21st February 2015

Family Update: Fire in the Marina, Crocodiles in the Mall, and Dinosaurs over lunch

imageToday has been a funny old day. We woke up to the news that one of the tallest residential apartment blocks in Dubai Marina had been on fire overnight. My thoughts immediately turned to the residents – and I felt sick to the bottom of my stomach when I realised there would now be families, just like us, who no longer had access to their homes or belongings.

Thankfully, there were no casualties in that tower and people are starting to get back into the building (I have joined a Facebook group to donate things to the residents of Torch Tower, so have been getting regular updates). We swung by the building this morning on our way out as we have a friend who owns an apartment in the tower and wanted a first-hand update. The damage was a lot less visible than I was expecting, so I’m hoping the damage inside isn’t as devastating as everyone first thought. Only time will tell as people start getting back in.

Of course, it leads you to think about your own safety – and with two little boys, living in an apartment on the 21st floor, I suddenly feel very vulnerable. What if my husband is out when the alarm sounds? How will I get the boys down 21 flights of stairs on my own? How will we get out quickly if it’s the middle of the night? We need to think about these things. It’s the wake-up call we need to put together a solid plan for our family.

In other news, the weather has been awful this weekend. Sand storms, high winds, and very little visibility – so waking up this morning and seeing that our usual Saturday beach day was now off, we decided to jump in the car and drive over to The Dubai Mall to take the boys to Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo.

The aquarium is located in The Dubai Mall (the world’s largest mall) and anyone can stand in front of the tank and watch the fish, rays, and shark in-between a spot of shopping. We paid to go in today, walking through the tunnel to see the creatures swimming around us.

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We last did this with the boys a year ago, when Wilfred was literally a week old, so it was amazing to see how much more Stanley enjoyed it as a nearly-three-year-old – and of course, his little brother could now enjoy it too, enthusiastically pointing and squealing as we pushed him through the tunnel.

After we had walked slowly through, we took the lift up the second floor to see the rest of the creatures – including a seriously big crocodile called King Croc, one of the largest amphibians to ever be in protected environment. Stanley was absolutely terrified of King Croc, which I wasn’t expecting as he isn’t usually scared of anything, but he loved the penguins, jelly fish, octopus and otters.

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It was time for lunch – and after trying and failing to dine in The Rainforest Cafe (Stanley was feeling fragile after the King Croc experience and said he was scared of the thunder storm), we decided on The Cheesecake Factory – and were lucky enough to have a table overlooking DubaiDino.

It’s crazy to me that there is a dinosaur in The Dubai Mall that is estimated to be 150-155 million years old. He’s not even in pride of place anymore, as they’ve moved him into the Gold Souk and you have to follow dino-paw-prints on the floor to find him. He’s a Diplodocus Longus and was discovered in America in 2008. Now The Dubai Mall owns him and we can gaze at his jurassic bones between bites of macaroni and cheese. Totally surreal.

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Sometimes I struggle with the crazy side of Dubai – and the fact there are sharks, crocodiles, and dinosaurs in the mall, just a few paces away from GAP and Marks & Spencer, is always going to be a bit bizarre to me. I really want the boys to have a childhood like I did, playing with other children at the rugby club every weekend while their Dad is on the pitch, attending family teas with their cousins in front of Sunday afternoon TV, and walking down a high street in the rain whenever their parents needed to do a spot of shopping. But our life in Dubai means that isn’t possible and we do our best to embrace it.

So we might have had a shock today when we woke up and read the news, but the boys have had the time of their lives. And I think the smiles on their faces mean that was a success. I’ve got to be honest though, I’m kind of hoping we are back on the beach next weekend. Come on sunshine.