It could be your birthday, anniversary or a celebration of a big goal achieved. It could be that a group of your friends have come down for a visit. Either way, you’ve got to entertain them all. How do you do so, on a budget?

You get creative.

Dubai offers plenty of out-of-the-box, quirky and yet affordable group activities – to those who know where to look for it. We put together a few imaginative ideas you can use, to delight a group of ten of your friends.

Entertainment idea #1: Sherlock Holmes for a day

Get your friends to participate in solving a real life puzzle such as a murder mystery. This activity is sure to create some lasting memories. A few places you could try:

  • Challenge Chambers, Sunset MallYour group will be locked in a room together without your smartphones. You can choose from the different challenges – Escape or Mystery with your only clues being playing cards, crosswords, picture frames or graffiti on the wall. Sherlyn who runs her own business loves this place for team building exercises, “You use your powers of observation and logic. You interact with your team to find solutions to escape within an hour that seems to fly.” Hit to the wallet: AED 100 per person for five players. For 10, you will need to book two such sessions bringing your cost to AED 1,000. 
  • Escape Quest, Jumeirah Lakes Towers: Your team gets 60 minutes to solve a puzzle and escape. A game master guides you through a screen in the room you are locked in. You get to play with clever gadgets and learn a few tricks and gimmicks. Dubai resident Ronnie gives this activity his thumbs up, “The last few minutes are nail-biting!” Hit to the wallet: AED 120 per person for the five player escape. For 10, you will need to book two such sessions bringing your cost to AED 1,200. 
  • Hint Hunt, Times Square Centre: A third option for a puzzle game that allows you to play detective. The latest puzzle is the Zen Room. Hit to the wallet: AED 110 per person for five members (Sun to Wed) and AED 130 per person for five members (Thur to Sat). For 10, you will need to book two such sessions bringing your cost to AED 1,100 to 1,300.  

Entertainment idea #2: Movie night with a twist

Take your gang for a movie session outdoors and make it a night to remember. Some spots you can check out:

  • Pyramids Rooftop Gardens, Wafi Mall: Open air movies will be screened every Sunday from 8:30 pm from October. Entry is free of charge, however with a group of 10 it would make sense to reach early and grab your beanbag. Hit to the wallet: AED 0 for movies. Food and beverages will cost you as per menu prices. 
  • La Playa Lounge, The Walk: Movies and football matches are screened every Friday and Saturday from 6:00 pm. Hit to the wallet: AED 50 per person to enter and sit through any number of movies and matches. Food and beverages will cost you as per menu prices. 
  • Courtyard Playhouse, Al Quoz: Plays are screened live from the London’s National Theatre. Pre-registration is required. Hit to the wallet: AED 100 per person

Entertainment idea #3: Get your sport on

If your group gets an adrenaline rush from playing a sport, go ahead and book an indoor session of their favorite activity. Ideas are:

  • Dubai Sports World, World Trade Centre: Book one of the many air conditioned courts for a game of football, cricket, tennis, basketball or rugby with your group of friends. Hit to the wallet: Starting from AED 125 per hour and going up to AED 550 per hour – depending on the sport you choose, the day of the week and the timing.
  • Ice Rink, Dubai Mall:  An Olympic size ice-rink open to all for 1.45 hour sessions each. Hit to the wallet: Starting from AED 60 per person for an adult. Disco sessions, lockers, socks, helmets and skates hire costs extra. You can book a group session to have the entire rink to yourself or arrange a game of ‘broomball’ as well. 

Entertainment idea #4: A step closer to nature

Living in a city, you desire to get a glimpse of nature and wildlife? Don’t worry Dubai has much to offer:

  • Dubai Butterfly Garden, Dubailand: Give your friends a chance to watch the 18,000 winged insects imported from the Philippines, Costa Rica, Colombia and Tanzania between 9 am to 6 pm, Hit to the wallet: AED 50 per person. 
  • Turtle Rehabilitation, Mina A’Salam Madinat Jumeirah: Participate in a session of feeding 550 rehabilitated green, loggerhead and hawksbill turtles, every Wednesday at 11 am and Friday at 1 pm. You can also stay for the free educational talk on Wednesday. See if your friends can spot the 100 kg male turtle housed here. Hit to the wallet: AED 0
  • Dubai Dolphinarium, Creek Park: Get up close and personal to bottlenose dolphins and seals. Watch them perform acrobatics, dance, juggle and jump hoops. Hit to the wallet: Starting from AED 50 per child and AED 80 per adult. You can also book a session to swim with the dolphins for 45 minutes. Prices for this start from AED 250 inclusive of wet-suits. 

Entertainment idea #5: Book worms get together

If it’s a quiet session of reading and eating you’re looking for, head to one of these clubs:

  • Book Munch Café, Al Wasl Square, Dubai: Book a breakfast or a lunch basket for your group to nibble on while they get their hands on their favorite reads. Hit to the wallet: Baskets starting from AED 220 for four people. These include fresh bread, sandwiches, cheese, salads, fruit, chocolate pots and cake – with juice or a beverage. You also get a returnable rug and free passes for Safa Park.