Abu Dhabi on a budget

Save money on food, fashion, attraction and more in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi on a budget
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There is no escaping the fact that Abu Dhabi can be a very expensive place to live. But the good news is you can save a dirham or ten if you are savvy about it.

We’ve rounded up loads of cheap places in the capital whether you want food, entertainment, shopping, spas or more.

Budget eats

Ponderosa Steakhouse
Granted, you can spend all your dirhams at the city’s posh hotels on a piece of wagyu from a cow that lived its life being pampered on silk cushions, or you could grab yourself a proper bargain and head to the Ponderosa Steakhouse, where you can get a decent 8oz sirloin steak for just Dhs64. Want more? They do a buffet for Dhs59.
Hamad Centre Building, Electra Street (02 639 3374).

Royal Rajasthan
One of the city’s many restaurants that serves both Indian and Chinese dishes, this little place does excellent dosas such as ghee masala flavour, Indian soups, biryanis and an absolutely huge selection for vegetarians. Their bread menu is also extensive. The dosas cost around Dhs10 and their thalis are only Dhs22.
Al Markaziyah (02 635 3763).

Rolls ’n’ Rice
A neat little café serving a selection of steaks, seafood and meat dishes: you can bag a good sirloin steak for Dhs65, but we also recommend the peri peri grilled shrimps, served with grilled veg and pineapple rice.
Y Tower, Al Nahyan (02 446 2020).

Philippine House Restaurant
Has three branches all over the city and two people can easily eat here for Dhs40. Try the fish curry and the chicken with coconut milk.
Al Dhafrah (02 671 2955).

Emirates Flower Bakery
Does fantastic Moroccan cookies called Gazelle Horns, which are made with orange water and baked. They charge just Dhs70 a kilo.
Muroor Road and 25th Street (02 448 4600).

Ritaj Restaurant
This tiny place does fantastic biryanis at dirt cheap prices. Mainly visited by the city’s labourers, what it lacks in aesthetics (the décor might put some of you off), it makes up for with friendly staff and an excellent tandoori chicken that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Expect to pay less than Dhs40 for two people.
Al Markaziyah (02 631 0036).

Great name, but this Filipino eatery also serves great noodle dishes, plus chicken and beef main courses. Expect to pay around Dhs15-20 for a main course. Fancy ordering some food in? They deliver (minimum order charge of Dhs30).
Al Salaam Street, (056 378 8898) or (02 674 9353).

The cheapest iftars in town

This Lebanese seafood restaurant is offering a daily iftar buffet at Marina Mall at a bargain price of Dhs110 per person. They serve great Arabic classics such as hummus and vine leaves, alongside octopus Provincial and fish orfali.
Marina Mall (02 681 4818).

Head to this American chain’s Mazyad Mall branch where you can bag yourself iftar for the budget price of Dhs89. You’ll get unlimited soups, salads and starters and selected main courses for your troubles.
Mazyad Mall (02 559 1051).

Bricco Pizza & Pasta
A recently rebranded chain of Italian eateries serving an all-you-can-eat iftar costing Dhs79. It is serving a selection of Arabic and Italian dishes.
Mazyad Mall (02 551 8556).

This cupcake company makes very pretty specialty cakes during the Holy Month and you can also go here for iftar. Pay Dhs65 and you’ll get soup, a sandwich and a cupcake.
Various locations including Y Tower, Al Nahyah (02 445 4156).

Jimmy’s Killer Prawns
Are you a fan of seafood? Then we recommend Jimmy’s where we’ve always found the dishes to be of a good quality but at cheap prices. They are charging a money-saving Dhs99 for their iftar buffet.
Mushrif Mall (02 650 0300).

Live in Al Ain? The Danat Al Ain Resort is serving the cheapest iftar in a hotel we’ve found so far. Expect all the usual traditional favourites for Dhs99.
Al Ain (03 704 6142).

Has become a bit of a lunch time local for TOAD, thanks to its bargain prices. It is also running an iftar menu, with a pizza, salad, juice, soup and ice cream scoop all included in the Dhs35 cover price.
Tourist Club Area (02 645 5532).

