I’ll sum up our visit to OliOli in one word…different. The UAE is known for being kid-friendly but after a while, play places start to look the same. It’s not often that you find a concept that’s truly new and innovative so OliOli was a breath of fresh air. This interactive children’s museum does an amazing job of blending physical play with educational activities. There’s a lot to love about OliOli but here are the key takeaways for me:
It’s perfectly sized
OliOli is just the right size with regard to both space and range of activities. It’s located inside a spacious warehouse that’s open, airy, bright and clean. There are eight regular exhibit areas – four on the ground floor and four on the upper level – and one that changes periodically. The point here is that you can experience everything under one roof in a reasonable amount of time. There’s no exhausting walk from one end of the place to the other and you don’t have to deal with the hustle and bustle of the mall. My kids experienced each exhibit (sometimes twice), saw a nitrogen show and moved at their own pace and our visit was a little over two hours long.
There’s something for everyone
OliOli has activities and well outfitted spaces for children that range in age from babies to big kids. Every exhibit is hands on and it was refreshing to have activities that captivated and worked for both of my children, ages 6 and 4. Whether exploring water, air or fine motor skills, the challenges were both fun and engaging. This was not the type of situation that I had to coax my kids through. They were eager and excited to discover the next thing time after time. In fact, OliOli “had them at hello”. The fun literally began from the moment we walked through the door. There’s a console in the lobby that allows kids to capture short videos of themselves that are projected onto the wall. My kids recorded and watched themselves gleefully as I signed us in.
Offers a one-of-a-kind exhibit in Dubai
OliOli is home to Toshi’s Nets, a giant string-woven creation filled with colourful holes and magical shapes, made by Japanese textile artist, Toshiko Horiuchi Macadam. It took almost a year to make by hand and it is a sight to behold. There are tons of pictures (like the one in this post) and videos that attempt to convey the beauty of this installation but none do it complete justice. With less than ten in the world, it was quite a treat to experience the one and only in the Middle East.
Both of my children were immediately drawn in by the net but the youngest was a bit apprehensive to try it out. I walked around the structure with him and he watched his big brother climb in and out. After a while, he tried swinging from one of hanging balls. By the end of the visit he was climbing all over the net and challenging himself to slide from one shape to the next. He adapted and become a little risk taker right before my eyes. Please note that height restrictions apply in the Toshi’s Nets (children must be between 90-150 centimeters tall). Adults are not allowed inside – don’t ask me how I know.
Note: There is a lovely cafe where you can purchase food or enjoy your own. There are also a few sock-only zones for hygiene purposes so don’t forget to bring a pair for everyone.
*Complimentary access was given for the purpose of this review