Budget Abu Dhabi guide
Things to do in Abu Dhabi for Dhs10 or less Discuss this article
When pay day comes, the cash never quite seems to stretch far enough, no matter how frugal we think we are. So, we’re here to help and we’ve found 25 things to do, eat or buy for Dhs10 or less – even better, some of the activities won’t even cost you a fil...
Enjoy a family day out at Umm Al Emarat Park
We love visiting one of the oldest and largest urban parks in Abu Dhabi. There’s so much to do here, apart from just chilling out on the grass. With more than 200, 20-year-old trees, a botanical garden and the prestige of a Green Flag Award, which recognises the world’s best green spaces. Umm Al Emarat Park, formerly known as Mushrif Park, keeps on growing thanks to its 2015 renovation. The Animal Barn allows kids to feed the animals and is open to visitors from 9am to 9pm, while the interactive fountain in the Children’s Garden operates from 10am to 10pm. If you want some fresh produce, the Ripe Market is on every Saturday from 4pm to 11pm. Other activities include the Abu Dhabi Science Festival and Get Driver Fit fitness sessions this month, and the Love Food Festival in February next year. The park has recently introduced a loyalty card programme for all frequent visitors including an annual membership option, which will save you some of your dough.
Entry is Dhs5, kids under three go free. Open daily 8am-12am. 15th Street, Mushrif (02 666 9559).
Get your creative juices flowing at the art hub
Abu Dhabi Art Hub serves as a platform for interaction and cross-cultural artistic exchanges between national, regional and international artists. There are a few exhibitions running this month including The Colours of Brazil, which celebrates some of the South American nation’s most recognised professional painters. Event organiser Eric Landmayer has been working with Brazilian artists since 1975, represents more than 5,000 of them and is associated in exhibiting their works all over the world. See page 58 for more news from Abu Dhabi Art Hub.
Free. Until Nov 19. Musaffah (02 551 5005).
Visit Abu Dhabi’s symbolic birthplace, Qasr Al Hosn
The emirate’s first permanent structure was once home to its ruling Al Nahyan family. Qasr Al Hosn started out as a watchtower, built to protect the only freshwater well in Abu Dhabi.There are fascinating oral testimonies and historic photographs that bring this important monument to life. Contemporary Emirati voices reflect on Abu Dhabi’s history and transformation and Qasr Al Hosn’s key role as a vibrant symbol of its heritage, culture and tradition. It is currently being restored to bring it back to its former glory so you can only catch a glimpse from the outside. But the visitor centre next door will keep history buffs entertained.
Free. Sheikh Zayed The First Street, Al Markaziyah West.
Watch a movie under the stars at THE Sheraton
Sit back, relax and enjoy an open-air movie experience at the Sheraton hotel. There’s a diverse mix of movies to watch that cater to all tastes. This month’s line-up includes The Peanuts Movie, Eat Pray Love, Captain Phillips, Monsters University and Batman v Superman.
Dhs10 per person (redeemable against food or drink during the film). The Beachcomber, Sheraton Abu Dhabi (02 677 3333).
Have some cheap (or free) laughs at a comedy club
Yalla Laughs is one of Abu Dhabi’s finest comedy club nights, offering free shows with both open mic and pro comics sharing the stage. Grab your family and friends and enjoy a night of gargantuan giggles.
Free (Over 21s). Every Thu, from 8pm. Up and Below, Courtyard by Marriott World Trade Center, www.yallalaughs.com.
Visit a Souk and Haggle over the price of fish
Every morning, fishermen load their catch on to the quayside and prepare for a day of haggling at the Fish Souk. Head here for a fascinating insight into the way traditional business is done. Across the road, the Al Mina Fruit & Vegetable Souk market is bursting with colour. The choice is amazing, and you can buy by the kilo or the box. Even if you are not buying, this area provides excellent photo opportunities. Meanwhile, there are bargains to be had at the Carpet Souk, if you know what you are looking for. Some of the sellers will make up majlis-style cushions for a snip.
