Dubai is great, isn’t it? Many have us have come here from overseas and many with an express goal to save some money. Few of us, however, had banked on this place being so much fun. And in the rush to see the sites, try the restaurants, enjoy the facilities and explore the city, saving money is sometimes the first thing to go astray.
But Time Out is here to help. We want you to enjoy the city, but feel bad that we’re always recommending restaurants, gigs, attractions and tempting your spare cash out of your wallet. So that’s why we like to call our friends across Dubai to beg and bully them into giving something back.
This week’s issue (paid-for copies only) comes with a whopping 301 unique money-saving offers. We reckon there is more than Dhs60,000 worth of savings in the magazine this week. From handfuls of Friday brunches, specialist lunches, and meals in top restaurants to hotel stays at luxury UAE resorts, relaxing massages and quirky days out, we’ve done our best to deliver you quality entertainment at half the price. There is so much to choose from there really is a voucher deal, or 100, for absolutely everybody. Want to know where to start? Try these for size.
1 Feed the giraffes at Al Ain Zoo
The Al Ain Zoo has been one of the UAE’s most popular attractions for years. Acclaimed for the wide open spaces for animals and educational programmes for visitors, it is believed to be a blueprint for animal attractions. Get up close and personal with one of the most popular residents by feeding carrot pieces to a giraffe. While there, see more than 3,700 creatures from 197 animal species.
Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort (03 782 8188).
2 Experience all-inclusive luxury at Rixos Bab Al Bahr
The luxury Rixos Bab Al Bahr resort’s all-inclusive offer is a Time Out favourite. After checking in, you won’t need cash as all meals, drinks and snacks are included in the price of the room with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Use the voucher to stay twice as long or to invite friends along and split the cost to enjoy watersports, impressive beaches and a chance to relax. Or just lock yourself in the room and push the boundaries of free room service.
Al Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah (07 202 0000).
3 Order takeaway curry at home with Brick Lane
This voucher is one to save for a rainy day (or whatever the Dubai equivalent is). Brit-style takeaway joint, Brick Lane is a favourite among certain homesick expats yearning for UK-style curries. Order from a selection of curry house favourites such as tikka masala, korma, bhuna, rogan josh and dhansak and get another free of charge. Great for a night slobbing in front of the TV watching DVDs and mopping up sauce with your naan bread.
Al Barsha 1, Behind Sharaf DG Metro Station (04 399 6786).
4 Ride the bucking bronco and eat burgers at Claw
Deep South crab shack and bar concept in Downtown Dubai comes with comically oversized beverage glasses, mechanical rodeo bull and a great atmosphere. Taking a position between American sports bar and cheery family diner, it specialises in deep-fried sharing platters and American dishes. Look out for the fun ‘crabapalooza’, which includes snow, blue and king crab that need to be attacked with metal tools to eat.
Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 432 2300).
5 Treat a friend to cupcakes and a coffee from Kitsch
Dubai’s obsession with cupcakes may have died down a little but it is fair to say that the city still loves mini cakes. This Jumeirah Beach Road bakery was the first speciality cupcake bar in Dubai and is still going strong thanks to the deliciousness of its signature offerings. Red velvet flavour usually takes the headlines but we’re leaning towards the divine peanut butter option right now.
Jumeirah Beach Road, Villa 611 (04 395 6963).
6 Sample Italian food in the style of Jamie Oliver
As one of the world’s best-known chefs and a boundary-skipping television personality in his own right Jamie Oliver’s name is one you should seek out with or without a special price deal. The usual celebrity-chef route of fine dining and premium prices is discarded in favour of a matey, laid-back atmosphere, simple dishes and a cool setting. Visit with a friend, split the bill and get food you can share.
Jamie’s Italian, Dubai Festival City Mall, Festival City (04 232 9969).
7 Enjoy a weekend stay at the Novotel Gate Hotel in Abu Dhabi
Close to the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, this cool city hotel is well-placed for further exploration of Abu Dhabi. The four- star hotel has modern rooms, a spa and good views of the city as well as restaurants and a particularly inviting pool. Dubai residents often rarely make the trip up the road to see the neighbours unless there is a big concert on, so take this money-saving opportunity to broaden your Emirates horizons.
Gate City, Bain Al Jessrain (02 508 9999).
8 Disappear up to Abu Dhabi and enjoy a 90-minute massage at the Talise Spa
With one of the most prome locations in Abu Dhabi and massage therapists that more than match up, this luxe sanctuary at the Jumeirah Etihad Towers is high on our list of top Abu Dhabi spas. We recommend a detoxifying body wrap, which involves the use of sea plants and marine minerals to melt away tension and leave skin feeling soft and enlivened. Whether you go for a double spa day or decide to take a friend and have one each is up to you.
Jumeirah Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi (02 811 5858).
9 Stay at the majestic desert resort at the Tilal Liwa Hotel
Escape the city and stay in a true desert resort amid some of the highest dunes in the world. The low rise resort has a very traditional feel while being equipped with modern essentials. Take the opportunity to experience a 4x4 desert safari or try out sports such as sand boarding, horse riding and quad bike tours. Alternatively, forget all that and just focus on the quiet in the daytime and the beauty of the desert sky at night.
