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15 places to see incredible free art and culture in Dubai

By News feed Pubilshed 04/02/2023

Explore the city’s art scene without spending a dirham

By Sara-Aisha KentAugust 1, 2022

Love art, but don’t quite have the budget for Sotheby’s? Join the club. You’ll be after all the best places to see free art and culture in Dubai.

From pokey backstreet galleries to getting lost in world-famous museums, Dubai is a vibrant canvas like nothing you’ve ever seen. Here’s how to embrace Dubai’s rich art and culture scene without spending a single fils.

Here are the best places to experience art and culture in Dubai for absolutely nothing.

Alserkal Avenue

Free art and culture in Dubai, Alserkal Avenue

Alserkal Avenue has similar origins to many of the artistic areas around the world: it was a neglected warehouse district until 2007. And, just like London’s Shoreditch, New York’s Meatpacking District and Los Angeles’ Arts District, it has burst into the 21st century with a bit of sprucing. It’s now a major art hub hosting a regular parade of galleries, exhibitions, talks, workshops, film screenings, festivals and museums and many of them are free to enter and explore.
Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, alserkalavenue.ae.

Coin Museum

Coin collectors can get their fix of precious small change at the Coin Museum in Al Fahidi Historic District in Dubai without dropping any cash themselves. The front of the spot, which opened in 2004, may seem unassuming but inside the eight-room museum are over 500 coins from the Middle East to be admired.
Mon-Thur; 8am-3pm, Fri 8am-11:30am.Bur Dubai,Dubai Heritage Village.

Dubai Coffee Museum

Coffee has been a part of Middle Eastern heritage for nearly as long as it has been in use as a drink. Located in Dubai’s Al Fahidi Historical District, this shrine to caffeine consumption is dotted with intriguing artefacts and showcases a wide selection of antique items, illustrating regional and international coffee history and culture. The ground floor is divided into zones reflecting the traditions of different coffee-drinking cultures and upstairs, you’ll find the literature room that displays texts related to coffee.
Free. Open Sat-Thu 9am-5pm. Al Fahidi Historical District, Bur Dubai, www.coffeemuseum.ae (04 353 8777).

Dubai Design District

Street murals are arguably one of the coolest pieces of artworks you can see and when you visit d3, you’ll have one in every direction you look. Here, you can admire the works by world-renowned street artists such as Shepard Fairey, Myne & Yours and more. In 2018, an innocuous underground car park was also given an awe-inspiring revamp by none other than Iraqi-British street artist Marwan Shakarchi. The amazing and thought-provoking mural is inspired by mankind’s endangerment of the ocean. Simply brilliant. Just don’t forget to charge your phone for some obligatory snapping.
Dubai Design District, www.dubaidesigndistrict.com.

Downtown Dubai

Visit Downtown Dubai and you’ll be able to appreciate art pieces by world-renowned artists including the Wings of Mexico by Jorge Marin, Love Me by Richard Hudson and many more. Wings of Mexico was created in 2010 and aims to embody the hopes and dreams of the Central American nation’s citizens while promoting Mexico’s image and artistic output worldwide. Its striking design consists of two wings of bronze, which are placed on an iron frame above three steps of concrete. It takes pride of place at the entrance to Burj Plaza on the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard with Burj Khalifa as a stunning backdrop and is easily one of the most Instagrammable spots in Dubai. For more sculptures in Downtown Dubai click here.
Downtown Dubai.

Foundry

Downtown Dubai’s newest (and coolest) community art space also boasts a co-working space, a library packed full of thought-provoking books, a cute café, and a podcast room so there’s plenty to see and do while you’re there. There’s a regular line-up of free-to-attend exhibitions and Foundry Studios will also feature the works of different artists on rotation.
Open daily 10am-10pm. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai, foundry.downtowndubai.ae (04 367 3696).

Gallery One

Sometimes doing a freebie activity means thinking out of the box and by going to Gallery One – an art gallery and shop in one – you can see some pieces without denting your wallet. That is if you manage to leave one of the stores without purchasing some wall art, small art and home décor. With galleries in Mirdif City Centre, Souk Al Bahar and Arabian Ranches 2, it offers plenty to see across in the city.
g-1.com/our-stores.