Free entry. Mina Souk, Mina Road, near Abu Dhabi’s main port area.
Celebrate The Uae Year Of Reading At A Library
The National Library collects, preserves and displays ancient Arabic and Islamic manuscripts, covering a variety of topics including history, culture, science and arts. So, bookworms will have plenty to get their imaginations going. The capital’s librarians are also a great resource for either helping with your research or recommending books that you might be interested in.
Free. Muroor Street (02 657 6058).
Have a ladies’ night
For ladies, there are so many to choose from in the capital, all either offering free drinks or special deals. Girls can expect some VIP treatment at Rush, winner of Best Ladies’ Night at the Time Out Abu Dhabi Music & Nightlife Awards this year. Every Monday ladies get free drinks from 10.30pm to 1.30am. If you prefer a Wednesday night out, you can try Turquoiz lounge and amplify your evening with signature sips, a tapas platter and tunes from DJ Chad, from 6pm to 9pm.
Rush, Yas Viceroy (055 780 0086). Turquioz, St. Regis Saadiyat Island (02 498 8443).
Have a gents’ night
Lads, don’t worry, there are a few special nights dedicated to the gents as well, such as Monday Gentlemen’s Night at Jazz ‘N’ Fizz where you can enjoy 50 percent off on house beverages.
Every Mon from 6pm. Jazz ‘N’ Fizz, Sofitel, Corniche (02 813 7848).
Watch local teams play football
Cheering on a local team won’t break the bank. In fact, it’s absolutely free. Head to Al Wahda’s Al Nahyan Stadium to catch some Arabian Gulf League action. The capacity of the stadium is 12,000, but in most cases it’s far from a sell-out. However, the home fans create some atmosphere and there are some quality players plying their trade in the capital.
Free entry. Al Nahyan Stadium, Hazza Bin Zayed Street (02 443 3000).
Go Camel Racing at Al Wathba Racetrack
The racing season falls in the winter months from October to March and races are usually held during the weekend mornings at modern race tracks. You will be treated to a huge “camel parade” and then a free-for-all race with literally hundreds of camels speeding around the track at once. This is truly one of the can’t-miss days out for anyone in the UAE. Make sure you arrive early, though, if you want to enjoy the full experience.
Free. Fri and Sat from 7am. Al Wathba (02 583 9200).
Volunteer with a charity
Lending a helping hand to support various community projects and services has never been easier in Abu Dhabi. A number of leading voluntary organisations, including Takato, Zayed Giving Initiative, UAE Red Crescent Authority, Tamm Voluntary Programme and Nahtam Social Responsibility, are always on the lookout for willing volunteers.
Jog or cycle at Yas Marina Circuit
Spend your Sunday or Tuesday evenings working out on the world-famous Formula One track. Whether you’re a serious runner, a keen cyclist, or simply wanting to take a sunset stroll with the family, this is the ideal place to stay healthy and fit. Get there early so you can pick up one of the free bikes.
Free (first 400 bikes are free to use). Sun and Tue 6pm-10pm. Yas Marina Circuit (02 659 9800).
Grab a snack at Gulf pastry
If you need an afternoon pick-me-up then head to this pastry shop for a delicious, fresh, savoury treat. Choose from cheese, meat and vegetable pastries, the selection of which is massive. And, you can’t go wrong with the incredibly low prices!
From Dhs3. Various locations including Khalifa City. Opposite Emirates Islamic Bank, Khalifa City A (02 556 2043).
Bag Japanese-style bargains at Daiso
If you haven’t been to Daiso, a Japanese store full of garden gnomes, tea sets, personal massagers et al, then you have to know it’s a haven for thrifty shoppers. The products are usually small, quirky and affordable – with most of the items priced at just Dhs7. The stock may be cheap, but it’s definitely not tacky.
From Dhs7. Various locations including Yas Mall (02 414 6401).
Relax on corniche beach
Every month, between 30,000 to 50,000 visitors head to the Corniche’s beaches where they enjoy three separate sections for families, singles and the general public. But there is more than enough space for everyone. During the week you can usually find a parasol, but on the weekend they may all go quickly, so arrive early.
