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How to Live Frugally in Dubai

costsDubai can be an expensive city to live in. Yes we may be accustomed to a tax- free lifestyle but living day to day can be a costly affair and can drain your wallet at an alarming rate. Here are some key tips on how to live frugally in Dubai

The metro runs regularly, is air-conditioned and can often be much quicker than sitting in some of Dubai’s notorious traffic jams. If you need a car it probably makes more sense to buy a car rather than lease one. Buying a car, especially a used one, is not very expensive, although spare a thought for maintenance. Depending on the model this can be expensive as the extreme heat and driving conditions here can take a toll on your vehicle.

Many of Dubai’s roads also charge a toll every time you use these roads; this toll is known as Salik. It can quickly add up. If you take the metro, tolls are not a concern. Furthermore, if you are happy to pay a few extra dirhams you can travel in Gold Class, where you are more likely to get a seat.

Don’t Eat out as much
We are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out in Dubai. There are simply hundreds of restaurants, many of which are extremely expensive. There is a strong culture of dining out when socializing, and for some reason us Dubai expats seem to do it more than most. It is no longer a treat to go out for dinner at the weekend. Many of us will eat out or get a takeaway several days a week.

Cooking your own food can really save a fortune. If you do have to go out opt for cheaper eateries at least some of the week or look out for deals and promotions.

Try taking a packed lunch into the office and put aside the money you would have spent on lunch every day. You will soon realize how much this is costing you and how much you could be saving.

Check your bank accounts
Many banks have hidden charges. Make sure you read the small print. Be especially careful if you are using your offshore bankcard here, as they will often charge you up to 2% to take money from an ATM.

Be aware of what your bank account is costing you generally. A lot of banks require a minimum balance to be maintained in their accounts; if your balance falls short of this minimum, banks will charge you a fee.

Look out for second hand items
Dubai’s population is very transient. Because of this you can find excellent deals on all sorts of things from clothes to furniture, cars, baby goods, electronics, the list goes on. Check out websites such as and

Make use of offer vouchers
There are various promotional offers that run throughout Dubai, from getaway deals on Groupon to buy one get one free meals in voucher books like the entertainer. Don’t want to carry a book of vouchers around with you? You can now download the entertainer App –

Look for free entertainment
During the cooler months, leave behind the malls, where you might be tempted to spend money, and opt for the beach or go to the park. Dubai has numerous shopping festivals during which you will find several free shows and entertainment events such as music festivals. Some beaches also host free sporting events.

For families, the Entertainer is a coupon and voucher booklet that offers a range of discount coupons and buy-one-get-one-free vouchers to several, restaurants, entertainment parks, water parks and other local attractions. Groupon and Cobone are also great resources that offer discounts on everything from dining to activities across the emirate.

Make use of air miles and flying club points
Many of the banks out here offer credit cards that reward you with air miles or points that give you a discount when you fly. These can come in really handy for expats who are known to fly more than most. Do shop around for the cards that offer the best deals as the points can soon add up. Meaning you can benefit from cheaper flights or even upgrades!

Dubai on a shoe string
The wonderful thing about Dubai is that it can support a lifestyle that can be as expensive or as economical as you choose it to be. Be on the lookout for deals and discounts which can enable you to buy the things you want without paying full price for them. Also think before you spend. There is probably a cheaper more economical way.


Article Courtesy of

Jessica Cook
Private Client Adviser AES International,
Global Wealth Management
Emaar Square, 5th Floor,
Building 6 PO Box 191905
Dubai, UAE

Tel: +971 (0) 4450 2500
Mobile +971 (0)50 4699 236
Fax: +971 (0) 4454 1272


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