10 ways to save money in Dubai this winter
The New Year is just around the corner which means that most of us have probably spent a small fortune on plane tickets abroad, concert tickets to a New Year’s gig or on Christmas presents…
As a result, the usual weekly pick-me-ups like booking a brunch for Friday or a smash-and-grab in your nearest mall are off limits right now, but that is not a reason to fully embrace being skint and wallow until the dawn of payday.
We have been on the hunt to find things you can do that don’t cost as much as the things you usually do… they include nights out, cinema, shopping and more.
PS. You never know, this list may just help you save a bit of cash moving forward.
1. Go to a ladies night
Ladies nights are ten-a-penny in Dubai these days, but here are four of the best for a good value girls’ night out.
7 Elephants’ ladies night offering is one that we like, a lot. Every Monday from 6pm to 11pm, ladies are treated to five (yes, five) complimentary beverages from the venue’s signature drinks menu. Adding to its appeal, is the fact that it boasts great views of the city and, is home to some of the best shisha and nibbles in town.
When: 6pm-11pm, every Monday
Where: 7 Elephants, Emirates Financial Towers, DIFC
Contact: +971 4 354 4354, website
Memoirs of a Geisha Ladies Night
Ladies are treated to four hours of free-flowing drinks and back-to-back tracks spun by resident DJ Rafael every Tuesday. There’s also a 10-course tasting menu that features a number of the venue’s signature dishes for just AED189 per pair sharing. If you don’t fancy eating in the lounge area, you can enjoy your meal in the restaurant, just be sure to make a booking.
When: 7pm-11pm, every Tuesday
Where: OKKU, H Hotel
Contact: +971 4 501 8777, website
Four free drinks for ladies… Every. Single. Night. This is a place where people go to party. Think bottle service with sparklers on top and people dressed up to go “out out”. It’s well worth going earlier and enjoying dinner at the Japanese and Italian restaurant. Queues can be quite long, though.
When: Every night
Where: Taj Dubai
Contact: +971 4 510 3100, website
Ladies Night at Yi By Yuan
A Thursday night ladies night is the stuff of legend in Dubai, so Yi by Yuan shoots straight to the top of our must-try planner. It takes place at the Chinese hotspot between 8.30pm-11pm and includes free house mixes all night as well as 30 percent off a special Yuan menu, which has been created exclusively by executive oriental chef David Pang. Look out for the roasted duck roll with mango.
When: 8.30pm-11pm, every Thursday
Where: Atlantis The Palm
Contact: +971 4 426 2626, website
2. Ditch the car
Don’t bother with putting gas in car, walk, cycle and sail through the rest of the year instead…
Take a boat up the Canal…
The brand new Canal is open so make like a tourist and hop on a ferry that takes you from Dubai Marina to the canal estuary for less than the cost of a taxi. Choose between a scenic circular trip or one way, but it sure beats being stuck in traffic. Dubai Marina to Canal Station is AED25 for a journey between 60-90 minutes.
Note: Holders of Emirates NBD credits cards can go free one Friday per month.
… or across the Creek
There probably isn’t as cheap or as pleasant a form of transport in Dubai as the innumerable abras that criss-cross the Creek. A one-way-journey will cost you just AED1 and you can choose two routes: Deira Old Souk (near the Spice Souk) to Bur Dubai Abra Station or, slightly longer, from Sabkha Abra Station to Dubai Old Souk Abra Station. With plenty to see on either side, you can soak up all the activity throughout the day for the price of a Coke.
Cycle around the city
The Dubai Water Canal has as a 12km cycling track, there are also cycle paths in the Dubai Marina, Al Barsha Park and Mushrif Park (open daily 8am to 10pm) or take in views of the Burj Al Arab by scooting along Jumeirah Beach bike path – only 2km so a nice stretch after a spot of sunbathing.
Here's two routes that we recommend...
Nad Al Sheba Cycle Park
A converted camel track not far from Meydan Racecourse, this offers 4km, 6km or 8km loops, so it’s ideal for beginners. It’s well-lit at night and has great views of Downtown and the Burj Khalifa anytime. The lockers, air-conditioned changing rooms and shower facilities mean it’s a good morning option.
Al Qudra Cycle Track
Perfect for middle-to long-distance riders. Choose the 18km path for an easy ride, 50km if you want to push it a bit further or serious cyclists can take on 100km. The landscape is breathtaking with wildlife and sand dunes on either side of you as you whizz along. Just ignore the Bab Al Shams resort nearby.
3. Make your own dinner…
... Argues food blogger Mark Setchfield.
“Payday can seem a long way off once the bills and brunches are paid for. So my trick for the last week of every month is a five day meal plan. Buy one big organic chicken – quality meat goes a long way, so check out Ripe Market at Zabeel Park or Market on the Terrace in Downtown. Spend around AED50 on the chicken. Buy fresh vegs from the markets as they will last longer and taste better. I’ll take care of the rest…”
Meal One: A roast dinner
“The roast is on! Simply roast the chicken and serve with roast potatoes and veg. Serve the lighter breast meat and remove the rest to separate into light and dark meat. This will keep in the fridge for four days. Don’t throw any leftovers away. Fill a pan with water, add the chicken skin and bones and boil on a low heat for an hour to make stock. Stick the veg in the fridge.”
Meal Two: Caesar salad
“Take some white chicken pieces and layer with lettuce in a bowl. Toast some bread and cut into cubes for croutons, add some Parmesan shavings and anchovies if you have any tins at home. Drizzle on some dressing.”
