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40 alternative things to do in Dubai if you're doing dry January

Banish those blues with these fun activities…

Dubai is often synonymous with big brunches and never ending parties, however the city is home to an array of amazing activities that don’t involve drinking. From gorgeous beaches and outdoor activities to amusement parks and art classes, if you’re doing dry January you will won’t have a second to spare in the city that has it all.

Here are 40 fabulous things to try this January.

Stroll around Ripe Market

ripe market dubai police park

One of our favourite homegrown brands has a weekly outdoor market that runs all through the winter period. Following the guiding energy of the best sort of boss ladies, Becky Balderstone started Ripe because she couldn’t find fresh, organic, and seasonal produce in the UAE. This market has now expanded bring together an array of stalls which offer goodies from fashion or homeware to jewelry and accessories. While you’re there, you will not go hungry with the abundance of food vendors, and deli stalls where you can pick up delicious treats to fill your pantry.

Various locations in Dubai, every Saturday and Sunday, ripeme.com

See a stunning drone show

DUBAI DRONE SHOW

One of the unmissable highlights of Dubai Shopping Festival, the drone light show, is back by popular demand this January. The epic show takes place at Bluewaters and The Beach opposite JBR and runs until January 29 with two shows taking place daily at 7pm and 10pm. The 3D production cleverly illustrates the story of Dubai, with the help of cutting-edge technology including AR headsets, 500 drones, and two pilots. Each show lasts around five minutes long.

The Beach opposite JBR and Bluewaters, daily until January 29, 7pm and 10pm, free. visitdubai.com

Explore the Mangrove Beach in Umm Al Quwain

secret beaches UAE

Roughly an hour from Dubai, this secret beach opened to the public in 2020 and is perfect for a beach day. With public amenities you can rent kayaks, paddle-boards and when you get hungry there is a cafe you can grab a snack. You and your loved ones can paddle in the water, snorkel or just kick back and relax on the sand. It’s Dhs20 to enter with your car, and you can camp here overnight for a fee of Dhs100. If your wanting to make a proper day out of it, you can also BBQ here as long as you leave the beach untouched upon departure. Guests won’t have to leave their fur babies at home, with this beach being pet friendly.

Mangrove Beach, Um Al Quawain, Dhs20 for entry, Dhs100 to camp

Make a unique creation at The Mud House

mud house

All levels of potters are invited to this studio where everyone can play with clay. The Mud House is a diverse space, offering innovative classes, workshop space or somewhere to relax and have a coffee. Guests can enroll in their workshop programs with six sessions over a three-week period. For those interested in a membership, they start from a day pass to a week or even a month. If you’re in need of a new hobby, this is your cue.

Warehouse no.2, Street 4, Al Quoz Industrial 3, Tue 2pm to 8pm, Wed to Sun 10am to 8pm, Mon closed, Tel: (0)58 890 1500, themudhousestudio.com

Take a trip to the desert with Platinum Heritage

Platinum Heritage 

Class and luxury collide with culture and sustainability for this Platinum Heritage experience. Take your guests on a quintessential desert safari trip and visit the dunes in a traditional Land Rover. You can even opt for a hot air balloon experience or an overnight stay.

Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. platinum-heritage.com

Have a local experience at Ravi’s

Ravis alcohol-free activites Dubai

There are a number of must-not-miss restaurants in Dubai, but if you’re looking for one with no frills – go to popular dining and cultural experience Ravi Restaurant. It is located in the bustling neighbourhood of Satwa in Old Dubai where you can tuck into traditional Pakistani and Indian food for a pocket-friendly price. Since you’re here, go check out the Satwa Grand Mosque.

