Al Ain Paintball paintballing


There’s a great Paintballing Centre in Al Ain called Al Ain Paintball: Desert Storm – which is in the same complex as the Al Ain Raceway karting track.

Here’s what the reception building looks like, with my eldest son, Toby, on the left approaching the entrance, attending a birthday party treat here with several mates. My second son Felix is on the far right, feeling a bit left out, I guess…


I’m not really into guns, but this shot somehow gets my heart racing and the fingers on my right hand twitching!…


Side of bulding…


One of the netted battle areas round the back…




A second, covered battle zone…


I didn’t notice a third battle zone with more varied obstacles in it.

Here are some battle dress on the line…


And a target practice area…


During one battle, Toby got dust in an eye and took off his mask for a few seconds – and got hit on his cheek by a paint pellet. These pellets hurt! Ouch! So if one of your children attends make sure you tell them never to take his/her mask off during a battle!

As well as being a great day out for adults or children on a weekend, this place would be ideal for team building in businesses too.

Al Ain Paintball’s opening times are 4pm to midnight. During Eid it’s open from 12 noon to 12 midnight.

Call 050 773 2818.

Al Ain Raceway, Al Ain

If you travel east of the Hilton Hotel in Al Ain, drive past the Danat Hotel (previously called the Intercontinental Hotel), and carry on for about a kilometre, you’ll see the Al Ain Raceway on your right (just around the time you say to yourself “It can’t be this far out of town!”).

It’s a great place for a birthday party treat. One of my 11-year-old son’s friends invited him and 2 others to create a party of 4. They had a blast: 2 15-minute sessions in karts which travel up to 40kph. (Though you’ll swallow hard when you discover the damage to your wallet.)

Here’s the reception area…

Al-Ain-Raceway 6

There’s even a model of the entire circuit. It’s a big, complex track you can drive round!…

Al-Ain-Raceway 9

And there’s a large showroom on the right if you fancy buying your own kart…

Al-Ain-Raceway 7

Al-Ain-Raceway 8

Here are 4 karts ready to set off…


Racing round the big track outside…

Al-Ain-Raceway 3

My Toby sharing the highlights of his experience in the waiting room before the second 15-minute session…


Each racer gets a sheet at the end showing all his/her racing statistics…

Al-Ain-Raceway 4

…and a PC screen hung on the wall shows who did the fastest lap time, who was fastest overall etc – perfect for competitive youngsters!

In terms of sheer professionalism I couldn’t fault the place: it’s brilliantly kitted out and very well maintained. A spot-on day out when you’re feeling flush!

What’s more, this place hosts professional races every year or 2, with serious kart racers flying in from all round the world to compete!

Update: I received an email from a reader…

“Re: Your site is fabulous! My name is David and I will be visiting Al Ain later this year for the Karting Rotax Max Grand Finals at the the Al Ain Raceway which will reunite the 265 best karting drivers from all 5 continents and some 60 countries. Your website is a jem for all that have apprehensions concerning a trip to that part of the World.

Al Ain Vipers ice hockey team


Al Ain has its very own ice hockey team, the Al Ain Vipers. They run youth teams and a men’s team and provide training from absolute beginner upwards.

They are now taking applications for new members from boys and girls between the ages of 4 and 18 to play what they call “the coolest game in town”.

All players welcome regardless of experience – they provide training from beginning to advanced level players.  Equipment is available from the club.

Weekly training takes place on Saturday mornings at the Hili Ice Rink.  Additionally players participate in weekly Viper League games, tournaments in the UAE and around the Gulf, and occasional hockey camps run by professional players and coaches.

Players between 12 and 18 practice Saturdays 9-10.30am; Sundays 6-7pm; Mondays 5.30-6.30pm

Players over 9 under 12 practice Saturdays 10:30 am -12 pm; Tuesdays 6.45 pm – 7.45 pm

Players under 9 practice at Al Ain Mall Tuesdays 5.30 pm – 6.30 pm

For more information or to register your child go to

You can also contact Tim Klassen, Vipers President, at: 050 763 6120 or via vipertklassen @


Swimming team at the Hilton Hotel, Al Ain

This is Rami Bou Khodr who teaches swimming at the Hilton Hotel in Al Ain…


He runs the American Swimming Academy. He is Lebanese, and has lived in Al Ain for the last 2 years. I asked him to tell me more about himself. He said, “I am a teacher and examiner for lifeguard courses from the STA in England, which was established in 1932. With that organization I got certified to deal with children with special needs. I also have a certificate from the American Swimming Academy as a pro swimming instructor. I did my first lifeguard course in Dubai in October 2010. I have programs for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and adults.”