Meal Three: Chicken soup
“Soup time! Heat the chicken stock and add some grated ginger, chilli flakes, a tin of creamed sweetcorn, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 45 minutes. Finally stir in two egg whites and serve. Freeze the leftovers.”
Meal Four: Veggie omelette
“Cut up the left over roasties and veg into small cubes, dice an onion and sauté them all in a little oil. Next, beat six free-range eggs and add to the pan and cook for a few minutes. Top with some cheese, grill until the cheese melts and serve. Yum!”
Meal Five: Chicken stir fry
“Fry up an onion, garlic and grated ginger in some oil, add a chopped pepper, the rest of the chicken, some cooked rice and some coriander. Buy dried herbs, rice and tinned food like sweetcorn and pulses when you get paid to prepare for the dawn of February!”
Full recipes can be found at Mark’s blog: gasmarksix.net
4. Recycle your wardrobe
Fashion stylist Benn Robinson gives tips on how to update your wardrobe at home…
- Pull out your tired denim shirt and rub it with sandpaper to get the edgy “just bought look” that’s in stores now.
- Dye all your old black pieces black again. Jeans and t-shirts fade after washing so use Dylon dye to inject that brand-new feel again. Just don’t skip the instructions part.
- Go shopping in your closet; you’ll be surprised what you find. Take risks with old and new pieces and you’ll be shocked at how brand new you feel.
- What you don’t need, sell. And use the money for new pieces – or eat, up to you.
5. Catch a film on the cheap
Love film? The places to enjoy movies for next to nothing…
Pyramids at Wafi
When it comes to open-air cinema, this rooftop spot has become a Dubai favourite. There are big bean bags, popcorn, hotdogs and fun moving pictures.
When: Every Sunday from 8pm.
Where: Pyramids Building, Wafi Mall, Oud Metha
Contact: +971 4 324 4100, website
Like to shun all things commercial and embrace the arthouse? Cinema Akil at The Yard in Dubai’s main art hub, Alserkal District, has a winter programme showing progressive local and international films – but you probably know this already. It’s all set against a dusty industrial backdrop of warehouses and health cafés. Reel Palestine, on now, is part of their programming – and all of the screenings are free.
Where: Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz
Contact: +971 55 760 9260, website
#DXBExperiments Presents: The Cinema
The must-try experience takes place that takes place at Le Royal Mériden Beach Resort and Spa is an initiative from a certain famous Scottish beverages company and offers a range of interesting and innovative creations to accompany the films. A total of 27 movies will be screened on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, and they’re not the usual seen-them-a-million-times fodder of Grease and The Breakfast Club – think Withnail & I, The Big Lebowski and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. It’s on a first come, first served basis, but you can book a pre-show meal at Maya, Geales, Zengo, Al Khaima or Rhodes Twenty10.
When: Until December 26
Where: Le Royal Mériden Beach Resort & Spa
6. Download the Entertainer app
Granted the penny saving app is around all year long, it’s particularly handy for those have friends and family coming to visit this summer. The nifty app has a number of deals on a variety of dining and leisure activities that include buy one get one free offers on cinema tickets and mega savings of up to AED300 on your next visit to Ski Dubai. It's like putting money in the bank really.
Click here, to download the app.
7. Invest in solar power
While the initial cost of solar power is a bit high (a solar powered fan goes from AED250 at Dragon Mart 1), you could find yourself saving up to AED150 a month on your lights and water bill. Just don't forget to charge your fan or garden light.
8. Keep your change
While the odd dirham doesn’t seem like much, it could help you save a few hundred dirhams per month. Decide on a note that you will put aside every time you're given it as change. E.g. Every time the cashier gives you AED10, you put it in a jar. It's an amount of money that many people will barely notice, but by the end of the month, you could easily have a few hundred dirhams to enjoy yourself.
9. Try some fitness classes
Most gyms in Dubai offer a free trial run. So, if you’re looking for a way to kill time, save money and get fit all at once, scan through the city’s many gym and fitness class offerings for one that suits you. We hear that TK MMA & Fitness is great for all round strength and fitness training and the first class is free. If you're keen on classes and likely to go to multiple per week, we recommend you opt for a GuavaPass. For AED425 per month, you will get unlimited access to a number of fitness classes across the city (and you can get the first three months cheaper if you sign up during Ramadan.) A-Tone Fitness Lounge, Souplesse Cycle and Bespoke Ride are just a few of the centres that offer free classes to GuavaPass holders.
Click here to register for your GuavaPass.
10. Wait for sale season
We. Love. Sales. It's like putting money in the bank while still buying nice things, only for much (MUCH) less. Below are three up-and-coming sales that you have to look forward to.
White Friday Sale
Returning for its fourth year, Souq.com’s White Friday Sale will see some 16,000 brands offer up to 500,000 deals. Running from November 22 to November 25, the four-day sale will see discounts of up to 70 percent on products like mobiles, TVs, electrical appliances, cameras, perfume, furniture and more, much more.
When: November 22- November 25
3-Day Super Sale
The second season of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment’s 3-Day Super Sale will see brands like Harvey Nichols, Galeries Lafayette, Bloomingdale’s, Debenhams and more offer up to 30 and 90 percent discounts across their many outlets across the city.
When: November 23 to November 25
Where: Various outlets across the city
Dubai Shopping Festival
Dozens of outlets across the region will be holding massive discounts on everything from clothing to accessories to household goods. While the exact outlets taking part have not yet been announced, we assume that previous participants like Forever 21, New Look, H&M, Zara and Home Centre will be taking part – watch this space.
When: December 26 -January 27
Where: Various outlets across the city
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