Ravi Restaurant, Al Satwa, open daily from 5am to 2am Tel: (0)4 331 5353, @ravirestaurantuae

Head to Hatta for a day of adventure

alcohol-free activites Dubai

Hatta is one of our favourite spots for escaping the city with a myriad of adventures on your doorstep.  From mountain biking to waterslides, a honey bee farm to a swan lake, it is the ultimate adventure haven. There’s an affordable new way to get to Hatta from Dubai: the Hatta Express Bus from Dubai Mall costs only Dhs25 per person and only takes one and a half hours. On arrival in Hatta, there’s the Hop On and Off bus from Hatta bus station to transport visitors around the main attractions, for just Dhs2.

visithatta.com

Be immersed into a futuristic world

alcohol-free activites Dubai

Aya, an experiential entertainment park, just opened its doors at Wafi City Mall and transports visitors into a futuristic universe through the magic of art and technology. Aya is spread across 40,000 square feet at Wafi City Mall, divided into 12 different zones, all with water and space themes, such as ‘the falls,’ ‘luna,’ and ‘aurora.’ Each room is filled with interactive experiences that you can wander through, witness and even touch, so there’s sure to be some Instagram-worthy locations as you move through the destination. Luminous gardens, twinkling galaxies and stunning light shows await.

Aya Dubai, first floor, Wafi Mall, Oud Metha Road, 10am to 10pm weekdays, 10am to midnight weekends, opens December 17, Dhs99. Tel: (0)4 542 0300, aya-universe.com

Zipline or hike at Jebel Jais

alcohol-free activites Dubai

The world’s longest zip line is conveniently located in the UAE, where all daredevils can soar over the Jebel Jais mountains. Whilst you’re here, you may also want to explore Jebel Jais’ two hiking areas, which are home to a total of six hiking trails. The lower segment has five trails for varying abilities, starting from 0.7km (Farfaar trail) up to 6km (Samar trail). Hikes are well marked out but if you prefer to have some supervision, Beyond Action (beyondaction.ae), Challenging Adventure (challengingadventure.com) and Adventurati Outdoor (adventurati-outdoor.com) all offer guided tours. The upper trail is a bit more demanding with a steep start. However, the track is well defined making it difficult to lose your way.  

Ras Al Khaimah Jebel Jais Zipline, Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, Tel: (0)50 828 9923, rasalkhaimahzipline.com

Go thrift shopping at Thrift for Good

 

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A post shared by ThriftforGood (@thriftforgood)

This enterprise is putting Dubai’s old clothes to good use: re-homing preloved items to reduce waste. Thrift for Good welcomes all clothes as they are committed to repairing or recycling old items or materials. Go to any of their outlets to find your perfect thrift find, or to donate all of those clothes you have been hiding at the back of your cupboard. All profits go to helping children around the world, in partnership with Gulf for Good.

Multiple locations, Mon to Fri, 10am to 10pm, thriftforgood.org

Watch a camel race

Camel Racing alcohol-free activites Dubai

You may think of camels as lumbering beasts but in fact, they can reach speeds of 65km per hour. See them thunder along a racetrack with mini robot jockeys on their humps in April at Al Marmoum Heritage Festival.

Dubai Camel Racing Club, Al Ain Road, Al Marmoom, Dubai, Tel: (0)4 718 8888, dubaicrc.ae

Brave a terrifying escape room

Deep Dark Dubai alcohol-free activites Dubai

Deep Dark Dubai is an escape room for those horror-movie fans and is a neat spot if you want to scare yourself silly. There are live actors and it all takes place in a pitch dark villa (gulp). You can pick from ‘Paranormal’ or ‘The Sinner’. Book here.

Deep Dark Dubai, Al Meydan Street, KML Business Center, Villa 7, Dubai, prices vary, Tel: (0)55 954 9282. deepdarkdubai.ae

Reach your fitness goals by joining a running club

running-clubs-dubai alcohol-free activites Dubai

If you’re looking for a source of fitness motivation or just wanting to try something new, there are a number of running clubs in Dubai. Each club operates in different areas and focusses on different aspects, so there definitely will be one that suits your goals and lifestyle. Join the Desert Road Runners, 5.30am Run Club, Dubai Creek Striders, Dubai Trail Runners DXB, ABRaS, Adidas Runners or Mirdif Milers to kickstart your fitness journey. Check out the full list of running clubs available in Dubai.

