Looking to keep kids busy afterschool? Here are the options right here in JVT.

Now that kids are back in school yet again after the one-week Eid holidays, most parents are scheduling their after school activities to keep them occupied and fit. The choices across Dubai are overwhelming. You can keep your kids intellectually challenged with Maths, get them twirling or balancing with dance or gymnastics, teach them to swim or learn synchronized swimming, indulge in music, theatre or more. The list seems endless.

The biggest challenge for me has always been getting them there. I’m sure I’m not alone. ‘After school’ means that you will undoubtedly get stuck in rush hour traffic on your way there or back. For this reason alone, I suspect that many parents living in the neighbourhood will be happy to learn that a slew of fun pasttimes await your kids right here in JVT.


I’ve compiled some information about what’s on offer:

Ballet, Gymnastics and Karate Classes at Arcadia Prepatory School with Gulf Star Sports should be starting from 9th October. Free trial lessons will be available so contact them now to get your spot. Tel: 052-9078179.

Furthermore, community groups can rent out the school facilities either at Arcadia through Gulf Star Sports by contacting Matthew Ralton on mattr@gulfstarsports.com or at Sunmarke by contacting the school manager Elaine Baillie on activitiesmanager@forteseducation.com

Sunmarke has already started with a broad array of options offered through a host of external vendors listed below. The times/dates indicated are those communicated on the school website.  I’ve given the time/date slots to make it easy to see if the offering fits within your schedule but please note these are consolidated timings of the different age specific classes on offer. Kindly contact the vendor directly for more information.


5-6pm (Sun & Tues), 6-7pm (Thurs & Sat) Contact PSA Tel: 052-9078179.

Exercise class ‘Born to Move’

4-5pm (Mon) Contact: Stryx Gulf Tel: 0529007550


4-6pm (Sun & Tues), 1-5pm (Sat) Contact M&S Sports  Tel.: + 971 (0)4 457 2933

3-4:15 (Mon& Thurs) AquaTots and Beginner lessons with Swimming Warriors Tel: 055-880-3040


4-7pm (Mon) & 8-11am (Sat) Contact M&S Sports Tel: 050-4405921
4-6pm (Sun) & 5-6pm (Tues) & 2:15 – 3:15pm (Thurs) Contact Elite FC Tel: 045-545-916
4-5pm (Sun) Contact FC Barcelona Tel: 055-8872426


4-8pm (Sun), 4-9pm (Tues) Contact MPAC sports 04-385177
5-8pm (Mon & Wed),  9-1pm (Sat) Contact Basic Ball Tel: +056-167-0009


3-6pm (Thurs) Contact Simply Gymnastics on 055 601 6095

Rythmic Gymnastics

5-7pm (Mon), 10-12pm (Sat) Contact Stryx Gymnastics Tel: +0529007550

Wado Ryu karate lessons conducted in Japanese!

4:45 – 7pm (Mon), 9am-12pm (Sat) Contact Budo Juko Tel: +971 50 2110 3981

Dance classes for ages 5 to adult are being offered by Step Up Academy every day of the week in the following styles:

  • Street Dance
  • RAD Ballet
  • IDTA Tap & Modern
  • Cheerleading
  • Musical Theatre
  • Lyrical Contemporary

Contact them for the complete schedule on Mobile: 971 55 855 2797 or info@stepup.ae


2:45 – 4:45pm (Wed) Contact Premier Genie Tel: 0526656440

Art Appreciation

3:30 – 4:45pm (Sat) Contact Little Masterpieces Tel: 055-3877091

Math Whizz Kids

2:45 – 3:45pm (Sun & Mon), 3 – 5pm (Tues), 9:30 – 2pm (Sat) Contact Brain O Brain Tel: 055-1355747

Innovators & Entreprenuers

2:45 – 3:45 (Wed) & 2:15 – 3:15pm (Thurs) Contact I&E Academy Tel: 055-8622464

Russian Language Classes 

1:30 – 5:30 (Sun/Mon) Contact Headway Institute Tel:  +971 4 362 53 13

Let the fun begin !

School starts at Sunmarke & Jumeirah International Nurseries too!

Last week we were at Arcadia Prepatory for opening day. This week, two more wonderful schools threw open their doors to new students in JVT. We are delighted to share with you some photos of opening day at Sunmarke and Jumeirah International Nurseries, conveniently located within the campus of Sunmarke School.

