As the title obviously suggests guys, there’s no sightseeing involved (no Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall on this list). We are talking fun residents-y (not touristy) activities in Dubai that you can plan your weekend around and not go broke in the process.
There are a lot more activities in Dubai both indoor and outdoor but I personally engage in the ones below regularly and can vouch for them. Easy on the pocket and super entertaining, so let’s gooo:
Back to Games (FREE)
Located in Times Square Center on Sheikh Zayed Road, this is a hidden gem for people looking to spend cheap and fun happy hours/weekend evenings. Back to Games is the UAE’s first board and card games retailer shop selling about 1000 different games both online and offline. Whether it’s a date for two or a catch up for 10, board games are probably the best kind of activity even for the digital natives.
Wokyo (pay for food)
Aka my happy place, Wokyo is a noodle bar located in JLT that not just sells noodles but also offers tons of American and Japanese board and card games + origami. Not to mention the live performances in the evenings. The waiters have contagious smiles and the food is delicious. You CANNOT leave the place unhappy.
The best thing about Wokyo is the simplicity of the menu (just like all things Japanese). I don’t spend more than 3 minutes deciding what I want and then spend 25,000 hours cheering myself up making dogs with origami.
Fitness Classes (FREE)
This is why Dubai is awesome! I didn’t know there were so many fitness centers, dance institutions and public gyms in the city that offered free first classes to everyone. Some of the free classes I’ve attended are Aerial Hoop at The Warehouse Gym in Al Quoz, Parkour at TK MMA Fitness in Dubai Media City and Yoga with 136.1 Yoga Studio Dubai (also wrote about this one here). I intend to now go for other kinds of yoga, calisthenics and even pole dancing! 🙂
This is also a good time to mention the 30-day Dubai Fitness Challenge launching on October 20! All you have to do is register and download the app to unlock workouts, free classes and other exclusive deals! You can join with family, friends or colleagues (I joined with all three) and try all kinds of workouts.
Ripe Food & Craft Market or Farmers Market (FREE if you don’t buy anything)
Alas my favorite activity on Friday mornings (apart from indulging in expensive face masks) is to go shopping for organic vegetables and chicken from outdoor markets. Ripe Market sells organic vegetables from around the world at premium prices, while Farmers Market in Business Bay sells foods from Al-Very Local Farms Fil Emarat. Anyway, I would rather pay premium for organically grown shapeless vegetables than give my money to large corporations injecting all kinds of dodgy things in my food to make it look perfect. But that’s only one of the reasons.
Ripe Markets and Farmers Markets are not just fun, but also a change of scene for the mall goers. They have stalls with free food tasting, handmade clothes, toys, jewelry and beauty products. I love buying me a spiral potato stick and walking around window shopping – except it’s in a park and ten times more refreshing. Can I also just mention how satisfying it is to walk out knowing your money will support genuine businesses and build the lives of local entrepreneurs.
Al Qudra (FREE if you don’t buy anything)
Al Qudra is an easy getaway for locals of Dubai (why wander off into the desert when you have Al Qudra?). There are a bunch of outdoorsy things to do (quite rare in this part of the world) that people looking for cheap adventure will enjoy. Let me set expectations for all those who haven’t yet visited to Al Qudra:
- The Lake – manmade lake, which until very recently was host to a variety of bird species including starlings, flamingoes, falcons and eagles.
- The longest cycling track – HH Sheikh Mohammed himself was spotted multiple times at the 84-km track stretched across the area. I plan to cycle the entire loop before end of this year. Expect a post on that once it is done.
- Camping – there are only a handful camping sites in this country. With life only a few kilometers away, camping around Al Qudra desert is a simple day/night out. Works for people who are looking for camping-like experience but not too wild.
There’s a million other things that you can do over the weekend that are enjoyable and almost free. Some of them I’ve talked about here and here. Then there are other things like the Dubai Fountain, the Dubai mall, etc. but only if the tourists let you.
This is a very personal list and does not include a lot of things that you can do in and around Dubai. But I will keep updating you guys as I try stuff.
P.S. Most of the photos on this post are not my own.