Dubai, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), holds the distinction of being the fourth most-visited city in the entire world. As a matter of fact, Dubai expects to welcome as many as 20 million new visitors in 2020.
Thanks to its extravagant hotels, luxury shops, and its wealth of high-rise buildings, Dubai is commonly thought of as a millionaire’s travel destination. Many assume that getting to enjoy a holiday here is, at the most, aspirational. In truth, however, it’s very much possible to enjoy Dubai on a modest budget of USD 1000, or approximately RM 4,200, for an itinerary of five days. The trick is to schedule your holiday trip outside of peak season, to book comfortable accommodations (that aren’t in the range of the seven-star Burj Al Arab), and to plan what you want to well in advance in order to curb impulsive spending. You could even look into booking Dubai tour packages that help you save on flights and accommodations so you could splurge more instead on experiences.
To help you out on that front, here are the six most-recommended tourist activities in Dubai that won’t break the bank.
1.) Walk through the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood and learn about Dubai’s old way of life.
What was it like in the capital city of the Emirate of Dubai before the advent of the big oil businesses, the skyscrapers, and the throngs of tourists? A visit to the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood will give you the answer to that, and won’t require you to spend a hefty penny for it! It is here that you can survey the literal foundations of Dubai—in its austere stone-and-wood architecture, clean alleys, and surrounding greenery—and see for yourself the richness of Dubai’s culture.
2.) Shop for bargains at the Bur Dubai souks.
Dubai may be known as the “shopping capital of the Middle East,” but the heart and soul of its commerce lie not in expensive retail shops in malls, but rather in souks or traditional open-air marketplaces. At Bur Dubai, tourists can get their money’s worth and patronise locally made textiles, spices, perfumes, bags, jewelry, and the like. Indeed, what you shop for in a souk may give you more joy than a big haul from luxury stores.
3.) Soak up the sun at Kite Beach.
Kite Beach is the go-to destination in Dubai for water sports like kite surfing and jet skiing. But it lends itself just as well to more low-key activities, such as sunbathing and picture-taking. Best of all, entrance to Kite Beach is free, so all you’ll need to take with you is your beach gear, your camera, and a little extra money for food or souvenirs!
4.) Watch the fountain show for free from Dubai Mall.
Near the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, one can also encounter the world’s largest choreographed fountain system, which can jet up to 83,000 litres of water in a single moment. Of course, there is the option of booking a lake ride to see the majesty of the fountain system up close, but those who want to spend less money and enjoy the same sight from a little farther out can do so for free at the Dubai Mall.
5.) Tuck into the best of Dubai’s street eats.
At places like the Bur Dubai area and Deira, street food is replete. You can eat like a local—without any pretences—by sampling food like shawarma (roast meat on flatbread), flaky samosa (pastry sheets with filling that are popular in both Indian and Arab culture), karak (black tea with cardamom and evaporated milk), and many more.
6.) Take a stroll along the Dubai Marina. Even if you can only dream of owning a yacht like those parked in the marina, or a property as luxurious as that of Dubai’s apartments, the breathtaking view from the marina itself is free for anyone to take in. For the best results, time your walk in the early morning, at sunset, or in the evening—you’ll be able to see the most gorgeous colours within Dubai’s famed skyline.
Travelling on a budget is highly possible in Dubai, and it may be the best way to experience what the city has to offer. May you have a safe journey, and be further enriched by your memories in Dubai!