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Nursery school section:

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We are getting details on the extracurricular programs at both Arcadia and Sunmarke which we will share with you next week. There will be plenty to keep all the neighborhood kids busy very soon!


* Photos provided courtesy of Sunmarke School

Join the adventure at IMG Dubai

Yesterday, I went on an adventure that I am sure would interest other residents of JVT. I attended the grand opening day at IMG World of Adventure. Only 17 minutes from home, it is well worth the visit.

The rides are top notch and clearly on par with the world’s best. We did experience a few delays and a closed attraction due to some operational glitches, but I’d chalk that up to first day jitters and would expect that the little snafus get quickly resolved.

Here are the top three attractions that we enjoyed the most (although I hear the roller coasters are wicked but I just couldn’t tempt my kids to try!):

Ben 10 Hero Time is a 5D adventure located within the many Cartoon Network attractions. It’s a ride that will leave you wishing for more.

Avengers Battle of Ultron in the Marvel comic heros zone doesn’t disappoint either. I would say the sets and scenery in this ride were among the best we saw.


Hat’s off as well to the Lazy Town team for a spectacular half hour show. This was a display of energy that surely can’t be beat.

The restaurants are definately well above the typical fare you find at an amusement park. You can enjoy Indian samosas while seated in a tuk-tuk or dine on delicious Chinese cuisine, as we chose to do, feeling like you might have just stepped off a plane in Beijing.

In case you are not yet convinced and want to see a little more before you head out there, here are a few more shots to scroll through. My recommendation is certainly to make a full day of it (starting at noon) and experience the adventure first hand!

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Come inside… Arcadia Prepatory is open!

In case you missed the bus, today is the first day of school at Arcadia Prepatory in JVT. I got a look inside and am happy to show you around.

Flip through these pictures to see what the kids do all day !

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Here are some more shots of the great infrastructure from playgrounds to a roof top swimming pool and football pitch. Lots to enjoy!

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Arcadia school opens on 28th August!

Some of us have been waiting more than five years to have a school in the neighborhood and now we have two! It’s so unfortunate that it is too late for my girls who have now completed primary, but I’m sure that many residents are eager for their youngsters to set off to school on foot.

Ready to make its mark in the UAE education sector, The Arcadia Preparatory School in JVT will open the gates for its first intake of pupils on 28th August this year.

I’ve previoulsy written about The Arcadia Preparatory School but I’m delighted to give you an update on what they have in store. One of the unique aspects about the school’s learning experience is that all students in Years 1 to 6 will take part in what they term the Enrichment Learning Programme (ELP). The ELP is an all-inclusive, in-school programme, designed to enhance and extend the school’s core curriculum by providing students with the opportunities to further enrich their learning through activities such as coding and robotics, animation, music and photography. The school has also signed up with UK-based ideas portal 7 Billion Ideas, to introduce the first ever entrepreneur-in-residence programme at a Dubai school.

Arcadia School Aug 2016The school is also deploying groundbreaking technology as part of its curriculum as well as its facilities. The school will be targeting to be an Apple Distinguished School for its one-to-one Apple programme as well as deploying a wide array of Google software to optimise learning at what is targeted to be the city’s first school building that will carry a US Green Building Council environment certification, more popularly abbreviated as LEED.

“All our meticulous preparations have come to fruition: we have one of Dubai’s best-equipped, purpose-built school buildings, an exceptionally talented team of teaching staff supported by a visionary senior leadership team, and an innovative programme of learning delivered alongside a stimulating selection of curriculum enrichment opportunities. The stage is set for achieving excellence,” notes Navin Valrani, the school’s CEO.

Finally, as I previously reported, the school has set up a fund for all students entering in the 2016-17 academic year. The pupils are automatically eligible for the schools scholarship and will be refunded 30% of their tuition fees for every year they are enrolled at The Arcadia Preparatory School. This can amount to a saving of over AED160,000 for students who enroll in FS1 and continue through to year six. Clearly, if you are looking for a top-notch British curriculum school, Arcadia fits the bill in more ways than one.

I will try to get an inside peak of the school on opening day to share with you all. Stay tuned!

Soaring into the Circle comes Ladybird – Meet this well-established Montessori pre-school soon to be nearby!

I’ve had the opportunity to write about the two new schools opening in JVT this coming fall. And this got me thinking. What about the pre-schoolers? Certainly, many Moms like to stay at home with their youngsters as long as they can. Yet, in all reality, a lot of us wish or need to get back to work and can’t bring the toddlers along. Therefore, when I heard that a new nursery school was opening its doors soon in JVC, just across the road, I thought I should find out more.