He added, “It doesn’t matter what your child’s swimming ability or level is, I can help with swimming coaching for children and adults and also water safety lessons for the younger children.”

He’s very passionate about starting up a swimming team/club for youngsters – and adults too – who are serious about improving their swimming, and are willing to put the energy in to hone that skill.

He offers competitive rates to both members and non-members of the Hilton.

This is his promotional poster…

Rami's swimming poster

He’s a lovely guy, and brilliant with the children – and we often see him in the water working individually with children aged as young as 3 or 4 – so if you want to know more, ring him directly on 050 673 1010.

Burj Khalifa / Khalifa Tower, Dubai

The Khalifa Tower, the tallest building in the world, was renamed the Burj Khalifa before it opened.

You’ll need to book your trip up the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world at least 48 hours before you plan to go. If you just turn up on the day, you may not get a free slot until 9pm at night or later.

We booked for a Friday at 11.30am, having left Al Ain at 9.15am to ensure we got there on time.

We handed over our tickets at 11.20 which gave us time to look at the very impressive interactive displays before we went the security queue to enter the Burj Khalifa itself.

We came out again at 12.45pm – nearly an hour and a half later. You may take a little less time than this.

Here is a video which is spread over 3 large screens you’ll see as you queue for the lift to ascend to the 130th floor – which takes all of 60 seconds. I swallowed hard about 10 times to ease the pressure on my ears as we flew up at somewhere approaching the speed of sound. Okay, maybe not quite that fast.

The video lasts about 3 minutes, so this film I captured shows about half of it to give you a flavour. I thought it was beautifully put together…

This is a movie of the digital telescopes you can use at the top: they are free to play with, though it says on a ground floor sign that you have to pay…

Here are some photos.

An inspiring message on the wall as you wait to enter the Burj Khalifa…


The 4 video screens as you queue for the elevator…


The digital telescopes you can use for free…


The Dubai Mall from above…


The amazing Dubai Fountain…


Looking south east (I think!)…


We pointed out to the boys that slightly to the right of centre in this next photo is where we love to go swimming when we come to Dubai, on the public beach at Jumeirah…


This one shows 2 of the most famous hotels in Dubai: the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and the Burj Al Arab Hotel. The Atlantis Hotel is behind these, but hidden by the haze…

Burj Al Arab

As you enter the building you and your family will be photographed against a green screen. At the top, you’ll be asked if you want photos taken of you with the landscape behind. At the end of the tour you’ll be offered these photos for a price higher than we were willing to pay! You can also get the images on a memory stick too (ideal if you want to email them to friends and family back home). I sneaked a snap of the framed ‘green screen’ shot with evening panorama added behind, in a leather-effect frame/folder. The image is a bit distorted as I took it at a slight angle…


What I didn’t photograph are some of the excellent mulitmedia displays, miniature models used for the wind tunnels, and the short but excellent video interviews with people who worked on this once-in-a-lifetime project for the architects and builders.

All in all, a fab trip, worth the money.

Dubai Aquarium, Dubai Mall

This is a quick post I’ll add to one day!…

In the Dubai Mall, not only is there the enormous aquarium, but you can go behind it to see sea creatures and penguins, and have some great close encounters!

Your children will probably be as amazed by these archer fish as we were… 

And we could pick up the horse shoe crabs and feel their wiggly ‘feet’!

This is a very short video of the garden eels in one tank…

Music and dance at the House Of Arts, Al Ain


If you or your child would love to learn to play a musical instrument or learn to dance, then the House Of Arts in Al Ain may be just what you’re looking for.

Run by director, Gabriele (“Gaby”) Malzahn (pictured right), it offers classes in piano, violin, guitar, voice, cello and theory.

To register, you are asked to fill in the Registration form and pay a non-refundable registration fee of Dhs 120 per family.

