UAE: Parents of two shell out up to Dh5,000 a month for summer camps

Many of them are concerned about finding affordable activities to keep their kids engaged during summer vacation

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File photo for illustrative purpose
File photo for illustrative purpose

Nandini Sircar

Published: Fri 2 Jun 2023, 6:00 AM

As summer vacation approaches, parents in the UAE are growing increasingly concerned about finding affordable activities to keep their kids engaged. They have expressed their displeasure over the high costs associated with summer camps, making it difficult for them to enrol their children.

Some parents even prefer to explore alternatives and keep their kids at home rather than opting for these expensive camps that may not contribute significantly to their child's educational development.

While there are moderately priced summer camps available, starting at Dh311 per week, which totals to Dh1,244 per month, some parents are still seeking options that offer a broader range of activities. The more desirable camps, which promise unique learning opportunities and entertainment experiences for children, come at a higher price of Dh770 per week, amounting to Dh3,080 per month.

Shun Khin Shun Lae Tha, a Myanmar expat in the UAE, said: “I genuinely feel summer camps are prohibitively expensive. I had put my child in a sports summer camp last year from 8am to 12pm. It was one of the rare facilities which hosted indoor sports. Activities entailed swimming and various other sporting activities like football, tennis, among others. I used to pay Dh2,000 a month.

“But frankly speaking, I realised my child wasn’t too happy. It’s difficult to find good summer camps which are reasonable and wouldn’t create a hole in the parents’ pockets. I am still undecided. I might travel to my husband in Saudi Arabia. But if we don’t travel, I’ll have to look at alternatives,” said the Dubai resident for 10 years.

Working mother Anita Paul, who spends long hours in office, was also toying with the idea of sending her Grade 1 child to a summer camp fearing that the long holidays during the summer break may draw him to more screen time.

Paul said: “The summer camps are so expensive that even if you want to send your child to one you need to think twice. What I am planning to do this year is instead of sending my child to any camp, I intend taking out some interesting worksheets — whether educational or craft-related — and I will ask his nanny to sit with him and guide him while he is doing it. She is good with reading and is even excited about teaching my child. That’s one of the solutions that I feel. Children cannot play in parks due to the summer heat. I’ll buy exciting DIYs, other craft items and building blocks that can effectively keep him engaged.

“Keeping your child engaged with small household activities like watering the plants or folding small clothing can also be good learning activities that can keep them occupied while utilising time properly. That also helps them to learn about their parents’ responsibilities.”


Many parents who’ve enquired with some of the hotels and other private organisations that organise summer activities, expressed their frustration over the high rates. They pointed out that parents with more than one child will have to cough up several thousands for sending two or three children.

Filipino expat in Dubai, Dalisay Lebig who is a mother of two children, said: “When we come back from our vacations, I have to look for something for my daughter as the holidays will go on. The girls want to go to a gymnastics class and that means an additional Dh4,500 or approximately the same for any other camp or workshop which is slightly better than the run of-the-mill camps. I understand most camps are expensive and are not affordable for a lot of parents. But a child’s brain is developing rapidly and it must be productively engaged, so some activity is a must.”

She added: “Since me and my husband both working, it’s always a challenge to keep our kids busy so that they don’t keep watching their iPads. Also, when my younger one has nothing to do, she constantly keeps calling me at work. Therefore, this year some of my friends and I who live in this neighbourhood have decided that all the four to five children of this locality will go to each other’s house to spend the days of the week. Each new house will have a novelty factor. So that will keep them happy. Some of the mothers are not working and have even volunteered to do some storytelling or craft workshop with the kids. Apart from that virtual camps are also an option as those are less expensive provided children can do it themselves or if any other adult can assist. I do have a close friend as my neighbour who who can help my children log in to these virtual camps if the need arises.”

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