By Nohad Mouawad


The new year is well underway and everyone around you is likely either on a new Paleo diet, signing up for a gym membership to sweat out all the holiday food, or doing “Dry January.”

But, what if, instead of giving up everything fun and delicious, January could be about doing more for less? Most of us have blown our holiday budget and spent a little more than we thought we would over the winter break. So, how about a January where we enjoy ourselves but spend less money? I call it: “Free January”!

It might not seem like it, but there are plenty of free and cool activities going on around Dubai right now, especially with the Dubai Shopping Festival. On top of that, this January can be a time to appreciate and enjoy simpler things with our kids, who have been quite spoiled in December.

Time to be Outdoors: Of course, we all know that it’s outdoor season in Dubai, but sometimes we get stuck in our routine, only using our neighborhood park or our own balcony. This January, get out and explore the new Dubai Quranic Park, which has many interesting attractions related to Islamic Culture and the UAE, but is completely free. One of my all-time favorite parks is Al Barsha Pond Park, and your kids will love their range of playgrounds and having a skate or ride around the pond. JLT is also buzzing. Plan a scooter with your little ones or a jog for yourself around the park area or explore their playgrounds. And if you still haven’t tried the new skate park at the Block, grab your rollerblades or skateboards and head down there. Now is the time for the kids to try out all the rides they got for Christmas!

Enjoy Your Pets: The great January weather is also the best time to take your pets out and about. Instead of just the usual walk or keeping your pet at home, check out the special Cat Café in Al Safa or the Town Square Dog Park dedicated to your furry best friends.

Sit Back and Enjoy the Show: Having a “Free January” should mean enjoying free entertainment, and there are lots of really cool lights shows and displays on to enjoy outside. During Dubai Shopping Festival there’s a Drone and Light show at The Beach. In Dubai Design District there’s a dreamy interactive light and sound installation (Sky Castle by Eness) that your kids will love and will make great Insta pics! At City Walk they’ve also got a light installation from Amsterdam Light Festival that you can catch after your dinner at one of the restaurants on the Walk. If you’re looking for free live music, go down to Al Seef in Dubai Cultural District, where they’ve also got free workshops for kids.

Get a Fresh Start: In your new year refresh at home, don’t forget to do something that’s not just free, but also good for the environment: compost your Christmas tree! Just drop off any undecorated natural Christmas tree to any Spinneys supermarket by January 15th and it will be composted at Tadweer organic waste composting centers.

Get a Good Deal (If you must): If you really have to buy a few last-minute must-haves this month, then at least get some great deals. At Mercato Mall, the Dubai Shopping Festival means lots of (free) shows to entertain the kids, including magic shows and dancers and great shopping deals. Because the mall is on a smaller scale, it’s easy to pop in and grab a few items, have a yummy lunch, and show the kids a good time, without getting tired and overwhelmed.


Image Credits: <a href=””>Image by v.ivash</a> on Freepik

<a href=””>Image by senivpetro</a> on Freepik