12 things that can be done in Dubai that are free (or almost non-existent)

From film and fitness to fun days and drinks that don't make you dirhams, we've put together some of the best free activities in Dubai ...

1. Watch free movies
Did you know there are several places around the city that offer free movie screenings? This is perfect for cheap dates (especially if you are BYO popcorn). Cinema Akil is brilliant at showing interesting art and documentary films throughout the year - see the schedule here. And during the cooler months, you can see free pop-up cinemas throughout the city.

2. Visit the museum
Dubai is full of unique (and sometimes just weird) museums that you can enter for free or very little. We love the Dubai Coffee Museum in Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, where you can admire centuries-old grinders, grills and pots from around the world. There is a Coin Museum in the same area, which is worth a visit even though you are not a serious numismaticist. Or if the words are more to your liking, you can visit the museum dedicated to poet Al Oqaili, which is located in the Al Ras area in Deira - it is housed in one of the most beautiful heritage houses in Dubai. Of course, there is also the Dubai Museum and Al Fahidi Fortress which are very good, which only requires Dhs3 fees to enter.

3. Drive around the art gallery
Who says Dubai has no culture? You will find many inside the walls of a beautiful (and often free) city art gallery. The best place to start is Alserkal Avenue in Al Quoz, which is a hotbed of creative talent. There are always a large number of exhibitions, workshops, lectures and film screenings - just keep an eye on their website. Another good place for art lovers on a budget is Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, which is home to the beautiful Majlis Gallery, as well as Gallery XVA (which functions as a boutique hotel).

4. Take an abra trip across the river
We believe this is the best cruise in town, and the price is only Dhs1. The river is the historic heart of Dubai, which once divided the city into two areas: Deira and Bur Dubai. Until the construction of the Al Maktoum Bridge in 1963 - the first bridge in Dubai - the only way to go from one side to the other was a small rickety wooden boat called abra. This is still the most pleasant (and affordable) way.

5. Go to the beach
Unlike luxury beach hotels, they may not offer a Balearic soundtrack or free sunglasses cleaning, but Dubai still has some public beaches that are good enough to enjoy. The Beach at JBR is a timeless favorite - though make sure to get there early to get the best piece of sand, because it will be very busy. Kite Beach is another good item, named for kite surfers who often do it. But if you want to avoid the crowds, try Al Sufouh Beach (or 'Black Palace') - this place is rather difficult to find, but you will be rewarded with peaceful waters and beautiful scenery.

6. Watch dancing fountains
This is classic, and for good reason. The Dubai Fountain is the largest fountain choreography system in the world, carrying out water routines that appeal to people like Whitney Houston, Enrique Iglesias, and Celine Dion. The show takes place every half hour at night from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. (and until 11:30 p.m. on weekends). Here's a little tip: the Apple store in Dubai Mall has a large balcony that offers some of the best views of the fountain (don't worry - there's no need to buy an iPhone).

7. Have fun in the desert
Forget those expensive desert safari packages - you can have your own fun in the sand. We love the Al Qudra area, which is only a 30-minute drive from the city. You can take a bicycle and take a leisurely bike ride around the Al Qudra Cycle Track, or take a sand board and carve out some sand dunes. Also watch oryx and friendly wild gazelle.

8. Go bird watching for free
Why pay money to visit a zoo when there are some incredible wildlife right on your doorstep? We, of course, talked about the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Reserve, which is located at the mouth of the Dubai River. While more than 20,000 birds from 67 species inhabit this sanctuary, perhaps the most famous are the extraordinary flamingo herds. To see it, all you have to do is swing it to one of the three clear skins that are visible around the sanctuary. This is open from 9am to 4pm Saturday to Thursday, and admission tickets are free (there are also binoculars that can be borrowed).

9. Enjoy women's days free
If you are lucky enough to be a woman, you can get free access to some of Dubai's best swimming pools on certain days of the week. For example, every Sunday and Monday you can go to Barasti between 10:00 and 18:00 and enjoy free pool access, free towels and unlimited Frose, and 50 percent of the food and beverage menu. Click here for more holiday offers for women in Dubai.

10. Or night woman
There are so many women's evenings in Dubai so you can easily sip throughout the week without spending a single dirham. One of our favorites is Miss Independent in Ramusake at DoubleTree by Hilton in JBR, where on Wednesday you get unlimited wine from 19:00 to midnight. A word of warning - this stylish place has become so popular that reservations are very important to guarantee entry, and that place is often ordered a few weeks earlier. Click here to see more women's night offers in Dubai.

11. There is something for boys too
That's right, free is not just for women - try heading to the night of men. Qwerty at Media One Hotel offers two free drinks to men every Monday between 6:00 and 20:00. Not too bad…

12. Get free items on your birthday
Do you know there are many restaurants, bars and attractions around Dubai that want to treat you on your birthday, with big discounts, offers, and even free? For example, you can register your date of birth on the Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark website and get a free entrance ticket to the epic water park. Click here for a brighter birthday offer in Dubai ...