30 FREE things to do in Dubai
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".
Take free stuff
Did you even know classified advertising website Dubizzle had a free section? On offer at the time of checking was a TV, kid's bike, garden furniture and a baby’s cot.
Check www.dubizzle.com/classified/free-stufffor updates.
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.
Themed on the uber-trendy Lower Manhattan neighbourhood of Tribeca, this JBR hangout might reminds you of being in a sort of arty student bar.
It’s spacious, kind of dark, and with some foot-tapping tunes pumping out. There are quirky design touches dotted around the bar, like comic-booked themed wallpaper, a chair that’s also a giant face, a warehouse-style exposed ceiling and a hops pong table.
It’s also pleasantly busy every night, and its live music night every Sunday is rammed. Highly commended for Most Original Night Out at the Time Out Dubai Music & Nightlife Awards, the Go Play The World open mic night is packed full of talented local musicians, and is free to anyone wanting to come along and play a few songs.
Along with a menu of Americana-themed grub (think nachos, ceviche, Caesar salad, pizzas, steaks, tacos and more), plus a happy that runs every day except Friday, this is a funky and lively spot that’s well worth a visit, whatever night of the week it happens to be.
The bottom line
Cool JBR bar that’s fun and laid-back.
An oasis of green in predominantly sand-infiltrated Al Barsha, this park is built around the perimeter of a man-made lake and is popular throughout the week as well as at weekends with joggers, families, fitness fiends, kids’ birthday parties and groups
Facilities: Jogging track, bicycle hire, bouncy castles, basketball and tennis courts, playgrounds and fitness equipment are all here.
Shops or kiosks: Small kiosks close to the entrance sell popcorn and soft drinks.
Nature: Palm trees line the track surrounding the lake and there are plenty of grassy areas ideal for picnics.
Pets allowed? No.