The Twelve Days of Christmas – the cost of recreating it in Dubai

It’s the time of year for seasonal cheer and goodwill to all men so for a little fun I’ve put together something a little different. It can be tough to decide what to buy for your significant other, particularly when they seem to have everything so sometimes you just need to be creative. Most people know the song The Twelve Days of Christmas so to show someone that they really are your true love you could go all out and recreate it!

For the first time in the UAE here is your guide, with all the relevant costs, to giving the appropriate gift for all 12 days to your beloved. This is Dubai however, so we just have to do things a little differently so if you really want to impress the love of your life and go all out this Christmas here’s how you can do it, and most importantly what it is likely to cost you.


Twelve Drummers Drumming – You might really annoy your neighbours if you get 12 drummers round your house, but how about joining Dubai Drums for a session? There will be a good 12 people there, the full moon drumming sessions out in the desert are apparently fun, and the price includes transport, food and the drumming itself. Price – AED 260 per person for adults.

bagpipersEleven Pipers Piping  – Your best bet here seems to be to book the Dubai Pipe Band. 11 bagpipe players on a sunny day in Dubai is sure to get the attention of your true love! Professional pipers aren’t cheap so you’d be looking at AED 1,000 each. Cost – AED 11,000.

Ten Lords a Leaping  – If you choose to employ trained dancers you’re looking at a starting price of AED 500 an hour, much more if you want seasoned professionals. Assuming you just want some co-ordinated leaping you could make do with the students at the lower price. Cost – AED 5,000

ladies-dancingNine Ladies Dancing    –   You could hire some professional female dancers as before or  book tickets for a ballet at the Dubai Opera House. Or for very little, get along to a ladies night. Most are free and you’ll see plenty of women on dance floors. Cost – zero

Eight Maids a Milking – you can’t buy people but you can hire them. Borrowing cows is a slightly more complicated matter. Agricultural workers don’t get paid very much in the UAE but with this being Dubai it might be easier to hire actual maids for a few hours. The cost for a maid starts at AED 35 per hour, with a minimum four hour booking, and let’s hope you can find ones who grew up with animals or on a farm.

I have never heard of anyone renting cows here, or indeed anywhere, and they are rather large to keep as pets, so you may have to make do with goats which are also a little more portable an rather more common in the UAE. And they need to be nanny goats to be milked! Price depends on source and age but you’d get a cheaper price for buying eight of them, so roughly AED 600 each. Cost for the goats and the maids, approximately AED 5,920.

swan-ice-sculptureSeven Swans a Swimming –  There are a few swans in Dubai but how about we go really Dubai about this and go for swan shape ice sculptures? Depending on the size and complexity you can expect to pay anything from AED 800 upwards for an ice sculpture, so let’s say seven swans at AED 1,000 each. Cost AED 7,000.


Six Geese a Laying – these need to be female geese so don’t forget to get that part right. There are plenty of wild geese to be found in Dubai if you look in the right place. You can see many at Al Qudra and at the Ras al Khor Wildlife Reserve. I suggest you either take your true love for a trip to see some in the wild and then try and convince them they are seeing female ones that will be laying. Cost – zero.

5-gold-ringsFive Golden Rings – a quick trip to the Gold & Diamond Park for this one. It’s the big sing-a-long part of the song so you need to get it right. Assuming you go for fairly plain rings, no diamonds, and depending on the price of gold on the day, I reckon you could spend around AED 550 each on an 18K gold ring. Cost – AED 2,750

Four Calling Birds – The first point to clarify is what a calling bird is exactly. A search brings up a few answers, including that the wording was originally a ‘colly bird’ meaning a black one so maybe a blackbird, but in essence it is one that sings loudly. I suggest canaries which can be found in pet shops and appear to be around AED 150 a bird. Cost AED 600.

three-french-hens-xlThree French Hens  – You can buy live hens or chickens if you plan to raise them, although you’d need a villa and they aren’t welcome in all areas so I suggest instead that you give three corn-fed French chickens, all prepped and ready for the table, as a tasty alternative. They cost around AED 120 each so that will be AED 360.

Two Turtle Doves – pretty close to sand doves and they are all over the city so you could probably catch a couple for free, just on a temporary basis of course, as I‘m not even sure that’s legal! I couldn’t find anywhere selling the live birds but with the four canaries already and most people living in an apartment your true love probably doesn’t really want any more. Instead I found a classic UAE stamp of the UAE from several years ago featuring a Red Turtle Dove. These can be found for very little and with delivery I think you could get a pair for around AED 80.

partridge-in-a-pear-treeand a Partridge in a Pear Tree This is two separate things. Despite a lot of searching I couldn’t find a pear tree for sale anywhere and whilst you could try growing your own from seed it is going to take a few years until you can use it. Instead I suggest a more suitable Dubai alternative, a date palm. The cost varies depending on type and size but they start at AED 750.

I am told that you can find wild partridges but not ones you can catch and keep, but you have probably seen enough birds by now anyway. It may be more practical to order a ready to cook one which is available to pre-order at this time of year at AED 50 each. Cost for tree and the bird –  AED 800.

The total cost therefore to recreate the Twelve Days of Christmas is Dubai is in the region of AED 33,770. That’s expensive so it needs to be a one-off for someone who really is your true love.

Happy Christmas!

When not doing things like this I offer independent financial advice across a large range of issues including pensions, mortgages, savings, investments, life and critical illness cover and offshore bank accounts. A full holistic service with the focus on personalised advice.

For any queries, or to arrange a meeting to see how I could assist you, please contact me at

Here is the podcast from the show on Dubai Eye from 12/12/16 which covered budgeting and also this. Dubai Today on Dubai Eye – budgeting, sensible spending + 12 days of Christmas 12.12.16

With thanks to:  – to hire professional dancers & other performers – for bagpipe players

For details of Dubai Drums go to

Partridges available from   French Hens from Carrefour


About financialuae

A qualified and experienced Independent Financial Adviser based in Dubai, UAE. Professional and ethical. Freelance writer on personal financial issues & the On Your Side column in The National. Regular radio guest. Senior Partner at Holborn Assets LLC, Dubai, UAE.
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