This year, the UAE dirham turned 43, having entered circulation in 1973. In a city experiencing rising costs, we bring you some inspiration for what a single coffee pot-bearing coin can often still get you in Dubai...
1. An ice-cream at McDonald’s
Why is Ronald McDonald always smiling? Because he has a pocketful of change and access to almost-free ice-cream.
2. A carton of laban
Not milk, not yoghurt and not exactly like anything you’ve tasted, this cooling drink is budget dairy and better than any fizzy pop.
3. A packet of Chiclets
A pocket can’t consider itself a proper pocket unless It has a few of these tiny chewing gum pieces lost inside it, often supplied by small convenience stores in lieu of change.
4. A 500ml bottle of water
We sat for three hours trying to think a better way to spend a dirham coin but refreshment on a sweltering day is the champion of one coin buys.
5. An abra ride across the Creek
One of the best ways to take in the city’s heritage views is from these chugging boats.
6. Individual choco dates
Does this count as the cheapest fusion food in Dubai? Or at least one of your five a day?
7. Cup of karak chai at a streetside café
The spicy tea drink will cool down in half an hour, but the happy glow inside will last for hours.
8. A Timbit at Tim Hortons
Ever wondered where the hole inside a doughnut goes? It is used to make a tiny little snack. Okay, so you have to buy a pack of at least ten for Dhs9, but trust us, one will simply not do…
9. Bread from Ravi Restaurant in Satwa
What may well be Dubai’s best-loved restaurant has bread we would pay at least 20 times as much just to smell.
10. Samosas by the Creek
This would be the name of our folk music album if we were to release one and is also a favourite pastime.
11. A banana
A daily dose of fibre and rich slapstick comedy potential in one go.
12. A packet of four Oreos
Do it right and you have eight Oreos or, as we call them, mini-edible Frisbees.
13. Second-hand shorts or blouses in a Satwa thrift store
Clothes for a dirham? Well, when you buy a minimum of five items, but we’re counting it. So there.
14. A packet of Emirates Pofaki
A little bag of cheese-flavoured carbs to scoff while you’re skipping that spinning class.
15. A packet of Chips Oman
On their own, in a sandwich or to scoop up budget-busting caviar – Dubai has loved these chilli-flavoured crisps for decades.
16. Entry to Dubai Museum for your kid (aged six or under)
You can’t put a price on education or fun. Oh wait, we just did, but you will have to stump up Dhs3 for adults.
17. A Pakistani satsuma
Pick up one of your five a day for just Dhs1. Or you might as well go for a whole bag for the week, considering you’ll get your necessary dose of multivitamins at such a bargain price.
18. A bunch of fresh local herbs
Imagine if somebody told you that you could never eat dull, flavourless food again and it would only cost a dirham.
19. A packet of snack seeds
Have you ever seen a depressed bird? Of course not, get on the Tweety Pie diet.
20. Roti at Joshi Restaurant in Meena Bazaar
We’re not the most poetic of souls, but if we were, we’d pen something transcendent about the flatbreads in the souk.
21. Two pandesal breads at Pan De Manila Bakery
Named after salt but with a taste so sweet we’ve declared love for the Filipino buns.
22. A sachet of tomato paste
Add it to almost anything savoury or just pop it open and use as fake blood.
23. A bottle of hot sauce
Be gone forever bland food and welcome burnt mouth seasoning!
24. A Nestle Milkybar
White chocolate is A) a foul tasting insult to all things beautiful B) Not technically chocolate so something you can eat without any diet guilt.
25. Maggi’s chicken, beef, shrimp or vegetable stock cubes
Past civilisations would not believe that we have reduced the stock-making process down to a tiny cube and future generations will be amazed we did it for just a dirham.
26. A packet of Golden Spike medium-sized Lebanese breads
Scoop, wrap, cover or mould your mezze with a big flap of bread.
27. Around 20 grams of Kenyan salted peanuts from Al Rifai kiosks
We like these nuts, we cannot lie! Only problem is limiting yourself to just 20 grams-worth.
28. A boiled egg in a small Satwa café
It is important to always have a boiled egg in your pocket to fling at the next person who lectures you on the benefits of the Paleo diet.
29. A cup of coffee in a small Satwa café
Save thousands a year by shunning the international chains.
30. A two-finger KitKat
Chocolate should not be shared, so don’t give any hangers-on either finger.
31. A Kinder Chocolate Maxi bar
Shame you don’t get a toy – but this is a dirham-shaped chance to prove you really do like Kinder chocolate.
32. A packet of Halls spearmint sweets
Eliminate bad breath, meet somebody amazing, get married and be happy for ever. For just Dhs1.
33. A packet of Wrigley’s Doublemint Chewing Gum
No person with a full pack of gum has ever felt lonely in their life.
34. Geeef Magic Pops popping candy
A fireworks display of taste and surprise in your own mouth any time you want it.
35. Chupa Chups Melody Pop
Sugar sweetness, screechy music and a long life make this retro sweet the Britney Spears of the candy world.
36. Small packet of tissues
Never wipe your nose on the back of your sleeve again. You didn’t really used to do that, did you?
37. Around 200g of local tomatoes
Before making a salad, ragu or soup, you can learn to juggle.
38. Your height and weight calculated at a pharmacy machine
Discover that you are short, fat and broke in one simple move.
39. Mini fruit jelly shots at a convenience store
What a time to be alive! This is a real thing and the world is not so bad.
40. One banana leaf from a hypermarket
Is it a fan? Is it a plate? Is it a wrap? Is it a nice decorative hat? It can be whatever you want it to be.
41. Caramel custard pots
We love caramel, we love custard and we can never have too many pots so sign us up.
42. A handful of fresh Indian chillies
Take one fistful of chillies, scatter them artfully across your food, add one Instagram filter and you have a recipe for foodie appreciation.
43. Two bulbs of Indian garlic
Just in case you’re worried about a vampire revolution, it helps to +be prepared.
Prices may vary between outlets.