Al Narinj Restaurant
Pop down to this eatery in the Royal Rotary Hotel Apartments for a buffet featuring traditional Arabic cuisine and dishes such as lamb with tomato sauce and roasted chicken with potato. You also get all the regular juices in your Dhs70 fee.
Hamdan Street (02 626 6566).

View Tourist spots and Fashion for all
View Go out party and TV and movies
View Sports classes and Thrifty bargains
View Art and culture and Get pampered
View Money apps and Shop and save

Tourist spots

Save 40 percent
You’ll need to keep a thermometer close to you for this one, but Ferrari World are offering discounts of 40 percent every time the temperature in Abu Dhabi goes past 40 degrees. The offer is valid until August 8 and we’re pretty sure we’ll get the odd hot day before then.

Adopt a duck
Short of cash but still want to do your bit for charity? You can spend a mere Dhs30 to adopt a duck at Yas Waterworld! We don’t mean the ones with feathers that go well with orange, these ducks are yellow, made of rubber and will be racing down the theme park’s Yadi Yas Wave River on September 21 to raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a non-profit organisation that grants the wishes of children with serious medical conditions. All the proceeds go towards the foundation. You’ll receive a unique duck number that will identify your duck on race day.

Take in an exhibition
This one doesn’t happen for a month, but is definitely worth a visit and sticking in your diary now. It’s the only dedicated consumer and trade event in the Middle East for weaponry, equestrian, outdoor and marine sports, safari, arts and antiques, and the promotion and preservation of the UAE’s culture and heritage. You’ll get to meet a falcon or two as well! It’s free to get in.
ADNEC, Sept 4-7 www.adihex.net.

See fancy cars
The Emirates National Auto Museum, on the road to Liwa and an hour out of Abu Dhabi, is a great place to visit to see the private collection of automobiles belonging to HH Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan. Make sure you check out the Mercedes, one in each colour of the rainbow for each day of the week, which are fitted with refrigerators and TVs.

Visit an old fort (or two)
Built in 1816, Muraijib Fort is the oldest in Abu Dhabi’s garden city of Al Ain. Comprising three free-standing buildings, its restored remains are within beautifully landscaped gardens, which are reserved for women and children. Don’t live in Al Ain or don’t want to travel that far? The Al Maqtaa Fort, by the Al Maqtaa bridge, is definitely worth stopping off at and taking some stunning photos. But one word of warning; this fort is near one of Abu Dhabi’s military zones, so snap away with caution, and not like some over-enthusiastic paparazzi. Both are free of charge to visit.
Al Jimi St, Al Ain and Al Maqtaa Bridge.

Fashion for all

Great kids clothes
Let’s face it: kids grow so quickly that it really doesn’t seem worth spending lots of money on their clothes. Cotton On Kids is perfect for great on-trend clothes for little ones at affordable prices. They sell accessories too, including swimwear, shoes and jewellery at dirt cheap prices.
Marina Mall (02 645 4894).

Stock up on fabric
Love material shopping and making your own clothes? Regal Fabric textile store also offers a wealth of silks, chiffons, lace, material for sarees plus a huge range of material for men’s and women’s shirts and suiting. Prices are affordable and they have large sales throughout the year.
Down from the Muhairy Centre, corner of 7th and 12th Streets, Khalidiyah (02 634 3844).

Create your own clothes
Looking to get something made? Abu Dhabi New Tailors has gone from strength to strength in this city and is now one of the most popular places to get clothes made on the cheap. They’ll whip you up something quickly but won’t scrimp on the quality of their work and their prices are very reasonable, which is another reason why TOAD has visited many times.
Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre, first floor (050 825 2801).

Grab a bag
Sometimes you simply cannot justify another designer handbag so we suggest a visit to Surprise Bags. Located upstairs in the shabby looking Hamdan Centre, Surprise Bags really lives up to its name. It mainly stocks cheap but fashionable holdalls and there is a huge range to choose from. Go for the stylish yet reasonable cosmetic bags and chic sports bags.
Hamdan Centre (02 632 8555).