Various clubs in Dubai, UAE

Take your four-legged friend to The Pointe beach

pointebeach dog friendly dubai

You and your furry friends are now able to take a romantic stroll on Pointe Beach. With stunning views of the Atlantis, The Palm, the crescent and palm fronds, this will be your new favourite dog walking spot. Make sure to keep your dog on the leash at all times and to not take a dip in the sea. After your walk, why not stop by one of the many dining outlets for a quick coffee or a wholesome meal?

Pointe Beach, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, open 10am to 11pm daily. thepointe.ae

Face your fears at The Storm Coaster at Dubai Hills Mall

The Storm Coster alcohol-free activites Dubai

The Storm Coaster is a thrilling, first of its kind indoor coaster combining a vertical drop and an immersive pre-ride experience. The aptly name coaster places guests in the exciting world of storm chasing. Daredevils will be lifted high above the Dubai skyline and then will be plunged into the heart of an epic mega-storm using real-world footage with cinematic special effects. Do note, riders need to be at least 130cm in height to hop onboard. 

Dubai Hills Mall, Dubai Hills Estate. @dubaihillsmall

Grab a coffee at a cool desert pop-up

The ever popular and Insta worthy Hidden pop-up is back. This off-the-grid desert pop-up cafe oozes boho-vibes, with rope deck chairs in crisp white surrounding cosy campfires, earthy woven bean bags and rattan sofas covered in plush cushions. Hidden welcomes guests for evenings under the stars from 4pm to 12am from Sunday to Thursday and 4pm until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Hidden, near Al Maha, Dubai, Sun to Thu 4pm to 12am and Fri and Sat 4pm to 2am. @hidden_dubai

Take a ride on an abra across the Creek

For centuries, these 20-person wooden boats have served as water taxis across the Creek. Take the eight-minute trip and get a peek of Dubai as it was, for a single Dirham. They are a great way to explore both sides to the historic old town – from Deira to Bur Dubai. Many locals use the boats to get from point A to point B and avoid traffic but it is a charming experience, especially if you go around sunset.

Abra Station, Bur Dubai

Visit a cool gallery in Al Quoz

Efie gallery

The Efie Gallery opened its doors in March 2022 in the heart of Dubai’s cultural centre, Al Quoz. Specialising in the representation and advancement of African art, The Efie Gallery hosts a diverse range of artists, exhibitions, as well as a dynamic residency program that promotes collaborations with local artists, institutions, and community members. Make sure to keep track of their socials as they are always hosting vibrant and interesting new exhibitions, showcasing up and coming talents.

Efie Gallery, Al Khayat Art Avenue, Al Quoz 1, Dubai, Tues to Sun 11am to 7pm, Mon closed, Tel: (0)42 524 182, efiegallery.com

Try a delicious ramen from Daikan Ramen

daikan

A noodle soup is one of our go-to comfort meals. No matter what type of broth we go for, it always hits the spot. And when that ramen-craving hits, it’s important to know where the top spots serving Ramen in Dubai. This restaurant aspires to bring you delicious, yet simple Japanese cuisine. They offer a variety of broth bases from soy to miso, spicy and veggie. Pick from a number of delicious toppings that are available to add in. There are many bites to go along with your meal such as kimchi or gyozas.

Multiple locations across Dubai, @daikanramen

Spend the day at Mamzar Beach Park

mamzar-park

One of Dubai’s best-kept secrets is Mamzar Beach Park. With pristine white beaches stretching alone the blue shores guests can dip in the water, BBQ with friends or take a gentle jog along the 4km running track, whilst basking in the gorgeous scenery. With amazing views of the Downtown Dubai skyline, this spot makes for a perfect day out. Be aware that BBQing is not permitted on the beach and only in the dedicated BBQ areas.

