Pack it up, pack it in
Unfurl that blanket, picnic season is upon us, writes Tim Skinner
Let us begin – in bringing you the best picnic spots and experiences that Dubai has to offer. Feel free to jump around
t is the most wonderful time of the year for some marvellously al fresco bites fresh from the hamper. We can’t explain why sandwiches always taste better when they’ve been in a lunchbox for a couple of hours, but they do. So, while the weather is gorgeous, we’ve wrapped up the best places for you to shake off that blanket, get out the cheese and pickle sangers and bust open that punnet of strawberries.*
*Time Out Dubai cannot be held responsible for the presence of any ants at your picnic.
Al Barsha Pond Park
Home to countless winter picnics, this (unsurprisingly) pond-side spot is a brilliant spot to unfurl your blanky and kick back for the afternoon. There’s a huge lawn overlooking the pond – which is more lakesized than pond-sized, really – and once you’re done scoffing your cherry tomatoes and piccalilli you can go and hop on a swanshaped pedalo and hare your way around the pond-lake. It’s a beautiful spot for a winter’s afternoon spent in the sun.
→ Open daily 8am-10pm. Al Barsha (800 900).
Al Khazzan Park
Fun fact: Al Khazzan Park is the first park in the UAE to be entirely solar powered. How about that? This spot, found directly opposite City Walk, is wildly popular with parents and kids alike, thanks to its two playgrounds, a mini cycle path for the little ones and plenty of hills for roly-polies and sunshine frolics.
→ Open Sat-wed 8am-10pm, Thu-fri 8am-11pm. Opposite City Walk, Al Safa Street (800 900).
How about stuffing a picnic hamper full of lovely grub and setting down for the afternoon in front of the Burj Khalifa? We can’t think of many more scenic spots around, because not only can you sit and gawk at the world’s tallest tower, but you’re also sat in view of The Dubai Fountain and The Dubai Mall, so your sarnies can be devoured with some of the most magnificent views around. It’s also home to the odd gig, and you can rent bikes to burn off the calories from those cheese scones.
→ Open Sat-thu 6.30am-8pm, Fri noon-midnight. Downtown Dubai (04 366 1688).
A lovely spot from which to admire Dubai Creek – and an equally lovely spot for settling on down with a hamper and nibbling away at some carrot sticks and hummus. In the shadow (not literally) of the Dubai Dolphinarium, you can get your kicks from the aquatic critters residing next door, then take a ride on the cable car through the park, before downing tools and grabbing a bite to eat, and
soaking up some vitamin D.
→ Open Sun-wed 8am-10pm, Thu-sat 8am-11pm. Oud Metha (04 336 7633).
There aren’t many neighbourhoods in the world where you’ll find a sprawling community park snaking out between skyscrapers. But that’s what you’ll find at JLT Park, where on any given day you’ll find joggers hitting the track, ballers shooting some hoops, exercisers grappling with the free-to-use equipment, cricketers cricketing, fountain fans admiring fountains and picnickers… do we need to say it?... picnicking…
→ Open 24 hours. Clusters O to Cluster R, Jumeirah Lakes Towers (no number).
Pony riding, miniature houses, an “International Village”, an equestrian centre, and even windmills can be found at this charming little spot. It’s the perfect spot for a morning or afternoon stroll, and if you’re looking for a spot to lay out your blanket and open up your hamper, then this place offers up barbecue areas, playgrounds, sports courts and more. Once you’re done digesting, there’s even a swimming pool for taking a dip.
→ Open Sun-wed 8am-10pm, Thu-sat 8am-11pm. Al Khawaneej Road, Mushrif (no number).
Ripe Market at Police Academy Park, Umm Suqeim
If you head to Ripe Market at the weekends, you can trawl through some homemade handicrafts – jewellery, knick-knacks, decorations and the like – as well as second hand books, toys, games, clothes and more. But it’s the fresh food merchants which make this place come alive, in our opinion. If you haven’t packed your own picnic, you can grab
loads of fresh grub – whether it’s from one of the food trucks, the vendors selling fresh fruit and vegetables, or the clean-living baker. A cracking hangout for all the family, open every Friday and Saturday.
→ Open Fri-sat 9am-7pm, until Sat May 4 2019. Dubai Police Academy, Umm Suqeim (04 315 7000).
This park just off Sheikh Zayed Road has endured in its popularity for years, and remains one of the city’s top spots for an afternoon spent in the sun. Grab your hamper and run on over to this place, where you’ll find plenty of families happily enjoying their surroundings. Ornithologists will have a blast here, too, since Safa Park also happens to be home to some 200 species of birds hiding among 16,000 varieties of trees and bushes. See how many you can spot, once you’re done exploring.
→ Open Sun-wed 8am-10pm, Thu-sat 8am-11pm. Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Safa (no number).
Umm Suqeim Park
This is a family-only designated area, and this charming spot sits under the Burj Al Arab, with some lovely views out over the Arabian Gulf. Only women with their families are allowed in during the week, and men are allowed to attend with their kids come the weekend. A wonderful spot to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, without actually having to leave it at all.
→ Open daily 8am-10pm. Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqeim 2 (no number).
In the semi-hollow shadow of the Dubai Frame (to which, if you’ve not yet visited, you should make your way post-haste) is this gorgeous park found just north of Downtown Dubai and Dubai World Trade Centre. There’s so much going on that you can spend the entire day here, quite happily, and still feel slightly resentful when it’s time to go home. It’s equivalent in size to 45 football pitches, and three different technology-driven zones are designed to help entertain and educate the little ones while you can relax in one of the dedicated picnic areas. On top of that, there are boat rides, restaurants, live music and barbecue pits, too. How could this not be the perfect picnic hangout?
→ Open Sat-wed 8am-10pm, Thu-fri 8am-11pm. Sheikh Zayed Road (no number).