Ladybird Early Learning Centre will be welcoming the youngest of our broods beginning at age 6 months. A fully equipped facility, Ladybird will play home to young ones until aged 5 years old when it would be time to enroll your child in the primary school of your choosing. The exciting news, I believe, is that Ladybird is affiliated with our own JVT primary, The Arcadia Preparatory School. As a ‘sister school’, students from all Ladybird branches will be given priority admission into Arcadia. This, in effect, means guaranteed admission for FS1 and preferred admission beyond FS1. In Dubai, this is a huge plus as most parents would know.


Racing around at Ladybird

The new pre-school is set to open later this summer. The facility is nearly complete. The lights and air conditioning are already functioning (a good thing with this heat!), the outdoor play equipment is already fitted and the final touches are in process. It’s expected to be completely finished at the end of May. Tours are being arranged on June 11th between 10.00 – 1.00pm and interested parents should contact the school to get a peak inside!

Ladybird has a capacity of 216 children. The administration has told me that they have chosen to keep it exclusive despite the ample size of the space. Ladybird’s Early Learning Centre is 24,000sq ft on a 47,000sq feet plot with state of the art facilities and fully qualified teachers, some of who I learned have been with the company for over 15 years. Designed with safety in mind, this early learning center is a ground floor only facility designed by world-class architects. At the JVC facility, they are targeting to be the only LEED Gold certified nursery in the region and one of the few in the world, making theirs a truly green building that will provide a healthy environment for the children.  “The safety and well being of our children has always been a top priority at Ladybird,” emphasized Monica Valrani, CEO of Ladybird Nurseries.


Playing ball at Ladybird

With a top quality facility, parents could come from far across the city. With few options in our immediate vicinity, the school should attract families living in Jumeirah Village, Dubai Sports City, Jumeirah Park, Jumeirah Islands, Al Barsha, and Emirates Living. I think it’s a plus to have so many new school options nearby as your child’s out-of-school social life can also remain close to the neighborhood. As well, the pre-school hosts plenty of events.  I was told all about their International Day, Mother’s Day tea, Concerts, and Festival celebrations where parents are invited to participate and interact with each other. “Ladybird Early Learning Centre works with our parents as partners,” Monica assured me.  Pre-school age is time when parents bond with other parents so it was very comforting to hear about all these additional activities that Ladybird hosts.

As any good school in Dubai, Ladybird is not behind the times in terms of technology. Their private parent portal provides a clear understanding of what the children are learning.  Teachers post their weekly timetables and notices followed by a summary at the end of the week with some pictures taken in class. Parents can access their child’s weekly planners, weekend reviews, photo gallery, events and calendar. These can also be accessed using the Ladybird App available for download on both Android and IOS platforms!  Smart Dubai!

It’s good to know that while the Ladybird Nursery may be new to JVC, they are not new to Dubai. Their first school opened in Jumeirah 1 in 1996. They have long had a school branch in Umm Suqeim but given rent increase on the premises staying there was no longer feasible. “With the JVC facility, we own the land and building and therefore will never be in such a situation again,” noted Monica.

_AIN4396I learned a lot talking to Monica. Ladybird Nursery is one of the pioneers to impart a world-class Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum in a Montessori setting here in Dubai. The essence of Montessori education is that every child is treated with respect, given freedom within the limits of a carefully structured environment and allowed to develop naturally at his or her own pace. In a Montessori classroom the children choose from a wide range of self-educating and self-correcting activities, working with each piece of equipment for as long as he or she needs to. The Montessori classrooms are carefully prepared to encourage a child’s own natural desire to learn. The child’s love of learning is encouraged by giving him or her the opportunity to be spontaneous and engage in meaningful activities under the guidance of a trained teacher. Through their work, children develop concentration, motivation, persistence, discipline and a lifelong love of learning. With the Montessori program, Ladybird will also be offering a whole host of enrichment learning and activities including an absolutely unique water play area that has been flown in from the United States!

I really enjoyed hearing all about the program at Ladybird and I hope JVT parents have gained a lot of insights about their plans from this story. I really felt the passion Monica has for her early learning center and she encapsulated this by expressing how they “have been proudly preparing children to move on to ‘big’ school for two decades” as 2016 marks their 20th year in operation.

Any information on the nursery can be provided by calling them on 04-3465240.

