From fitness trends to arty movie screenings, how to have free fun
Go dune bashing All those tourists heading out for desert safaris are not as daft as you think. It is great fun, and for residents with a 4x4 vehicle, it is possible to recreate it yourself. If you don’t have an off-road vehicle, make friends with somebody who does.
Surf the wave of free wi-fi If you ever see any of the Smart Palms at destinations around Dubai (Zabeel Park and Umm Suqeim Beach to name but two), you will probably see us huddled underneath checking our emails and updating our Facebook page. They're one of the greater initiatives that can charge mobile phones and provide free wi-fi at same time. Various locations including Zabeel Park, www.smart-palm.com (056 692 0764).
Walk around a dhow yard To some, the unsanitised setting would not be fit to pay for. But for us, it is a priceless location. Boats from little abras to ocean-crossing dhows are built and repaired in the Al Jaddaf dhow-building yard and it is fascinating to explore and take great photos of. Off Al Khail Road, turn off just before Business Bay Crossing, Oud Metha.
Free movies with Du Du mobile customers will get a free cinema ticket at Vox Cinemas with its "du Tuesdays" deal. All customers have to do is purchase a ticket at full price and another will be handed over absolutely free. With a year of amazing releases lined up already, you'll be delighted with the saving. Text "MOVIE" to 9979 from a du mobile.
And with Etisalat Not to be outdone by its rival, Etisalat is also handing out two-for-one deals on cinema tickets, this time at Reel Cinemas. All customers have to do is download the Etisalat Marketplace app and browse the deals including buy-one-get-one-free cinema at "Etisalat Wednesdays".
Go higher than the Burj Khalifa Getting up to the observation deck in the world’s tallest building will cost you a pretty penny, but you can go even higher without spending a dime. The 1,249 metre Jebel Hafeet is the UAE’s highest peak, and you can take a road trip to climb it. The views are worth it. Take the E66 out of Dubai and towards Al Ain and then follow the signposts.
We like sitting on beanbags at any time, so when you match that with free classic movie screenings every Sunday at The Rooftop Gardens, Wafi Pyramids, you’re onto a winner. One of the longest-running events in Dubai survives because it works so well. Sun 8.30pm.
Sure you can spend a few dirhams at the Ripe Food and Craft Market each week, but the real thrill is just being there. Since moving to Zabeel Park, the atmosphere and warm community spirit have become one of Dubai’s great attractions, and simply listening to the free music performances by local artists and enjoying the weekend sun with creative, Bohemian types sitting around doing not very much, is all right by us. Fri 9am-5pm. Gate 2.
A little knowledge goes a long way, and to start changing the world, the most important step is the first one. Clichés aside, the environmental organisation and sustainability experts at The Change Initiative frequently have free seminars and talks on networking, nutrition, health, parenting and much more. Check the website for availability of free sessions.
Ride one of the world’s best water slides for free, you say? What’s the catch? There isn’t one. All you have to do is be born, and in your birthday week, the nice folk at Aquaventure will let you in for free.
Put a smile on your face at Tr!beca Restaurant + Bar's free, fortnightly comedy night. Hosted by UAE comedian Dave Marosi and with UAE-based acts on the mic, it's a start-up gigglefest that will produce major guffaws.
Make no mistake, all those fancy beach clubs are brilliant. But you can read the same book, lie under the same sun, swim in the same sea and burn your feet on near identical sand at a free beach. As there is little else to your beach day, do things on the cheap for a change. How about doing it at JBR’s The Beach? It has free changing facilities, too.
Eton Institute has been empowering students with language training for many years, but did you know it frequently has free introductory courses and cultural evenings as well as paid-for courses? The institute's free app is a good place to start learning a new language on the go. But do keep an eye out for free events you can attend to learn more in person, as well. Free app available on Android and iOS.
That gym membership is a lot of money if all you ever do is use the treadmill. Many park, such as Al Barsha Pond Park, have a measured jogging track around the perimeter. Save your money and run here for free, while also making use of the complimentary fitness equipment such as pull-up bars, sit-up benches and rowing machines. Al Barsha Pond Park.
The Dubai World Cup is the crown jewel of horse racing season, but there are regular meets in the run-up to the end of the March carnival finale. Most Thursday nights see races, with free admission to the Meydan Grandstand, offering excellent views. You do have to shell out dirhams if you want access to the hospitality areas, but for a fun, free night with a difference, we highly recommend this. Thu, times vary.
The Dubai Museum charges the princely sum of Dhs3, so does not qualify for this feature (but it is great and you should go). But there are several free museums in the nearby Al Fahidi Historical District. Separate coin, camel, coffee and horse museums are all in ambling distance and will fill an afternoon if viewed collectively. Let the learning begin.