The 10 Places That Will Remind You Of Your Childhood In Dubai
And they were fun
1. Al Ghurair Centre
For those who wonder what life was like before The Dubai Mall or MOE came in the picture… it wasn’t all that bad. Back then, Al Ghurair Centre was the hangout. Perhaps the only mall around in the ‘80s and ‘90s, it was a hot fave with families for its entertainment centre Sinbad’s. Ask anyone who grew up in the city if they’ve celebrated their birthday at Sinbad’s at least once and chances are you will get “yesss” as a response.
2. Mamzar Beach Park
Fridays were best spent on Mamzar Beach Park in Deira. Families would either be swimming in the sea or having a picnic. Many schools included this park in their ‘field trips’ schedule several times a year. Nothing to complain about when you’re having fun!
3. Chicago Beach Hotel
So the iconic wave-shaped hotel that sits close to Burj Al Arab on Jumeirah Beach Hotel was once the plot for Chicago Beach Village and Hotel. It was a gated community, alongside a hotel, occupied mostly by Western expats. The hotel was demolished in 1997 and rest as they say is history.
4. Rex Drive In Cinema
No Reel, Novo or Vox. And forget about Platinum Suites. The coolest place to watch a movie was at Rex Drive-In Cinema. Residents would park their cars and watch an entire film sat on a picnic mat or on the bonnet of their car. Sounds of flights passing overhead seemed to bother no one.
5. Al Nasr Leisureland
The good old entertainment facility in Oud Metha has been around since 1979 and is best remembered for its Olympic-sized ice rink, bowling alley and fruit garden (massive structures of different fruits that children could play in). Bet if Instagram was a rage back then, many would have taken their coolest shots in this quirky garden.
6. India Club
Located in Oud Metha, this recreation space has been around longer than most of us have. Inaugurated in 1964, it was (and still is) the hub of the Indian community. In addition to offering various sports activities, the club hosts cultural shows and seminars and events to celebrate Indian festivals.
7. Ice Rink at Hyatt Regency Dubai
The posh place to learn how to ice-skate or brush up on your skating skills back then was the ice rink at The Galleria (not the mall you know on Al Wasl Road, but a part of Hyatt Regency Dubai). Dubai’s first ice rink, it was also a popular hangout after-school hours and on weekends.
Dubai’s coolest theme and waterpark then, Wonderland gave expat (and Emirati) children their share of entertainment in the mid ‘90s. Who can forget the bright yellow entrance, carousel and roller coaster there? With the opening of other parks, it soon became a venue for family shows (ie: Alice in Wonderland) and celebration of festivals such as Holi.
9. Planet Hollywood
After a starry opening in 1998, which saw actors Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze and Amitabh Bachchan in the city, this family-friendly American restaurant located near Wafi Mall became popular with the expat community for its family-friendly Friday brunch (yup, it happened back then too). Other than awesome chicken wings and burgers, the venue boasted an impressive collection of movie memorabilia and merchandise.
10. Dubai Zoo
While most people don’t even know Dubai has a zoo, let us tell you this Jumeirah spot was a landmark in the early ‘70s because it indicated the end of the city (there was no Marina, JBR, JLT then). The gorillas and the giraffe (at times, you can actually spot its head when driving past on Jumeirah Beach Rod) are highlights of the zoo.