Mini Cities in Doha – KidZania and KidzMondo
Remember when you were young, and adult life seemed so exciting? While you went to bed early, adults stayed up late; while you were told what, when and how to do things, adults did as they pleased; while you went to school, adults were part of the working world, a seemingly exciting realm of firemen, policemen, doctors, pilots, sports stars, film stars, musicians and other, obviously heroic, pursuits! And so, like all kids, you dreamt of the day when you were grown and could choose to be anything you wanted... Fast forward a few decades, and while some childhood dreams come true, most of us embark on other paths and journeys, develop skills that lead us on different adventures, and find other careers that suit us better (after all, being a princess isn't for everyone!). But what if, back then, you could try out your dream job, just for a day, and slip into the shoes of a detective, an archaeologist, an artist, an actor, a chef or an F1 motorcar racer – wouldn't it have been a blast? It certainly would have been unforgettable. Luckily, for kids today, they can do just that.
We've always been able to role play, dress up in the guise of our chosen professions, play with toys that emulate the tools of our desired trades, and, in some cases, carry out our fantasies in playgrounds with some areas designed to look like the workplaces of specific jobs. However, only relatively recently have kids' playgrounds dedicated to replicating real-life professions started to pop up around the world. Indeed, some bright sparks thought up a new concept for bringing the working world of adults alive for kids – they created mini-cities, scaled down, especially for kids and designed to welcome them to working life through realistic role-play.
Mini Cities for Kids in Doha
Qatar is home to two of the major mini city brands – Kidzania, which started in Mexico in 1999 and now has venues in 30+ locations worldwide, and KidzMondo, established in Lebanon in 2015, with outlets in 7 countries across the Middle East, Turkey and Australia.
Each mini city is a kid-sized warren of streets, commonly set around plazas and squares and lined with shops, businesses and other professional premises. The streets incorporate typical features of cities worldwide, such as paved sidewalks, traffic lights, pedestrian walkways, street and road signs and digital info boards, as well as fire hydrants, telephone boxes, benches and bins, kiosks and pavement cafes, public art installations, and the odd tree. Buildings are laid out over one to several levels, a mix of modern or heritage styles ranging from ornate hotels, theatres, universities, libraries and civic buildings to functional hospitals, police and fire stations, petrol stations, factories, construction sites and laboratories. You can also find more commonly known shops and premises, such as barbers, hairdressers and beauty salons, supermarkets and pizzerias, banks, insurance brokers and couriers, art galleries, jewellery stores, department stores and boutique shops, as well as the more unusual, such as sports training centres, acting academies, TV and radio stations, secret agent training centres and aviation academies, complete with cockpit and flight simulator equipment. You can also stumble across climbing walls and racetracks and even find vehicles driving around the streets, delivering goods, answering emergencies and generally adding an air of reality to these mighty mini cities.
These scaled-down metropolises aim to give children an experience they will never forget, the chance to live their dream roles in as realistic and interactive an environment as possible. And while living out childhood fantasies in fun and engaging ways is the main purpose of these venues, an equally important concept behind their design is to educate. Designers, who employ educators to help create their cities and activities in line with school curriculums, aim to give kids a positive learning experience, allowing them to try new things, develop new skills and learn a few life lessons, as well as inspiring and empowering them to grow through independent decision making, leadership and teamwork. To that end, besides the staff, adults are not allowed inside the city’s work premises, though each venue has plate glass windows that mum, dad and guardians can view their charges as they work but allow them the space to explore the adult world under their own steam.
So, what do kids do when they enter the city of their choice? Starting at the entrance to both cities, they pick up their boarding pass, security bracelet and currency at the airport Check-In – where all good adventures start. Once inside, they independently choose where to go and which professions they want to try. At work, kids not only don the uniform and play the part, but they also do the job (specific, related tasks and activities led by trained staff) and earn money (the official city currency) for their efforts, which they can bank (by opening a faux city bank account) or spend in shops (gift shops, food kiosks, etc.) or on specific services and activities (nail painting, arts and crafts, etc.) within the city.
There is no time limit on how long your little ones can explore the city; after all, life offers many different roles, and kids will be keen to try as many exciting new opportunities as possible. And while choosing who they will be next will occupy their young minds, your choice is more straightforward – which venue to try?
