What can you do that doesn’t cost money in the UAE?

Seriously?!  I am honestly asking.  I am starting to think that perhaps I am missing a trick.  There are a lot of wonderful places to go, eat, and visit but everything has some sort of fee.

I started thinking about the summer budget.  As the heat goes up, so does our spending when trying to entertain little children.  More visits to the malls, more visits to Fun City, Wanasa Land, etc.   As I was thinking about this I realized that we spend way too much on the weekends year round.  There is not a weekend that goes by were we don’t spend money on family activities.

It frightens me to add up the amount I have spent over the course of a year.  I am notorious for using my Entertainer vouchers, but even with those savings I would low ball guesstimate that we spend at least 500 AED a weekend (Thurs-Sat).  I am sure it would work out much more if I included the children activities, coffees, brunches, and breakfasts that take place throughout the course of the year.  So at 500 AED a weekend, that is about 26000 AED a year.   I don’t event want to know the actual amount!

We are family of four, soon to be 5.  I know that we could cut costs by just not leaving the house on weekends but with little ones we need to get out.  I find it cheaper to eat out at a family restaurant than it is to buy groceries for one meal at Abelas, Spinneys, or Waitrose (take your pick).  If I do this, then I don’t have to cook or clean up the mess and my family gets an outing so it’s a win-win, right?

I can’t help but feel like I am foolishly spending money?  My husband and I had our children here in Abu Dhabi so we have nothing to compare family spending to – except our summer holidays back to the States.

Surprisingly we don’t spend as much as we expect on holiday.  The kids keep entertained by playing outside and going to the parks (no cost).  We don’t even eat out that much because we are surrounded by family so we have a lot of family meals.  It helps that my US family live in the boondocks of upstate NY with only one pizzeria in town.  Our dining out choices are limited.

Anyway back to Abu Dhabi.  What can you do that does not cost much money on the weekends?  Is there a way to not spend money or should I just tick this weekend spending in the “Cost of Living” box?   Please tell me.