Shop for décor
Located at the Souk Central Market, Al Jaber sells everything from clothes to home décor. They sell beautiful embellished kaftans for under Dhs200.
The Souk Central Market (02 628 0456).

Go out and party

Lads’ night
Privé at Hyatt Capital Gate has one of the best views in the city, so why not gather the boys after work and head to this trendy spot without spending a fortune. This night is specially reserved for gents with special deals available all night and house and lounge tunes regularly spun from the venue’s DJs.
Privé, Hyatt Capital Gate (02 596 1440).

Palace deals
You probably wouldn’t imagine that a trip to Emirates Palace is going to be cheap, but if Cuban blends are your beverage of choice then Havana Club is the place to be every Thursday night from 6pm. They offer a selection of deals on food and beverages until 9pm. Havana Club also have an impressive selection of cigars should you wish to indulge.
Havana Club, Emirates Palace (02 616 0000).

Teachers’ night
If you are one of the many teachers residing in the capital and find yourself free on a Wednesday evening then had to Stills bar where teachers can now get 25 percent discounts on food and beverages. All you need to do is show your valid teacher’s ID.
Stills Bar, Crowne Plaza Yas Island (02 656 3035).

TV and movies

Movies for Dhs1
If you’ve got a TV package from Du, you can currently watch movies such as Harry Potter and the Goblet Of Fire, 50 First Dates and The Scorpion King for Dhs1 each!

Free TV
Etisalat have a summer promotion running currently on their eLife packages. Sign up before August 17 and you get three months of free eLife included in the price.
To subscribe call 800 101, www.etisalat.ae.

Sports classes

Gold’s Gym
Another Ramadan bargain. If you’re looking for a new gym then perhaps you should head to the world famous Gold’s Gym at Mazyad Mall in Mussafah where, throughout the Holy Month, they’re offering a very generous 15 percent off your membership fee for joining up.
Gold’s Gym, Mazyad Mall, Mussafah (800 46 537).

Yas Links
For a measly Dhs100 you can get yourself a Par 3 Greenfee which includes a pre-round practise, nine holes of floodlit and a two for one beverage voucher for once you’ve finished swinging. Offer is valid Sunday to Thursday and tee times are 6pm to 9pm.
Yas Links, Abu Dhabi.

Yas Marina Circuit
All through the summer Yas Marina Circuit are offering money off their driving experiences: a great way to have fun with friends and while away those spare summer hours. For example they’re offering a buy one Arrive and Drive Kartzone Voucher and receive the second free, and purchase one Learn To Drift Experience and receive 50 percent off the second.
Go to www.yasmarinacircuit.com for more details.

Thrifty bargains

St. Andrews Thrift Shop
This handy little thrift store sells quality used and unwanted goods for all types. All the money raised goes to charitable projects in and around Abu Dhabi, the UAE and to international projects that are linked to the UAE. An excellent joint for bargain hunters, here’s where you’ll find it: approach along Airport Road, turn right at 17th street, take second U-turn back along 17th street, turn right into the road immediately next to large white mosque.
St. Andrews is between the mosque and the Al Khubairat British School. www.standrewauh.org.

Now, you might already be familiar with souq.com but did you know they have a section dedicated to items under Dhs99? When we last looked they had a great selection of luxury watches, technology, aftershave, perfume, jewellery, cosmetics, shoes, handbags and much more. So if you’re after a last-minute gift or you just fancy treating yourself to goods brand new and used (they do a decent line in used and quite reasonably priced tablets) then here might be a good starting point.

Spinneys’ board
Don’t laugh! We’ve found some absolutely ace bargains on the Spinneys supermarket ad boards. Because people are constantly coming and going through Abu Dhabi due to their occupation and so on you’ll often find they just want to get rid of whatever they can’t take with them when they move on. We’ve known people to get great deals on everything from beds and furniture to practically new electrical goods. You’ll find their boards near the front of the stores.
Call 02 556 3643 to find your nearest Spinneys.

Abu Dhabi Market Place
A Facebook group where people sell second-hand items, from cars to phones, clothes and kids’ toys. Seach for Abu Dhabi Market Place.

