Get the best out of Dubai on a budget

Challenge : A days’ entertainment in Dubai on just £10

Of all the halal friendly destinations we feature, there is no doubting the audaciousness that slaps you in the face when you leave the lush Terminal 3 at Dubai airport. However with a city still developing, we uncovered that you don’t need to step up to the glam lifestyle, and we set ourselves a challenge to find our own entertainment with just a tenner per person (£10), which works out to roughly 60 dirhams.

With most hotels providing breakfast in your rate, it’s sensible to make the most of it. We stayed at the Taj Palace Hotel in Dubai, a halal friendly hotel which serves no alcohol.  So far so good, we’ve spent nothing extra to feed and water ourselves, so let’s venture out. Thankfully, Dubai now have a metro system, which runs parallel to the Shaikh Zayed Road for most part, and from the start in Deira to the end in Jebel Ali takes roughly one hour. A ticket costs 4 dirhams, no matter how many stops you take, which is great value if you plan your day cleverly. From our hotel, we decided to head over to the heritage museum in the old part of the city, where Dubai started from its humble beginnings. The souks in the undercover market are labyrinth of manicured stalls and well worth a short meander. Finish off with a brief tea stop for a couple of dirhams it was time to move on.

From the creek side, we took another taxi and headed over to the DIFC (Dubai Investment and Financial Centre) which cost us 8 dirhams each out of our budget. DIFC is one of Dubai’s newest areas, packed with all the financiers you expect in Canary Wharf and more but DIFC is full of places to explore. With the perfect views of the Emirates Towers and the Dubai gate, it’s also home to plenty of art galleries, an interest and pastime of the royal family. We easily spent an hour wandering through the various galleries and finally ended up watching the white collars of Dubai stream out for a mid morning tea break.

We were starting to wear off breakfast, so with lunchtime approaching we headed out to find a cheap lunch spot. With a vast south Asian community, there is no shortage of options. A few places well worth checking out include Ravi’s, a vegetarian dosa joint in Bur Dubai where for 10 dhs you can make your fill. After lunch we decided to head to the beach, and headed to Dubai Marina and had a walk down to Jumeirah beach residence, also know as JBR. Some of the hotels here are great for a halal friendly honeymoon such as the Al Qasr madinat and The Ritz Carlton.The beach is normally quite busy, but is wide enough to accommodate everyone.

Now it’s been more than half a day and hadn’t been to a mall yet, which for some in Dubai is a strange feat. So, we decided to go towards the end of the line and visit the Ibn Batutta Mall. It’s quirkiness sits out of touch with the rest of Dubai, and it’s not full of designer outlets one after another, with themed zones tracking the famous Muslim explorers’ route across the Islamic world. By this time we were getting a little more hungry, so we stopped at the food court and got ourselves some Arabian tucker. ‘Mandi’ which is basically rice and grilled chicken is an Arab speciality apparently, so we got one to share together with the best lamb sandwich I’ve had in a long time, coming in at a tidy 15dhs per person with drinks.

So it was time to head back, however as it’s en-route we decided to stop at the Dubai Mall to watch the elaborate musical fountains. It’s a free attraction, and they dance in front of you every 20 minutes on a weekend to different themes each time. Ever seen water choreographed to Lionel Richi’s dancing on the ceiling?

So our day out in Dubai came in just over budget at 74dhs which works out to around £13, still not bad for a day out in the city. We may not have met our target budget, but we experienced much more on foot than we would have in a taxi. Give it a try on your next visit to Dubai.

For more on halal friendly holidays to dubai, visit www.serendipity.travel

Aalia Mahdi
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