Best, biggest, tallest, fastest, costliest — these are some of the superlatives that we use to define Dubai.
Commonly dubbed as the “Las Vegas of the Middle East”, Dubai is one the most expensive cities in the world. But contrary to what most would believe, you don’t really need to spend too much to have fun in Dubai. wknd. brings you the top 10 things you can do for under Dh10 — or even free! So here’s to wallet-happy traipsing about town.
1 Dubai Museum
Here’s your ticket to exploring Dubai’s history, culture and traditions all squeezed into a couple of hours. Located in Bur Dubai and built with an aim to protect the shores against foreign incursion, the Al Fahidi fort, that now houses the museum, is considered to be the oldest building in Dubai and was once the seat of power in the Emirate.
A slick multimedia presentation about
Dubai’s oil- and ambition-driven growth from a humble trading stop to a global city and business hub sets the tone for the tour. Fascinating dioramas recreate Old Dubai. Discover the origins and life of the Bedu and witness the history of pearling, fishing and dhow boat building. Soak in the ancient history of the 3000 BC artifacts excavated from graves in the region.
The museum is open to public throughout the week, except on public holidays.
2 Abra ride
The abra, the traditional
wooden boat powered by a diesel engine, can hold up to 20 people at a time. Used by over 20 million passengers each year, the abra is a sensible mode of transportation
to go between Bur Dubai and Deira,
and many people use it to go to work everyday. But there is another reason why you should get aboard this traditional water taxi: there is no better way to explore the impressive skyline of the Creek than from the waterway.
A quick 10-minute ride will get you across the Creek for all of Dh1. But for Dh10 you can hire the boat for only yourself or your group of friends and enjoy the scenic views full of photo opportunities as you travel across the Creek.
3 Flea Market
In a city known for its sprawling shopping malls and designer boutiques, a flea market may strike as an odd bird. But judging by the popularity of these events it is safe to assume that Dubai has awakened to the fact that ‘expensive’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘better’.
Held in the cooler months of the year, the Dubai flea market is a great place to sell and buy everything used, from household items, furniture, textile, ceramics, electrical equipment, toys, games, books, DVDs, clothes, antiques, accessories and handmade items. As far as bargaining is concerned, the sky is the limit. Get ready to find a great array of priceless objects at throwaway prices (a dozen mint-condition National Geographic magazines for Dh10, are you kidding me?). Clearly one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
The flea market is held on the first Saturday of each month at Al Safa Park (entrance fee of Dh3) and on the second Friday at the Promenade Courtyard in Uptown Mirdiff (free entry).
Visit Dubai-fleamarket.com for more details.
4 Jumeirah Beach Park
Stroll barefoot on the lush grass at this verdant park, as you take in the green waters and white sandy shore at the Jumeirah Beach, overlooking the postcard-perfect Arabian Gulf. Fronting onto a long stretch of sand, the park is replete with immaculate lawns, children’s play areas, barbecue pits, picnic tables, walkways and volleyball nets. Spend the day playing sports and making sand castles or just float away in the shallow waters and sunbathing as you hum The lazy song. And yes, umbrellas can be hired for Dh5.
5 Jumeirah Zoo
What better way to familiarise your tiny tots with the members of the animal kingdom than a visit to the local zoo? But on the other hand, if you’re someone who finds the sight of captive animals disturbing, then you might want to sit this
The Dubai Zoo became a landmark in the good old days as it indicated the “town’s end”. Located in Jumeirah, it is a popular attraction, especially for families. The oldest zoo of its kind not only in the UAE but also in the Arabian Peninsula, it houses nearly 200 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish. It is also the first zoo in the region to breed the endangered species like chimpanzee and Arabian wildcat.
6 Creekside park
Rolling hills. Check. Barbeque pits. Check. Playgrounds. Check. Flower beds and lush landscape. Check. Situated between Al Maktoum and Al Garhoud Bridges on the Bur Dubai side, Creekside Park is a green haven for families in the bustling city life.
There is a lot that a family can do here. The park has a golf course, picnic areas and games for kids. The highlight of this park though is the huge amphitheatre that can accommodate up to 5,000 people. Another great feature is Children’s City, an informative space that takes young minds on a journey through the human body, science and space.
7 Al Diyafah road
Al Diyafah Road — or 2nd of December Road Street as it has been recently renamed — has
a reputation for being the city’s best cheap-eats street. Restaurants serving delicious and authentic food from Lebanon, Iran and the Indian subcontinent spill out onto the bustling sidewalks. For a tiny sum of Dh10 you can feast on the popular everyman’s food, shawarma, from Sidra or the ever-famous Al Mallah or head to Ravi restaurant, a popular Pakistani curry house to get yourself a fix of traditional dal-roti (Dh9).
8 The Dubai Fountain
There is something quite magnificent about this water, sound and light spectacle that sends one into a hypnotic daze. Watching the fountain at the base of Burj Khalifa on a balmy evening makes for an excellent pastime. Designed by the company behind the grand fountains at Bellagio in Las Vegas, the Dubai Fountain shoots up water as far as 500 feet, about the height of a 50-story building. The beam of light from the fountain can be seen from over 20 miles in the sky, making it the brightest spot in the Middle East.
9 Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
The aquarium in Dubai Mall gives you a chance to come face-to-face (well almost) with 33,000 glorious aquatic creatures, comprising about 140 species. Over 400 sharks and rays live in this tank, including the largest collection of Sand Tiger Sharks in the world. You may need to pay Dh50 to get the inside-a-fishbowl experience of the walkthrough tunnel but observing from the panel is absolutely free of charge. Measuring about 32.8 metres wide and 8.3 metres high, the panel is currently the holder of the Guinness World Record for the ‘World’s Largest Acrylic Panel’.
10 Spice and
So you must be wondering why these souks feature in this list. Always abuzz with activity and people, gold and spice souks present a perfect opportunity for the observer and photographer in you. The tiny winding lanes of spice souk full of bags of spice, incense, rose petals, and traditional medicinal products will whip up sights and scents of the past for you. Walk through the dazzling gold souk dotted with windows displaying the precious metal on sale in every conceivable shape, size and design and you will be reminded why Dubai is called the city of gold.