** All photos used with permission. ©Ladybird Early Learning Center

Back to school

After the recent family fun day organized by Arcadia Prepatory school and the end of Spring break, I was inspired to find out more about progress at the Arcadia school which is set to be up and running for September.

I am pleased to share my interview with Pamela E. Chikhani, Director of Strategic Alliances. I hope that other JVT Residents will enjoy this update on this new school we will be welcoming very soon.

[JVT Blog] Since we first spoke to you in November last year, the JVT community is keen to hear about the status of enrolments at Arcadia. Can you tell us how many pupils are registered for September and in which grades?

Pamela: We have had a keen interest over the last four months with several pupils registered to start the first term of school in September. We expect this number to rise in April when parents really start looking to finalise places for their children for the beginning of term in late August. We will be opening classes from FS1 to Year 4 for the first year.

[JVT Blog] Where is the catchment area for students registered at the school? Are the majority from JVT or from neighbouring communities?

Pamela: With The Arcadia Preparatory School being strategically located within 15 minutes of Jumeirah Lake Towers, and just 20 minutes from Dubai Marina, we expect to have a larger catchment than just JVT, The Springs, Jumeirah Park and Emirates Hills.

The location was chosen for it’s ease of access to not just JVT and the surrounding areas but also a little farther afield. With the school set to offer the highest standards of education and facilities available in the city we fully expect to welcome students from across Dubai. We will also be offering bus services to make it convenient for parents.

[JVT Blog]  We see that the school construction is progressing well. Are you on schedule? What is the current stage of construction and what is remaining?

Pamela: We are actually ahead of schedule, which means that we will be able to showcase the facilities to parents and potential students by the first week of July. Currently we finalized structure and are in the building closing stage. We’ll soon have a model classroom that visitors can visit and get a taste of The Arcadia Preparatory School.

[JVT Blog]  Arcadia is located on a plot just off a main road in JVT. We could expect traffic problems at drop off. How will the parking and school bus situation be handled to avoid inconvenience to residents?

Pamela: For safety and security purposes, all of our buses will drive into a dedicated bus parking area on the school grounds. This will of course mean that there will be no buses outside on the public roads. For parents dropping off their children we will have a designated car park also on the premises, so there should be minimal disruption to our JVT neighbours.

[JVT Blog]  We have seen on your website that there is a sibling discount. Do you have any fee reduction for residents of JVT?

Pamela: Our school fee is all-inclusive and includes four sets of uniforms, all schoolbooks and all in-house extra curricular activities. The Learning Enrichment Programme is a unique concept offering learning experiences to compliment the curriculum and at no extra charge to parents. We will deliver a wide range of specialist activities, including homework support, that will embody our ethos of nurturing lifelong learners. We believe that parents shouldn’t have to pay substantial amounts of money for fees and then in addition pay extra for books, activities and uniforms, Hence we’ve included all of this in one fee that is payable in three instalments.

Editor’s Note: Moreover, since I spoke with Pamela, the school founders announced that all students entering in the first academic term (2016/17) will be automatically eligible for a 30% scholarship reduction applicable for their entire tenure in the school. See related blog post.

[JVT Blog]  Arcadia recently held a family carnival on Friday, 4th March. How did this idea come about?

Pamela: Arcadia wants to be a part of the community, not just a school within it. We wanted a platform to connect with the JVT residents and decided the best way to do that was to go out and meet them. Short of knocking on each and every door we thought this was the best way of achieving that goal. We decided a community event for the family would be the perfect way of doing this.

[JVT Blog]  What was on offer at the carnival? 

Pamela: The carnival was a fun day out for families. We had a range of entertainment including jugglers, magicians, musical performances, face painting, balloon modelling, art and craft, games and bouncy castles to name a few. Visitors could also tuck into delicious snacks and sweet treats from the food trucks.

[JVT Blog]  How many people attended? Were the teachers or school administration present at the carnival?

Pamela: Over 1000 people attended the event. Our Principal and Head of Infants were in attendance along with our Chairman and Founder, Mohan Valrani and CEO, Navin Valrani. Other members of the senior leadership team were also present.

[JVT Blog]  How would you qualify the success of the carnival? Do you plan for this carnival to be an annual event for the whole community?

Pamela: Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time, so to us it was a huge success. Our main goal was simply to give something back to the community. We plan on doing another event in the coming months for anyone who missed this one and will continue to do going forward.

[JVT Blog]  In what other ways will the neighbourhood kids gets to take part in activities organized by or at Arcadia?

