The charm and allure of Dubai life has always been about the promise of a better lifestyle – as well as the chance to save funds to eventually enjoy a better life in your home country. But with the costs spiralling up, saving money in Dubai can be easier said than done. In addition, lack of policies which govern competition has lead business firms to raise their prices in different ways. For instance, the government has banned a 10% service fee added by restaurants on all receipts, because of which they make you pay 15 or 20 Dirhams for a bottle of water which costs just 1.5 Dirhams in the grocery shop nearby.
But statistics show that 79 per cent of foreign residents are saving more in the UAE than at home, according to a recent survey by HSBC Bank International. At the same time, 77 per cent of Dubai’s expats have also said that the economic situation has deteriorated for them over the past year, with 50 per cent spending more here than they would at home.
So here are some tips to save money while you are in Dubai, whether you are an expatriate or a tourist visiting Dubai.
Transport: If you are in the country for a shorter while as a tourist, taxis are cheaper than renting a car. Car pooling is another cheap way out to commonly accessed travel spots. You can car pool with your friends or even take advantage from RTA’s official car pool service. This is a great way to save costs. You can find more about it by clicking here. If you are in Dubai for a longer period of time, it is better to buy a second hand car rather than relying on taxis. (Find more about buying a used car)You can make use of Dubai Metro’s excellent service and cut your costs on transport.
Car dealers sell you auto parts at very high prices. If your car is in maintenance and the dealer asks you to change your car brake pads for instance, say no, unless they give you a good price. Otherwise, go buy auto parts (sometimes with warranty) from shops in industrial areas change them there, and you can save up to 500 AED. Some shops are official dealers, so they only sell genuine parts. It is always better to drive safely and not spend money on traffic tickets.
Dining Out: Dining Out has become a necessity of expatriate life. In such cases choosing café’s rather than restaurants turns out to be cheaper. They serve more amount of food and their lavish servings of breads and salads and sides will more probably leave you with a fuller stomach. Make it a rule that you will treat yourself for a fine dining restaurant once a week. The rest of the week, you can plan healthy home cooked meals or pick up meals from small supermarkets, petrol stops or even healthy fast food like subway. Many coffee shops, cafés, food courts and supermarkets offer some sort of loyalty card that will lead to money back or freebies after a certain amount of swiping. Click here to find more about restaurants in Dubai.
Accommodation: Villas or apartments can turn out to be a better deal than a hotel room especially if you are tourist travelling with a family. They are inexpensive, self-catering, offer a larger space area, come with a fully equipped kitchen and are also nearby to Dubai’s attractions and beaches.
Shopping: Even when Dubai is termed as a shopper’s paradise, shopping in the malls can turn out to be really expensive. The better option would be to venture into your nearest shopping markets at Diera where a little bargain haggling and nagging can let you lay your hands on some fresh produce and exquisite goods. In the traditional souks and the local markets in Meena Bazar you would be dealing with smaller vendors and can negotiate on the price instead of paying a fixed price tag.
Another option is to shop online in Dubai. Prices are much lower as online stores have very little overhead. You also save time by staying home and not getting stuck in traffic saving on fuel cost and the depreciation of your car.
You can save much on buying second hand stuff like cars, furniture, and electronics from dubizzle.com. Buy your grocery items only from hypermarkets, and not from small shops. Hypermarkets such as Carrefour are much cheaper and offer better deals. This applies on most hypermarkets except Spinneys which tend to be more expensive than small shops.
Discount Vouchers: One of the most profitable methods is to save on your purchases, dining experiences and entertainment with the voucher book called the ‘The Entertainer’. One can find some ‘Buy one, get one Free’ vouchers for local restaurants, golf courses and amusement parks. You can visit their official site: http://www.theentertainerme.com/. Around 500 listings are included, each offering 3 vouchers (500×3= 1500 voucher). Even if you only use two vouchers out of 1500, for Wild Wadi, Ski Dubai, Desert Safaris, Dhow dinner boats and most of the restaurants, cafes and bars, in each case you will get a free ticket for your wife or friend (270 for Wild Wadi + 120 for Ski Dubai = 380 AED). The 2011 version of the book costs only 350 AED, which is even less than what you saved using only two vouchers, which is 380 AED.
You can order the book online or get it from any local bookstore. There are different versions of the book, each addressing different audience.
There is also the entertainer fine dining which is AED150 and has buy one get one free for the more high end restaurants.
On similar lines, there are a couple of websites which provide discounted prices on different things. List of top daily deal sites in Dubai with the best offers
a) Groupon (www.groupon.ae) b) Living Social (www.livingsocial.com/dubai) c) Cobone (www.cobone.com) d) Gonabit (www.gonabit.com) e) Deal Gobbler (www.dealgobbler.com) f) City Loots (www.cityloots.com) g) Just Henga (www.justhenga.com/dubai) h) Dubai Savers (www.dubaisavers.com) i) Du Buy (www.dubuy.ae) j) Dubai Deals (www.dubaideals.ae) k) Dependent (www.dependent.com) L) Makhsoom (www.makhsoom.com/ae) M) Nail The Deal (www.nailthedeal.com) n) Nab it 2 day (www.nabit2day.com) o) Tippr (www.tippr.com) p) Dealaboo (www.dealaboo.com/dubai) q) Scoupon (www.thescoupon.com)
Read all the fine print on all coupons prior to purchasing, as some places would want you to book an appointment in advance, while some allow you to share the coupon with your friends and others don’t and also there are limits per person.
International Calls: A lot of money is invested in calling your home country when you are living an expatriate life. A 30 minute call 3 times a week could cost you up to 500 Dirhams a month or even more. One of the best solutions is Wizton, which is a free VoIP program which allows you to call your home country at low prices. All you need is a laptop, 256K internet connection or more, and a credit card.
Du offers a very interesting post paid plan which includes 100 international minutes, 100 local minutes, 50 local sms, and 50 international sms for 100 AED/month.
Entertainments: Dubai is one of the top destinations when it comes to the field of entertainment and the money involved also is sky rocketing. If entertainment has to be brought into your life at a lower cost, one can go for the free entertainments that Dubai offers such as the Dubai Shopping Festival, horse racing events and Dubai Summer Surprises events. There are also nice fireworks displays, free raffle drawings, vendor displays and children entertainment like clowns walking around. One of the best ways to see Dubai is to buy a 24-hour ticket for the Hop-on, Hop-off bus tour. It stops at a variety of attractions and you can disembark at as many of them as you want.
Free access to pools and beaches: It is common in Dubai that many hotels sell daily passes for access to their pools and beaches, so one does not need to be an inmate of a costly hotel. Many budget travellers stay at inexpensive hotels at night and spend their day in nicer facilities by purchasing the pass. The pass will typically give you access to the beach front, swimming pools, health clubs and the spa.
One of the famous public beaches in Dubai is the Jumeirah beach which has walking trails, children’s parks and free barbeque grills you can use.
In addition to these tips, one has to be wary of the hidden fee to any bank accounts, credit cards and the like, which can drain your pocket. There have been many cases where the banks are seen stamping extra fee to many accounts. Ask the bank to deduct credit card payments 100% from your current account at the end of each month. Never allow yourself to pay interests because you will find yourself drowning in huge debt.