The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a hotspot for travelers from all over the world. Despite the pandemic, the UAE was visited by over 4 million travelers in 2021. Dubai lives up to the title of being known as the Disneyland of the Middle East will all of its fancy luxury hotels, extravagant shopping malls, and spectacular tourist attractions. With all of this, it comes as no surprise that Dubai beat London as Tripadvisor’s world’s most popular destination for 2022. In our opinion, it is definitely a must-visit. But visiting such a place without prior knowledge will financially burden you.
However, don’t let the sticker shock scare you away! There are still plenty of easy ways to save money in Dubai while exploring this beautiful city without burning a hole in your savings. These are some of the tried and tested ways to save money while in Dubai. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the easy and practical ways to make your trip more affordable!
20 Money-Saving Hacks That Actually Work In Dubai, UAE
- Before confirming your tickets for the trip, check the airfare for Sharjah (Airport Code: SHJ). Sharjah is the nearest emirate to Dubai, and the airfare is more economical.
- Visiting during the offseason is one of the smarter tricks to skip long queues and get the best deal on flight tickets. During our visit to the Ferrari World in the month of June, there was no wait time for the rides. We went twice on each ride and had one of the most joyous experiences. However, the downside will be dealing with the harsh desert climate.
- Exchanging currency at the airport is a bad idea. Your credit card might provide you with a good exchange rate for purchases in Dubai. Check the additional fees beforehand. Most airports, hotels, malls, metro stations, and tourist spots have an exchange rate counter. Al Ansari Exchange, UAE Exchange, Al Rostamani, and Al Fardan provide the best rates among others.
- Use the Metro service, as it is the cheapest and quickest mode of transport. The important tourist attractions are well-connected by metro. Buses are cheap after the metro but you have to deal with the traffic during the peak hours on working days – 7 AM to 10 AM and 4 PM to 8 PM. You have to use an NOL card to use transport services and download the S’hail mobile application (Android, iOS) to know the timings and routes for all RTA transportation services – Dubai Metro, Dubai Tram, RTA taxis and buses – on one platform.
- If you are visiting the United Arab Emirates, you can claim your 5% VAT for the purchases that you have made during your visit. This can be done while you are exiting the country from any Emirate. So whenever you’re making a high-value purchase, ensure that the retailer is participating in the ‘Tax Refund for Tourists Scheme.’ For instance, any products brought from the Apple store at the Dubai Mall are not valid for a VAT refund.
- Most of the hotels in Dubai are located at prime sites with great views and as a result priced high. Stay in areas like Sharjah, Al Nahda, Bur Dubai, Deira, or Karama to save money. Another option is to rent a studio-type room for a month. Please be aware that the electricity, water, and gas charges are paid separately (costs not more than 500 AED combined) or ensure that you ask that these charges be included in the rent at the time of booking.
- Mobile applications like Groupon (Android, iOS), Smiles (Android, iOS), Cobone (Android, iOS), and Discounter (Android, iOS) offer huge discounts and better yet, are free to download and use. A minimum of 10 AED saved at every entry ticket cumulatively adds to 100 or more over time.
- The Entertainer is a mobile application (Android, iOS) that offers 1+1 deals year-round but you have to pay 205 AED (including VAT) to get their deals. Decide the places that you are planning to visit and then check for offers in The Entertainer as they do not offer discounts for all the attractions.
- Never miss out on the ‘Birthday Deals.’ You can grab great deals during your birth month at Aquaventure Waterpark, Wild Wadi Waterpark, and Legoland. Many restaurants even offer a free complimentary cake on your birthday. It is advised to check such deals with them before deciding on one.
- Do not miss the regular discounts on popular food chains. For example, Pizza Hut offers “Buy 1 Get 1” on Tuesdays for medium and large-sized pizzas across all the outlets in the UAE.
- If you want to drink or eat in high-end restaurants and bars, make use of the “Happy Hours” to save more.
- Many sightseeing places have upscaled prices during the golden hours. They consider golden hours as “4 PM to 6:30 PM (Prime Time)” as they offer the best views. If you want to see the Dubai skyline day and night, buy day tickets at one place and night tickets at another attraction.
- For attractions and sightseeing, check COMBO deals, and iVenture’s Dubai Pass. You get more for less with these great deals. Be aware that some places might need prior booking. Compare the individual ticket prices and choose the best. For Example, buy combo tickets of IMG World of Adventure tickets (335 AED) + View at the Palm (100 AED) for just 336 AED.
- Dubai Shopping Festival, which is during the month of January offers discounts on almost all the products. It is a great time to buy high-end branded products.
- Special discounts for ISIC students are noteworthy to save bucks. Carry with you an ID card and ask for discounts at outlets. For instance, H&M offers 10% special discounts for students. Also, present your IDs while registering a blue NOL student card and get special fares for the metro.
- Show your Emirates boarding pass across the UAE and get exclusive deals from their “The Emirate Pass” program.
- Most of the malls offer free Wi-Fi and free parking facilities across the UAE. Don’t recharge your mobile for more data; You will be using less data than you think.
- Highly recommend cooking your meals if you are on a budget. Alternatively, popular Middle Eastern foods like Shawarma and Kubus cost less than 10 AED.
- Buying groceries in supermarkets like Lulu, Nesto, and Carrefour, or buying in the Deira fish market would save a good amount of money.
- We recommend you follow dedicated social media channels like @khaleejtimes for instant updates. They provide trending news and offers in the UAE.
Being fairly experienced travelers, we would not spend money on expensive food and luxurious stays. Rather we prioritize spending on visiting attractions and experiencing unique things that only Dubai can offer, and there are numerous things to explore & experience. It is also recommended you always fix a budget beforehand, and accommodate your travel to stick to that budget. This way you can fondly reminiscence, instead of wondering if you spent way too much.
The best vacations do not have to be expensive. You can still have a grand time, and save up. We hope these money-saving hacks stretch your stay and add more value to your trip while visiting the UAE. For more tips and hacks related to travel, subscribe to our newsletter and get it delivered right away to your inbox.