I now that winter is coming and everybody is rushing outside to the beach or in the parks but I have to share with you the new cool kids play area or maybe is a museum or a science park or… better go yourself and find out, I’m just so excited to spread the news.
It is about OliOli, one of the most interesting edutainment centers in Dubai, located right near The Oasis Mall, on Sheikh Zayaed Road. Actually, “OliOli” is a Hawaiian word and it means “Joy” and what can bring more joy than learning through playing. The four co-founders, born and brought up in Dubai, got inspired by different children’s museums and science centers from North America, Europe and Asia. And that’s how they re-created everything and turned it into OliOli aka “Tomorrow’s Playground”.
Opening this November, we had the chance of a sneak peek and I could barely drag my kids out after three hours and a half. But not only them, both me and my husband, were reluctant to leave as we didn’t really finished playing in all the eight galleries. But I’ll take you through all of them and you’ll see why spending a whole day there is the best investment of the day.
First we stopped in the Air Gallery, where kids can learn about the power of the air. The main attraction for the girls was the wall of tubes were they were putting in pieces of fabric and they were blown through them and then thrown outside. Opening and shutting little doors change the route of the fabric. If that was fun, a challenge came afterwards. The kids had to get a ball through a circle only with the power of air blown from a machine. They didn’t manage many times but they were determined to succeed and started all over again to get the ball in the right direction and at the right angle. And they had again the chance to discover how the air can keep up several balls and paper cons, blowing them as high as possible and how they get down when the air stops. We went also in the windy room and our hair and clothes were blown away while we were trying to reduce the “wind speed”. I don’t exaggerate but I think we spend like 45 minutes in this gallery and the girls still wanted to play more. Did I mention that we launched rockets?
Next we moved to the Creative Lab where the girls built a robot to draw for them. And when I say a robot, I mean they had a plastic jar or little box, they stick colored pencils all around it, a little engine was inserted in it and it started to move by itself drawing colorful patterns. In the same gallery, we all built a tent, only from sticks and rubber bands. Yes, it is possible and very easy to do it. Should have been a bit bigger we could have gone directly to camp in the desert.
Have you ever seen a “textile playground”. Neither did we, but there is one at OliOli, built by the Japanese artist Toshiko MacAdam and named Toshi’s Nets. There are less than 10 int he world of this large-scale textile structure made from brightly-coloured crocheted and knotted nylon weighing 1,000 kilos. I didn’t go inside with them (adults are allowed, too) but the kids jumped and climbed and went around it and easily we spent thirty minuted in there.
We also had a bit of art in the Future Park. Just coloring is not enough anymore and we discovered how much more we can do with a picture. We colored a truck, a seahorse and other objects, we scanned them at a scanner and then we saw them appearing on the wall. We followed their journey from one end to another, swirling and twirling, and then again and again. Moving objects from one environment to another is a great experience for the kids as they can see the transformation that thing can go through going from the paper version to the digital one, from static to animation. We also fried a virtual egg to feed virtual little people and play with glowing balls in the dark.
Of course, the room where we can spend most of the time is the Cars&Ramps, where we built trucks from Lego and tried to make them go down on ramps. This room is all about mass and motion, how heavy vehicle should be, hoe large in order not to go upside down at a steep angle. So we built from basic trucks to most complex ones in order to succeed in our mission.
On the first floor there is also a Toddler Space where my girls, even if they are not toddlers anymore enjoyed a lot to play with the wooden toys and play the musical instruments. It is a space where they can learn about sounds, textures, weights etc. We also stick on a map little stickers on the countries we come from: Romania and Denmark. Not to forget to mention the Quiet Room, where the little ones can take a nap if necessary ;)
The last room we visited was the Water Space where the girls have a final blast shooting cannon balls with the force of the water, watching whirlpools and got entertained a lot washing a car.
Our allocated time was of three hours but we spend there almost four and we could have spent at least double if we could. We really like OliOli as an edutainment center and is on our list of Things-To-Do-In-Dubai-With-Kids.
OliOli is open from Saturday to Wednesday, from 9.00am to 7.00pm and from Thursday to Friday from 9.00am to 9.00pm. Ticket prices: Aed 120 for 2 hours or Aed 150 for 3 hours. Toddlers pay half (1-2 years of age and babies under one year old enter for free. Adults pay a flat fee of Aed 40 ( I told you that adults can play, too).