The UAE has positioned itself as the country of the future, so it goes without saying that there are plenty of tech-based tools here to make our lives a lot easier. From apps to help you scout out great deals and discounts on food and fitness and even petrol delivery, here’s a smartphone app that will save you time and money, even if you’ve been here for five years.
Best apps for living in Dubai
You never have to prepare food again. While there are quite a few food delivery apps to choose from in the UAE (Deliveroo, Talabat, CareemNow are all popular), Zomato is our tried and tested favourite. A bonus is that it uses GPS instead of asking for location each time, and instantly confirms that the restaurant has received the order and can deliver it. Once accepted, you will receive an accurate estimate of delivery time and real-time updates on the status of your order.
Sometimes things get away from you and you suddenly realize that you need a cleaner right away. Helpling ME promises to “book a cleaner in Dubai in just 60 seconds”.
The service is offered at Dh35 per hour with a minimum of three hours, plus additional charges such as ironing or cleaning the stove or fridge. You can even pay for the staff extra to bring their own cleaning materials, and it is easy to order cleaners on a one-time or recurring basis, either weekly or every other week.
This two-in-one app just keeps getting better and better. During your first few weeks in the UAE, you’ll be asked, “In Entertainer?” You’ll want to hear the phrase. Sometimes, it’s better to get to know yourself early because its sole purpose is to save you money.
There are dining deals, as well as those for fitness and activities (theme parks are great), and there are ways to pass on unused perks to others. Prices start from Dh495 for the basic package.
Careem (Abu Dhabi and Dubai) / Uber (Dubai)
Although hailing a taxi is easier in the UAE than in many other parts of the world, many prefer to stick with these ride-hailing apps. However, there are a few things you should know before you try. Firstly, Uber is no longer in Abu Dhabi – but confusingly, UberEATS is. In Abu Dhabi, you should use Karim, while in Dubai, you have a choice between the two.
But within Uber, you have a choice of several different options – use UberX for a cheaper service, UberONE for “premium” electric cars, or Uber Chopper if you’re really keen to part with some cash and make an entrance on your weekly supermarket shop.
Fancy taking advantage of the plethora of luxurious pools and beach clubs, or even gyms, housed in the city’s best hotels? Well, no longer do you have to pay for a staycation, just use Privelee.
After paying the membership fee, the app offers unlimited access to 49 pools and beach clubs across the UAE, over 56 five-star gyms and discounts at hundreds of affiliated restaurants. It now includes access to over 1000 free fitness classes and sports activities such as tennis and squash, and huge discounts on watersports and golf. Membership packages start at Dh529 per month in Dubai.
Been here for two years but the only Arabic you know is “kalas” or “falafel”? Here’s how to change it. Arabic is now available on Duolingo, and the news was well received by many.
A slow and steady approach to learning, the app promises to teach you Arabic in five minutes a day, teaching scholars to recognize letters and sounds, then build words and sentences. The app is not scared to send you a notification to get you to practice daily, if you fail to log in for a few days, you can expect them to get quite passive-aggressive. It’s free.
Washmen is a really cool app for people like us who are too lazy to do our own laundry in Dubai. A few simple taps will bring a friendly washer driver to your home to collect your laundry (in one of their own bags). Also specify when you need to return your laundry. When it is, it is nicely pressed and cleaned and packaged.
Washmen also encourage social-media participation – and you get rewarded for recommending their service to friends and family.
We know, we know – something of a theme is emerging here: whereby we are giving you the tools to basically never leave your sofa again. But, providing you’re a functioning human and will use this gained time to your advantage, there are many pros to getting someone else to do your supermarket shopping for you.
Buy your essentials from Insta Shop and have them delivered to your doorstep in under an hour – handy if you’re in the middle of a dinner party, can’t get out of the house, or are in the middle of nowhere. I forgot a key ingredient with the recipe. There are options to use a credit card or pay cash on delivery.
Smart Drive (Dubai)
There are three great things about Dubai’s Road Transport Authority (RTA) SmartDrive app.
First, it’s intuitive and easy to use, and has more detail than Google Maps. You search your location and it maps a selection of routes, Choose the one you want and the voice – a girl in flawless and non-irritating English – tells you exactly where to go (and even which lane to be on). If you miss a turn, you will automatically be redirected.
Whether you are the sender or the recipient, Fetchr is a speedy and convenient courier service for deliveries within the UAE. Drivers will pick up a document or package and deliver it, using your phone’s GPS to determine your location.
Select a time slot for pickup and delivery and track your package’s journey. It’s a useful delivery tool for start-up brands and businesses – and for up-and-coming companies selling products through social media, Sellr by Fetchr allows cash-on-delivery payment methods.