Al Mamzar Beach, Deira, Dubai

Marvel at Dubai Miracle Garden

affordable date night dubai

One for the Dubai bucket list is definitely a trip to Miracle Garden. This incredible place features hundreds of flower displays in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, including a newly designed three-dimensional clock, a floating rock with a fountain, floral peacocks, as well as two floral exhibits inspired by favourite characters: a Genie and a flying magic carpet. Don’t forget to check out the iconic Emirates A380 (the world’s largest flower structure), the floating lady, teddy bear and more.

Dubai Miracle Garden, Dubailand, Dubai, for adults above the age of 12, it’s Dhs55 and for children in the age range of three to 12, it’s Dhs40. Book your tickets here.

Kickstart your morning with sunrise SUP yoga

Sunrise Yoga

Dubai is not all about living in the fast lane, so make sure to slow things down and find ‘zen mode’ with a paddle boarding session. Located outside Riva Beach Club, guests will be able to paddle with views of the Palm Jumeirah fronds, Burj Al Arab and even (on a clear day) the Burj Khalifa. The sunrise yoga session will help you feel centered and to connect with nature. There’s also moonlight beach yoga available if they are more of the night owl type, or regular paddle board rentals which are available throughout the day.

SUP Yoga, RIVA Beach Club, Palm Jumeriah, Sat from 6.30am to 7.30am, Dhs100, or Dhs75 for regular paddle board hire, Tel (0)52 249 5311, ignitewatersports.com

Be a big kid with bowling, arcade games and more

indoor activities in Dubai - brass monkey

Brass Monkey is one of those indoor activities in Dubai you have to try with mates. Downstairs you’ll find the bowling alley and old arcade games while upstairs there are billiard tables, and a dedicated game room with more arcade games including Pac-Man to take you on a nostalgia trip. Sorry, little ones, this spot is only for the big kids above the ages of 21.

Brass Monkey, Bluewaters Island, Dubai, Tel: (0)4 582 7277@brassmonkeysocial

Get your creative juices flowing at Meraki

merakai coasters

Workshops here mainly focus on resin and how to become a master manipulator of this material. Guests will be taught how to choose and blend to create aesthetic patterns. For Dhs225 you can create resin coasters in two hours – a perfect gift for a friend. Meraki’s activities range from DIY painting sessions to neon art attacks, there is something for everyone here.

Al Quoz Industrial Area 3, Tues 12 to 7pm, Wed to Sun 10am to 7pm, Mon closed, Tel: (0)55 507 4321, merakiartstudio.ae

Explore nearby the nearby shores of Khorfakkan’s Shark Island

shark-island-secret-beach

Located on the South Eastern side of Khorfakkan’s bay, this spot is for those who have a flare for adventure. All beach dwellers must make their way to the Khorfakkan port, at which point there will be plenty of boats that will take you to the island. Here, you can bask in the crystal clear waters that surround the stoney island formation. Shark Island is perfect for those who have a hankering for snorkeling, as the waters are home to a phenomenal variety of sea life. Boat rides typically cost between Dhs60 and Dhs100 depending on how many people are in your party. Be sure to pack all your essentials before reaching the island as there are no amenities available, as well as a form of ID for the boat trip.

Shark Island, Khorfakkan.

Get snap-happy at this 3D selfie museum

indoor activities in Dubai - 3d museum

Get snap-happy at Dubai’s largest 3D trick art museum. There are tons of different artworks that, when you pose for a picture with them, create a cool optical illusion. Go with phone batteries fully charged as these snaps will be a star on your ‘Gram.

3D World Selfie Museum Dubai, Behind Mashreq Bank, Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Quoz 4, Dubai, open daily 10am to 8pm daily, Tel: (0)50 987 6511. @3dworlddxb

Volunteer at K9 Friends

K9 Friends volunteer in dubai

Animal lovers, this is your spot to volunteer in Dubai to make a difference. In operation since 1989, K9 Friends aims to rescue and rehome stray and abandoned dogs. This organisation is solely run by volunteers who are 21+ and can commit for at least six months. All individuals that are interested are invited to an informational coffee morning where they will learn more about the office, kennel and the tasks they will have to undertake. 