Pamela: We will host a number of community events at the school for children in JVT to take part in. We also plan a number of fun days at the school for children to come and use the facilities on the weekends and in the evenings.

[JVT Blog]  How does one organize a meeting to discuss enrolment?

Pamela: To meet up with our team and discuss enrolment please get in touch with our school registrar, Stephanie Tawfiq, by phone or email on +971 4 551 4264 / info@arcadia.sch.ae or send us an enquiry through our website at: http://www.arcadia.sch.ae

Scholarship Fund for Arcadia students

Given that we have been waiting so long for the JVT Community to be complete, the new schools in the neighborhood should be welcomed with open arms. Despite the fact that it is now too late for my own children who have completed primary school, I nevertheless feel that Arcadia is somehow ‘our’ school. Possibly being just around the corner helps give us that sentiment. In any account, I now follow the news on both schools closely.

The latest announcement of a scholarship fund being established for pupils of Arcadia Prepatory school should be providing some parents a great relief.

Abdulla Al Shirawi and Mohan Valrani, chairman and senior vice chairman respectively of the Al Shirawi Group, have announced a scholarship fund for all founding students at The Arcadia Preparatory School. All students entering the 2016-17 academic year – regardless of nationality, gender, race and religion – will be automatically eligible for the scholarship and will be refunded 30% of their tuition fees for their entire tenure at The Arcadia Preparatory School.

The two entrepreneurs, who co-founded the Al Shirawi Group of companies, made the announcement on Easter Sunday to signify the tolerant and inclusive student body that they intend to create at the school.

Abdulla - Mohan

“We want a school community that reflects the values espoused by the rulers of the UAE. The Arcadia Preparatory School will not only be an educational establishment but a haven of peace, happiness and harmony, open to children of all nationalities residing within the UAE. The Scholarship fund is a first of it’s kind in the UAE and offers great value, especially when combined with the Enrichment Learning Program that offers an extended school day filled with extra curricular activities” said the two co-founders of the Al Shirawi Group in a joint statement.

The Arcadia Preparatory School is the first in a series of community-based schools delivering the vision of Mohan Valrani and the Al Shirawi Group. Believing that a school’s greatest asset is its teachers, the group is also building The Arcadia House, a dedicated accommodation facility within JVT for school staff. By offering the enhanced benefit of quality housing, the school is investing fully in its teachers’ happiness and wellbeing thereby encouraging them to aspire to excellence within the classroom.

The Arcadia Preparatory School’s curriculum includes a unique Enrichment Learning Programme – an all-inclusive programme, based on an extended school day – that complements the core curriculum and provides dynamic and diverse activities and rich learning opportunities for pupils, including in-class homework support. The programme is provided at no extra cost to parents and is a core aspect of the school’s values and ethos, where lifelong learning is nurtured. In addition, the school is offering English as an Additional Language as part of the core curriculum for students whose native language is not English.

Future Dubai-based schools for Arcadia Group include The Arcadia Senior School, also in Jumeirah Village Triangle; and The Arcadia Primary and Secondary School in Jebel Ali.


Celebrate Earth Hour close to home

Dear JVTers,

Earth Hour is nearly upon us. This Saturday evening, millions of people will switch off their lights for an hour at 8:30pm. Surely, more is needed to protect our planet but this is a common action we can all easily take.

If you are ready to do more, join the crowd that will be attending a free community screening of ‘Home’ at JLT.  This film is a beautiful documentary by Yann Arthus-Bertrand that is almost entirely composed of aerial shots of various places from fifty-four countries. It poignantly depicts how Earth’s problems are all interlinked. Engaging and educational, the film is ideal for family viewing  !

Even more, the viewing supports SURGE, a non-profit investing in delivering clean water solutions to communities in need around the world. Surge Middle East operates a primary school program in the UAE to educate young people about the global water crisis and encourage conservation efforts. Myself a Surge volunteer in Dubai, I wish to personally invite all JVTers to close their tap, switch off their lights and come over to JLT to join us for this free film on Saturday evening.


Screening is at 7:30pm on the 19th of March at JLT Community Park, behind cluster ‘O’.

To watch the trailer, see the location map and RSVP you can visit the FB page of the organizer Urban Bedou at: https://www.facebook.com/events/501045000080400/  

 For more information about Surge, visit their website. 

Surge is also looking for companies sponsors of the school program. This provides your business and employee volunteers an excellent opportunity to directly contribute to an important issue in the UAE as part of your CSR agenda. If interested, email me (linda.merieau@surgeforwater.org) for more details.