From fun days out to drinks that won’t cost you a dirham, we’ve rounded up some of the best free activities in Dubai…

1. Wander around an art gallery

 

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Who said Dubai has no culture? You’ll find plenty of it within the walls of the city’s many wonderful (and often free) art galleries. The best place to start is Alserkal Avenue in Al Quoz, which is a hotbed of creative talent. There’s always an assortment of exhibitions, workshops, lectures and screenings. Another good place for art connoisseurs on a budget is the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, which is home to the lovely XVA Gallery (which doubles as a boutique hotel), and the Alserkal Cultural Foundation.

2. Visit a museum

 

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Dubai is full of unique (and at times just plain quirky) museums that you can enter free of charge or for very little. We love the Dubai Coffee Museum in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, where you can admire centuries-old grinders, roasters and pots from all over the world. There’s a Coin Museum in the same area, which is worth a wander even if you’re not a serious numismatist. Or if words are more your thing, you can check out a museum dedicated to the poet Al Oqaili, located in the Al Ras area in Deira – it’s housed in one of the most beautiful heritage houses in Dubai. Of course, there’s also the excellent Dubai Museum and Al Fahidi Fort, which is currently under renovation, but usually costs just Dhs3 to enter.

3. Hit the beach

 

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Unlike the fancy pay-to-enter hotel beaches, they might not offer a Balearic soundtrack or complimentary sunglasses-cleaning, but Dubai still has some great free public beaches to enjoy. The Beach at JBR is a perennial favourite – though be sure to get there early to nab the best patch of sand, as it gets really busy. Kite Beach is another goodie, named for the kite surfers that frequent it. But if you want to avoid the crowds, try Secret (or ‘Black Palace’) Beach – this spot is a bit trickier to find, but you’ll be rewarded with uncrowded waters and postcard-worthy views.

4. Take an abra ride across the Creek

 

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We’re convinced this is the best cruise in the city, and it costs just Dhs1. The Creek is the historic heart of Dubai, which once divided the city into two areas: Deira and Bur Dubai. Until the construction of Al Maktoum Bridge in 1963 – the first bridge in Dubai – the only way to get from one side to the other was in a rickety little wooden boat called an abra. It’s still undoubtedly the most fun (and affordable) way across.

5. Watch the dancing fountains

 

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It’s a classic, and for good reason. The Dubai Fountain is the world’s largest choreographed fountain system, performing mesmerizing watery routines to the likes of Whitney Houston, Enrique Iglesias and Celine Dion. The shows take place every half hour in the evenings starting from 6pm to 11pm (and until 11.30pm on weekends). When it launches on October 22, Palm Fountain at The Pointe will take the title for the world’s largest fountain – you can catch the three-minute performance every 30 minutes, from 7pm to midnight.

6. Have some free fun in the desert

 

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Forget those expensive desert safari packages – you can have your own fun out in the sand. We love the Al Qudra area, which is just a 30-minute drive from the city. You can bring your bike and go for a leisurely cycle around the Al Qudra Cycle Track, or grab a sandboard and carve some dunes. Keep an eye out for the friendly wild oryx and gazelle, too.

7. Go bird-watching for free

 

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Why pay money to visit a zoo when there’s some incredible wildlife right on your doorstep? We are, of course, talking about the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, located at the mouth of Dubai Creek. While more than 20,000 birds inhabit the sanctuary, it’s perhaps most famous for its magnificent flock of flamingos. To see them, all you have to do is rock up to one of three viewing hides dotted around the perimeter of the sanctuary. These are open from 7.30am to 5.30pm from October to March, and 6am to 6pm from April to September. Entrance is free and there are binoculars available to borrow, too.

8. Enjoy a free ladies’ night

 

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There are so many ladies’ nights in Dubai that you could quite easily sip your way through the whole week without spending a single dirham. On Tuesdays, take your pick of venues at Pier 7 in Dubai Marina. At Atelier M, women get three free drinks and beauty services from 6pm to midnight. Downstairs, at Mama Zonia, they can get four free drinks and 25 per cent off the food menu 6pm and 11pm. On Wednesdays, head to Souk Madinat Jumeirah, where ladies’ night deals are available across 11 venues, including free drinks at The Noodle House, Perry & Blackwelders and Trattoris.

9. There’s something for the boys, too

 

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That’s right, the freebies aren’t just for ladies – try heading along to a gents’ night. On Tuesday nights, McGettigan’s in Souk Madinat Jumeirah hosts an ‘Auld Fashioned’ gents’ night, offering lads three free drinks when they purchase a Dhs50 food voucher. Not too shabby…

10. Get free stuff on your birthday

 

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Did you know there are a bunch of restaurants, bars and attractions around Dubai that want to treat you on your birthday, with great discounts, deals… and even freebies? For example, you can register your date of birth on the Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark website and get a free day pass to the epic waterpark. Click here for even more brilliant birthday deals in Dubai…

Images: Instagram/Alserkal Avenue