February 2020, Singapore and Malaysia – Often known as the “Entertainment Capital of Middle East” and labelled as the playground for the rich, Dubai’s other wallet-friendly side is often left unexplored. Other than its glitzy skyscrapers, lavish night scene, luxury brand hotels, and mega-malls, Dubai is also a melting pot of Arabic, Indian, and Middle Eastern cultures with a variety of free off-the-beaten-path experiences, efficient public transportation, affordable boutique hotels, thriving art scene, and cheap delicious food.
Free Hidden Gem Experiences
Witness 60 camels race through the gates, making their way as fast as they can down one of the biggest camel tracks in United Arab of Emirates (UAE) at Al Marmoom Smart Camel Racing Track1. Eminent as an integral part of UAE’s heritage, camel racing dates back centuries ago that is not to be missed by residents and tourists in Dubai. From 1 to 13 February 2020, head to Dubai Crown Prince Camel Festival and cheer on for the purebred Arabian camels going head-to-head in thrilling races and watch buyers bid for exquisite camel breeds during the camel auction at the heart-pumping event patronised by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council. Cross the Dubai Creek with Abra (traditional water taxi) like a local at just AED1 (S$0.40) and admire the bustling city and passing of traditional houses, towers, trade cargos, and wooden dhows. At the other side of the shore, bargain at the city’s most vibrant and traditional Arabian markets – Spice Souk, Perfume Souk, Textile Souk, and world-famous Gold Souk.
For the art aficionado, Alserkal Avenue is Dubai’s most influential creative enclave for edgy arts events, endless pop-up concept, and cutting-edge galleries. It also features artisan eateries, diverse fashion and homeware stores, a vintage showroom, Dubai’s only independent record shop, a local arthouse cinema, and even a fitness studio. Wander through the narrow winding alleys and sand-coloured houses topped with the traditional wind towers at Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, taking a glimpse into how Emiratis from past generations lived their lives while discovering a plethora of cultural activities, museums, art galleries, craft shops, and courtyard cafes.
During winter months between October to March, nature lovers can head to Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary to spot countless species of reptiles, fish, invertebrates, and is prominently a haven for birds of around 180 different species, including hundreds of gorgeous wild pink flamingos. La Mer is the city’s newest urban beach cred and hottest Instagram spot filled with playful graffiti art murals and laid back charm at every turn. Stroll along the palm tree-lined boulevards and timber walkways to discover tantalising cafes, ice cream parlours, home-grown boutiques and unwind in one of the many beach sports, water play or beachside cabanas.
Art-themed Boutique Hotels at Affordable Rate
Designed for convenience and comfort, Rove Hotels are located in 6 different central neighbourhoods with easy access to public transport and provides modern and clean amenities with plenty of add-ons. Hampton by Hilton Dubai Al Seef is perfect for eager explorers where it features playful, pocket-friendly rooms and is situated right in the heart of hustle and bustle in Dubai Creek. The trendy FORM Hotel Dubai is a timelessly designed boutique property for the forward-thinking travellers through its custom-crafted spaces, modern minimalist design and curated amenities. Studio One Hotel is where life and creativity collide, showcasing perfectly equipped rooms and award winning restaurants suitable for both family and business travellers.
Affordable and Delicious Meal Options
For a taste of an authentic bargain-priced meal, Satwa is one of the top spots to hunt for street food in Dubai featuring few of the most iconic and old-school eateries. 2nd December Street (previously known as Al Dhiyafah road) in particular is a single bustling neon-lit strip that hosts many of the delicious bites from mouth-watering shawarmas and falafel sandwiches at Al Mallah, to succulent kebabs and flavourful curry at Ravi Restaurant, to traditional Middle Eastern sweet treats at Firas Sweets and Karak Chai from Koukh Al Shay. Other notable spots include Al Ustadl Special Kebab, Zaroob, Al Reef Labanese Bakery, SALT burgers, and Last Exit Food Truck Park. The cosmopolitan city is also home to many international restaurants and fast food chains that are popular amongst Singaporeans such as The Cheesecake Factory, IHOP, Shake Shack, and Five Guys Burgers and Fries.
Look out for extraordinary deals at Dubai Summer Surprises
Held annually between June to August, the city’s biggest shopping and entertainment festival offers incredible bargains and activities for visitors and residents alike, from spend-and-win promotions to daily deals at unbeatable prices to exciting live concerts and world-class entertainment. Nearly every attractions, hotels, and malls in the city partake in the celebration, giving everyone a slew of fun things to do from morning to night.
1Camel racing season is usually held from October to April between 7am to 9am. It is advised to call in advance to check on scheduled races before heading down.
Filed in: Dubai