Nefertiti Used Furniture
If you’re after some good, quirky or even just plain old useful furniture you’d do well to drop by the guys at Nefertiti. If you’ve just moved into an apartment and it’s not furnished then this should probably be your first port of call. Less intimidating than Ikea they stock everything from furniture through to curtains and exercise goods.
Nefertiti Furniture, Corniche Road, Sheikh Zayed the First Street (02 681 6990).

Book & Bean Café
Situated at the Ace Hardware Store on Yas Island this quaint little second hand bookstore is home to all sorts of literary treasures. There are only about ten shelves of books but, if you’re a fan of the printed word, you can have an awful lot of fun trawling through their selection while sipping a cup of coffee or tucking into a spot of dessert. They’ve also got a loyalty card which could come in handy for repeat trips. Books
cost about Dhs15.
Book & Bean, inside the Ace Hardware Store, Yas Island www.yasisland.ae.

Visit the Hamdan Centre
Bargain hunters really should head here. The Hamdan Centre houses all sorts of shops selling everything from perfume and aftershave, music, sports stores (generally cheaper than the malls just make sure you check the labels), gift shops, menswear stores, bag shops and there’s even a little stall selling video games. It’s a totally different experience to shopping in the malls. Some shops will be prepared to barter as well.
Hamdan Street (02 632 8555).

Art and culture

Ghaf Art Gallery
Fancy starting an art collection on the cheap? In celebration of the Holy Month of Ramadan the Ghaf Art Gallery is holding its fourth annual Ramadan Art Bazaar daily during August from 10pm, showcasing the work of established, professional and emerging artists from across the UAE and bringing them together under one roof. One of the most appealing aspects of this particular bazaar is that no piece of art will cost more than Dhs4,000, although many of those are priced well below that.
www.ghafartgallery.com (02 665 5332).

Al Qattara Arts Centre
The historic fort of Al Qattara, in the Al Ain Oasis, provides a venue where arts and culture can be studied, practised and developed by all across the UAE community. It has excellent classrooms, including a dry studio for a variety of activities such as music classes and art crafting, a wet studio for drawing and painting, a fully-equipped pottery studio, a digital room suitable for photography and computer classes, a spacious calligraphy studio as well as an exhibition hall, café and library. Transport tip: follow the signs that say Al Qattara Oasis, until you see the Co-op Society and opposite the Co-op is the Swedish Medical Clinic. When you reach the medical clinic take the second right and continue straight until you see the fort.
It’s open daily, except Fridays, from 9am-1pm and 4pm-8pm. www.adach.ae (03 711 8200).

Miraj Islamic Centre
Featuring museum-like displays of unique Islamic art pieces sourced from around the Muslim world from places like Egypt, Syria, Iran, India, Iraq, Kashmir and Russia. Displays include meticulously hand-woven pictorial and bejewelled carpets, silk textiles, jewellery, marble pieces, Arabic calligraphy engraved vases and miniature paintings. Miraj offers visitors a complementary pick-up and drop-off service from several hotels as well as welcome refreshments, Arabic qahwah (cardamom coffee) and dates for groups of over 50 guests. Entrance is free. A new site has also just recently opened up behind the Hilton hotel called Miraj The Museum which is also worth seeing.
Miraj Islamic Centre is open from 9.30am-7pm daily. Villa 14B & 15B, Marina Office Park Area, behind Marina Mall. www.mirajislamicartcentre.com (050 250 3950).

Saluki Centre
This centre honours the desert traditions of hunting, training and breeding Salukis – a distinctive breed of dog found in desert regions. The centre invites visitors to learn more about the unique traits and care of this type of hound.
Open Sunday-Thursday 9am-3pm. Near Abu Dhabi International Airport, behind Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital www.arabiansaluki.ae (02 575 5330).

Enjoy local cinema
Throughout Ramadan UAE residents will get another chance to see a film whose success can draw, in part, from Abu Dhabi at VOX Cinemas in Marina Mall. When I Saw You is by Palestinian writer and director Annemarie Jacir, and was funded by the Abu Dhabi Film Festival’s SANAD fund and won Best Arab Film at the festival’s New Horizons segment in 2012. The story is set in 1967 and follows a mother and son as they flee across the border from Palestine into Jordan.
VOX Cinema, Marina Mall, Breakwater Corniche (02 681 2310).