K9 Friends, Dubai Investment Park, Sat to Thur 9am to 4pm, Fri 9am to 4pm, Tel: (0)52 593 0265, www.k9friends.com

Tuck in to fresh seafood

affordable date night dubai

Whilst Dubai might be known for its abundance of fancy restaurants, those who are really in the know of the city’s hidden culinary marvels will have heard of Bu Qtair. Make sure your date is the get-stuck-in type, because a fancy restaurant this is not. This casual fish shack is known for some of the best fresh fish in Dubai. You’ll pick your catch, sourced by local fishermen, which is then cooked to perfection using Bu Qtair’s ‘secret recipe’. The prices are as humble as the place itself.

Bu Qtair, Fishing Harbour 2, Dubai, open daily 11.30am to 11.30pm. Tel: (0)55 705 2130. facebook.com

Visit the Love Lakes

lovelakes

This hidden gem is debatably one of the coolest things in Dubai. Guests can come here for a walk, run, cycle, or just bring a camping chair and enjoy the scenery. There are unpaved tracks running alongside the lakes and much wildlife in its vicinity, making this spot a peaceful getaway from the urban city landscape. These lakes are located in Al Qudra, which is about an hour’s drive away so plan your fitness schedule accordingly.

Love Lakes, Al Qudra, Dubai

Go ice-skating at Global Village

snowfestarticle ice rink global village alcohol-free activites Dubai

Time to lace up! Global Village just keeps getting better and better, with a never-ending stream of entertainment. They recently opened their doors for Season 27, and as part of this have now launched their brand new eco-friendly outdoor Snowfest Ice Rink. Guests will be provided with all the equipment needed: skates, socks, and even a seal aid if you’re feeling a bit rusty. Tickets to go ice skating will cost you Dhs40 for 20 minutes of pure fun.

Global Village, Emirates Road Exit 37, Dubai, Sun to Wed 4pm to 12am, Thur to Sat 4pm to 1am, Tel: (0)4 362 4114, globalvillage.ae

Wander around Alserkal Avenue

Alserkal avenue alcohol-free activites Dubai

Take a stroll down Alserkal Avenue to enjoy the artier and hipster side of Dubai. A cultural landmark, this avenue is home to numerous galleries, boutique shops and rustic cafés. Spend the evening strolling around being enriched by the international art on display and soaking in the cool vibes.

Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, open daily from 10am to 7pm, Tel: (0)4 333 3464, alserkal.online@alserkalavenue

Spend the morning on a hot air balloon 

Hot Air Ballooning alcohol-free activites Dubai

The Dubai desert is somewhere we don’t visit enough, yet it’s right on our doorstep. At sunrise all adventurers will be able to drift peacefully over the emirate’s iconic desert where you’ll even be able to spot camels, gazelles and much more of Dubai’s cool wildlife. Tours will pick you up just before sunrise and transport you to the desert and arrange a drop off service after your dreamy morning.

balloon-adventures.com

Get you next workout on the beach

crank-x-salt-article alcohol-free activites Dubai

Being spoilt with such gorgeous weather here in Dubai, we’re big fans of maximing sunshine hours –  and what better way to do so than working out in the sun? You can now kickstart your morning with an outdoor workout, courtesy of Crank. Join one of our favourite home-grown brands with their weekly outdoor ride and shape sessions at SALT, on Kite Beach. Crank has got you sorted with workout equipment, silent disco headsets and pure good vibes; getting your full body workout done bright and early.

