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Aerial view of skyscrapers in Dubai

Exploring Abu Dhabi on a Budget – Here’s How

Save, don’t splurge, in the capital.

Fit for Royalty

This hotel needs no introduction – anyone who has spent some time in the UAE is sure to have heard of Emirates Palace. Featuring over a hundred domes, chandeliers, and meticulous architectural craftsmanship, it is an ode to an ornate past and a symbol of Arab hospitality. While booking a room and dining at the hotel is likely to leave a dent in your wallet, the actual hotel is open to visitors free of charge, so get your phone and start clicking!

Cost: Free

Est Corniche Road, 02 690 9000, Emirates Palace

Family Matters

Take a walk in the green gardens of Umm Al Emarat Park after a long week of work for some budget R&R. The park boasts several gardens, a promenade, and even a shade house for when it’s too hot – all for AED 10! Aside from being a great space to de-stress, the park frequently hosts al fresco markets, has dedicated children’s gardens, and houses an animal barn and petting zoo with animals such as camels, ponies, and emu birds, making it perfect for the whole family.

Cost: AED 10

15th Street, Mushrif Area, 02 666 9559, Umm Al Emarat Park

Cheap Eats

You can find some of the UAE’s oldest cafeterias in the city’s capital, so enjoy a late night AED 7 shawarma and an AED 4 juice named after a landmark of Abu Dhabi. Immerse yourself in local culture and rub shoulders with a melting pot of different nationalities as you all enjoy some cheap eats. 

Cost: Starting at AED 4 

Cafeterias are located around Abu Dhabi, check out Google reviews to see local favourites

All That Jazz

Whether you’re a huge fan of jazz or couldn’t name a single jazz song, Jazz & Fizz Bar is the place to be from 8pm to midnight on Wednesdays. Ladies get three free drinks and 50 percent off food while listening to the best live jazz that Abu Dhabi has to offer. 

Cost: 3 free drinks and 50 percent off food

Jazz & Fizz Bar, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche, Capital Plaza, 02 813 7777

You Grow, Girl

Living in the UAE, you sometimes crave lush greenery, right? And thanks to Al Ain Oasis, you can get your forest fix – all without leaving Abu Dhabi. Al Ain Oasis offers shaded pathways with a thick canopy of over 147,000 date palms and other trees.

Cost: Free entry 

Al Ain Oasis, Central District, near Al Ain Palace Museum, 03 711 8251

Shape Up

Gym memberships can be pricey and doing a couple of spin classes a week can really add up! So why not take care of your body and your bank account with Vogue Fitness? It’s offering a three-day free membership for all new sign-ups. The best part: it has a ladies-only gym at Yas Marina! Sign up here for a three-day free trial.

Cost: 3 days free 

Vogue Fitness, Yas Marina, Khalifa City & Al Raha, vfuae.com 

Back to Nature

A wetland reserve might not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the UAE, but the Al Wathba reserve is here to prove you wrong. This biodiversity hotspot is home to several species of birds, plants, and aquatic life, with the most popular being the iconic pink flamingos.  Spanning five kilometres with walking trails, bird-watching hides, a visitors centre – and most importantly – a thriving ecosystem, it is a unique green jewel in Abu Dhabi.

Cost: Free 

E30 Abu Dhabi-Al Ain Truck Road

Art for Art’s Sake 

Get in with the local art scene at Manarat al Saadiyat, the go-to space in Abu Dhabi for all things cultural and creative! Make sure to check out their various (free) exhibitions showcasing innovative art projects and local diversity, and the MAS space, where you can relax and do everything from hone your skating skills to read that book you’ve been meaning to get around to. Plus, if you’re willing to fork out a little more, there are a plethora of workshops and other enriching programmes that are organised year round.

Cost: Free

Al Saadiyat Island, 02 6575 800, manaratalsaadiyat.ae

Dreamy Desertscapes

Wonder where all the celebrities take those majestic desert shots when they visit Abu Dhabi? The Empty Quarter is the perfect backdrop for any photo op. With its shimmering sands at sunset, this mesmerising landscape is the perfect place to bring your out-of-town visitors and for any Instaworthy photoshoot.

Cost: Free

The Empty Quarter, Rub’ al Khali desert,

Cup of Karak

Best Tea Café isn’t called Best Tea Café for nothing! It’s famed for having the best karak in town, so visit this Abu Dhabi institution to find out why everyone raves about its karak.

Cost: Drinks starting from AED 3 

Best Tea Café, near Sahara Hotel Apartments, Defense Road, Al Nahyan, 02 641 8515

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Dubai Delights: Top Things to Do and Experience During December

Festive Dubai Delights.

Welcome to the enchanting realm of Dubai in December, where the cityscape comes alive with festive cheer and dazzling experiences. In this guide, we’ll uncover the top activities and events that make Dubai a must-visit destination during the magical month of December.

1. Festive Wonderland at Global Village:

Immerse yourself in the vibrant Global Village, transformed into a festive wonderland with dazzling lights, international cuisines, and cultural performances that capture the spirit of the season.

2. Glittering Nights at Dubai Miracle Garden:

Witness nature’s artistry at Dubai Miracle Garden, where millions of flowers bloom in captivating designs. During December, the garden transforms into a twinkling paradise, offering a surreal and romantic experience.

3. Skiing in the Desert at Ski Dubai:

Embrace the juxtaposition of skiing in the desert at Ski Dubai, an indoor ski resort. Experience the thrill of winter sports and snow play, providing a unique and surreal adventure in the heart of the Middle East.

4. Dubai Shopping Festival Extravaganza:

Indulge in a shopping spree at the Dubai Shopping Festival, where world-class retail therapy meets entertainment. Discover unbeatable deals, cultural performances, and a vibrant atmosphere that defines the city’s festive spirit.

5. New Year’s Eve Spectacular:

Ring in the New Year with a bang at the iconic Burj Khalifa fireworks display. Join the celebration at various venues across the city, where the skyline transforms into a canvas of breathtaking fireworks and festivities.

Dubai in December is a sensory delight, offering a unique blend of cultural richness, festive celebrations, and unforgettable experiences. Whether you’re seeking winter wonderlands in unexpected places or immersing yourself in the extravagance of shopping festivals, Dubai has something to captivate every traveller’s heart during this magical season.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Dubai in December special for tourists?

December in Dubai offers a unique blend of festive celebrations, cultural events, and pleasant weather. Explore the top activities and experiences that make it an ideal month for travelers.

Are the December festivities family-friendly?

Absolutely! Dubai’s December festivities cater to all age groups. From the magical atmosphere at Global Village to family-friendly events during the Dubai Shopping Festival, there’s something for everyone.

What should visitors know about celebrating New Year’s Eve in Dubai?

Discover tips and recommendations for experiencing the iconic New Year’s Eve celebration in Dubai, including prime viewing spots for the Burj Khalifa fireworks and other festive activities across the city.

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