Zayed Centre for Studies and Research
For a fascinating look at the life of the late Sheikh Zayed, the Father of our Nation, visit the Zayed Centre in Abu Dhabi’s Al Bateen district. This museum is housed in an Emirati heritage village and is replete with camels and is an incredible homage to the man who shaped the country. There’s a photo gallery, personal memorabilia such as his favourite hunting rifles, his cherished vehicles and gifts he received from all over the world such as stuffed lions and cheetahs.
Zayed Centre is open Sundays-Thursdays (closed Friday and Saturdays). Guided tours in English and Arabic are available, however you need to book at least one week in advance (02 665 9555).

Get pampered

Anantara Summer Experience
Choose from any 30-minute Anantara taster suited for all your skincare needs or combine a few for the ultimate in pampering: On offer are its back, neck and shoulder massage, Anantara Express Facial, foot reviver, relaxing scalp and head massage, exotic body scrub or a nourishing body wrap. Dhs225 per treatment, available until the end of August.
Anantara Spa at Emirates Palace (02 690 7978).

Mani mania
Need a manicure, massage or facial? Escape the summer sun at the very popular Tips & Toes and enjoy a 30 percent discount off all full-priced services booked between 10am-3pm.
Tips & Toes, Marina Mall (02 618 3836).

Dashing Nails
For the month of August, Dashing Nails are offering a great deal where, if you book in for one of their Pevonia Facials, you will receive a free 30-minute massage, which is sure to help your tired muscles relax and your skin glow.
Open Sat-Thu 10am-10pm; Fri noon-10pm. Dashing Nails Delma Street, Al Nahyan (02 643 1011); The Souk Central Market (02 491 5222); Khalifa City A (02 55 31 775).

Money apps

Released in June this year, it lets you keep track of all your money and your receipts and log all expenses. You can scan and throw away old receipts, use a selection of currencies all over the world and even set saving goals, in case you’re saving up for something big.
iOS, free

This great app offers one app, that would normally cost you dirhams, for free every day. They have three apps for free every single day.
iOS, free

Another money-saving app for those of you who need to manage your budget, this one has won several awards and is perhaps the most in-depth money app on the market. It’ll give you bill reminders and will tell you how much money you have left to spend every month.
iOS, Android, free

This Dubai-based shopping portal offers discounts off high-street brands of up to 70 percent, covering everything from watches to clothes and PlayStation games.
iOS, Android, free

Shop and save

Massive discounts are available in the city’s malls right now!

Up to 75 percent off at Zara.
Various locations including Abu Dhabi Mall (02 645 4858).

Up to 70 percent off at Stradivarius.
Various locations including Marina Mall (02 681 2310).

Up to 50 percent off at Cocoon.
Mushrif Mall (02 690 4422).

Up to 50 percent off at Dune.
Numerous locations including Abu Dhabi Mall (02 645 4858).

Up to 50 percent off at Zara Home.
Marina Mall (02 681 2310).

Up to 25 percent off at Timberland.
Various locations including Khalidiyah Mall (02 635 4000).

Up to 60 percent off at Gerard Darel.
Marina Mall (02 681 2310).

Part sale at RoccoBarocco.
Marina Mall (02 681 2310).

Part sale at Ted Baker.
Marina Mall (02 681 2310).

25 percent off at Tala Shoes.
Dalma Mall (02 550 6111).

25 percent off at The Watch House.
Various locations including Al Wahda Mall (02 443 7000).

25-50 percent off at Aldo.
Various locations including Marina Mall (02 681 2310).

75 percent off at Pierre Cardin.
Various locations including Al Wahda Mall (02 443 7000).

25-50 percent off at Marina Home.
Various locations including Abu Dhabi Mall (02 645 4858).

Buy one pair of jeans get the other pair half price at Levi’s.
Various locations including Abu Dhabi Mall (02 645 4858).

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