ES Dubai - Dubai on a Dime: Tips for Students To Save Money
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Dubai on a Dime: Tips for Students To Save Money

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Are you a student living your academic dream through a language institute in Dubai? You’ve probably heard tales of its fancy skyscrapers, high-end malls, and luxurious lifestyle. But wait, are you on a tight budget? Fear not! With a little inside knowledge from the expert, you can experience the magic of Dubai without breaking the bank. Let’s dive into Dubai on a dime!

Transportation: Commute Affordably

Dubai features a well-connected and cost-effective transport system consisting of metro lines, buses and rental bikes or e-scooters. As per the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) system, the city is divided into 7 zones, out of which 4 consist of metro stations and the remaining 3 are connected to a network of public transport buses. The fares for your travel are based on the number of zones covered and the type of nol cards. But always remember that a minimum balance of 7.5 AED in your nol card is mandatory to use the metro or buses.

Metro: The Dubai metro line connects significant locations across the city through a well-developed network of underground and overground metro stations. Plan your journey and check the nearest metro stations on Google Maps.

Buses: All the metro stations are connected to the nearby regions by RTA buses. The bus details and timings are displayed on screens in the metro waiting areas. Irrespective of the transport mode, the charges will be based on the number of zones you cover.

Rent a Bike/E-scooter: Mostly for short-distance travel, if you wish to skip walking and commute to nearby areas, Dubai’s got some great bike paths, with rental bike and e-scooter stations at the major locations. Pedal your way and save.

Food: Culinary Delights on a Dime

Grocery shops: Finding affordable groceries in Dubai is easier than you might think! You can grab ingredients and spices for your favourite recipe from budget-friendly supermarkets such as Carrefour, West Zone, Lulu, Viva and Union Coop, among others, who offer weekly promotions and discounts on a range of products. Utilise local markets like Waterfront Market for fresh seafood and veggies to cook delicious meals at home.

Online groceries: Sites like,,, and not only deliver straight to your doorstep but also run frequent promotions and discounts. ‘InstaShop’ and ‘EL Grocer’ are popular apps that allow you to compare prices across different local supermarkets, ensuring you snag the best deals. Although the prices may be higher compared to buying directly from the marts, this offers better convenience at reasonable prices.

Entertainment and Sightseeing

Free Experiences: Dubai is a lively city that offers various exciting activities, from stunning beaches for picnicking to vibrant shopping malls with endless opportunities for everyone. There are many popular tourist attractions, like Dubai Mall and Bluewater Islands, that offer marvellous visual treats for free.

Cultural Hotspots: Museums like the Dubai Museum in Al Fahidi Fort, Al Seef, Bur Dubai Abra, and the iconic cultural spot Global Village charge minimal entry fees to enjoy a one-of-a-kind traditional and multicultural experience.

Community Events: Dubai frequently hosts free events, festivals, and workshops. Keep an eye on local listings to participate in a unique activity in this city.

Shopping: Quality without the Quantity (of Money)

Souks: Dubai’s souks offer visitors a glimpse into the city’s rich history and traditions. These traditional marketplaces are bustling with activity, where traders hawk everything from gold and spices to textiles and perfumes. The Gold Souk, Spice Souk, and Textile Souk, among others, are more than just a shopping experience— they’re a dive into the cultural heart of Dubai.

Outlets: For those with an eye for branded products but a heart for savings, Dubai’s outlet malls are a dream come true. Various budget-friendly shopping destinations, such as The Outlet Village in Jebel Ali and Dubai Outlet Mall on Dubai-Al Ain Road, offer premium brands at jaw-dropping discounts.

Pre-owned Fashion: The city also embraces the trend of sustainable, pre-owned fashion. For those seeking high-end labels without high-end price tags, Retold shops in Al Quoz, Al Ghurair Centre and JLT; and Garderobe in Umm Suqeim offer an exquisite collection of gently used luxury items.

Department stores: BBZ and Brands for Less. Dubai’s retail landscape includes diverse department stores catering to budget shoppers. A standout is BBZ, which offers a wide array of products, from electronics and home goods to fashion and accessories. Another go-to for those seeking branded items at affordable prices is Brands For Less, which has multiple branches across the city.

Discount stores: Dubai also features a wide selection of discount shopping centres such as Day to Day, Al Kabayel, Dragon Mart, Daiso, and more. With products ranging from household items to clothing and electronics, these stores are perfect for those looking to shop smart without compromising on variety.

Online Shopping: The digital shopping scene in Dubai has seen exponential growth, offering a convenient and pocket-friendly alternative to traditional retail. Leading sites such as,,,, and offer millions of products and swift delivery times.

Flea Markets: These bustling markets are a haven for bargain hunters, collectors, and anyone keen to unearth unique, often vintage items that tell a tale. The Dubai Flea Market in various locations, such as Zabeel Park, JLT Park, and The Greens, features many stalls offering second-hand furniture, handmade crafts, clothing, and more. Another standout is the Ripe Market, which, known for its organic produce, also showcases artisanal goods, crafts, and even upcycled items.

Stay Connected: Smooth and Economical

Public Wi-Fi: Malls like The Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, and Festival City, among others, offer fast, free Wi-Fi. You can also connect to the free Wi-Fi available at the metro stations across the city.

Prepaid or postpaid plans: Keep an eye out for economic mobile plans offered by your telecom service providers like Du, Etisalat, and Virgin, among others. These companies have service centres in most of the shopping malls across the city, such as the Dubai Marina Mall close to ES Dubai school. They often come with data and local call packages tailored for specific usage needs.

Free Wifi Calling Apps: You can make use of a range of internet calling apps such as Botim, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and GoChat to stay connected with your dear ones anywhere across the world without spending additional charges for international calling minutes.

With its perfect fusion of tradition and modernity, Dubai offers experiences for every budget. Armed with these insider tips, your Dubai adventure awaits promising memories without monetary concerns. Dive in and discover the city with ES Dubai!

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