There are no free lunches in the world! And especially when I say Dubai, you will immediately start picturing high budgeted activities to do. Luxuries that money can buy in the posh hotels, huge malls with expensive brands, gourmet food at Michelin star restaurants, and the glitzy nightlife which will burn a hole in your pocket. But will you believe me if I tell you that you can also enjoy Dubai without spending anything?
Read for yourself before calling me a liar!
Visit the Souk
Forget the mall for a minute and imagine stepping into an old traditional marketplace with sights and smells that entice you. Photographers can make a field day with every angle making an excellent shot. It is an experience by itself.
Take in the amazing smell at the spice souk. The enticing smell from an array of spices displayed colorfully, attracting both the young and old alike.
The sight of displayed jewellery at the gold souk at Deira will leave you spellbound. Endless lanes of shops displaying so much gold, your eyes will be blinded by the bling!
There are walking tours arranged by Hotel Brand Rove. They have a ‘Discover Deira’ tour which is free. This tour covers the gold souk, Naif, and the fish market. This trip is a photographer’s paradise. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for enquiries. Rove City Centre, Deira, www.rovehotels.com.
Visit Alserkal Avenue and soak in some arts and culture
Alserkal Avenue is Dubai’s center of cultural activity, encouraging open dialogue and sharing of ideas. Here you can catch up on the many exhibitions which are held in their galleries for free. You can also watch screenings of different types of movies at Cinema Akil at The Yard. Make a new friend there and you can discuss and critique the movies you saw.
Call 050 556 9797 for enquiries. A4 Space, ALSERKAL Avenue, Al Quoz, www.alserkalavenue.ae.
Watch a movie under the stars
Watch films under the starry night, from the rooftop of the Wafi complex. You can comfortably lounge on the bean bags and experience a whole new way to watch movies. No prior booking required and no payment too!
Call 04 324 4100 for enquiries. Wafi Pyramids, Rooftop Gardens, Oud Metha, www.pyramidsrestaurantsatwafi.com.
Time Travel to Old Dubai
Take a walk in the old part of Dubai and soak in some culture and heritage. The old and winding roads of the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood will make you feel like you have been transported back in history. A visit to this place is considered equal to visiting a museum. Spend time watching the Emirati people going about their daily business, admire the old architecture and just be in the peace and quiet of the old existence situated on the creekside.
Free Food Anyone?
The J.W. Marriott hotel in Deira welcomes all food lovers in their kitchen to a guided tour on the ingredients used in their kitchen. Their chefs generously give out cooking advice and also free meals to taste.
Call 04 607 7977 for enquiries. Cucina, JW Marriott Hotel, Abu Baker Al Siddique Road, Deira.
Yoga on the Beach
Forget expensive yoga classes. Take in the beauty of the early morning sunrise and get started with your Asanas. Enjoy free sessions of yoga with a breathtaking backdrop of the sunrise on the beach at The Beach, JBR.
Call 800 637227 for enquiries. The Beach, JBR, www.thebeach.ae
Free Flex Fridays
The Wet Deck at the Al Habtoor City is a hip and happening place to visit. Situated in the swanky part of town, it is known for its shisha lounge and it’s pool parties. They conduct free flex sessions on Friday mornings. You can also catch a session of free yoga near the Cabanas by the poolside.
Call 04 436 6666 for enquiries. W Dubai Al Habtoor City, Sheikh Zayed Roa, www.dubaialhabtoorcity.com
Find some inner peace for free
If expensive meditation classes rise up your blood pressure, then holistic therapy center Illuminations in JLT is the place to go for meditation and holistic health benefits. Free sessions are conducted on energy healing, aura cleansing, and meditation.
Call 04 448 7043 for enquiries. Illuminations, Fortune Executive Towers, Cluster T, JLT, www.illuminations.ae.
Round the Clock Motor Racing
Want some excitement and adrenalin rushing thrills on par with any Grand Prix Motor Race? Catch major racing action at Dubai Autodrome for the Hankook 24 H. Car racing is held all through 24 hours for the annual endurance challenge. You can also visit their classic car collection, kids zone and grab a bite at the many food trucks (not free of cost, of course ;))
Call 04 357 8700 for enquiries. Dubai Autodrome, Motor City, www.dubaiautodrome.com.
It is a lot of fun to watch the camels run in their natural environment. Go name a camel and cheer for it. Catch this excitement at Al Marmoum Racetrack without having to shell out any Dirhams. Be a part of lots of action unfolding in front of you.
Call 04 832 6526 for enquiries. Dubai Camel Racing Club, Al Marmoum Racetrack, Dubai-Al Ain Road, www.dcrc.ae.
Have a ball of a day playing sports (literally). Take a ball and kick it around the beach, play throw ball and volleyball in any of the outdoor courts, toss around a frisbee, run around the jogging tracks or challenge a friend to a cycling race in the cycle paths. Lots of fun and frolic without spending on equipment or gym membership.
Al Barsha Pond Park; JLT Park, Cluster O, JLT; Al Sufouh Park, off Abdullah Omran Taryam Street.
