International hospitality from Iceland to Bosnia
The current heart of the art world, however, is Al Serkel Avenue in industrial quarter Al Quoz. Dubai’s answer to New York’s Dumbo, a number of venues have opened up here in adjoining warehouses to ensure easy mooching from one to the next. Green Art and Mojo are Al Serkal’s most pioneering, with the former recently exhibiting Palestinian artists, and the latter the first gallery in Dubai to show contemporary art from Africa and the diaspora. Check the websites for exhibition openings, when free drinks (soft, and sometimes hard) and canapes fly freely.
Dubai’s coastal location makes for innumerable purse-friendly pursuits. As well as the free public beaches (of which Jumeirah Beach Residence next to the Walk and Jumeirah Open Beach are the most popular), it is possible to hop on a shiny, new and air-conditioned ferry outside Dubai Marina Mall for a 50 dirham cruise through this futuristic, skyscraper-crammed part of town.
If you fancy getting in the water, grab your trunks and head to the Address Montgomerie Dubai's Dine In Movies every Thursday and Friday, where you can watch a kid-friendly film and enjoy pool access, popcorn and a soft drink for 65 dirhams. Finally, if you would rather stare at 33,000 sea creatures for absolutely nothing, make a beeline to the Dubai Aquarium in the Dubai Mall, where you can watch through the world's largest acrylic panel for as long as you like for free while shopping. Alternatively, the 50 dirham entry fee to the spectacular 270-degree walkthrough aquarium tunnel is worth the investment: stand face to teeth with 400 shark and ray species, and also gain entry to the Underwater Zoo upstairs for everything from penguins and piranhas to giant spider crabs and garden eels.
Go up the Burj, for less (ladies only)
So you want to scale the world’s tallest building, the 828m-high Burj Khalifa, but do not want to pay the entry fee to the viewing deck on the 124th floor? Ladies should head to the curiously-punctuated bar At.mosphere on the 122nd floor on a Wednesday between 6 pm and 9 pm, when all females get free entry as well as two complimentary glasses of champagne . (Men, however, must still spend a minimum of 200 dirhams.)
Label junkies should grab a taxi (with fares approximately one tenth of the price of a black cab in London) to Karama, Dubai’s sub-continental equivalent of New York’s Chinatown, where you can snap up all manner of faux designer items from leather goods to sportswear to sunglasses. Haggling is expected, but exchanges tend to be surprisingly polite and ordered. For determined, steely-elbowed bargain hunters, the monthly Dubai Flea Markets are the city’s carboot sales, offering insanely cheap treasure to those who arrive first (around 8 am in the morning) and negotiate the loudest. For a more regular retail steal, head to Dubai Outlet Mall, 20 minutes down Route 66 from the Trade Centre Roundabout, for discounted high-end brands, from Missoni Dutti to Versace and Dior. Even better, visit on a Monday, when many items are half-price.
Surf for discounts
Dubai has embraced the discount website trend like a long-lost sibling, and it is a good idea to browse online at the start of your shopping spree to cash in on the best available bargains in town today. Start with cobone.com, yallabanana.com, livingsocial.com/united_arab_emirates and dubaideals.ae.