitors are encouraged to explore and play.

The History of Cinema Museum in Barsha Heights, meanwhile, displays a private collection of photography artefacts; Etihad Museum in Jumeirah tells the story of the UAE; and the Coins Museum in Al Fahidi Historical District displays coins from various historical eras.

Visit the Mohammed bin Rashid Library

Visit the cultural landmark in Al Jaddaf that covers more than 54,000 square metres, with seven floors and nine thematic libraries. Library content becomes increasingly specialised going up the seven levels, while the ground floor is home to three arenas filled with the most accessible content.

There is a General Library, Emirates Library, one for children and another for young adults, while others focus on business titles, periodicals, maps and atlases; and another centres on media and the arts, which is home to expansive collections of Arabic newspapers and magazines spanning the mid-20th century. There's also a private collections library, but visitors need special permission to access this area.

Gaming arcades for the full family

Head to an entertainment hub such as Atlantis, The Palm’s Wavehouse Dubai or Brass Monkey on Bluewaters Island. Family-friendly venue Wavehouse has a bowling alley and plenty of arcade games, including virtual reality simulators, as well as a dining area with a bar and a wave machine, although it's better to avoid this if the skies are grey. Over at Brass Monkey, there's a bowling alley, VR racing simulators, retro arcade games, pool and snooker, and two dining venues.

For a more child-friendly experience, head to Glitch at Al Ghurair Centre in Deira, where more than 30 action-packed attractions are on site. It includes an indoor roller glider, VR simulators and a bowling alley.

Take photos at Aya in Wafi City mall

Aya is an immersive light and sound park that's spread across 3,700 square metres at Wafi City mall. The park utilises lights, sounds and mirrors to create an otherworldly experience for visitors. It is divided into 12 zones, with each meant to evoke a specific reaction. The zones also feature individual shows, a vibrant choreography of light and sound that goes on for up to seven minutes. Aya features mostly abstract imagery, incorporating extraterrestrial elements in some of the light projections.

Focus on health and wellness

The gloomy weather can also be turned into a relaxation day, with many indoor spas and wellness centres across the city's network of hotels. The Talise Spa at the Madinat Jumeirah complex offers serene ritual sessions, while Thai-style treatments are available at Anantara The Palm.

Opt for a traditional hammam experience at Anjana Spa, Rixos The Palm or at the Talise Ottoman Spa, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. Five-star venues aside, there are also several neighbourhood spots offering massages, facials and more.

Or head to Danube Sports World, an indoor sports centre for those who want to keep moving. It has everything from padel and badminton courts to basketball and football.

Make your own fun at home

Staying at home is often the main advice when the weather is extreme, meaning families, especially those with little ones, may need to find ways to keep everyone entertained at home. There are plenty of ways to improvise some at-home fun, such as organising an indoor treasure hunt or creating a laser maze out of strings or crepe papers.

Board games are also a good option as is a chance to learn new skills such as knitting or cake decorating, with video tutorials available on TikTok or YouTube. If you don't mind some extended screen time, pop on Netflix or OSN (for more regional titles) and organise a movie marathon.

Updated: April 16, 2024, 7:28 AM