Hatta Heritage Village

Ever wondered what Dubai’s first villages looked like? Well this faithful recreation is as close as you’ll get to the real thing. See how the local rulers lived by having a gander at their house (Bait al Wali) before taking out your enemies (or at least dreaming of it) from one of the watchtowers. Not only is this free art and culture, but you’ll get a bonus history lesson too.
Open Sat-Thu 7.30am-8.30pm, Fri 2.30pm-8.30pm. Hatta (04 852 1374).

Hyatt Centric Jumeirah Dubai

Yes it’s a hotel, but this boutique property will also give you a free art and culture fix.The lobby is bursting with art that has been inspired by Dubai. One of the art installations features a collection of 260 amplified nutshells arranged to form the shape of the Dubai Creek channel and another consists of 800 handcrafted, one-of-a-kind traditional pearl diver nose clips. Art is around every corner of the hotel with  an assortment of framed artworks developed from actual rocks that hang along the corridors of the hotel, as well as oars produced from recycled shipping pallets and decorated with brightly woven fabric and painted with vibrant stripes.
Hyatt Centric Jumeirah Dubai, La Mer Beach.

Jameel Arts Centre

This thoroughly funky building on the Jaddaf Waterfront is original in its programming and forward-thinking in its research. Fiercely independent, it supports artists from the region like few other establishments. And you can too by popping along and immersing yourself in this cracking creative centre.
Open Sat-Mon 10am-4pm, Wed 10am-4pm, 9pm-midnight, Thu 10am-4pm. Jaddaf Waterfront, jameelartscentre.org (04 873 9800)

JBR

With never a dull moment in the area, the walls of The Walk had an artistic spruce up in late 2016 as part of the 3D art festival, Dubai Canvas, transforming the neighbourhood into a hotspot for ultra-real 3D graffiti work with a distinctive animal theme, including giraffes, falcons, an aquarium and many other works of art dotted across the JBR strip.
JBR.

Karama street art

If admiring murals and vibrant street art is what you enjoy, taking a walk through the residential district of Al Karama will be right up your street (sorry). Shops and apartment building walls are covered in eye-catching designs and stunning murals which have all been painted by local artists. This is free art and culture at its best, so why not take a stroll to soak up the rich artwork or just keep your eyes peeled next time you’re driving through.
Street 18B, Al Karama.

Satwa

There are few better streets on which to immerse yourself in a slice of community life in Dubai. Pay a visit and you’ll be greeted with tonnes of charm – and stunning murals. Back in 2016, Dubai Street Museum on 2nd December Street was given an artistic spruce-up with an open-air gallery paying homage to Emirati heritage and history. The incredible murals include a group of Emirati children hoop rolling, Arabic calligraphy, a golden dallah (coffee pot), and more traditional imagery from the UAE. Plus, they make for some amazing Instagram shots, too.
2nd December Street, Satwa.

Time Out Market Dubai

Did you know that the best foodie spot in the city, Time Out Market Dubai, also has artwork to be seen? Created by Emirati artist Abdulla Lutfi, the installation is a monochromatic mural which depicts the old and new Dubai. Sounds pretty cool. There is a special message behind the piece, about the importance of community coming together, which can be found next to the Fountain Bar near The Stage inside the Souk Al Bahar food hall. The eye-catching design that features iconic tourist destinations, including Burj KhalifaBurj Al Arab and Dubai Frame, and shows how far Dubai has come with the help of rapid technological advancement.
Time Out Market Dubai, Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai, timeoutmarket.com/dubai.

XVA Gallery

For more than 17 years now, XVA Gallery in the historical and culture-packed Al Fahidi district, has been the home of contemporary Middle Eastern art in Dubai. There’s an ever-changing roster of exhibitions on display plus stalls selling bespoke paintings, sculptures, posters and more.
Open daily 10am-6pm. Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, Bur Dubai, xvagallery.com (04 353 5383).