The temptation to succumb to summer-sloth mode is all too easy, but there’s more to life than the usual mall trawl, Netflix box-set marathons or endless rounds of indulgent buffet brunches. Put in a little legwork and you will soon find that the UAE is teeming with entertaining and educational opportunities. Whether you want to learn a new sport, brush up on your high-school French, perfect the paso doble with a partner, rediscover a latent artistic talent or simply burn off some excess energy, we challenge you to put down the TV remote and try something new with our pick of top summer activities.
Find your Zen
Declutter more than just the wardrobe this summer by signing up for a meditation class to learn how to free your mind from daily stress, negative thinking or simply to engage inner calm. This ancient practice can also help you sleep better, support physical health and well-being, and boost overall positivity. If you’re a self-starter, the web is awash with easy-to-follow online courses, or else check out a local centre such as Inner Space in Abu Dhabi, which is running a series of half-day workshops throughout the summer. Sign up for the beginners’ intensive course for a practical introduction to the basics. Twin Hearts Meditation group in Abu Dhabi has regular, free drop-in sessions, which are organised through Meetup. The next one is a stress relief session on August 12.
Jump for joy
Swap sedentary pastimes for heart-thumping physical high jinks with a 60-minute trampolining session at the original Bounce Dubai or its newly opened Abu Dhabi location. A Nasa study found that 10 minutes of jumping on a trampoline is as effective as a 33-minute run, so seize the opportunity to relive your childhood (and exhaust bored little ones) with a jump around 100 interconnected trampolines. Bounce offers dodgeball courts, wall running, a dedicated area for perfecting your somersault skills and party rooms, with the Abu Dhabi centre boasting a 40-metre slide and zip line. Children ages five to 14 can also sign up for the summer Tramp Camp in Dubai, while grown-ups can take it to an altogether crazier cardio level at an hour-long Bounce Fit class.
• General access Dh80 for first 60 minutes, children ages 3 and above and under 110cm Dh70 (restricted timings); Tramp Camp Dh144 per day; Bounce Fit classes Dh80; Bounce Dubai, Al Quoz, Dubai; Bounce Abu Dhabi, Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi, 04 321 1400, www.bounce.ae
Did you hear the one about…?
Think you could be the next Amy Schumer or Kevin Hart? Put your funny bones to the test this summer at Dubai’s Courtyard Playhouse, where comedian and co-founder of Dubai Laughing, Salman Z Qureshi, will lead a group of aspiring funsters in a six-week stand-up workshop. The course covers all bases, from ideas generation and developing your material to creating an actual comedy set and – wait for the punchline – performing in front of a live audience. Newly minted laughter-makers get the chance to bring down the house on September 12 at a free-to-attend showcase in front of the general public.
• Dh1,200, August 12 to September 12, Courtyard Playhouse, Al Quoz, Dubai, 050 986 1 761, www.courtyardplayhouse.com
Dip your toe, and brush, into the UAE art scene and unleash your inner Picasso or Pollock courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation’s summer education programme series. Designed to encourage public engagement and foster community creativity, this year’s programme focuses on various practical aspects under the contemporary art umbrella, with sessions for adults and children in key locations from Sharjah to Kalba. Get an introduction to the intricate art of Arabic calligraphy, learn how to transform a single sheet of paper into geometric artworks at a Japanese origami session or get behind the potter’s wheel for some hands-on sculpting. Children’s classes include watercolour basics, pottery for beginners, paper marbling and abstract mosaic making.
• Free, sessions for children run until the end of August, sessions for adults run until the end of September, various locations, Sharjah, 06 568 5050, www.sharjahart.org
Kids gone wild
Located near Shahama, off the Abu Dhabi to Dubai highway, Emirates Park Zoo is crossing continents this summer to bring a flavour of Africa to its annual children’s camp programme. As part of the private facility’s initiative, camp attendees can take part in a series of special cultural activities from West and North Africa, as well as getting up close and personal with the zoo’s furred, scaled and feathered residents. Feel the North African beat at a traditional drumming session and dance Ghanaian tribal style to the sounds of Kpanlogo music, before checking out the petting zoo, giraffe park, reptile house, elephant enclosure, monkey house and aquarium. It’s also a great family day out.
• Children’s summer camp (ages 8 to 12), Dh650 per week or Dh140 per day, runs until August 28; regular zoo entrance Dh30 adults; Dh20 children ages 2 to 5, Emirates Park Zoo, Shahama, Abu Dhabi, 02 501 0000, www.emiratesparkzooandresort.com
Apron at the ready
Spice up your culinary repertoire in the company of fellow foodies with a cooking masterclass. Tucked away in a quiet Jumeirah street, the Top Chef Cooking Studio is running hands-on daytime and evening sessions throughout the summer, covering a wealth of international cuisines and disciplines, from beginners’ adult-only Thai and Mexican workshops to advanced technique classes. Bond with younger members of the family at the Saturday Lunch Fever session, where parents and kids team up to create a three-course menu of family favourites, or set them on the path to culinary stardom at the Kids’ Summer Camp programme, which also includes sports and arts and crafts activities.
• Masterclasses from Dh200, Kids’ Summer Camp Dh300 per day, Dh1,200 per week; runs until August 25, Top Chef Cooking Studio, Jumeirah Road, Dubai, 04 385 5781, www.topchefdubai.com
Make a splash
Soaring temperatures don’t necessarily preclude outdoor activities, and one advantage of the season is calm seas. Set sail for waters new with Watercooled UAE, which offers a number of exciting water-based activities from locations in Jebel Ali, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Volvo Ocean Race wannabes can sign up for a Royal Yachting Association-certified sailing course and get to grips with mastering the sport in an RS dinghy or Hobie catamaran. Or for a real adrenaline rush – and a great full-body workout – book a wakeboarding session. Gentler pursuits come in the form of paddle-board and kayaking sessions, with ladies-only sessions also available at the Jebel Ali centre. The team also runs a full range of activities for children from a children’s sailing club to motorised donut sessions.
• Various times and prices, Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa, Jebel Ali; DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dubai, Jumeirah Beach, Dubai; Hilton Abu Dhabi, 04 887 6771, www.watercooleddubai.com
Source: art & life