How to have fun for free in Dubai

You know that saying, nothing in life is free?

Well call us myth busters, but we at Dubai Week have not only challenged that, but shattered it with list of things you can do in Dubai for free.

Reporters Tally Sargent and Reem Makari investigate…


Feeling spicy?

Spice Souq

Why not try one of Dubai’s most cultural areas, the Spice Souq? Open every morning and evening (apart from Fridays) and don’t skip this experience for another trip to the mall. Lined with stalls, the souq’s myriad lanes are packed with bags of spices, incense, rose petals and traditional medicinal products.

Free entertainment comes courtesy of watching people determinedly barter for the ‘best price’. Who knows, you may even be offered a date or two…

Spice Souq, 26 34th St, Bur Dubai. 10am-1pm. Reopens 4pm-10pm everyday, except for Friday when it is open 4pm-10pm only.


What do you call a camel without a hump…? Humphrey! (Hump-free! Get it?)


Experience the races camel-style at the Al Marmoum Camel Racing Track. From September to April, watch tiny robots bounce around on top of the wondrous, even-toed mammals that are so respected in the UAE.

Al Marmoum Camel Racing Track, Al Ain-Dubai Road, Al Marmoom. Races 7am and 2pm. 04 832 6526.  


Ready for a Grand adventure?


Rebuilt in 1960 and located between the Textile Souq and the Dubai Museum in Al Fahidi, the wondrous Islamic architecture has the tallest minaret in Dubai, means it is unlikely you’ll miss it.

Non-Muslims aren’t allowed into the mosque itself, but can visit the minaret and take in the mosque’s beautiful Persian style blue tile work and sand-coloured walls. Pro’ tip – go at night when the mosque is spectacularly lit up.

Grand Mosque, Ali Bin Abi Taleb Street. 8am-10pm Sunday to Saturday. Closed to visitors on Fridays. 800 600.


Are you an early bird?


Visit Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, just a few flamingo steps from the city. Find the sanctuary at the mouth of the Dubai Creek and it’s a rare oasis of calm so close to urban living. The sanctuary has three bird reserves on its perimeter, where you can stand in the shade of an air-conditioned hut, often only accompanied by a security guard.

Be sure to bring your binoculars, and of course your camera. You might catch a glimpse of some black-winged stilts, grey herons and many more between the flurry of fuchsia flamingo legs, especially during the 9am to 9.30am feeding time.

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Ras al Khor. Bird hides are open 9am-4pm, Saturday-Thursday. 04 606 6822


Fountain of fun


Why not pay a visit without paying to the Dubai Fountain? Located underneath the Burj Khalifa (that tall, pointy one), the Dubai Fountain is the world’s largest (of course) choreographed fountain system!

Feel free to stand and watch as every 30 minutes this magnificent water feature throw water more than 150 metres in the air, entwined with a range of music and lighting.

The Dubai Fountain, Downtown Dubai. Friday afternoon shows 1.30pm and 2pm. Evening shows, daily 6pm-11pm every 30 minutes. 04 362 7500.


Sift through the Souq

Souk Madinat

Even if you’ve lived in Dubai since day dot, you will know that the Souq Madinat Jumeirah is just one place you will never fully understand.

A surplus of labyrinth paths designed as an authentic recreation of an ancient marketplace will lead you through various stalls, galleries and cafés with goods ranging from gold jewellery to silky pashminas. Browsing costs nothing.

Souq Madinat Jumeirah. 10am-11pm. Some restaurants and coffee shops are open from 8am. 04 366 8888.


AlserKOOL Avenue


Whatever the temperature outside, Alserkal Avenue is certainly able to up the cool factor, as a base for Dubai’s ever-increasing creative community.

Established in 2007, this artistic creation of 20 warehouses, spanning across 500,000 square feet is a platform for galleries, food outlets and creative businesses. So if you’re feeling those Art Attack vibes, why not mooch about Alserkal?

Alserkal Avenue, Street 8, Al Quoz 1. Opening times for galleries differ, but generally 10am-7pm daily, except Fridays.


Sweat it out

TrainDubai Motor City Autodrome

Have you spent too many days sprawled across the sofa watching TV? How about going down to TrainDubai for an evening of free cycling, running, walking or rollerblading on the 2.46km floodlit Club Circuit.

Better wipe the Dorito dust from your trainers and get movin’!

Dubai Autodrome, Motorcity. Every Wednesday, 6pm-9pm. 04 369 7441.


Expand your knowledge

Eton Institute

Take a free course at the Eton Institute and get educated without any charge. An opportunity to learn something new and spending your time doing something useful without having to pay large amounts of money for it. Check the language college’s website for free taster sessions.

Knowledge Village. 8am-9pm daily. 04 438 6800.


Snap and stroll

Dubai Water Canal

Take a stroll along the Dubai Canal after dark and fill up your feed for free with snaps of the stunning bridges and colourful ‘waterfall’. There are even charging points in the streetlights, for if you run out of juice.

Dubai Water Canal Boardwalk. Open 24 hours. The waterfall is in action between 8pm-10pm every evening.


Get your body moving

Yoga Al Barsha Pond Park

Who needs a gym membership anyway? Head to Al Barsha Pond Park and get in a free workout.

Make use of the bouncy 2km jogging track around the perimeter and use fitness equipment around the park like the pull-up bars, sit-up benches and rowing machines. Stick about on Saturday evenings for free yoga classes too.

Al Barsha Pond Park, Al Barsha 2. 6am-11pm on weekdays, 6am-11.30pm on weekends. 800 900.


Meydan Racecourse

budget Dubai Meydan races

Enjoy race season at Meydan racetrack from November to March every year.

There’s a free admission area within the Meydan Grandstand where visitors can admire thoroughbreds in the Parade Ring before and after the race. For AED 55, The Premium area assures stunning views over the track.

Adult tickets AED 55. Kids five-11 AED 30.


Majlis Gallery, Al Fahidi

Al Fahidi budget Dubai

Way back in 1978, expat Alison Collins and her family organised and hosted get togethers with local artists in their house; now it stands as one of Dubai’s oldest galleries. It’s a haven for artists and art lovers alike, with regular events and workshops. There are many art galleries in the area formerly known as Bastakiya, so take a wander down its labyrinthine lanes.

Free. Winter timings, 10am-6pm. Closed Fridays.

Ok, not free but totally value for money…


Culture up


Built back in 1787 at the South of Dubai Creek, Al Fahidi Fort was the monarch’s home and doubled up as a fort too. It’s now the home of Dubai Museum, where a spiralling ramp takes visitors underground where dioramas recreate life in Old Dubai.

Learn about the path of the Arabian Gulf and can compare it with the great and continuous efforts that make up today’s modern Dubai.

Dubai Museum and Al Fahidi Fort, Al Fahidi, Bur Dubai. Saturday to Thursday, from 8.30am-8.30pm and Fridays 2.30pm-8.30pm. 04 353 1862/04 515 5000. AED 3 adults, AED 1 children.


Abra ride across Dubai Creek

Dubai budget abra

Take one of these old-fashioned boats across the Creek for just AED 1. Choose from one of two routes from Deira Old Souk Abra Station (near the Spice Souk) and Bur Dubai, or Sabkha Abra Station to the Old Souk.

Route one runs from 6am-12am and the second, more popular trip, is round the clock. Or splash out and try them both – the views are priceless, especially at sunset.

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