Thought Dubai was the city of excess? Think again. There are plenty of ways to pass your time without having to splash your cash
1 Cross the Creek
Hop on a motorised wooden abra and travel between Bur Dubai and Deira for just a dirham. It’s one of the richest cultural experiences in the city. Board at Deira Old Souk or Bur Dubai Abra Stations.
Dhs1. Daily 6am-midnight. Dubai Creek, www.rta.ae.
2 Get make-up tips
Brush up on your application methods and skills with a free lesson taught by expertly trained make-up artists at Bobbi Brown stores across the city.
Free. Bobbi Brown stores, various locations including The Dubai Mall (04 330 8151).
3 Visit a traditional summer house
Majlis Al Ghorfat Um Al Sheef was built in 1955 as a summer residence of the late Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum. The house is made of gypsum and coral rock, with a date palm frond roof and wind tower.
Dhs1. Open Sat-Thu 8.30am-8.30pm, Fri 3.30pm-8.30pm. 17 Street, off Jumeirah Beach Road (04 426 0000).
4 Watch movies on a rooftop
Head to Wafi’s Movies Under The Stars screenings every Sunday evening to relax on huge beanbags while you watch films on a giant screen.
Free. Sundays 8pm. Pyramids Rooftop Gardens, Wafi, Oud Metha, www.pyramidsrestaurantsatwafi.com/offers-events/movies-under-the-stars (04 324 4100).
5 Find your zen
Join a free community yoga session at Al Barsha Park every Saturday evening.
Free. Saturdays 5.30pm-6.30pm. Gate 4, Al Barsha Park, www.lakshyayoga.com (050 873 8109).
6 Visit Dubai’s oldest school
Al Ahmadiya School is the oldest school in Dubai and now houses an interesting museum of education.
Free. Open Sat-Thu 9am-4.30pm, Fri 2.30-4.30pm. Al Ras Area, behind Dubai Public Libraries, Deira (04 226 0286).
7 Cool down with ice cream
Head to McDonald’s for the cheapest ice cream cone in the city.
Dhs1. McDonald’s, various locations including Dubai Marina Mall, www.mcdonaldsarabia.com.
8 Book in for a hair cut
Get your tresses trimmed by students at French hairdressing academy Formul’A. Trainees are supervised by experienced instructors as they chop your locks.
Free. Open Sun-Thu 9am-6pm. Block 11, Knowledge Village, www.formula-academy.net (800 380 623).
9 Pound the pavements
Lace up your trainers and join the Dubai Road Runners for structured training sessions every Sunday and Tuesday evening.
Free. Sundays and Tuesdays 6pm. Al Barsha Park, www.dubairoadrunners.com.
10 Enjoy dinner for a Dirham
Ladies can head to SoHo Bar & Grill to enjoy its ‘Dinner for a Dirham’ promotion every Tuesday evening, which includes three delicious courses.
Dhs1. Tuesdays 6pm-10pm. Century Village, Garhoud (next to Dubai Tennis Stadium), www.sohobarandgrill.ae (04 286 8520).
11 Watch the record-breaking fountains
The largest choreographed fountain show in the world, Dubai Fountain shoots water jets as high as 500 feet and its beams of light shining upward are visible from space.
Free. Afternoon shows: Sat-Thu 1pm and 1.30pm, Fri 1.30pm and 2pm. Evening shows: daily every 30 minutes between 6pm and 11pm. The Dubai Mall, www.thedubaimall.com (04 362 7500).
12 Spend a day on the beach
With its stretch of soft white sand and ample changing facilities, the newly developed beach at JBR is the perfect destination for sun-seekers on a budget.
Free. Open 24 hours. The Beach, JBR, www.thebeach.ae (04 431 0190).
13 Step back in time
Head to Heritage and Diving Village to see potters and weavers practicing traditional crafts, as well as pearl diving demonstrations.
Free. Open Sat-Thu 8.30am-10pm, Fri 3.30pm-10pm. Al Shindagha, Deira (04 393 7139).
14 Treat the Kids
Entertain the little ones on a budget at Fun City, with its Fun Day Monday promotion, which lets them play a range of games for a dirham per game.
Dhs1. Mondays. Fun City, various locations including Oasis Centre (04 339 7783).
15 Watch street wrestling
Make your way to Deira on a Friday afternoon to join the crowds watching the south Asian sport of Pehlwani.
Free. Fridays around 4pm. Near Deira Fish Market, Deira.
16 Catch sight of flamingos
Stand at the Flamingo Roost at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary to watch the pink birds against a spectacular cityscape.
Free. Sat-Thu 9am-4pm. Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, off the junction of Al Wasl and Oud Metha Roads, www.wildlife.ae (04 606 6822).
17 Get a sweet fix
Enjoy Tim Hortons’ Timbits – bite-sized doughnuts – for a dirham each.
Dhs1. Tim Hortons, various locations including The Dubai Mall, www.timhortons.com (05 5213 6678).
18 Enjoy park life
Most parks in Dubai carry entrance fees, but Al Barsha Pond Park bucks the trend with free entry.
Free. Open Sun-Thu 8am-11pm. Fri-Sat. 8am-11.30pm. Al Barsha 2, near Al Barsha Mall.
19 Visit an art gallery
Art Sawa Gallery is dedicated to contemporary art from the Middle East, North Africa, and neighbouring countries – and it’s completely free to enter.
Free. Street 14, Al Quoz, www.artsawa.com (04 340 8660).
20 Enjoy a massage
We know it’s not the same as a 60-minute full-body massage at a five-star hotel, but the free hand and arm massages at Lush make a trip into the store well worth it.
Free. Lush, various locations including The Dubai Mall, www.lush.ae (04 435 6114).
21 Attend camel racing
Camel races should be on every Dubai residents ‘to do’ list, running regularly between December and March.
Free. Call for timings. Al Marmoum Camel Racetrack, Dubai-Al Ain Road (04 832 6526).
22 Fill up on Pakistani food
Head to legendary Pakistani eatery Ravi Restaurant to enjoy delicious parathas, naans and rotis for a dirham a pop.
Dhs1. Satwa Road, Satwa (04 4331 5353).
23 Attend a Mother’s meeting
Love Parenting UAE’s free Baby Café runs twice a month, with baby weigh-ins and midwives on hand to answer questions.
Free. Every first and second Sunday of the month 10.30am-noon. Horizon Kids Nursery, Street 29, Al Safa 2, www.facebook.com/loveparentinguae
24 Stroll the old town
Spend a morning or afternoon exploring the narrow passageways and wind tower houses in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, formerly known as Bastakiya.
Free. Bur Dubai Waterfront and Al Mankhool Road, Bur Dubai.
25 Meet the turtles
Visit Mina A’Salam hotel every Wednesday morning to meet the resident turtles. Listen to an educational talk, before helping staff with feeding time.
Free. Wednesdays 11am. Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim www.jumeirah.com, (04 366 8888).