End of January brings all the biggest names in the world of cycling to Dubai for the Dubai tour. A lot of festivities accompany these races. Enjoy these local festivities and take in local flavors for free and cheer your way to the race.
Nationwide locations with a daily start from the Dubai International Marine Club, Dubai Marina, www.dubaitour.com.
The Dubai Fountain
Enjoy a drama unfold in front of you. The waterworks and lighting effects are nothing short of poetry in motion. The music adds to the magic in converting it to fluid dance with an awe-inspiring finale. The best time to experience this is during dusk when it is dark and the lights can be clearly seen.
Dubai is dotted with beautiful beaches. While many of them are private or cordoned off by resorts, there are many public beaches that offer the same pleasures, but for free. You do not have to pay to bask in the sun, smell in the salty breeze and get some sand in your hair. The kite beach has a friendly vibe and you can fly some kites in beautiful designs and colors.
JBR Beach, Umm Suqeim Kite Beach, Jumeirah Open Beach, 4×4 Beach, Bu Qtair Beach, Palace Beach, Mercato Beach
Dubai boasts of a very beautiful and eco-diverse sanctuary. Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary houses around 60 species of beautiful birds in their natural surroundings. Their star attractions are Flamingos. A definite go-to place for nature lovers.
Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Ras Al Khor Road, www.facebook.com/wildlife.ae.
Surf for free
Almost all of Dubai has free wifi hotspots everywhere. You can now browse and learn while riding a taxi, window shopping at a mall, strolling at a park or chilling at a beach. WiFi UAE aims to cover 90 percent of Dubai with free wifi by the end of the year.
Visit www.wifiuae.ae for details.
Fun at the Theme Park
The Dubai Parks and Resorts is a fun place to be with lots to do. While most of the rides are charged, River Land Dubai is totally free. Walk along the waterway and see the district zones. You can also catch some street theatre for free.
Call 04 820 0000 for enquiries. Riverland Dubai, Dubai Parks & Resorts, Sheikh Zayed Road, opposite Palm Jebel Ali, www.riverlanddubai.com.
Walk by the Canal
With the construction of the new Dubai Water Canal, Dubai has now got a long stretch of promenade from JW Marriott Marquis Dubai to the Arabian Gulf. You can boat ride along the canal to view the fabulous skyline. A stroll along the waterway will give you a chance to marvel at waterfalls and admire the beauty of the creek.
Dubai Water Canal, connecting the Creek and the Arabian Gulf, www.meydan.ae.
Feed a turtle
The Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel runs a very successful turtle rehabilitation project with education, research and rehabilitation being it’s prime aim. Visitors have a free access to the turtle island where you can volunteer for the cause by taking part in turtle feeding and other care giving activities.
Call 04 366 8888 for enquiries. Jumeirah Al Naseem, Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim, www.jumeirah.com.
Walk a Dog
Help out at an animal sanctuary and avoid the hassles of owning a pet, which is actually very expensive. K9 Friends’s dog walking programme will benefit you and your four-legged friends too. This activity will prove to be rewarding and will improve your physical and mental health.
Call 04 887 8739 for enquires. www.k9friends.com.
Shop for Free
The Dubai Shopping Festival is hands down the best time to be in Dubai. Here, it isn’t about splurging money and buying things. The whole atmosphere is fun, fabulous and free!
Shopping arcades go out of the way to attract visitors in this season. Malls become a hive of activites. The Dubai Mall hosts an sessions of makeup demonstrations and gives away free makeup samples. Get in on a free makeup session and get out with an amazing makeover. Feel the glitz at the Mall of the Emirates by watching a fashion show.
Various locations across Dubai. www.visitdubai.com/dsf.
Free Nights out
What’s better than a night out you ask? A free night out! A lot of nightclubs and pubs in Dubai have fancy offers for the ladies! Free drinks, BOGO happy hours for mixed groups, discounts on food and more! I suggest you hire a taxi and get on a pub-hopping spree!
Groove all night long and enjoy a drink on the house at all the swanky places in town:
- Asia Asia: Call 04 276 5900 for enquiries. Dubai Marina, www.asia-asia.com.
- Billionaire Mansion: Call 04 510 3100 for enquiries. Taj Dubai, Business Bay, www.billionairemansiondubai.com.
- China Grill: Call 04 511 7333 for enquiries. Westin Dubai, Dubai Marina, www.chinagrilldubai.com.
- Cocktail Kitchen: Call 056 828 0727 for enquiries. Armada BlueBay Hotel, Cluster P, JLT, www.cocktail-kitchen.com.
- Copper Dog: Call 04 559 5355 for enquiries. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dubai – Jumeirah Beach, The Walk, JBR, www.copperdog.ae.
- McGettigan’s DWTC: Call 04 378 0800 for enquiries. Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.mcgettigans.com.
- Ramusake: Call 04 559 5300 for enquiries. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dubai – Jumeirah Beach, The Walk, JBR, www.ramusake.ae.
- Tr!beca Kitchen + Bar: Call 050 345 6067 for enquiries. JA Ocean View Hotel, The Walk, JBR, www.tribeca.ae.
- The Rose & Crown: Call 04 437 0022 for enquiries. The Atrium, Al Habtoor City, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.roseandcrowndubai.com.