You may have realised by now that, this region can be an expensive place to live. In this issue, I would like to share some ideas on how to enjoy the weekend after a hard week’s work without breaking the bank. Below are five places that you can visit in the UAE that are fun and cost effective.
Al Ain Zoo
This 900 hectare park near the base of Jebel Hafeet is where visitors can see a large animal collection in enclosures that closely resemble their natural habitats. There are plenty of green public spaces for picnics and also playgrounds, a cafeteria and a train tour of the wildlife area.
Giraffe feeding, camel riding and ‘Elezba’ petting zoo are the latest interactive activities. Visitors can enjoy feeding the giraffes treats such as carrots or lettuce five times daily in a special area. Designed in the style of a local farm, the ‘Elezba’ petting zoo lets families feed and play with sheep, goats, camels, llamas, chicken and ducks; enjoy camel riding or picnicking in a designated area.
Cost of entry: Adults AED30 AED10 children
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
This architectural work of art is one of the world’s largest mosques, with a capacity for an astonishing 40,000 worshippers. It features 82 domes, over a 1,000 columns, 24 carat gold gilded chandeliers and the world’s largest hand knotted carpet. The main prayer hall is dominated by one of the world’s largest chandeliers –10 metres in diameter, 15 metres in height and weighing twelve tonnes. The mosque’s first ceremony was the funeral of its namesake, HH Sheikh Zayed, who is buried at the site.
Cost of entry: Free
Life in Dubai was wildly different 50 years ago. The city has grown from a small pearl diving and trading community based around the Creek, to what you see today in only just over 40 years. Discover what Dubai was like for the Bedouins and Emiratis at the Dubai Museum in the Al Fahidi Fort. It won’t win any awards for modernity, but it’s an interesting portrayal of a way of life that’s changed beyond recognition.
Cost of entry: Free
Jebel Al Jais Mountain Road
Deep in the Hajar Mountains, at 1934m looms Jebel Al Jais, the highest mountain in the UAE, which, on rare occasions, even wears a tonsure of snow. Since 2015, a spectacular, 30km- long road snakes almost to the top, rewarding drivers with spellbinding views of sculpted escarpments after every bend. Fissured mountain faces shimmering in shades from charcoal to caramel plunge down into deep canyons and fertile wadis (river beds). The road has two lanes going up and one coming down with handy pull- outs along the way. The trip can be done with a regular car and does not require special driving skills.
Go higher than the Burj Khalifa
Getting up to the observation deck in the world’s tallest building will cost you a pretty penny, but you can go even higher without spending a dime. The 1,249 metre Jebel Hafeet is the UAE’s highest peak, and you can take a road trip to climb it. The views are worth it. Take the E66 out of Dubai and towards Al Ain and then follow the signposts.
By Aaron Crotty