Dubai On The Cheap

When planning a trip around the world, one of the hardest things to do is pick the places you really want to go to and cross off the ones that you won’t have the time or finances to make it to. For me, Earl, Dubai was a place I wanted to see, not for a long period of time, but I at least wanted to see it.

We knew it was not going to be cheapest place to stay so we originally planned to be there just about a week. When we found out that due to a political/airline issue between Canada and Emirates airlines, Canadians were now required to get an expensive visa to enter Dubai, we changed our itinerary to just 4 days, as the UAE has a 96 hour transit visa.

Even for just 96 hours, the visa was still $83 each, which was our most expensive visa to date and likely will be our most expensive visa of all. Thankfully, my mom connected us with a cousin, Ingrid, whom I had only met once as a small child and didn’t remember. We had messaged Ingrid just for some tips and ideas and were pleasantly surprised when she and her husband, as well as their three girls, opened up their home to us for our 3 night stay.


After 6 weeks in India, constantly having to deal with thousands of people in the street, every vendor trying to sell you something, and cars driving on any part of the road they wanted to, Dubai was a pleasant change.

Most of Dubai has been built up over the past 10-20 years. If there were any cultural or historical buildings in Dubai, they are no longer there. At least, no place we saw. Everything is new skyscrapers, fancy hotels, and malls. A major culture shock, coming from India! We decided to relax for our 3 days in Dubai, and we enjoyed every minute of it.

After a very early flight from India, we spent the first day just catching up on sleep. For our next two days, we took advantage of Dubai’s fairly new, world-class metro system. We bought a day pass for each day and did the “metro tour”. Yes, this picture below is the metro station.


On our first day of exploring, we just went to the Mall of the Emirates. The Mall of Emirates is massive! Walking through it, we felt it was like the Las Vegas of the Middle East, without the casinos. Everything in and out of this mall was gigantic.



Of course, outside of this mall is the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. When you observe it from the Mall of the Emirates, it has a fountain in front in a similar style to the Bellagio Hotel & Casino in Vegas, in fact I believe they were designed by the same company. Going up to the top of the Burj would have been a great experience and a fabulous view. We might have done it, though we weren’t thrilled about the $30 cost, but it wasn’t an option as all the slots were already sold out for the two days we were there.


Shopping in Dubai is not the thing to do if you’re looking for value. Unlike our previous 2.5 months in Asia, everything in Dubai was more expensive then it would be at home. Thankfully, we were not needing to buy anything, but we enjoyed walking around, not bumping into people, and enjoying the majesty of the mall with the fancy shops, Olympic size hockey rink, aquarium and fountain show.




On the next day, we started early again, reloaded our metro pass, and went all the way to the end of the line, visiting the Ibn Bhatuta Mall. Ibn Batuta, as we learned, was a traveler in the 1300s from Morocco who travelled to many Muslim countries all over Africa, the Middle East and Asia. This mall was interesting, and not just because it was named after a person, but it was also separated into the different regions of the world he had travelled to. It was like a free museum in the mall, so it was a fun and educational experience. Walking through a mall is easy when you are not shopping for anything, so we walked fairly quickly from one end to another, taking some photos along the way.







From there, we hopped back on the metro, enjoying some of the amazing architecture scattered throughout Dubai.


Our next stop was the Dubai Mall, whose major attraction is the indoor ski hill. Apparently it’s the third in the world, which had us curious to know where the first two are. We forgot to look that up still.



We were hoping to make it out to one of the nice beaches where we could also catch a glimpse of the Burj Al Arab hotel, the only 7 star hotel in the world, but the bus schedule didn’t work out for us and taking a taxi was more than we were interested in spending for such a short time at the beach.

So we the took the metro, switching to the green line, and headed to the Creek. We walked a little here and foundation nice view from the middle of a bridge of the city and also the Burj, but there wasn’t much else, except for a run-down amusement park.



Finally, we took the metro to meet up with Niren, an acquaintance of mine, who is living and working in Dubai. His mom and my Aunt Margo are close but Niren and I had not seen or spoken to each other in many years. Indians are very hospitable, though, and he was happy to pick us up and take us for a drive around and to visit another mall, Festival City, which was neat as it was right on the edge of the Creek. There wasn’t much going on at the Creek on that day but it was a nice relaxing place to be. We neglected to take any photos though as a dark creek at night doesn’t really photograph well. We returned back to Ingrid’s place for a nice home cooked meal and had the chance to spend some more time with the family sharing about our day.

We definitely didn’t do much in Dubai but it was a perfect few days after a busy few weeks in India and we don’t regret it one bit. Dubai is not the place to experience much in terms of culture as mostly everything that is built there was built in the past 10-20 years. In addition, about 75% of the population of Dubai are from other countries, so there is no local feel. However, if you want to have some luxury and spend some money, Dubai is a great place to go. We hear there are some interesting, albeit expensive, camel tours and dune rides you can go on.

We were not interested in any of the activities and were very happy to leave Dubai, thanks to some help from family, having spent less money in Dubai than we did on our visas to get into the country.

2 comments to Dubai On The Cheap

  • kitty

    so I could not help myself but do a little research on indoor ski hills. It was a pleasure to find that the Netherlands and Japan both have the most of them (seven each) out of 42 all together.
    According to Wikipedia Germany has the longest (640m) France has the second longest (620 m), and in Landgraaf (the Netherlands) is the third longest (520). After Lithuania (460 m) come Duba, sharing a spot with Russia (each 400 m).

    Wikipedia again states that the Landgraaf in the Netherlands has the largest indoor ski area (35,000 square meters of snow)
    The largest slope is the one in Germany (Bottrop) and the widest slope at the bottom (100 m) is in Manchester England.

    So I hope I have been of some help to you both, making an effort to save you some time (and just in case you would forget)

    • iPadNomads

      That’s funny that you would take the time to do that, but it’s like me to do those things too at times! I would have never thought there were 42 indoor ski hills in the world. Thanks for sharing.


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