In the Al Wabb area of Doha, opposite the Villaggio Mall, you can find KidZania, a mini city of cobbled streets set around a paved plaza, squares and terraced garden. Visitors to the city can watch performances on an open stage within the garden, admire artworks or play alongside interactive fountains in the plazas and squares, or grab a bite to eat at little kiosks, ice cream parlours and cafes dotted around the streets.
Industrious little workers will find a theatre, an acting academy, a university, laboratories, a library, a hotel, a bank and business centre, shops, salons, schools and training centres, a radio and television station, a hospital, police and fire station, government buildings, construction sites, bus and aviation academies, climbing wall and sports centre. Within those venues, they can try over 60 real-life professional activities, some of which are sponsored by companies they will recognise – Qatar Airways, QNB, the North Oil Company, Nissan, Qatar National Library, Qatar Rail, Al Aziziyah Boutique Hotel, Al Meera, Pizza Box and McDonald's. In return for their labour, they will earn KidZos to bank or spend as they please – maybe at the KidZania shop, the department store, the beauty salon or the juice factory.
To bring kids’ dreams alive and let them delve into a world of realistic role play at KidZania as engineers, radio jockeys, footballers, chefs, water biologists, cabin crew, makeup artists, firefighters, etc., check out the following details:
(nearest Metro, Sport City on the Gold Line)
Opening Hours: Monday to Wednesday, 2 pm – 8 pm
Thursday to Friday, 1 pm – 10 pm
Saturday, 10 am – 8 pm
Entrance Fees: Under 1s: Free
2 – 3 years: QAR 95
4 – 16 years: QAR 160
Above 16 years: QAR 95
Contact: +974 4482 6222
In the Mall of Qatar, off the Dukhan Highway, you can find KidZmondo, a modern mini-metropolis where life revolves around the main city street. Paved boardwalks that run alongside the main roadway and avenues of cobbled paths are lined with an array of venues offering a multitude of services run by many mini employees. Visitors can find an entertainment plaza with a theatre, a racetrack, a fairground ride, a climbing wall and a sports centre for thrilling shows and activities, or head to some of the many other venues for work. Indeed, mini labourers can find a space centre, a fire station, an aviation academy, a garage, a construction site, a hospital, a dentist, a newsroom, a Pizzaria, a hospital, a perfumery, an oil refinery and much, much more. Indeed, kids can try up to 80 real-life professional activities across the city, working for real-life companies such as Qatar Airways, Ooredoo, WOQOD, Qatar Medical Centre, Salam Stores, QIIB, Hilton, Baladna, Pizza 1 and NOVO. In return for their hard work, they will earn Kidlars to bank or spend as they please – maybe at the Kidlar store, the supermarket or any number of other establishments in the city.
Hungry visitors can take a break from the fun and excitement and refuel at the onsite café, pizza shop, Build-It Burger venue, ice cream shop or creperie, or take in a show at the entertainment plaza.
To let their imaginations run wild at KidzMondo as astronauts, bankers, builders, dentists, doctors, nurses, jewellers, performers, etc., check out the following details:
Location: Mall of Qatar, Dukhan Highway, Ar Rayyan
(nearest Metro, Al Riffa on the Green Line)
Opening Hours: Saturday to Thursday, 10 am – 10 pm
Friday, 1 pm – 11 pm
Entrance Fees: ￼ Under 1s: Free
1 – 4 years: QAR 90
4 – 14 years: QAR 135
Above 14 years: QAR 90
Special Needs: QAR 85
Contact: +974 4028 5888
KidZania and KidZmondo, though focused on encouraging independence, also understand the need to provide children with a safe and secure environment to discover their autonomy. To that end, both companies employ strict and detailed security systems that include:
- Single entry and exit points to the city, with controlled access and egress and manned at all times by trained security staff;
- Alarmed emergency exits;
- Strategically placed security cameras;
- Security bracelets with tracking device technology worn by all visitors entering the city. Only visitors wearing security bracelets can enter the city via a controlled access point and can only leave the city when the bracelet is returned at the exit point;
- Children may only leave the city (and remove their security bracelet) when signed out by the adult who signed them into the city;
- No adults are admitted to the city without accompanying a child.
While children above the age of eight are admitted to the city unaccompanied (as long as a parent or guardian has signed them in), children under eight must be accompanied by an adult.
KidZania and KidzMondo are committed to ensuring their cities are accessible to all. As a result, cities include wide streets suitable for wheelchairs, lifts as appropriate, access ramps for activities, and a promise of no queues for disabled people.
Main image: Facebook
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