31st August 2022 Update : Please note that Dubai Municipality has since issued a revised circular. See updated article here.
On the 18th of August – we saw the headlines on ARN News : “Children under 5 barred from Dubai Hotel Adult Pools, ” referring to the new regulation introduced by Dubai Municipality.
This consequentially generated a flurry of debate between parents, and to put it nicely “people who are not a fan of little children at pools”. The comments on the original post spiraled out of control, and half an hour (or so) later the original post was removed, and reposted again when grown ups have calmed down to share slightly more sensible comments.
The big question that has not been openly discussed – how does this ban impact families?
Have a read through this piece – put together, thanks to contributions from parents all over – UAE residents as well as many regular Dubai tourists.
Let’s start from the beginning.
What does the memo from Dubai Municipality actually say?
Source : From ARN New’s website here.
What does this actually mean?
I think we would all agree, based on the many comments on various social media posts that there is a lot of ambiguity due to the wording on the memo. Have a look through the comments here for the best example of this.
The term ‘adult pools‘ is used, causing families, numerous media outlets as well as hotels to think that they are referring to Adult-only pools. This – doesn’t make sense as kids have always been banned from Adult-only pools. I mean, c’mon – I am not bringing my 2-year old to Zero Gravity, Bla Bla or Barasti.
It is also not clear if this affects schools, community centres and waterparks, as the memo only mentions ‘hotels, hotel apartments and “related establishments’. What are “related establishments”? Aquaventure is part of Atlantis, as is Wild Wadi part of the Madinat complex. Are they considered “related establishments”?
As we were still overseas at the time, we reached out to Dubai Municipality via twitter and from the responses, it is understood that :
- The new regulations came about, to “preserve the safety of children.”
- Children under the age of 5 are not allowed in the pools for adults, to include family pools.
- Children under the age of 5 are only allowed in a separate children’s pool.
- Parents, to accompany children (age 5 and above) in family pools at all time
Refer to the responsees from DM on this post (slide right) :
What impact does this bring to families?
First of all, we need to understand that pool time is a big part of the Dubai family lifestyle. When summer hits 40 to 50 degrees celcius – other than all the indoor activities that we are blessed to have, a lot of us spend time in pools with the little ones.
Secondly, for the hotels that do have a separate kids pool – most of them are very small, and have shallow water – averaging at 0.3m to 0.5m in depth.
With that in mind, here’s a summary of how this new regulation will impact families – thoughts from ourselves, as well as parents from Dubai and beyond :
- Children under 5 will not be able to learn how to swim.
- A shallow children’s pool is not deep, or big enough for a child to learn how to swim.
- If this ban does includes all swimming facilities where classes are held, this is a huge implication as Dubai children will not be able to learn to how to swim, which is very dangerous for when they turn 5 and is suddenly introduced to deeper water.
- Overcrowding of all Children’s pools in hotels.
- If a family with children under and over 5 wanted to stay together in the hotel pool, they will ultimately have to all hang around the children’s pool.
- This leads to overcrowding of all children’s pools in hotels. This is dangerous for little toddlers.
- It is physically impossible for families to be ‘in’ some of these children’s pools, especially during the hot summer Dubai months when you cannot actually sit at the side of the pool.
- Families will be split up during pool time.
- For families with under and over 5s : If the older kids wanted to swim – families will be split up. One parent will be in the family pool with the over 5s, and the other will be in the children’s pool with the under 5s. Again, this is impossible in the hot summer months when you cannot sit at the side of the pool.
- This is not family time and defeats the whole purpose of going to a hotel pool, be it a staycation or daycation.
- What will single parents with children under and over 5, do?
To read detailed comments from other parents, click on the Instagram post above, or otherwise click here.
Is there an alternative solution to ensuring additional pool safety?
Here are the comments that came through :
- Introduce a waiver for all parents to sign upon use of hotel pools. We are fully responsible for our children.
- Children to be supervised by parents (or guardians) at all times when using hotel pools (this is an obvious one).
- Unsupervised children to be removed from the pool. Parents to be warned, or fined. We do understand that this is a difficult thing to implement – the hotel staff will have to give extra support to the lifeguards for this.
- More support to be given to lifeguards in the form of regular breaks, and ensuring there is sufficient number of lifeguards at the pool, particularly during busy periods.
- Additional emphasis on water safety in schools (this is very important)
As for those who had thought that the rules were introduced because of “hygiene” purposes, here are additional measures :
- All children that are not toilet trained must wear swim nappies at all times. They will not be allowed in the pool if otherwise.
- Fines, to be given to parents, who do not do this.
On behalf of all families who live in Dubai, as well as many others who love coming to Dubai – here’s a public request that Dubai Municipality reconsider the rules that have been introduced. We fully appreciate that it was done so, to ensure safety of our little ones, though we do feel that there are other ways this can be done.
The article above covers the impact it brings to families. We have not even touched on the implication to the hotel industry itself.
I mean, isn’t that one of the reasons why a lot of families fly all the way to Dubai? Guaranteed sun and pool time? What is the point, if they cannot spend together, in the family pool?
If you have any comments, please leave it in the Instagram post above. The more we share on how this impacts us, the more they can understand.
Thanks for everyone who have shared their thoughts.