Before registering for individual or group music lessons, Gaby and her team ask that you call them to set up an appointment for an initial interview. They will conduct a short informal assessment and then discuss various issues related to enrolment in House of Arts classes, and will check the timetable for available slots.

No formal interviews are needed for other lessons.

Here’s a video tour of this wonderful place which I filmed recently…

To give you a guide to pricing, 15 lessons during term time, at 30 minutes per weekly individual lesson, cost 1,200AED, which works out at 80AED (£14) a lesson.

Various dance lessons are available at the House of Arts. They are conducted in cooperation with the Dubai Ballet Centre.

Available classes are:

  • Baby Ballet (age 2 1/2-3 1/2)
  • Prep Class (age 3-4)
  • Pre Primary Ballet (age 5+)
  • Primary Ballet (age 6/7)
  • Grade 1 Ballet (age 7+)
  • Grade 2 Ballet (age 9+)
  • Grade 3 Ballet (age 10+)
  • Grade 5 Ballet (age 12+)
  • Grade 7 Ballet (age 14+)


  • Junior Tap (age 6-8)
  • Junior Modern (age 7-10)
  • Beginner Tap seniors (age 12+)
  • Advanced Tap seniors (age 12+)
  • Modern/Jazz dance (age 12+)


  • Hip Hop junior (age 6+)
  • Hip Hop senior (age 10+)


  • Jewelery classes (adults)
  • Drum lessons (6+)
  • Fabric painting
  • Vinyasa Yoga with Deborah (6-7pm, 5 classes for 180AED)

…and they also have Kindermusik for young children, and Music For Little Mozarts (group piano lessons for young children with a maximum of 8 in a group).

Gaby has done an amazing job setting this place up and developing it into a hive of activity: when I chatted with her, I discovered a woman who came across as committed, passionate and full of ideas – a real asset to the town: “the cultural centre of Al Ain” as my friend Jake says. The walls are covered in hundreds of picture frames showing children playing instruments or dancing. The studio for dance and yoga is excellent with floor to ceiling mirror.

Here’s the outside…


As you go through the front door…


The coffee shop is on the left…


And here’s the coffee shop from the other end of the room…


The reception area with masses of photos of students on the walls going up the stairs…


Jhenny at her desk at reception…


And Anne-Marie too…


Practice rooms…




The dance/yoga studio…


Gaby in her office…


The Kindermusik room…



Opening hours are Sunday to Wednesday: 10am to 8:30pm; Saturday and Thursday: 10am to 6:30pm.

You can ring the House of Arts on 03 762 6651, or get on their mailing list by [email protected] You can visit their website here for more info on timings and prices, where you’ll find a map to help you get there. (They’re opposite the Al Ain Hospital.)

If you’re still not clear where it is from the map there, then here are my directions for you…

Imagine driving past the enormous Lulu Hypermarket, which is on your right. Carry on until you come to a roundabout. You turn right to Dubai, yes? Instead, go across. As you approach the next roundabout, get in the middle lane, so you don’t get filtered right, and go across this roundabout. Take the next road on your right. Turn first right. At the end, turn left. Carry on until you have to go left again – and turn left again. House Of Arts is a few doors down from the dead end, on your left. Have fun!

Football at the Palm Resort in Al Ain

Doctor Abdel Noureldin

For those families with boys – or girls – aged from 3 to 12 who love to play football (soccer), there are opportunities here in Al Ain to play often.

Doctor Abdel Noureldin (on the right in the photo), who works at Tawam Hospital, one of a number of hospitals in town, runs a fabulous club which meets 3 nights a week: Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday from 6pm to 7.40pm at the Rugby Club at the Palm Resort. I think Sunday nights is for the older children and Tuesdays for the younger children, then everyone plays on a Thursday evening.

The children are split into teams: under 5s, 5-7s, 8-9s, 10-11s. (There is also a team for older boys.)

Then they play in their age groups on a superb stretch of grass that I consider to be better quality than anything my sons have played on in the UK. It’s the size of 2 rugby pitches because that’s what it is!

About 120 children are registered and most turn up twice a week.

If you are not a member of the Rugby Club, you pay a reasonable fee to be able to use the pitch for the year.

Contact the good doctor at ahn31 at hotmail dot com.

(I think there’s also a young team at the Hilton and one at the Intercontinental too.)