Entry to the public beach is free, and Dhs10 for the singles’ and family sections. BAKE
Beaches open daily 8am-8pm. Public beaches open daily 8am-8pm.
Discover heritage village
This is a great family-friendly attraction. There are Bedouin tents set up with camp fires brewing up Arabian tea. Kids will love the camels, Arabian horses and goats housed here and there are several exhibits showcasing local arts such as weaving or glass-blowing. There are often falconry demonstrations as well.
Free. Near Marina Mall, Breakwater, Abu Dhabi city (02 681 4455).
Munch on a Vada Pao at Salam Bombay
This popular Mumbai street food snack is incredibly tasty and filling. It comes in a bun filled with spicy potatoes, deep fried in gram flour batter, along with hot and spicy garlic chutney. The buns are small, so we recommend ordering two. Is it lunchtime yet?
From Dhs5. Behind Sharjah Islamic Bank, Electra Street (02 677 7076).
Enjoy an active day at Zayed Sports City
There are so many free activities to enjoy here. Bring your bike for a leisurely ride around the grounds or go for a run or jog. There’s also a playground with climbing frames and slides for little ones to expend energy. Skaters and rollerbladers are in their element here, while those looking for a little challenge can take on the stairs of the national stadium for free every last Thursday of the month (visit www.trainzsc.com) with other like-minded keep-fit fans wanting to do some cardio.
Free. Open 24 hours. Airport Road, www.zsc.ae (02 403 4200).
Tuck into a Timbit at Tim Hortons
Ever wondered where the hole inside a doughnut goes? Well, at Tim Hortons it is used to make a tiny little snack. Okay, so you have to buy a pack of at least ten for Dhs9, but trust us, one will simply not do… Take them into your office and you’ll make some serious good friends, too.
Dhs9. Various locations including Al Seef Village Mall (055 213 6296).
Feast on parathas at Dar Al Karak & Al Mehala
These freshly-made treats are cheap and cheerful but also very satisfying. Choose from a variety of parathas including egg, sugar and cheese. The karak tea and traditional luqaimat (sweet dumpling balls) are popular, too.
From Dhs1. Salam Street, Al Dhafrah, Abu Dhabi (02 441 0055).
Run along the Eastern Mangroves
There’s no ignoring the traffic on the main road, but on the other side of the national park you have a great route for jogging on the stretch that runs parallel to Al Salam Street (about three-and-a-half miles). It’s also a great place to practise some tricks on your skateboard or rollerblades. Going fishing here is a popular pastime, so bring your gear and try your luck – you might even catch some supper for later. Or, if you’ve packed a picnic, sit inside one of the many gazebos along the path.
Free. Open 24 hours. Eastern Ring Road.
Walk around the stunning grounds at Sheikh Zayed Mosque
There are 82 domes, more than one thousand columns, four 107 metre-high minarets and a 12-ton chandelier at this incredibly stunning Abu Dhabi landmark. As one of the few mosques in the region open to non-Muslims, it is a fascinating opportunity to learn more about Islam and the role it plays in Emirati culture. Unlike other mosques in Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is open daily to visitors, except on Friday morning, which is for worshippers only. Complimentary one-hour guided tours run throughout the week.
Free. Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Street, www.szgmc.ae (02 419 1919).
Get arty at Warehouse 421
It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking cultural attractions have to mean tradition and old-fashioned stuffiness. This cultural hub is a centre for creativity and expression that is bang up to date and rather inspiring. Through sessions such as its interactive Wednesday nights, featuring workshops, film screenings and panel discussions, you can get in touch with your own creative side as well as see exhibitions and snap up art for your home.
Free. Open Tue-Sun 10am-8pm. Mina Zayed, www.warehouse421.ae.
Buy Time Out
It’s only Dhs10, it’ll keep you entertained all week and you’ll have plenty of ideas of what to get up to in your spare time. Bargain!
By Faiza Amjid
Time Out Abu Dhabi,