Madinat Zayed, Al Gharbia (02 894 6111).
10 Try yoga classes at The Oberoi Spa and Fitness Centre
While it may be home to Time Out’s Best New Bar, Iris, this happening Business Bay hotel is also inviting Dubaians to embrace its zen side. Yogis can partake in daily yoga classes (including dance and cardio spin-offs) led by resident Indian instructor Priyanka Chowdury, which take place every day in the Fitness Centre.
The Oberoi Dubai, Business Bay (04 444 1444).
11 Experience lunch at the best new restaurant in Dubai, Qbara
Dubai’s best new restaurant of 2014 (in a titanium-strong list of competitors) is a ground-breaking, must-see, must-try and must-taste concept. Housed within a stunning, vast and sultry two-tier venue, the restaurant serves up modern and creative riffs on Middle Eastern flavours, while the bar does its best to do the very same with the beverage menu. Black truffle-scented labnah and zaatar infused mixed drinks will give you a taste of the creations on offer here. Add to that stand-out service, and Qbara really cooks with fire.
Wafi, Oud Metha (04 709 2500).
12 Get in the flight simulator cockpit at iPilot
Tapping into the average Dubaians triple love of malls, gadgets and travel, this fun attraction puts visitors behind the simulated controls of a Boeing 737. 24,000 real-life airports are included in the simulator so you can feel a lifelike representation of what it feels like to touch down in Dubai or almost any other world airport without having to leave The Dubai Mall.
The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (056 738 7444).
13 Visit The Beach and raise your Eggspectations
If you’re yet to stroll through new sea-side lifestyle destination The Beach put this magazine down now and get over there. Only after plucking out the voucher for breakfast specialists and quirky new restaurant Eggspectation. Obviously the eggs are something of a highlight, with the Benedict option causing minor ripples in Dubai foodie circles already, but crepes, steaks and burgers are also available.
Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai Marina (04 430 7252).
14 Dine like a jockey and eat at Frankie Dettori’s restaurant
High expectation levels are always met at this culinary collaboration between genius chef Marco Pierre White and record-breaking jockey Frankie Dettori. The comfortable, dimly lit setting makes it one of the more atmospheric restaurants in the city. Try dishes such as an excellent pappardelle with porcini mushrooms to make the most of this value voucher.
JA Oasis Beach Tower, Dubai Marina (04 399 4311).
15 Eat barbecue on the beach at Wavebreaker
The informal beach bar and grill is a regular on itineraries for Time Out’s visitors to Dubai. The informal beach setting, views out to the Gulf and Palm Jumeirah and an excellent dish of grilled prawns make it a casual gem. Slip on a pair of sandals and enjoy a mixed drink while you wait for second helpings to turn up.
Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort, Dubai Marina (04 399 1111).
16 Check the kids in for weeks of summer camp with Future Kids
Finding activities to keep kids entertained during the course of a long hot summer in Dubai can be daunting. That’s why we’re pleased to be offering the voucher with a buy-one-get-one-free on summer camps with Future Kids. The accelerated learning programme offers brain training for kids as young as six months.
G03, Block 2B, Dubai Knowledge Village (056 708 5658).
17 Make the most of a vintage brunch at Rare
There is something about this boutique brunch that makes it a classy affair. Maybe it is the views across the lush polo fields, maybe it is the focus on premium quality food and live cooking stations. Or maybe it is just the case that we’re made to feel like minor royalty every time we turn out there. With the free voucher we recommend a smug sense of satisfaction as well.
Desert Palm, International City (04 323 8888).
18 Listen to jazz and eat Italian at Pizza Express
Jazz music enthusiasts and lovers of circular foods have never had it so good. Since the opening of this venue live music and pizza have been consumed in massive quantities and we’ve grown to love both more than ever. The Soho-stye setting is a cool breath of fresh air for Dubai and if you have never visited, you now have the perfect excuse.
Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 331 8480).
19 Live the high life with an afternoon tea at Aspen
Shopping can be something of a contact sport in Dubai. So escaping from the shopping circuit for little bit of luxury and refinement is the sort of thing any self-respecting doctor should be ordering if they know what’s good for them. In the absence of any such suggestion, check yourself into the lobby-level café at the Kempinski Hotel for tea, cakes and more delectable finger foods.
Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha (04 409 5999).
20 Eat healthy food at Jones the Grocer
You are always sure of a warm welcome and a good meal at this gourmet Australian café. Known for serving up healthy food and extremely good breakfasts it is also capable of making an incredible burger. If there is still time, grab another copy of the voucher issue and visit this ambitious Sheikh Zayed Road café repeatedly until you’ve worked your way through the entire menu.
Sheikh Zayed Road, opposite Time Square Centre (04 346 6886).
21 Dine out on steak and drama at Fire and Ice
Great steak usually comes with a less-than-great price tag. Which is why we’re delighted to partner with the exclusive Raffles Hotel to bring this two-for-one voucher at the dramatic and atmospheric
Fire and Ice restaurant. Get premium quality meat for a fraction of the cost and wow somebody special with a trip to a genuinely impressive setting.
Raffles Dubai, Oud Metha (04 324 8888).