20 things to do before you’re 12 (in Dubai)

On my favourite radio breakfast show this week, the DJs – Catboy and Geordiebird – were talking about a list that’s been compiled of things to do before you turn 12.

Skim a stone, climb a tree, roll down a really big hill, camp out in the wild, play conkers, get behind a waterfall, hunt for bugs, feel like you’re flying in the wind and go on a nature walk at night were all included in the list of 50 things to do before the age of 11 ¾ – put together by the National Trust.

It was nostalgic stuff, especially as the NT’s intention was to inspire today’s high-wired pre-teen generation – shackled as they are to their computers, Xboxes and TVs – to get out the house and have a go at what we used to do by default.

Listeners to the show then came up with a number of other suggestions – like buy your own school shoes, drink water from a hose pipe, ring the bell and run away, drop a stone down a well and listen for the splash, race lolly sticks under a bridge, let frogspawn run through your fingers and show someone yours (if they show you theirs).

By this point, I was getting so wistful, I was ready to ditch city-living, move to the hills and raise BB and LB as free-range kids – hunting for worms with them every morning and playing Pooh sticks.

Anyway, it got me thinking that a Dubai version of this list would look somewhat different. It might read something like this:

● Feel like you’re flying in the wind at iFLY, Dubai’s indoor skydiving facility

● Go sand boarding down a massive sand dune, standing up

KidZania is a scaled-down city where kids can play at being grown ups. They can take jobs such as doctor, mechanic, pilot; drive cars; earn money and spend it on petrol and pizza

● Spend the night at KidZania

● Go camping / drumming / hunting for scorpions in the desert

● Take a telescope into the desert at night and try to spot at least three planets among the stars

● Get picked up in a Hummer to go to a party at the Atlantis hotel

● Climb the stairs up the Burj Khalifa

● Throw snowballs / cuddle a penguin at the Mall of the Emirates

● Play pass-the-parcel and unwrap a Tag Heuer watch at the end

● Go on a hot-air balloon ride over the desert at dawn

● Run around in the rain

● Visit a World Island

● Find gold, at a gold-dispensing ATM machine

● Canoe down the creek

● Take a glass-bottom boat ride on top of the Dubai Aquarium

● Get behind the fountain inside the Dubai Mall

● Swim with dolphins

● Play with a friend’s lion cub

● Fry an egg on the bonnet of a car in summer

● Learn Arabic and the history of our amazing little-fishing-village-that-could

To see the National Trust’s list, click here

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