Crank x Salt, Salt Kite Beach, Jumeirah Dubai, every Sat, 7:30 and 8:30, Dhs120, Tel: (0)4 321 2095. crank-fit.com

Spot flamingos at Ras al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary alcohol-free activites Dubai

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is located just a few minutes’ drive from Dubai Mall. More than 20,000 birds of 67 species inhabit the area, which is most famous for its magnificent flock of flamingos. To see them, head to one of three viewing hides dotted around the perimeter of the sanctuary. The sanctuary is free to enter, and is open from 7.30am to 5.30pm during the winter season, and from 6am to 6pm between April and September.

dm.gov.ae

Immerse yourself in art at Infinity des Lumieres

Infinity des Lumieres Dubai

The immersive digital art space in Dubai Mall is said to be the biggest and most advanced digital art gallery in the GCC – a must-visit if you love art or don’t. It spans an impressive 2,700 square metres where stunning works of art will be bought to life through the use of 130 projectors and 58 speakers on a total surface projection of 3,300 sqm (walls and floor included). The hall will also be filled with supporting music making the whole experience very dreamlike.

Infinity des Lumières, Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, infinitylumieres.com

Go for a romantic stroll in the Marina

affordable date night dubai alcohol-free activites Dubai

The iconic Dubai Marina is breathtaking at night, when its glittering skyscrapers and majestic yachts are reflected in the silky waters. Enjoy a romantic amble around, with a walk of up to 3.8 miles. There are plenty of restaurants and outlets around to stop at if you get peckish.

Dubai Marina. 

Get in touch with nature with a hike in Wadi Abadilah

Here in the UAE we are blessed with such beautiful and vast landscapes, and with this current weather there is no better time to gather your besties and go on an adventure. This trail has gained popularity with hikers that are all about the picturesque nature scenes. This trail is considered easy to moderate and will take you through agricultural farmland where you will spot banana trees, mango trees, date palms and more. As we’ve had a bit of rain this year, so you may be lucky to catch flowing streams and pools in the wadis. It is possible for little ones to do this hike but do keep an eye on them as a few rocks can be slippery.

Wadi Abadilah, Fujirah, UAE

Enjoy Levatine cuisine at a Michelin Guide listed restaurant

alcohol-free activites Dubai

Salam Dakkak, the chef and owner of the Levantine restaurant Bait Maryam, has been named by World’s 50 Best as the Middle East & North Africa’s (MENA) best female chef of 2023. The Michelin Guide listed restaurant is known for its authentic flavours and home-style cooking and has won a legion of fans since opening in JLT in 2017. One of her signature dishes, Fatet Musakhan, consists of shredded chicken that has been cooked with onion, sumac and topped with a garlic yogurt and fried bread. Additionally Maryam Fukhara, consists of fried kebbe with pomegranate molasses and tamarind sauce. All her dishes are perfect for sharing with your loved ones, in classic family style.

Bait Maryam, Cluster D, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai, 10am to 11pm daily, Tel: (0)4 241 8447. @bait.maryam

Take an art class at The jamjar

the jamjar

Nestled in the heart of Dubai’s art scene on Alserkal Avenue, thejamjar is a community arts centre striving to grow Dubai’s art scene. It holds weekly art workshops for adults, teens and children. If you want an artwork space, thejamjar has you covered with its ‘do-it-yourself’ painting studio. thejamjar offers diverse art programs, educational initiatives and community projects, building and strengthening the Dubai art world. It’s open for all levels of artists.

Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz 1, Sat to Thurs 10am to 7pm, Fri 1pm to 8pm, Tel: (0)4 341 7303, thejamjardubai.com

Visit the Chillout Ice Lounge

Chillout Ice Lounge alcohol-free activites Dubai

Apart from Ski Dubai, Chillout Ice Lounge is another one of the spots here in Dubai that offer up a below-freezing atmosphere as you dine or have a coffee. It’s the first of its kind in the Middle East and will leave guests with cool images of themselves posing with ice sculptures.

Chillout Ice Lounge, Times Square Center, open daily from 10am to 10pm, Tel: (0)4 341 8121, chilloutindubai.com@chillouticeloungedubai

Images: Social and provided

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